Lisa Lampanelli's Haven by the Shore
We visit with funnywoman Lisa Lampanelli as she settles into a feel-good waterfront beach house in Fairfield.
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Lampanelli is successful by any show-business standard. Known as the “Queen of Mean,” she has appeared on “Celebrity Apprentice,” and is a fixture on Comedy Central, late-night talk shows and at celebrity roasts. Currently at work on a Broadway show (fingers crossed, she says, it will open in the spring), she’s well aware that a woman of her means can live anywhere—and she has.
“Since I left Connecticut, I’ve lived in lots of places, both in and out of New York, for 30 years,” she says. “I’m still there. Manhattan, to me, is like a boyfriend who hits you. You go, you come back, you stay—hoping it will get better.”
The first apartment she bought was on Broadway and 80th Street. “It was a wonderful building—warm, with families. A great place, even though I don’t like kids,” she says. Doing what was expected, she hired an interior designer whose work she had seen and admired, but the experience was an unmitigated disaster.
“I didn’t know anything. I went into it completely blind. She had this way of making me feel cheap,” Lampanelli says, scornfully. “Like if I didn’t go along with everything she suggested, it was my fault. So I let a lot of stuff go.” But what she couldn’t forgive was the haughty designer’s installation of two leather cubes with Lucite feet (“Don’t get me wrong; they were so soft, just gorgeous”) that cost $5,000. “I have money, but really? Is that something to spend it on? It was my fault I didn’t say something sooner,” she admits.
When did she start to sense the relationship wasn’t working? “You mean, when did I start hating her?” Lampanelli laughs. On the bright side, the designer stories have given the comedian a wealth of material for her stand-up routine.
A few years later she moved from that apartment to her current place, across from Lincoln Center, because she loves “the energy.” And then there’s the house in Tucson, at Canyon Ranch: “Oh, it is beautiful. Trust me,” she says, “but it’s just not relaxing because there are so many things you feel you have to do when you’re there.”
Here, not so much.
Lampanelli says that it was really serendipity that brought her here, that her move is linked to other monumental changes in her life: her marriage, for one, and the fact that both she and Cannizzaro had weight-loss surgery in the spring. When she was heavier, she says, she played her girth for laughs, but she grew tired of being the brunt of jokes (even when they were her own). “I feel so much better, and I have a more positive outlook than ever,” she says. “I’ve lost 72 pounds, and Jimmy 56—and I just see myself differently. For the first time in my life, I don’t read anything that’s written about me, no reviews, nothing. I’m in a good place.”
And her home brings out the best in her.
“This is funny. I don’t even like the beach,” says Lampanelli. “What I like is the feeling of the beach. There’s just an inherent cheerfulness about it that I love. And Jimmy grew up on Long Island, so he loves the water.
“I know my house won’t win any design awards, but I don’t care,” she says.
Clad in neutral tones with big splashes of sky and water hues, the home’s decor says beach without screaming it over the sound of crashing waves. It’s quite a contrast from her city apartment, which, thanks to friends she describes as her “gay posse,” is “modern but not cold, mostly modular, with lots of color. You need it in the city, because it can very depressing and lonely. My bedroom there is granny-apple green, my study is bright orange, my living room is bright red and silver.”
Her rooms here—and there are many—are furnished without pretense. The secret to her seamlessly outfitted living room with L-shaped sofa, sisal rug, blue-and-white patterned slipcovers on the dining table chairs? “I bought the whole thing out of Pottery Barn,” she says with a big laugh. “I opened up the catalog, saw a room I liked and literally bought everything on both pages.
“I’ll be honest; I didn’t trust myself to do it all alone, but I was not getting a designer. That, I knew.”