Erin Dana Lichy was worried 'RHONY' would affect her marriage. She was right

From her experience in real estate to her new fame as a Real Housewife, it's safe to say Erin Dana Lichy likes to keep it real.

The founder of the renovation and design company Homegirl joined “The Real Housewives of New York” last year as part of the unprecedented cast overhaul in one of Bravo’s most storied franchises. And while the mom of three was doing more apartment flipping than table flipping, Erin was not immune to drama during her freshman season.

From a 10-year anniversary party with her husband Abe Lichy that sparked complaints from cast mates before they went searching for the exits (and for food), to a prank war in Antigua that went south, to conversations regarding a fellow housewife’s self-admitted sexless marriage, Season 14 of “RHONY” saw several moments with Erin that had fans online taking sides.

Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen - Season 20 (Bravo)
Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen - Season 20 (Bravo)

With the dust settled from her first year part of a "Real Housewives" franchise, Erin speak to TODAY about the status of the relationships with her fellow housewives, backlash from the fandom online and how Bravo affected her marriage.

Bravo is owned by NBCUniversal, TODAY's parent company.

Now that you’ve had a few months to reflect on your first season as a Real Housewife, what is your takeaway from doing the show?

It's really hard to even imagine. All the advice that everybody gives you beforehand goes right out the window until you live it. I’d say the hardest part is the comments and ridicule that you get on social media. I don’t know how it is for actors — I wonder if it’s the same sort of criticism — but I think when you open the door to your personal life, people feel as though they can be more critical and a little nastier, I guess. It’s hard.

The cliché advice at this point is to not read the comments. Were you able to do that?

That was the advice from everyone, including Andy (Cohen). I’ve never been the biggest social media person in the sense that I had very few followers, I was private. So, when I did the show in the very beginning, I was like, I’m not going to read the comments. And then you find yourself a few times going down the rabbit hole. I feel like now I’m kind of over it, but you just have to go through it. I think it’s like a hazing period.

Did your idea of the fanbase’s opinion of you change when you went from only seeing social media feedback to then going to BravoCon and having face to face interactions with the fans?

One hundred percent. The audience has such a skewed sense of what actually happened based on the way the show comes off. The loud minority, I like to call them, makes so much noise. And you’re like, "Oh my God, do they all hate me?" And then I went to BravoCon and I was like, "Oh my, I had no idea I had so many fans!" It’s so heartwarming. I think we had one of the most packed panels — we were shocked, people actually liked this show!

As a newbie at BravoCon, what was it like being surrounded by these veteran Housewives and big Bravo personalities?

That’s a really good question. There definitely is this of underlying understanding between everybody. There are hierarchies, though, where I think certain people from certain shows feel differently about one another. Then there are the people who have been around for a really long time. I’d say overall, people are so nice. It surprised me, and you realize that people intrinsically are good. You see all these crazy people on the shows, and you’re like, I don’t want to associate with them. But then you meet them in person and feel like, "Wow, they were so kind and sweet and generous."


Were there any people that come to mind who made you feel that way?

I didn’t expect Teresa Giudice be so sweet, just based on her show. But she’s really very nice and giving with her time and wants to interact. So that was really surprising to be honest. Scheana (from “Vanderpump Rules”) is a really nice person too. And then some other people are like caricatures of themselves, which I kind of think is amazing because we’re not like that on our show. But I remember I saw (Tom) Sandoval — I did not speak to him, but he was wearing a kilt, like with bagpipes. I’m like, I don’t get the statement, but it’s funny.

I’d love to get your thoughts on current Real Housewives headlines. First, the 'Salt Lake City' finale. What was your reaction to the episode, and do you feel the pressure to compete?

"Salt Lake" and "New York" have the same production team, so I was really curious to see this season. Everyone kept saying, "The finale! The finale is crazy!" I did not know that it would be at this level of crazy. Like, it’s beyond. When I finished it, I was like, OK, well, they crushed it. That was unbelievable. The way Heather presented the whole thing — I was stunned. Then I started thinking about our show, and it’s just so different. If we were to have a similar scenario, I don’t know how we all would have reacted. To a certain extent, maybe we do need to bring the drama. But then on the other hand, we’re actually friends, we’re just different. We want it to be more comedy.

Several Housewives marriages have come to an end over the years. Were you concerned about what the show could do to your relationship?

Yes, I think there was. We felt strong in our marriage for so long, but there were things that happened during the season that were hard for us. I think it was hard for Abe. There was that scene where we had that dinner, and he said “I would f--- other women” (as an answer to the rhetorical question, “If your wife did not have sex with you for a year and a half, what would happen?").

In the moment, it was so silly and funny and stupid. Then when it aired, he was so upset, he really went through it. He was like, "All these people are saying I would cheat on you." I could see how those moments could really plant seeds to destroy a marriage. Every relationship has ebbs and flows, but we make a lot of time for ourselves, not even with our kids. It seems so simple, but it gets really hard when you get busy with work and kids and everything. But it makes the biggest difference.

Were there any other moments that you felt played differently on air than it did in person? Or any scenes you think got misconstrued or cut by the edit that you wish the audience got to see?

Absolutely. A lot of my personal scenes no one saw, and there were a lot of them. There was a whole scene with my dad where we talked about our upbringing. There was a scene of me and Jenna connecting in the Hamptons she was like, "How do you juggle all the things you do? "She was saying, "You’re 35 and you’ve got a house, and you’ve got three kids, and you’re married, and your siblings." I started bawling, because when someone breaks it down for me, it feels like a lot. So I think people missed that side of me. Also, I am a lot of fun. I’m not so regimented, which I think is how I was portrayed a little bit. I think that’s kind of the beauty of a show that has like multiple seasons — you can unlock different parts of someone.

The Real Housewives of New York City - Season 14 (Cindy Ord / Bravo)
The Real Housewives of New York City - Season 14 (Cindy Ord / Bravo)

What has been the status of your relationship with the rest of the cast since the reunion wrapped a few months ago?

After the reunion wrapped, things got hard. There was discord and a lot of contention. There are things that have happened since we wrapped that I’m really disappointed with. It's like any friend group where you go through things with your friends. Sometimes you realize that certain people aren’t exactly what you thought, or they will do things that don’t align with you, which I’ve seen. We are all honestly close and we all have this unique bond, but certainly some people are closer than others. I feel blessed, in a way, that I am good with everyone.

Would you like to elaborate on any of that discord or strained relationships?

I think you’ll just have to wait and see.

Your former landlord said you owe him $43,950 in rent for an apartment in his Tribeca building you and your family lived in for five years. Where does the complaint stand now?

This is all settled.

The concept was I renovated the apartment at a discounted rate. The building was so old, and I knew it wasn’t to code. I mentioned it to (the landlords); they ignored me. Then, while I’m living there, the building had to fix the elevator. It was supposed to be a month. It ended up being five months. I was walking up six flights of stairs with kids and groceries, my grandmother stopped being able to come over. Then, there was a crazy infestation of rodents. All my cabinets were being eaten through. It wasn’t normal, and it wasn’t getting better.

We’re in real estate and I have a family friend who’s a tenant attorney and she said, you need to withhold rent. So I did that.

We followed up with them once we decided to leave saying, hello, let’s resolve this. No response. And then he made this move to (file the complaint). Abe is an attorney so he wrote to him and was like, ‘Why don’t you just email us? We’ve been asking you to settle.’ The landlord said, ‘Honestly, I didn’t know you were in the public eye.’ So, we’ve settled and we got the abatement. But I would do it all over again, because in New York City tenants are really not treated well and I just don’t think it’s right.

The plaintiff's attorney, Mark M. Altschul, disagreed with Lichy's statement in an email, directing to his comments to the New York Post, where he said "claiming unsuitable conditions as a defense" is "typical of nonpaying tenants."

"I would add that the matter in New York Supreme Court against the Lichys was settled on terms favorable to my client as agreed by the parties," Altschul said.

What advice would you give tenants?

I think that tenants need to stand up for themselves more and make sure you have the receipts, proof, timeline, screenshots at the time. It’s an ongoing problem where people are afraid they’ll be taken to court. I do see that, in New York, tenants’ rights are shifting, and they are getting better. But I think more needs to happen, where if conditions aren’t good, you stand up for yourself. There needs to be a change because I think people are taken advantage of far too often.

Even this whole situation in this TriBeCa apartment, would you still disagree with Jessel and say that Tribeca is ‘more than up and coming’?

Absolutely, yes. Tribeca is more than up and coming.

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