Originally Published: February 14, 2005
Season 2 of The Gastineau Girls premieres without commerical interuption on E! Tuesday, November 29th.
When 19 year-old Lisa D'Amico, a University of Alabama cheerleader who grew up in Rockland County, married rookie New York Jets defensive end Mark Gastineau in 1979, she hoped for a career as a sports broadcaster but instead became a continuing target for tabloid papers and Page 6 photographers. Beautiful, sexy and married to one of New York's most outgoing and controversial athletes, Lisa wasn't prepared for the paparazzi and publicity, yet she stepped up and became a role model for today's litany of celebrity wanna-be's. Her new series with 22-year old daughter Brittny is being promoted as a cross between "Sex and the City" and "Gilmore Girls" and I expected to meet a Samantha Jones-like character when Lisa, Brittny and I met at Michael's last week. But I quickly realized Lisa and Brittny have more in common with Lorelai and Rory Gilmore than with the scandalous sex-pot of "Sex and the City."
In fact, with the first season completed, not only has neither Lisa nor Brittny found a sex-partner during the tapings of the series, they have been loveless in the city as well. "Any guy I want to date doesn't want to be on camera," says Brittny. "We'll be showing the world it's not that easy to meet the right man."
Lisa adds. "We have a wonderful life, we go to great places, and we have a great core of friends. But just like everyone else, it's hard to meet someone you can trust. Obviously, our clothes, our hair and parts of our lives are different, but this is a show about the realities of a mother and daughter living together and looking for love, not for sex. We're not going to be getting sloppy drunk and dancing on tables; that's not us. We're not the Osbourne's, although they're great, and we're not Paris and Nicole. I hope viewers see we have a soul; that we're not just 'characters' but that we have character."
"I don't like to think about the tabloids." Lisa adds, "We haven't experienced any negative press yet, but how long will it be before people start taking shots, especially if we're successful?"
Clearly, Lisa and Brittny are concerned about the potential impact of the reality series on their images and their future careers. "I'm nervous about the show," Brittny admits. "I'm scared. I'm praying for a good product; praying for the best." Just days before tomorrow's premiere episode, they had not yet seen the edited final cut. "The promotions come off like I'm looking for a billionaire," Lisa complains. "I could certainly date a rich 85 year old man and put banana peels all around, but that's not what I'm looking for. I'm looking for the whole package. Love." They also hope the series serves as a launching pad for their careers and are working to develop a mass-marketed cosmetics, clothing and jewelry line. Last week, Lisa provided broadcast commentary during the overtime loss of the NY Knicks to the Miami Heat and was on her way after our lunch to hear reviews from her sports broadcast coach. If the series is not successful, Lisa and Brittny joke they'll move to a farm in Virginia. "You learn once something goes wrong in life and in business, it's very difficult to correct it."
Although the "Gastineau Girls" show is not even on the air, the image and reputation of reality television has impacted the girls' lives. "This is a show about friendships and relationships, but many of our friends are taking a wait and see attitude," says Brittny. Lisa adds, "certain designers told me they don't want to be a part of reality TV. It's offensive. I've been their client for years, wearing their clothes, but they want to wait before I wear their designs on television. I take it personally. I really try not to offend anybody. I lost my sister the week before I graduated high school (from a heart defect developed at birth). It changed my life. I have a fear of losing people and relationships. It's why I married at nineteen, and why it's so hard for me to erase people from my life even if they've done not so nice things. Once people are in my life, they're in."
While there's depth beneath the surface image of clothes, jewelry and cosmetics, material possessions are obviously an important part of Lisa's and Brittny's lives and image. "Viewers will see there's no room for a TV in our apartment because of the clothes racks," Brittny laughs. Lisa adds, "if Brittny and I hosted the Red Carpet shows, I wouldn't have to ask the stars who designed their dresses. I would know." Lisa's favorite designer right now is Carlos Miele, and Brittny modeled for Anne Bowen during her Fashion Week show two weeks ago. Lisa and Brittny say their show is not about high fashion: "we want to show everyone that it's not the style; it's the attitude."
Lisa and Brittny are often mistaken for sisters but Lisa denies she encourages that misperception. Lisa, who refers to herself as a triple Sagittarius but without natural athletic talent, claims she doesn't try to act young. "I have a young spirit. You get wiser as you get older but you don't need to lose the girl in you. I hope I'm still the same 'girl' when I'm seventy, but even wiser." Brittny, a "triple Scorpio" (although Lisa insists she's only a double Scorpio), says the 'Gastineau Girls' are actually a trio, including her grandmother, who is struggling with cancer. "We have a great relationship. I can talk to her about anything, and she has the same young spirit as my mom."
When Brittny returned home from the University of Alabama last year and moved into her well-known mom's East Side apartment in Manhattan, she was confronted with the need to get a job and jokingly suggested developing a reality show about trying to co-exist and find love. "People always tell us we're funny and have interesting lives," Brittny told me. "It started out as a joke, but an agent was helping me start a career as a sports broadcaster and I mentioned it to him. Within a couple of months, we had a deal with E!." At Michael's, CourtTV's Henry Schleiff stopped by to wish the girls good luck and resort marketer Jerry Inzarillo offered his support, as Martin Puris, Peter Price, Vogue's Andre Leon Talley and others looked on.
While the Gastineau Girls may be loveless on Valentine's Day, they have a positive attitude, infectious spirit, great hopes for their futures, and an obvious mother-daughter love for each other.
For more information, visit www.eonline.com/On/GastineauGirls/