A butler from season two of Real Housewives: Ultimate Girls Trip is suing Bravo for damages, claiming his marriage was negatively affected after he was sexually assaulted during an alcohol-fueled party.
While some seasons of RHUGT have been filmed in exotic destinations like Thailand and Turks & Caicos, season two was filmed in former Real Housewives of New York star’s Dorinda Medley’s mansion in Massachusetts, where the butler, Marco Vega, says he was assaulted.
TMZ obtained some of the legal documents, which outline his claims that during a striptease show at the mansion, former Real Housewives of Atlanta star Phaedra Parks slapped his butt while Brandi Glanville, former Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star, ripped his shirt off, leaving his torso bare and exposed, while shouting:
“Earn your money, Marco. Take your shirt off. Do something!”
When outlets reached out to Phaedra and Brandi, Phaedra’s reps said she was travelling and unavailable for comment. But Brandi’s reps stated:
“She has the utmost respect for Marco. Anything that occurred on the set that evening was requested by the producers and approved by Marco Vega himself.”
There is no “good” timing for a sexual assault lawsuit, but there couldn’t be any worse timing for Bravo to be hit with this than right now. This accusation comes just weeks after a Below Deck crew member, Luke, snuck into the room of Margot, a member of the interior team, while she was intoxicated, forcing production to step in and put an end to it, which I wrote about here.
It also comes on the heels of Bethenny Frankel’s threat to “take Bravo down”, citing incidents just like this one, as reason to create some sort of union for reality stars. Though Marco is not, by any means, a star of the franchise and wouldn’t necessarily be protected by a union, I’ve written about the importance of boundaries in these reality TV spaces so that people have something to defer to when it comes to conduct.
It’s interesting to me to see the variation in coverage between this and the Below Deck story. That was pretty big news for several days. Producers, along with the chief stew and the captain of the boat, were recognized for putting an end to what very well could’ve been an assault. They were also praised for the action that was taken immediately after, as well as over the course of the following days, which included firing Luke and another stew who said she would’ve “welcomed” Luke’s sexual advances. But Marco’s story, for some reason, was a bit buried.
It makes sense, since men have a hard time being perceived as genuine victims in cases of sexual assault – and there is one comment section that really illustrates that point. Though it took a while for Marco to file an official lawsuit, he did in fact, express his disappointment and experience with filming shortly after he wrapped with the show on an Instagram story back in 2022. And the Bravo fan account that shared the screenshots became home to a lot of naysayers, who were mostly women denying his account.
“Now that he’s spoken out, I guess we can share our thoughts! I don’t like him sharing things like this as it’s very unprofessional. I would love to see what the Housewives thought of his performance because sir was lacking in many departments,” one comment read, suggesting that him expressing discomfort was “unprofessional”.
“In his other stories, he admits to being an actor…so yeah…” another read.
"I'M SWAYED BY MONEY!" His Words. ENOUGH SAID.”
I’ve written before about the ethical dilemma I often face in consuming reality TV. And no more prominent is that ethical dilemma than when I read comment sections like this that deny someone’s lived experience based on their gender, their financial situation, or how “cool” they played it when there were cameras in their face.
There’s one other reason, though, that the timing of this is just terrible for Bravo. And that’s because there are rumblings that a Vanity Fair journalist is currently doing a very in-depth investigation and speaking with several housewives for an exposé. The piece is expected to outline the real experience of a housewife and the kind of sacrifices they had to make in order to hold the peach, the apple, or whatever opening theme prop each respective show features.
If there’s one thing we know, it’s that there is no woman scorned like an ex-housewife, and that stands, whether they left on their own terms or not. Look at NeNe Leakes, who recently appeared on Bethenny’s podcast to spill some serious tea about her experience. Also, look at Bethenny Frankel herself! She literally hosts a podcast and features guests like NeNe and Rachel Leviss and gives them a place to air their grievances with Bravo.
With that in mind, this upcoming piece could really leave Bravo and Andy Cohen in a compromising position of vulnerability, and hopefully accountability. It may be just the thing needed to force the network to assess what they need to do better in order to protect their housewives, and their support people, like Marco, while also churning out great – and hopefully ethical – entertainment.