By Katlean De Monchy
It was in the Hamptons some eight years ago when I first met ‘The Real Housewives of New York City’ cast member, the statuesque Aviva Drescher. She was with her young son Harrison, and had just separated from her first husband Harry Dubin. I was shocked to learn that she was an amputee, as she moved with such grace and confidence. I admired her in the way she never let it hold her back.
While Aviva was direct and spoke her mind, she was empowering and caring, in all aspects of her life. It inspired me to see how she was focused on moving forward and finding a happy stable life for her and her son. And her dream came true when she met and fell in love with the smart and dashing money manager, Reid Drescher.
Together Aviva and Reid have built that wonderful life, with the added bonus of two more beautiful children, Hudson and Sienna, giving her an even greater glow and making her life that much more complete.
Fast forward to today, Aviva a star on RHONY has boldly unveiled herself in part to platform her own disability to shed light on and raise funds for amputees world-wide. Her passionate commitment to helping people with physical disabilities is a testament to her true character.
Aviva is a wife and mom to three of her own children and part time to Reid’s first child, Veronica. She has written a memoir, ‘Leggy Blonde’ and started a new vitamin business. Her first product called, Tranquil Day, is exclusively sold at GNC and is designed to relieve anxiety and stress the natural way, while still retaining loads of energy. With all on her plate, she still finds the time to give back to others.
MM: Why did you decide to be a part of ‘The Real Housewives of New York City’ and what did you expect to gain from doing it and how has it worked out for you both personally and business wise?
AD: When I was approached to be on RHONY my first response was, “Absolutely not. Those women are nuts and I will not go near it!” As I thought about it, I began seeing the opportunities RHONY had to offer. I was interested to learn about the reality television process and culture, and I was excited to have a job! I had been a stay at home mom for 10 years which can be mind-numbing and I love new experiences and I thought this would be a ride of a lifetime. Most of all, I wanted to use the television platform to help amputees on a large scale and to raise awareness. Being on RHONY has been incredible. While I don’t enjoy gossip and drama as a means for entertainment, the amount of people I have helped is tremendous, and writing a book alongside with product development has all been a result of doing the show.
MM: When you met Harry Dubin, your first husband, did your goals and his align? After the marriage did not work out, how did you overcome that hurdle and decide to move on?
AD: On paper our goals were aligned, however, in practice it seemed we wanted different lifestyles so we agreed to separate. Getting divorced is not often about splitting up with a man– it is about breaking up a family which has a tremendous downside for children. That was the toughest part for me – subjecting my son to divorced parents and the pain that goes along with that. When I realized that Harry really was not into being a family man I had the incentive to forge a new family for my son, Harrison, and that gave me the drive to plow forward — I felt it was in Harrison’s best interest.
MM: When you met your second husband, Reid Drescher were you better prepared for a lasting relationship?
AD: Reid and I were intensely passionate about creating a healthy family for our respective children. We wanted a bigger family and our goals and values were exactly the same. This was a second marriage for both of us so we were both seeking harmony and true love. I suppose that our failed first marriages better prepared us for a lasting relationship as well as our compatibility.
MM: How was it blending two families and what were the trials and tribulations?
AD: Blending our two families was almost seamless. The children got along beautifully and were so young (two and three year olds) that they didn’t have any room to feel the pain of divorcing parents. There was difficulty with Reid’s ex-wife who was very angry and territorial. It took years to work through that.
MM: How do you manage a marriage with small children and starting a new business while shooting a reality show?
AD: It can be really difficult and because I have too much on my plate I drop the ball from time to time….I try to take it all a day at a time and I prioritize my family. Off screen I am anti-drama! Life is always presenting obstacles and challenges which I choose to face cool, calm and collected. Life is fleeting and I always have the perspective that we are all lucky to be alive.
MM: What was your childhood like being born and raised in New York.?
AD: My childhood was filled with love, guidance and support. My mother was an elegant, refined German woman with infinite amounts of love and kindness. My father was from Brooklyn, very rough around the edges, brilliant and funny. The combination made for an interesting upbringing.
MM: Your accident happened on a friend’s upstate dairy farm, where your left foot was severely injured and as a result your leg was amputated. How did you feel and did it define who you were and how do you give inspiration to other amputees?
AD: After my farm accident at 6-years-old when I lost my leg, my parents treated me like every other child–no coddling. In those days there were no female outspoken amputees to inspire me. I was very much navigating that on my own. I never let it define me because I was relentlessly trying to be like everybody else. In my mind, the prosthesis and lack of a leg didn’t exist. It was ‘nothing’ so to speak. There was no way it would ever define me or even be noticed. I did not want anyone to know about it nor did I want to be treated any differently. Today my prosthesis is still a non-issue except when I am helping others. When working with new amputees I focus on all of the real emotional and physical challenges that come along with wearing prosthesis, and I share how I adapted with others. For those amputees struggling with setbacks I always tell them how lucky they are to be alive and the setbacks are just ‘for now’. They are temporary. I find, with technology today, wearing prosthesis is like wearing glasses, once you are used to it, and I share that sentiment with those struggling.
MM: Where did you get the idea to do a business and why nutrition?
AD: I am passionate about healthy living. I believe that disease can be prevented by what you leave out of your body and environment. Pesticides, chemicals, drugs and the like are proven carcinogens. I have been very much inspired by my cousin Fran Drescher in terms of health.
MM: How is the supplement business working out?
AD: My product is called Tranquil Day which is formulated with a blend of vitamins and minerals to help you calm down and de-stress the natural way while still giving you tons of energy. It is exclusively carried by GNC and it is doing well!
MM: There’s been a lot of talk about the infamous “leg toss”. Was that scripted or impromptu? And how have you felt about the reaction from the media, your friends and family?
AD: It was not scripted or planned. I often loosen my leg when sitting to facilitate blood flow so that I am more comfortable. There was a lot of commotion and someone had to finally put their foot down. I happened to have had one handy. I am glad that all reactions to the “leg toss” have been met with a chuckle. It caused people to have emotional reactions, a primary goal in entertainment.
MM: Will you or do you want to return to the reality show?
AD: I don’t know if I will be returning to RHONY but I will be on TV screens again soon!
MM: You are the national spokesperson for One Step Ahead, an organization for amputees. Tell us about your work there and what you hope to accomplish in the future? Also where can readers go to contribute?
AD: One Step Ahead creates fun and athletic environments for amputees and raises money for children who need prosthetics not covered by insurance. One Step Ahead raises money to fill in the gaps.
MM: Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
AD: With Reid — doting over our growing family and helping amputees on an even larger scale! I expect that all prosthetics will be paid for by insurance and all types of performance legs will be available to ALL, no matter what their financial status. With that in place, I can just focus on helping those who are missing limbs, have a successful nutritional business and have a fun, healthy and enjoyable life.
KATLEAN DE MONCHY is one of the top lifestyle, fashion and technology experts on television. You see her launching new tech or introducing fashion lines each week on TV stations around the US. In addition she is a familiar face in the Hamptons, covering Hamptons events for more than 15 years and interviewing top celebrities at the hard to get into parties.
With Lauren Clarke-Bennett
Photography by Lenny Stucker
Wardrobe: Cynthia Rose
Makeup by Pennina Koptiev for Angelo David Salon | Lorac Cosmetics
Hair by Ivy Camacho for Angelo David Salon | ELCHIM
Wardrobe | Cynthia Rose