When I told y’all about the new shows Bravo is putting out this year, my comment about a reality show set in Charleston, SC called Southern Charm was simply, “Charleston, SC is my favorite city in the US. Please, Please don’t screw this up, Bravo.” I lived in Charleston briefly as a child, and during my youthful random job phase, I worked for an airline and had free flights as a benefit. With only one exception, every trip I took was to Charleston. A few months or so after Hurricane Hugo, I boarded a plane against my parents wishes and flew to Charleston by myself with no idea where I was going to stay. When Charleston came into view I began to cry on the plane. The ugly cry. Where everyone looks at you funny. I have an abnormal obsession with Charleston.
That is why my head began to hurt and my stomach began to churn last night when a reader from Charleston sent me a tip on who would be featured on Bravo’s show, Southern Charm. I saw the name Ravenel. My immediate reaction was, “Please God, No.” I remember being upset when the Real Housewives of Atlanta premiered. I found them all a disgusting representation of Atlanta. I still do. But I watch for the train wreck factor and promote the show here despite myself. But doing a show on Charleston with Thomas Ravenel as the poster boy has more than crossed the line.
I am not going to go into too much detail about the Ravenels here. Thomas Ravenel who is pictured above in the lovely lavender shirt is on a yacht that is probably part of a club in Charleston that is beyond lily-white and male. His criminal record is summarized by Wikipedia thusly:
In June 2007, Ravenel was indicted on federal cocaine distribution charges by US Attorney Reginald Lloyd. The filed charges allege that Ravenel purchased less than 500 grams of cocaine through an intermediary in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2005, prior to his election as treasurer but after his abortive entry in the 2004 Senate race. Governor Mark Sanford suspended Ravenel from his duties as state treasurer upon learning of the charges, and appointed Columbia attorney Ken Wingate to replace Ravenel on an interim basis. Meanwhile, Ravenel decided to enter a rehabilitation facility, according to prosecutors.
Ravenel had been volunteering for the Rudolph Giuliani presidential campaign, serving as his South Carolina state chairman. Ravenel resigned from that post after the indictment, according to Giuliani campaign officials.
On July 24, Ravenel resigned as Treasurer. Ravenel underwent a rehabilitation program in New Mexico, and then returned to plead guilty to “conspiring to buy and distribute less than 100 grams of cocaine” in September 2007. ) On Friday, March 14, 2008, Thomas Ravenel was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison for drug charges against him, but was not immediately ordered to report to begin his sentence.
People in the Charleston area have a lot to say about the Ravenels. Nothing I have heard personally has been good. I will not repeat it here; however, if you wish to hear it all in coarse vernacular with lots of racially charged terminology, the you can go here to a site where Ravenel himself has been commenting. Ravenel is a part-time contributor to the site. Last night as I was reading through the comments, Ravenel made several threats to sue a variety of comments for libel. There response was that if the allegations are true then he would lose the case. He has since removed those threats. I frankly expect the whole post to go poof soon. Since, despite your generous contributions to the legal defense fund for reality show participants I cannot match Ravenel’s legal preparedness, I will simply suggest you visit the link. The commenters there are locals who are the best sources I can provide for Charleston’s attitude to their former state treasurer.
The sad part is, Bravo had a great opportunity to show a beautiful city in a positive light. While it is true as one commenter in the linked post says “No one with breeding would agree to be on a reality show,” perhaps the pool of wealthy Charlestonians who lack breeding could have been more closely vetted. This is a disaster of epic proportions. An an insult to a very fine southern city. Damn you, Bravo. Damn you. And we thought Thomas Kramer was vile…