Pop Culture

'Real Housewives of New Jersey' reunion shocker: Joe Gorga was the stripper

Bravo / Today
Joe Gorga.

It was an entire season of mudslinging, but somehow Sunday night's big reveal was still a shocker. It was Joe Gorga, not Melissa, who worked as a stripper. According to the now happily married family man, he was a Chippendales dancer in college. Boom.

Joe claimed that for a year he made $1,000 a night for shaking his groove thang in a tiny thong. Of course, it explains a lot: the sequined costumes, the abundant lap dances, the excessive nudity and the pet name for his ... Magic Mike, meet Tarzan.

But do not, whatever you do, suggest that any of the women may have worked a pole or risk a screaming, cursing, spitting rage. Melissa, Joe Gorga, Teresa Giudice and Jacqueline Laurita all exploded Sunday night over the accusations.

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"We're talking about strippers like we're talking about serial killers," joked Chris Laurita. That's right, dude, and tread carefully. After Joe Giudice hinted that Chris met Jacqueline while she was a dancer in Vegas, she flipped. "You piece of low life (expletive). I hope you go to jail."

The thing is, Joe spending 10 years in jail didn't seem to inspire any of the same Defcon One level of emotions. When questioned about his DMV court case that could send him "away," Juicy Joe shrugged and replied, "My lawyer says you could indict a ham sandwich, so it doesn't make a difference, whatever happens happens." Takeaway: Being labeled a former erotic dancer is very, very bad. Sitting in a jail cell for 3,652 days ... meh.

Teresa's sticking point seemed to be her family discussing Joe's case on national TV (as opposed to her interviews about the subject in In Touch magazine). "Andy, am I talking Chinese? I asked my family not to bring it up on the show," she snapped when the Bravo host seemed as confused as everyone about the distinction between revealing the details in print versus the small screen.

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Of course, it wouldn't be a "Jersey" season finale without the executive producer getting a little roughed up--he was forced to restrain Tre when she lunged at Jacqueline during an argument with her brother and later quipped he lost his hearing after Teresa complained the reunion special led to her losing her voice.

But it wasn't quite the weave-pulling days of old. When Kim D. came out to set the record straight on the Posche fashion show set up (Teresa did know Melissa was going to be a target) she got an apology from Joe Gorga and some straight-shooting friendly banter from Caroline Manzo. Not exactly the faceoff we expected with the scheming store owner who admitted to masterminding Operation Embarrass Melissa after the singer endorsed a rival boutique.

Still, it wasn't a happy ending for the show that promoted family being as thick as thieves. Caroline and Chris Laurita haven't reconnected with their sister Dina. Joe Gorga and Teresa haven't been in touch since the season wrapped and he claims she's turned his parents against him. "You took my parents away from me. My kids don't have grandparents," he raged. And Melissa vowed never to forgive Teresa after tonight's show.

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"It's all a bunch of bull----," opined Chris in the most down-to-earth moment of the reunion special. "We're sitting here fighting about stuff that is ridiculous. What's happened to us with our son, it really makes you realize what's important. This (expletive) is not important."

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