BOOK REVIEW: Is Real Housewives’ Danielle Staub / Beverly Merrill finally telling ‘The Naked Truth’?

Danielle Staub The Naked Truth

According to her memoir, The Naked Truth, when Danielle Staub landed a reality show she thought she was going to forge strong bonds with female friends and everything would be all lemonade and cupcakes. But she just ended up with a tight-knit family who exposed her more-sordid-than-most past to the world with the help of a book about her ex-“husband” Kevin Maher.

Maher’s book, Cop Without a Badge, written by Charles Kipp, described Danielle as a prostitute in trouble with the law for extortion and kidnapping. She was also described as a “good person” who lacked both “morals” and “panties.” Less biased details about Danielle’s past have also been provided by court documents.

The Naked Truth (written with help from Steven Pirgge) is Danielle’s chance to explain the story of her incredibly dark past, and she does so through a fairytale-distorted lens of oddly filtered morality. Instead of staying true to the book’s title and really laying bare some of the more gruesome realities of her past, she distances us from the details, painting us a smudged picture littered with qualifiers. She was an escort, and even admits to having sex with some of the men who paid for her time, but denies being a prostitute. She was a stripper for many years, and enjoyed it, but claims that she rarely and reluctantly took her top off. She admits that she did, indeed, find her neighbor at her home when she was dating a drug lord, and that she spoke with his parents about the $25,000 he owed them, but denies that he was kidnapped.

She’s offering up a peep show, but is she naked? Hardly. Examining her life could yield a goldmine of insight into the human condition, but sadly she just skims the surface, paving the bumpy road of her past with cliches.

Danielle began life as Beverly Merrill. She was adopted from a young Italian mother, by the Merrills, who had suffered the turmoil of losing five of their children to cystic fibrosis. When they adopted Beverly, their biological son was in the last years of his life from the same disease. The story of Beverly’s birth parents probably will never be known due to the sealed adoption records, but this hasn’t stopped Danielle from sharing several different origin stories with the press. The story presented in the book paints her mother as a 14-year-old from a prominent Italian family who was knocked up by the love of her life, a boy five years her senior who was murdered over the pregnancy. Beverly/Danielle spends great portions of the chapters about her childhood relating that she’s always felt attracted to the finer things in life, claiming that these preferences came about while she was in her mother’s womb. She wants to present herself as noble in her blood, though born into poverty and depravity, and erroneously thinks that being attracted to nice things sets her apart from the “commoners.”

She suffered harrowing bouts of sexual molestation throughout her childhood. While she is vague about the details surrounding this, it’s pretty obvious that something extremely traumatized happened to young Beverly. Part of Danielle’s explanation for herself is that she wasn’t shown the proper way to love, respect, and conduct herself when she was young. Part of her argument is that she never really had a chance in life, and that she did pretty well considering. As an adult, Danielle is responsible for her own decisions, but there are probably terrible demons planted deep inside her as a child that now cloud her reason and vision.

Overall, The Naked Truth is a confusing, poorly written disaster constructed of poorly supported cliches and contradictions. Once the story gets going, it’s a light, engaging read, but it’s hard to overlook the gaping holes in this bio. If you really want to know who Danielle Staub, a.k.a. Beverly Merrill, a.k.a. Angela Minelli truly is, you won’t find her here. All you’ll find are shapes and shadows.

1 1/2 stars out of five.

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