Hollywood bombshell, lingerie mogul, former Playboy model, actress and comedy queen Rhonda Shear lives in Snell Isle when she’s not pitching her intimate apparel on HSN, doing good deeds or promoting her new hilarious memoir “Up All Night.”
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I asked Rhonda and husband Van Fagan how they keep the sizzle in their Valentine’s Day celebration. Between touring her luxury downtown St. Pete home (which she calls her “Barbie Dream House”) and talking about her New Orleans to Las Vegas to Tampa journey and her new book, we couldn’t stop laughing.
In her funny, naughty, candid book Shear shares the unforgettable story of a woman who was always “up to something”—too pretty, too funny, too ethnic, too blonde—to achieve anything, but who ended up achieving everything. Packed with vivid characters, hilarious stories and wisdom for women of all ages, “Up All Night”, proves that when it comes to achieving your dreams, the only voice that matters is your own, and her business/life tips resonate as the real deal.
First up, it was time for romance. “I always love Valentine’s Day and when I hosted “Up All Night” late night movie show, it was huge for us and in the lingerie business, Valentine’s Day is the apex, although I like to say that every day should be boudoir dress up day!” says Shear.
How do she and Van like to celebrate? In addition to both being incredible home cooks who enjoy hipping up a romantic meal, topped off with good bubbly (Veuve Cliquot, of course and chocolate strawberries), they like dating and a romantic dinner. “We love Rococo Strak Restaurant, it’s so romantic and intimately dark, and the food is amazing and in Tampa, we love Capital Grille.”
Shear’s home décor is “romantic, eclectic style.” With a fabulous Snell Isle bay view from the backyard, they overlook an alfresco haven complete with pool and their 52-foot yacht for cruising to the Keys or Sarasota. Van and Rhonda live there with their four Chihuahuas and one Yorkie, her “little heartbeats” and the inspiration for her latest philanthropic effort as an SPCA Tampa Bay Ambassador.
“Each room is uniquely interesting and eclectic and part of our personality,” says Shear about the 10,000 square foot home with four bedrooms. “We’ve repurposed the three bedrooms and rooms in unique ways.”
“For example, we created a complete art deco home entertainment theater. Local artist Jeff Walling painted art deco canvases of old movie posters and the Hollywood sign covers a window like a black out shade. With eight leather chairs and state-of-the-art sound system, it’s where everyone wants to hang out.”
They turned another bedroom into the “Zen Room,” a spa with candles, Buddhas and beautiful Asian artwork, a spa bed, high-end massage chair and cabinet with all the spa oils and creams. With a penchant for play and entertaining guests, Shear created a billiard room, and when the grandkids visit, the pool table converts to a ping pong table.
Who’s the better pool player? “Van of course,” she laughs. “For charity events, we’ve covered the pool table with black velvet and shown amazing jewelry, even the Dali brought jewels never seen in the museum to the house with a security guard, of course.”
Under the spiral staircase is a little round room Shear calls “my speakeasy game room,” stocked with games (poker table, Clue, Monopoly, checkers) and framed in beautiful heavy green velvet drapes with rope tie-backs. The cozy hideaway stars another of Jeff Walling’s 40-foot canvas’s showcasing his Florida vision of Monet’s water lilies, filled with mangroves and Florida birds Shear transformed the laundry/sewing room into a beauty salon and green room for photo shoots and make-up sessions. Even the mobile dog groomer sets up here, and a refrigerator full of bubbly water and soda makes it a “den for women” she calls “Spa Eukie.”
Her romantic styling wafts through the house. In the living room is an elegant white couch and a teinway grande piano is the center of the Grand Salon, where she hosts 300-person fundraisers and where she and Van renewed their wedding vows. There’s a high ceiling den with a Chihuly-esque chandelier and a formal dining room that seats twelve guests comfortably. “I love tablescapes,” says Shear.
The kitchen is the heart of the home with an antique wooden table from Paris, a butler area and three sinks plus a prep sink. Next to the kitchen is a stand-alone bar with 12 barstools and a pub table that’s “bigger than most bars, all mahogany, hand-built,” says Shear.
The house also features three balconies, a three-room master bedroom that doubles as a den/office with a two-sided fireplace, a full gym with dance barre, a steam room and a mother-in-law guest suite with bath and kitchen. “Good thing because I will be kicking up the exercise routine now that I’ve signed to be one of Nutrasystem’s online influencers.”
(All photos courtesy of Rhonda Shear )