Raquel Leviss on if She Was “in Love” With Tom Sandoval, Denies Being Ariana’s “Best Friend,” and Feels She Was Exploited as Everyone Cheats on Vanderpump Rules, Plus She Hints at Show Exit, Slams Scheana and Suggests Tom and Ariana’s Relationship Was Fake

by Lindsay Cronin Comments
Raquel Leviss on If She Was "in Love" With Sandoval, Never Hanging Out With Ariana Off-Camera, and Pump Rules Exit, Plus Slams Scheana and Suggests Tom and Ariana's Relationship Was Fake

Credit: Getty Images/JC Olivera/Stringer

Raquel Leviss appeared on Bethenny Frankel‘s podcast on Wednesday, where she set the record straight about her relationships with Tom Sandoval, 40, and Ariana Madix, 38.

While also suggesting she’s quit Vanderpump Rules, slamming Scheana Shay‘s false narrative about their relationship, and accusing the cast of “normalizing” cheating, Raquel claimed she and Ariana never hung out one-on-one when cameras weren’t rolling and admitted to feeling “exploited” by Bravo.

On the August 16 episode of Just B With Bethenny, Bethenny, 52, began by sharing her initial reaction to “Scandoval.”

“It seemed disproportionate. To me, I was watching clips on social media and hearing about this ‘Scandoval,’ that had a name, was being marketed and it was being pumped through the PR machine,” she explained. “My mind was, ‘They’re on a reality show. It’s set in a bar, was what I think. It’s fueled by alcohol and partying and multiple affairs. So what, respectfully, what the hell is the big deal that everyone’s talking about?’”

“The couple wasn’t married, no one had kids. And I started to talk about this reality reckoning and this concept that was just an off-the-cuff thing that I said about exploitation without compensation and I said your name just as an example of what I imagined to be somebody who had been exploited,” Bethenny continued to Raquel. “For the rest of your life, that content will be out there without compensation.”

“It’s so nice to have you validate that experience because, for a moment, I thought I was going crazy,” Raquel replied. “Reality TV is, it’s edited. It is contrived to create a certain storyline. And so it’s not all factual. So as a viewer tuning in, it’s easy to get wrapped up in that.”

According to Raquel, she believes her affair with Sandoval “[hit] home” with many viewers and led to “a lot of projection” and “a lot of emotions.”

“Unfortunately, I was the punching bag for a lot of that,” she reasoned, noting that cheating is common amongst her castmates.

“It’s almost been normalized in a way and so as I’m looking up to my fellow cast members and seeing them as role models in how to make a good TV show, because I want to do my job well, it’s uncanny to see the hate that this specific affair brought up in people when almost every single one of the cast members have been in an affair,” she said.

Raquel then noted that Sandoval and Ariana’s relationship was different off-camera than on.

“I would not be involved in this affair secrecy type of situation if I thought that there was longevity in this relationship between Tom and Ariana,” she explained. “The people closest to them could see that their relationship hasn’t been what they portray on camera and Tom always told me they’re a brand. They’re an image. They work together to make brand deals and they are business partners.”

As Raquel left Los Angeles in March and headed to Arizona, where she checked herself into The Meadows for mental health treatment, she gave Sandoval a key to her apartment. However, rather than stay there, Sandoval opted to remain in the $2 million home he shares with Ariana.

“They do still live together. I actually gave Tom the key to my apartment while I was away at The Meadows and he had a free place to stay and chose to stay and chose to stay in the house with Ariana,” she revealed. “I don’t know [if they can afford to live separately]. I know that a lot of his money was wrapped up in the bar, Schwartz & Sandy’s, and I know that Ariana’s been doing a lot of brand deals. I don’t know their situation but I do know that it really isn’t that surprising that they’re living together in my eyes because it’s been this way.”

“They haven’t been an authentic couple, romantic, intimate…” she added.

Following the exposing of her affair with Sandoval, Raquel lost a number of friends, including Scheana, 38, who she claims was “one of [her] best friends.” As Pump Rules fans will recall, Raquel lived in Scheana’s apartment for months after her split from James Kennedy, 31, in late 2021. However, as Raquel shared with Bethenny, Scheana’s suggestion that she used her was false.

“She started this narrative that she was the sister I never had and like a mother to me and gave me a place to live when no one else would put me up anywhere and that I didn’t pay rent, which is not true,” Raquel confirmed. “I did pay rent and I also catsat for her cat… I also did her podcast and she said the one podcast that I did with her talking about my breakup with James was the number one most listened to podcast so… It’s just unfortunate that she’s trying to create this narrative that I’ve taken advantage of her when I feel like I did contribute in a way.”

When Raquel was then asked about her NSFW FaceTime session with Sandoval, she revealed the video was recorded without her consent.

“Correct. I was in New York for Watch What Happens Live… I decided to be adventurous and look at the adult section on the TV, and Tom and I FaceTimed a lot, so it turned into something more of an intimate FaceTime. I expected to have privacy in that moment, so that happened,” she recalled.

But shortly after making the video, Raquel received a text from Ariana.

“I was celebrating with Scheana after [WWHL] and I looked at my hairstylist and I was like, ‘You know what? I’m ready for anything. Whatever happens, I feel like I just leveled up and I’m killing it and I can handle anything.’ Literally five minutes later I get a text from Ariana sending me two screen-recorded videos and a text that said ‘You’re dead to me.’ And that’s how I knew that she knew,” Raquel explained. “That’s how I found out that I had been recorded without my consent, so of course all of these emotions came flooding over me.”

“She called me and she was yelling at me and begged to know when it first started,” Raquel continued. “And because she had that video, I was scared for… I was scared that it was going to be leaked.”

Raquel said that in that moment, she felt pressured to share how long she and Sandoval had been sleeping together, even though Sandoval didn’t want her to know.

“Tom and I couldn’t come to a resolution on the timeline of it all because Tom didn’t want Ariana to know how long it had actually been going on and felt like it would hurt her more if she knew that this happened during the summer,” Raquel revealed. “She begged to know. I told Ariana that it had been happening for seven months and she flipped out.”

While Raquel didn’t directly say whether or not she’d be back for season 11 of Pump Rules, she suggested she will not after saying that it wasn’t fair how she was treated amid season 10 and hinting that she nearly did return to clear her name.

“I’ve been portrayed as the ultimate villain,” she noted. “My mistakes that I made on camera live on forever and you mentioned something about the addiction of doing reality TV and the way that they always dangle that carrot in front of you, like, ‘Well, you need to tell your side of the story otherwise it’s gonna be written for you.’ And that’s terrifying. So I almost went back, just because of that.”

In addition to shading Scheana for creating a false narrative, Raquel claimed her relationship with Ariana was painted as something it wasn’t. In fact, she told Bethenny that the two of them never hung out together off-camera.

“No. Not just us together,” she confirmed. “That is the narrative that is being written for me. It is more salacious in that way. Ariana and I were not best friends. We were acquaintances who became friends through the show.”

That said, Raquel acknowledged that Ariana had always been someone who was “very sweet” and supportive of her.

“But we never had a deep conversation that I would have with a best friend and it’s painful to think that I hurt her in this way because that wasn’t my intention. I wasn’t trying to be a malicious person I just got wrapped up in this and wasn’t thinking clearly. But we were not best friends,” she clarified.

Looking forward, Raquel said she doesn’t expect Ariana to forgive her.

“I think once trust is broken with somebody, from personal experience, it’s really hard to come back from that. And the fact that I was able to keep those secrets from her, I don’t expect her to ever forgive me but I am remorseful,” she stated. “I do recognize that I’ve caused her a lot of pain and there was a lot of secrecy [and] deception.”

“Although I wasn’t hanging out with Ariana off-camera to begin with, I did start hanging out with her in a group setting because Tom would always invite me out so it did seem like we were close friends from the outside looking in but in those situations, I was hanging out with Tom more than I was hanging out with her,“ she added.

Also on the podcast, Raquel said she was never “in love” with Sandoval.

“I believed I was in love with Tom at the time. I now look back on it and see that I was not in love with him,” she shared. “I also don’t believe that he truly was in love with me either. We had this connection that I felt seen and heard by him that I haven’t really had with other people on the cast, nor people in my real life. So it was like, I was filming in a tumultuous environment. I was needing some validation and somebody to hear what I was going through and here comes along Tom who really gave me that time of day to share my side of the story in a non-judgment zone and that’s exactly what I needed in that moment.”

Vanderpump Rules season 11 is currently in production and expected to premiere on Bravo sometime later this year or early next year.