The Long, Strange Life of Rielle Hunter

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Rush Limbaugh has opined that John Edwards' affair with Rielle Hunter is the fault of Elizabeth Edwards ... for misusing her mouth. Yes, really.

We'll let you sound off on that. In the meantime, People has a found out more on the back story of Rielle Hunter, Edwards' mysterious mistress.

The 44-year-old videographer and former campaign aide has gone through many personal transformations - almost as many as she has names.

Rielle Hunter went from an NYC party girl to an aspiring actress in LA, to a New-Age spiritualist of sorts, then to a political operative.

Hunter, Rielle
Rielle Hunter Picture (John Edwards' Mistress)

Rielle Hunter (a.k.a. Lisa Hunter, a.k.a. Lisa Druck) then and now.

The hilariously-named Pigeon O'Brien, a music publicist who's known Rielle for 20 years, says she's most puzzled by her latest role.

O'Brien was especially upset by the recent negative comments Rielle Hunter made about John's wife, Elizabeth Edwards, in Newsweek.

"The person I'm seeing now confuses me," O'Brien lamented. "Where is the Buddhist Rielle? She was a very grounded, spiritual, beautiful person."

Hunter, who has disappeared from public view in the time since the scandal broke, was born Lisa Druck in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., staying in the state until her late teens, when she dropped out of the University of Tampa.

By 1987 she was in New York and hanging with a hard-partying group, which included Bright Lights, Big City novelist Jay McInerney, whom she dated.

He was 30 when they met, and Rielle Hunter was 20. He was inspired to write the book Story of My Life by hanging out with her and her friends.

"I was fascinated by the way they talked," he says. "It was a different generation than my own. Today, it would come under the rubric of Valley Girl talk, the use of 'like,' instead of 'to say.' They were open speaking about sex."

Says Hunter's older sister, Roxanne Marshall, "Rielle is the black sheep of the family. We were all raised the same way. She chose a different path."

Hunter later moved to Los Angeles and married Alexander Hunter III, who financed the production of a play for her – a coming-of-age story about a group of tough 30-something New Yorkers and titled Savage in Limbo.

Co-star Elizabeth Dennehy recalls Rielle Hunter calling the cast together and lighting sage inside the theater "to clear the space of bad spirits and bring in the good ones. But it was meaningful and earnest."

In 1994 Hunter changed her first name from Lisa to Rielle because "it just came to her," according to O'Brien. She and Hunter divorced in 2000, and four years later, Rielle created a Web site called

It was in May 2006 when Hunter met John Edwards at a Manhattan hotel bar. She fell in love with the Democratic politician, whom she called "Love Lips." With that, a new, skanky chapter in Hunter's odd life had begun.

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Rielle Hunter Biography

Rielle Hunter Picture (John Edwards' Mistress)
Rielle Hunter (a.k.a. Lisa Hunter, a.k.a. Lisa Druck, a.k.a. Rielle Jaya James Druck) is a strange name that will live in political - and... More »
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Rielle Hunter

Rielle Hunter Quotes

He was very real and authentic. He was an inspiration to me.

Rielle Hunter [on John Edwards]

One of the great things about John Edwards is that he's so open and willing to try new things and do things in new ways.

Rielle Hunter