Things you didn't know about Nicole Curtis

You may think you already know everything about Nicole Curtis, the mastermind behind HGTV and DIY Network's home improvement show Rehab Addict, but the reality TV star leads quite the double life. On camera, she's charming and wonderful and looks like she's got it all together. Behind the scenes, however, she's had more than her fair share of drama. The mom of two (who gave birth to son Ethan on December 24, 1997 when she was just 18 years old and welcomed a second baby boy, Harper, in July of 2015) has spent over a decade engaged in nasty custody battles. She's also had numerous problems with the law and most members of her family. Here are the most surprising things you never knew about Nicole Curtis:

She used to work at Hooters

Before she hit it big, Curtis worked as a waitress at a few different fast food chains, including IHOP and Hooters. According to People, it was actually a friend who suggested Curtis apply for a job at the restaurant known for its scantily clad waitresses. She did and landed the gig, but even then she struggled to make enough money, while caring for her first baby, Ethan. So she took on a second job. "Before her shifts at [Hooters], Curtis would clean houses to make ends meet, and continued to do so after her son Ethan was born." But, as she told People, "I never regretted giving up a corporate job to clean houses so that I could make Ethan's second grade Halloween party happen."

She hid her second pregnancy in some bizarre ways

When Curtis became pregnant for the second time a few years ago, she did everything in her power to hide the news from the world. Why? "I wanted something of my own," she told News Observer in an interview in October 2016. "I wanted this time to be sacred." While filming for her show, Rehab Addict, Curtis made sure to carry props to hide her growing belly and asked cameramen to only shoot her from the shoulders up whenever possible. She also did her best to cover up her bun in the oven at public events. "She would wear black dresses, sit at high bar tables and strategically hold her lap dog," writes News Observer.

She allegedly tried to kidnap her infant son

It was in the midst of her nasty custody battle with former partner Shane Maguire that Curtis allegedly went as far as to try to kidnap the couple's then 15-month-old son Harper in the middle of the night. A Star Tribune reporter who goes by the name C.J. called Maguire's lawyer, Gerald Cavellier, in August 2016 to ask about the allegations and was told that Curtis had been found "at [Maguire's] house late at night trying to retrieve the child in the middle of the night. He lives in St. Paul. I don't know if [St. Paul police filed a report] or it was just a run sheet." C.J. then gave Curtis a chance to respond, but she simply declared "that's not true" and, upon further investigation, C.J. discovered that "St. Paul Police's media coordinator Steve Linders could find no record of a Sunday incident."

She lied to a community in Minneapolis

When Curtis purchased a home in north Minneapolis in November 2012 and announced that she would be fixing it up, everyone in the community had high hopes for the property. Fast forward a couple of years and the dilapidated house was essentially in the same state it had always been. That's when neighbours began complaining about the lack of progress and safety concerns to the city, which started looking into taking legal action against Curtis.

Back in 2012, the reality TV star bought the house for just $2 and, according to the Star Tribune, the low price tag came with several strict conditions, including having to "substantially complete construction" in one year. The deadline passed, Curtis did not communicate with city officials about the delays and so, two and a half years after the one-year mark, the city went ahead and asked for a formal appraisal of the property, which could result in a potential seizing of the home.

Council Member Blong Yang met with Curtis and told the Daily Mail in July 2016 that "she didn't say much. I don't know what the plan is. I think we as a city have to figure out what to do at this point, because it has been a burden on the neighbors who live there." Neighbours and Yang concluded that Curtis doesn't care about fixing up the neighborhood as she originally promised and that it's time to take serious action.

She had a restraining order filed against her… by her mother

In the midst of her bitter custody battle with Maguire, Curtis was hit with a restraining order… from her own mother. As Daily Mail reported, Curtis's mom, Joan Curtis, tried to file a restraining order against her reality TV star daughter on June 20, 2016 by "citing 'mental fits of rage' and 'her hate for me.'" According to the paper, Curtis allegedly threatened her mother repeatedly and once even did so in a Florida hospital in front of her ailing grandmother. Court papers revealed that Joan accused her daughter of causing "total distress to my dying mother with her screaming, crying and threatening words and actions."

She also told a judge that Curtis harassed her over the phone and sent her threatening emails and that "she is a control freak and mean and nasty," reports Detroit News. "She calls and sends me emails on how she hates me and how I have never been a mother to her and have never supported her. She's crazy and I'm tired of it. I can't trust her." Due to lack of evidence, the restraining order was not granted.

She was threatened with jail time

A judge had to warn Curtis in August 2016 that she might be sent to jail if she doesn't pay "expenses incurred for missed parenting times and attorney fees," reports the Detroit News. Judge Langton, who awarded her second son's father, Shane Maguire, joint custody and parenting time on alternating weekends, told Curtis: "I'm tired of the parties being back here every other week. I consider this contempt of a court order and could include jail time."

When Curtis tried to justify why she had violated Maguire's visiting rights (she took their infant son to New York City to meet with her book publishers, claiming she stood to lose $500,000 if she didn't go), the judge answered: "What you are doing may be in your best interests and your book's best interests but not in the best interests of this child." He then ordered the reality TV star to "make payments in full to the boy's father" and also "barred Curtis from taking her son to job sites where lead or other toxins are present and barred both parties from using private investigators." Maguire's lawyer, Gerald Cavellier, added: "We don't want to see her in jail, we just want Shane to be able to see his son."

She covered up the fact that Ethan's father killed someone

In her 2016 memoir, Better Than New: Lessons I've Learned from Saving Old Homes (and How They Saved Me), Curtis wrote about her ex-boyfriend Steve Cimini missing the birth of their son Ethan because he was stuck at work. However, Radar Online discovered that that wasn't the case at all, writing that they can "exclusively reveal that he was actually in prison" following a deadly DUI accident in which he fatally hit a pedestrian and fled from the scene.

A warrant for Steve's arrest was published on March 13, 1996 after an officer "arrived at the scene of the accident and located an individual later identified as [redacted], who was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident [and] determined from his investigation that the victim had stepped out in front of a vehicle later determined to be driven by Steve Cimini."

A witness confirmed to law enforcement "that Cimini hit a pedestrian and left them for dead." Steve was taken into hospital for his own wounds where he admitted to driving the car that caused the accident and "seemed incoherent about why he did not stay at the scene of the accident." Once in court, he pleaded 'no contest' and was given a prison sentence for DUI manslaughter.

She faked her relationship with oldest son Ethan on TV

Once Steve Cimini completed his prison sentence, he and Curtis tried to raise their son, Ethan, together, but went their separate ways in September 1998, reports Radar Online. The couple then spent 15 years in a nasty custody battle that took a real toll on their young son. "Ethan began to develop deeper issues. Curtis put him in therapy, and began to rely on her mom Joan to help her raise him in place of Cimini, who moved away to California," reported Radar.

Fast forward to 2015 and mom and son reportedly "got into an explosive fight and their relationship was changed forever." A slew of incomplete high school homework assignments allegedly resulted in Curtis "restricting his cell phone data plan and prohibiting him from using Snapchat until his assignments were completed." When Curtis came home on March 8, 2015, she found the entire house in disarray and Ethan missing. After a week of not knowing where her son was, Curtis discovered that he had joined his father in California and "refused to return home unless he lived with his grandmother instead of Curtis."

Curtis agreed and, as court documents show, was allegedly cut out from Ethan's life and had "to spend immeasurable time following up with school administrators, doctors, and law enforcement agents just to remain informed as to Ethan's well-being". She went on to tell a judge that she "suddenly found herself completely cut out of her child's life after 17 years."

Meanwhile, in the same court papers, Ethan called his mother "hostile" and Steve claimed that she "was aware that Ethan was suffering [in school] but allowed it when it was good for ratings. Plaintiff's concern is not for the minor child but for herself. The information regarding these proceedings will not be nearly as damaging or harmful to the child as his appearances on the television show because they came at the expense of his school work and a normal social life." Ethan eventually moved to California to join his dad and finish his high school there.

She's given back to local communities

Students and teachers at Winslow Township Middle School in Winslow, New Jersey were in for quite the treat when they began working on building a new garden outside their school — a space meant to double as an outdoor classroom — as they received help from one very special season pro: Nicole Curtis.

While searching for funding for the innovative project (which also included building a wood and metal shop for the kids), the school's Environmental STEM teacher, Ross Cruz, entered a nationwide contest hosted by torch maker Bernzomatic, which was on the lookout for creative community projects to support. The school was selected and received a $15,000 grant, plus a visit from Curtis. The reality star "oversaw the projects and made sure every student who invested sweat into the work autographed the objects they built," reports the Courier-Post.

She's been accused of hiding son Harper from his father

Curtis and her ex, Shane Maguire, have been locked in a nasty custody battle for their infant son, Harper, for over 12 months and rather than approaching a light at the end of the tunnel, it has been getting progressively worse.

Come April 2017, Maguire had filed a sixth motion against Curtis, alleging that she's been keeping him from seeing his son, despite court ordered visits. Speaking with E!, Maguire's lawyers said: "Nicole has denied Shane parenting time… Nicole Curtis has been sanctioned by the court more than once for violating parenting time and for violating the judge and the court's orders."

Papers filed in court state that Curtis "continues to claim that Harper is sick and therefore unable to fly, something she has done since the onset of this case in order to avoid taking Harper to his father. If [Curtis] did not want a young child to be on an airplane, she should not have moved from Minnesota to Michigan just days after the birth of Harper," they add.

Maguire also alleged that he bought a plane ticket to go visit his son in March, but was told by Curtis that she and Harper would be in Atlanta that weekend instead and that he would have to buy a new ticket if he wanted to see Harper. Curtis has not responded to any of her ex's claims.

Who is Nicole Curtis, really?

From her humble career beginnings, which saw Curtis balancing multiple jobs, including waitressing at Hooters, to two tumultuous custody battles (the second of which nearly landed her in jail) and family drama that reached a soap opera-worthy level when Curtis' own mother tried to file a restraining order against her, it's clear to see that the Nicole Curtis fans know and love from Rehab Addict is not the same Nicole Curtis who can be found off-camera. Further proof that reality TV is anything but real.