Photo editor stops being polite and starts getting real at MTV auditions

by Beacon Staff • April 25, 2007

What was I thinking? The people on "Real World" are crazy.,When I woke up this past Saturday, my first thought, as usual, was of everything I needed to do that day. Suddenly, one not-so-usual task popped into my head: " I'm auditioning for 'The Real World' today."

What was I thinking? The people on "Real World" are crazy.

The season for which I'd be auditioning, according to the informational flyers, was being geared toward a more career-orientated demographic. I continued rationalizing my decision as I got ready, telling myself I was not completely psychotic for wanting to do this.

For some, doing the show is a way to stifle boredom or to get their 15 minutes of fame. Others just want to drink and get laid. Some want to move but don't have the resources to do it on their own.

I thought doing the show would be an interesting opportunity. It could be fun, and, you never know, I could learn a thing or two about myself-or anything, really.

I headed to Faneuil Hall around 2 p.m. with my friend Grant Himmler, a music business major at Berklee who I had convinced to audition as well. I laughed the entire T ride. I couldn't believe what I was about to do.

When we arrived at Ned Devine's and saw all the people there for the audition, I could tell it was going to be a long afternoon. I sized up my competition: boys dressed in all Abercrombie, Paris Hilton look-a-likes and the people who try to look like they don't care how they look because they want to seem "real."

One of the first things I had to do was fill out a typical questionnaire, giving information about everything from my height and weight to my career goals and why I wanted to be on "The Real World."

Not so bad. I answered everything honestly (even the weight question) but the questionnaire only took about 25 minutes to fill out.

There were still at least 100 people in front of me.

Luckily, paying attention to my competitors kept me occupied.

A couple of guys near me began discussing whether or not to admit having girlfriends on their questionnaires. Girls with fake bleach-blonde hair, oversized sunglasses, tummy-showing tank tops, and skirts revealing their entire butts stood around silently. They giggled occasionally, twirling their hair and pulling down their skirts, which didn't do much good.

I met a girl, incredibly cute and hyper, who wanted nothing more than to be on the show. Like many at the audition, she was there for a reason; she wanted to be a travel writer and thought being on the show could help her career.

Being there with no specific purpose in mind, I began to feel as if I had no right to audition. I planned on leaving Faneuil Hall laughing either way, but some of the people around me would give anything to make the cut.

Finally, around 4:30 p.m.-just half an hour before the casting call was set to wrap up-it was my turn to audition.

I was ushered into a room with 14 other prospective "Real World" cast members. A clearly exhausted casting agent took our questionnaires and, letting us know he was sick of playing get-to-know-you games, asked just the basic information from us, including a little about ourselves, why we were there and how being on the show could help us.

The first two guys to speak said they were just interested in having a good time-partying, drinking. The typical "Real World" activities. A girl talked about her favorite current "Real World" castmate. No one said anything particularly memorable.

When it was my turn, I told the group about my desire to be a photojournalist, something I can do anywhere. I mentioned a recent crazy experience I had in taking a photo for The Beacon, when I ran around Dorchester for six hours in search of the Guardian Angels and spoke over the phone with men who called themselves "B.A. Roadhouse" and "Agent."

The casting agent said I sounded like quite the risk taker. I told him I'm just na've when I get into situations I probably should be more afraid of, but he was impressed nonetheless.

And after a few more people spoke and the agent privately reviewed our questionnaires, only myself and Grant, who had talked about a new business in which he's involved, were asked to stay for round two of the audition process.

But that meant more questions.

We had just over an hour to fill out the new 20-page, 100-question form and fax it to another casting agent. By midnight, we would know if we had made it to stage three.

The second questionnaire was much more invasive than the first: Have you had an eating disorder? What was your childhood like? Describe your parents in two words. What are your worst traits? What are your deepest fears? When was the last time you had sex? How did this sexual encounter happen?

You name it, they asked.

I had to look into my past and think about things I swore to myself I would never think about again. Writing down my life, from my enemies to my grade-school years to my family-why I am the way I am-made me feel better about past situations and allowed me to let go of things that have made me unhappy.

I called some friends and family to tell them about this questionnaire. Some people congratulated me for moving up in the audition, while others wondered why I wasn't insulted that the casting agent had possibly seen a reality-TV "crazy-gene" in me.

I worried that I had come off looking like I belonged in a mental institution. Then again, the agents were looking for more career-oriented people. I consider myself to pretty motivated, and perhaps I fit the image they were going sought.

In the end, neither Grant nor I made it to round three. But I felt more in touch with myself than I had in years.

I hadn't done anything but be myself; it felt good to make it as far as stage two. I left the audition not regretting a thing, with one more experience notched on my belt.