Recap: Auditions for MTV’s Gay Jersey Shore
Two weekends ago, Ginger and I took the 80+ mile journey down to Club In or Out in Hammonton, New Jersey, to check out the auditions for the upcoming television series (they’re pushing for MTV to pick this up) “Under the Boardwalk,” which is reported to involve eight to ten gays and lesbians (and, reportedly, one straight male or female “fag hag,” according to insiders) as they live in a house together and party it up in Atlantic City.
Auditions began at 7PM; we got there at around 7:30, and (after paying a cover, but, surprisingly, not having to wait in a line) entered what we discovered to be a rather rustic-looking bar that had been decorated in a fashion not unlike an eighth-grade dance – balloons, streamers, and all. We filled out the necessary release forms (numbers 108 and 111, respectively) and had our photos taken in a back room that was twice as bright as necessary (clearly to ensure the most unflattering photos ever) before settling in to wait our turn for the video interviews.
I guess Ginger’s comments about what she (and I) hoped this show to be went ignored. The group of young folk who had made it through to the second round were loud, largely unattractive, and clearly only interested in showing off just how much they could drink and how obnoxious they could be, judging by the constant chanting of “shots, shots, shots!” and pushing each other in order to get in front of the poor woman who was wandering around with a video camera.
The crowd was eclectic: femmes, butches, bears, bois, drag queens, twinks, and every other vision of gay and lesbians were to be found. The ages of the people in the crowd ranged from 21 (though I’m sure some younger folk managed to find a way to sneak in) to a dapper gentleman who was likely in his sixties.
We ran into a few of our friends from the Shore – surprisingly, none of the wacky “made for TV” folk that we so enjoy every night that we’re at Georgie’s – and, after realizing that waiting for a drink in the main bar was a hopeless task, wandered into a back room where there was a much-less-crowded bar. While it still took about fifteen minutes to get a drink – really, I don’t think any of the people working that night were actually used to dealing with more than three or four people in a night – we were able to converse freely, though we soon discovered that it was because the back room had been saved for those people who made it to the second round; that is, the people in there had already done their video interviews and were, apparently, intriguing enough to be filmed socializing.
By ten o’clock, they had reached video interviews numbers 28 and 29. Two and a half hours for thirty people, out of the 200 or so who were there. Not organized in the slightest. We had friends who mentioned in their Facebook status the next day that they waited ten hours for the video interview. Ridiculous!
We’d had enough, so we left.
Let’s just go through the problems here:
- If producers really wanted to show off “gay Jersey,” auditions shouldn’t have been held at some hole-in-the-wall bar out in East Bumblefuck. Any gay person who has ever lived or been in New Jersey knows that the gay mecca for the state is Asbury Park, and I’m not just saying that because I used to live five minutes from there. If you drive down any residential street in Asbury Park, rainbow flags adorn every other house – and sometimes every house, depending on the area. There are multiple gay and gay-friendly bars in the area. New Jersey Pride is held there. Miss Gay New Jersey is held there. The bar at which the auditions were held was so far away from everything, and so difficult to get to, that it probably … no, definitely, deterred most individuals with an ounce of appeal from attending. The fact that there were 200 people in attendance instead of 2000 should be evidence enough.
- The people we witnessed being moved to the second round are not the sort that anyone wants to watch on television. The appeal of “Jersey Shore” is that every character has their “thing.” I’m not saying that all of us find every character attractive or every character’s personality appealing, but they all have that certain x-factor that makes them fun to watch. The people we saw making it through were train wrecks, and not in the kind of way that makes for good television.
- What we witnessed perpetuates the stereotypes that keep the gay movement from moving forward as quickly as we’d like it to. As I said before, Ginger and I left the audition early, so perhaps the situation changed after we had gone, but, from the looks of it, all the producers wanted was a group of alcoholic, newly-21 folks to get drunk and cause drama on television. But not in the catchy “Real World” or “Jersey Shore” kind of way, but rather in a “what the hell goes on with America” kind of way.
Look at The Real L Word, or The A List: New York: the casts might have gone through their share of drama, but at least the cast members are educated and have a decent job. (By the way, we did catch a glimpse of Ryan from “The A List” at the auditions, but he disappeared quite early.) Why must a show – that hopes to be on MTV, for, really, the entire world to see – focus on the unemployed (or barely-employed) alcoholic types?
I just took a moment to Google “gay Jersey Shore auditions” and came across the one on Advocate.com called Dozens Audition for Gay Jersey Shore. The post quoted 22-year-old – repeat, 22-year-old – series creator, who said, “We’re not looking to create a gay version of the Jersey Shore or to find ‘the gay Snooki. And in no way will this be anything that has a negative effect on the LGBT community. We’re hoping for anything compelling, because you never know what’s going to walk through the door.” To be fair, her mother is Emmy-winning producer Kim Friedman, so I guess nepotism works in this case, but, still, it’s hard to believe that what we saw at Club In or Out will translate to a positive LGBT portrayal.
The article reaffirmed what we thought: “dozens” of people showing up for an audition, versus the standard thousands for a reality show. Seriously, if they’d held this thing at Paradise, they would have gotten hundreds and hundreds of people.
The comments on the Advocate article were telling:
UM HELLO ATLANTIC CITY?!? WTF!!! EPIC FAIL PRODUCERS – THE BEST NJ SPOT FOR GLBT IS ASBURY PARK ASBURY PARK ASBURY PARK CHANGE THE LOCATION AND THE SHOW WILL SERIOUSLY BE 1000000x BETTER FOR REAL
And in no way will this be anything that has a negative effect on the LGBT community.” Yeah, I’m going to just let that sink in….
Under The Boardwalk implies that it’s something dirty to be gay, and to be hidden.
In addition to all the other stupid reasons not to do this, anyone from Jersey knows that a LGBT show should be set in Asbury Park, not AC.
These moronic reality shows reflect badly on everyone who participates, particularly shows of this nature–and especially one that will resemble a “gay Jersey Shore”–even though they say it won’t. Of course, the show will have the worst of the worst characters. Outrageous, obnoxious TV is what pulls in the ratings for these people. Expect the worst. It will be humiliating, and there will be nothing enlightening or worthwhile about the finished product.
We don’t need another reason to be hated and persecuted. If this goes on air it will be used against us in more ways than one. Mark my words, this will bring new witch hunts.
I welcome any comments from the producers, or anyone else who is involved in this project. I really do want to know how they envision this program. And with regard to everyone else … what do you hope for in a gay reality show?