I’ve been holding it in too long, I’m a reality TV show addict and survivor. I hanker for the stuff. My DVR cue reads like the cover of US Magazine. The Real Housewives, The Bad Girls Club, The Kardashians, The A-List, Gene Simmons Family Jewels, Jerseylicious, Mob Wives. What is a spiritual, vegan, animal rights activist like me doing watching shows that are basically ads for fur coats, toxic behavior, and animal abuse in the form of small dogs in leather jackets? Is it for a release or total brain rest? Is it to laugh or to cry? Each day brings me hundreds of horrific animal abuse stories, requests, and tragedy, so when evening hits, baby is asleep, kitchen is cleaned, events have been attended, whatever… it’s just nice to watch a vapid girl guzzle a tequila shot and contemplate her next auto tuned single. And I frankly enjoy it.
It’s mostly vapid, and it’s overall a joke. And I, much like most of America, can’t get enough.
I’m not only a reality TV show addict, I’m a survivor.
In 2001 I was the star of Bravo’s first reality TV show “The Gay Riviera” – sort of like The A-List (all “fabulous” gays and fag hags) I was an early Nyasha (and if you know what that means, you probably also watch too much reality TV.) Television’s first all-gay reality show, “The Gay Riviera” was ahead of its time, and I’m thankful for that. If not for it’s quick demise (only one season was aired) I may ended up a train wreck or having done something really embarrassing on air (luckily I wasn’t too bad.) I did things like sing at Don Hills with my rock band, promote massive bacchanalian parties on the lower east side, and pose in dramatic photo shoots. I was undoubtedly a wild child, but the nice Jewish girl inside kept me together enough to make it through to the other side unscathed. I did this show to promote LGBT awareness and gay rights. I’m not sure I helped the cause too much, but I did receive numerous fan letters. Many were fan letters from girls who loved my “style.” I wore things like purple faux fur full length coats and hot pink spandex onesies, it was the club kid 90’s in downtown NYC afterall and Patricia Fields ruled my fashion radar. But a few letters were from LGBT teens who said they felt proud after hearing me talk about queer life and one who even said I stopped her from committing suicide. So maybe it was a cheesy move, but maybe it saved one life. And maybe that one gay reality show cleared the path for another, or a book, or a Gay/ Straight alliance at a high school. You get my drift.
Though I have never actively sought or gone after reality TV, it has kept coming after me.
Years after “The Gay Riviera,” when I was in a different space and running GirlieGirl Army full-time, reality TV knocked on my door again. This time in the form of working with a big name producer and writer for a show called “Hot Green Girl” based on this very site. I was flown out to LA in a frenzy of excitement and talk of bidding wars. In typical TV fashion, contracts were offered and after months of negotiations, things fell through.
Again last year, I filmed a TV show with the producers of “Celebrity Rehab” called “Mommy & Me” for Vh1 that never got aired about “cool new Moms in NYC.” Panther enjoyed having producers in our house til all hours. I hoped my constant chatter promoting breastfeeding, holistic parenting, vegan baby food, and the search for non-leather supportive toddler shoes made the cut.
Recently Real Housewives filmed me twice. I knew I wasn’t right for this show – being neither rich enough nor old enough – but I did it anyway on the off chance I could school some fur wearing Upper East Side matrons.
If I’m not interested in being famous, why have I partook in this cesspool?
Because I know I could potentially help animals and other important causes via that medium. Reality TV is the new sitcom, the new newspaper, the new chatroom. One vegan on one reality TV show could potentially save billions of animals lives.
Just look at my BFF Simone Reyes who recently starred in reality show “Running Russell Simmons” where she did things like get naked for PETA and allowed the cameras to capture her first burlesque performance. Simone didn’t star in this show to be famous, she did it to help the animals. And help them she did, hundreds of people went vegan after watching (and listening) to Simone all season. She did brilliant things like happen to have “NO FUR” buttons on her coat and have vegan literature framed around her desk at every shot. She made every moment she was on camera count for the animals. Now that is a star.
It’s unfortunate that reality TV can do more for a cause than a non profit can achieve in years of tireless work, but this is the age we live in. So we can drop in, or tune out completely.
I can’t say I’m entirely done with TV, as juicy projects keep coming my way. Since my “Hot Green Girl” year dozens of vegan or animal based shows have been pitched, filmed, aired, and dropped. The TV world, unfortunately, isn’t ready yet for a show based on true compassion. I look forward to a day when my TV viewing consists of “Eco Chicks In The City” and “Vegan Vixens Take NY.”
Until then, I regularly post castings my casting agent friends send me to ya’ll via twitter and the newsletter hoping some of my soldiers in sisterhood and solidarity get cast in more mainstream projects. My point? Let’s get more vegans, activists, and wo/men who do real true philanthropic work on these shows. The animals are counting on us to use our big mouths.