Day 15: Epilepsy on camera

Having epilepsy has made my life more difficult at times, but not unbearable. It didn’t stop me from going through all of the interviews, all of the tests and all of the paperwork to end up being on Beauty and the Geek back in 2005.

For making the final decision about who to put in front of the cameras, they flew a bunch of potential participants to L.A. and locked us in our hotel rooms. During that time, along with interviews with producers and doctors testing me for cooties, I got a visit from a psychiatrist.

One of the forms I sent them during an earlier part of the process was a big “YES or NO” test. “Are you single? Have you been in an adult film? Do you have cooties?” And so on. She wanted to ask me about all of the YES answers on my sheet and there was one that stuck out.

(You’ll have to forgive me for not remembering the exact wording, but things get fuzzy after close to 13 years.) The question was along the lines of “Have you ever experienced something odd or unusual?” You know, like seeing aliens or Bigfoot or the new Godzilla movie in the theater.

She asked me why I checked yes and I couldn’t remember. I had filled it out a few months prior, so… “Well, I mean, we all have different experiences, we all experience the world in different ways, right?” I felt a little ridiculous, but she was satisfied. We went through the rest of the interview without any problems.

It wasn’t until maybe an hour after she left that it occurred to me: “Experiencing unusual things… oh yeah, seizures.”

(In case you’re wondering, they were aware of my having epilepsy. I brought my medication and I was taking it twice a day on my usual schedule, so no seizures. Unfortunately, there was vomiting later in the season, but that wasn’t epilepsy-related.)

Beauty and the Geek psych evaluation

Last week, I got a message on here and on Facebook from a high school student in New York. The full story (that she explained in full a little later) was that her psychology teacher had seen Beauty and the Geek, assigned groups of kids in his class to watch different seasons, then gave them a few options for an assignment after that.

One of those options was to interview a former cast member, so because her group liked me the best (Yay!), they found a way to contact me, we sent a few messages back and forth and I eventually had an hour-long chat via Skype with three high school psychology students. They sent me a list of questions ahead of time, giving me time to think about my answers, so I got to tell them a couple of good stories and I like to think I dropped a couple of interesting knowledge bombs, too.

Some were basic questions that I might get from anyone: Why did you audition for the show, how has it affected your personal life, what would you have done with the money, etc. One question I liked that had an answer they probably didn’t expect was #7 on the list:

Some individuals may feel that receiving the money as an award corrupts the experience. Do you agree with this? In other words, are you glad that you didn’t win?

“No.”

Aside from the obvious “I would have liked to win”, I don’t think it corrupts the experience. It may affect how you approach it: you may be there for the experience or you may be focused entirely on winning the money, but either way, your goal is set, you know what you’re trying to accomplish. If everyone is there solely for the experience and the money is introduced a few weeks in, that could corrupt it. People’s behavior could change because their goal changes. (I suppose “corrupt” is a personal judgment—you consider money a negative factor—but it definitely alters the experience, for better or worse.)

I also liked the final question, #10:

What was going through your head when you found out that high school students wanted to interview you about a show you did 10 years ago?

Initially, I was flattered. “They like me, they really like me!” Then I was extremely curious. “What was the process that went from ‘high school psychology class’ to them contacting me about a potential interview? What kind of terrible teacher would force their students to watch that show?!” (Plus there was the little voice in my head reminding me, “I’m over 20 years older than these kids… God, I’m old.”)

It was really nice that they’d seen all the episodes recently, so I could tell them stories relating to their questions and they knew exactly what I was referring to (the quotes below are approximate, but you get the idea):

  • [One question on the students’ list was about whether I’m still into the same activities that I was ten years ago.] “Remember when someone mentioned ‘going out only two times a month’? That was me.”
  • “We were allowed to tell girls anything but the truth about why we wanted their phone numbers, so Chuck was the smartest out of all of us because he came up with the best lie!”
  • “I let Scarlet yell at me after the outdoor challenge for a long time because I agreed with her. I knew I screwed up.” [I proceeded to give them a list of things I could/should have done differently.]
  • “During the Aftermath, the producers were giving people some of those questions. The girl who asked Joe on a date was 14 years old.” [Joe called her afterward and got to talk to her dad.]
  • “They didn’t show all of the questions because someone asked me about how the Boy Scouts responded after my ‘meltdown’ during the outdoor challenge. I think they specifically worded the questions to see what kind of emotional responses they could get.”

Finally, toward the end of the interview, one girl asked me for five adjectives that best describe the experience for me and there’s no question that “memorable” belongs on that list.

Happy 10th anniversary of our broadcast premiere!

June 1st, 2005. A lifetime ago (assuming that you’re younger than ten years old). 14 faces appeared for the first time on the WB. Well, aside from all the promos that aired up until the premiere, but this was the first time the faces were on-screen for longer than thirty seconds during a commercial break.

To Eric and Cheryl, Joe and Erika, Brad and Krystal, Bill and Lauren, Richard and Mindi, Chuck and Caitilin, and of course Scarlet: Happy anniversary, everyone. It was an honor and a pleasure. Yes, at times, it was really unpleasant, but overall, an honor and a pleasure.

Everyone say Cheese!
The cast of Beauty and the Geek, Season 1

Beauty and the Geek is 10 years old

Officially, the first episode aired on June 1, 2005. However, today marks the 10th anniversary of the day the producers brought us through the front gates of the mansion and turned on the cameras.

My blog entry from January 6th that year was about getting the call that I’d be flying out to L.A. the following weekend, Jan. 13-16. Most people went home straight from the hotel on Sunday. Those of us who stayed got into a van the next morning and rode in many, many circles until we finally arrived at what would become our not-so-humble abode for the next two and a half weeks. Well, that long for the ones who made it to the final episode. The rest of us who lost in the elimination room left the house immediately (yes, immediately—I accidentally left my shaver in the bathroom and never saw it again), spent the night in a hotel, then flew home the next day.

One of my favorite memories from the first day was when they filmed us seven guys coming up the driveway in two Mini Coopers. They wanted me to drive the one in back, but I’ve never been any good with a stick shift, so they put Bill behind the wheel instead (he was the Vice-President of the Dukes of Hazzard Fan Club, so that seemed more appropriate anyway, if you ask me). I don’t recall which one of us was responsible—we were both sitting in front—but one of us totally screwed up one of the takes because we cranked up the radio as we headed up the driveway. The director did not approve.

Many, many fond memories… and some really shitty ones, too… but reflecting back on it after a decade, I’m still glad I was picked to be on the show. If nothing else, it taught me to look more carefully in the bathroom when I’m packing my stuff to go home.

No pity for Television Without Pity

If you’re following my Twitter account or see my blog entries appear on your Facebook News Feed, you’re about to receive an onslaught of posts in the next day or two. My apologies, but there’s a good reason for it.

It started when I found out that Television Without Pity will be shutting down on April 4th. It’ll be keeping the old forums online until May 31st, but after that, no more TWoP. It’s kind of a bummer because the website earned a special place in my heart many, many years ago. And by “many years ago”, I mean “the summer of 2005 when Beauty and the Geek was on the air.”

My older brother Brent told me about the site since he’d created an account, started following what was going on and occasionally posted little tidbits of information about me. (There was never any concern about spoilers because I never told him anything before it appeared on the TV screen, so he found out how thoroughly I tanked the outdoor challenge at the same time as all of the other home viewers.) But when he told me about some of what people were writing, I was intrigued and started lurking on the forum.

Brent eventually revealed that we were brothers and people occasionally tried to milk him for information and/or insight. Not a big deal—he could write more than I felt comfortable doing because I didn’t want to breach my contract with the WB. However, that let to a really awkward exchange for one person on the forum.

First, I’d like to declare that it’s a major ego boost to read that someone had a sex dream about you and “it was nice.” Second, I’d like to declare that it’s probably really, really embarrassing to find out that the object of said sex dream read what you wrote. I can’t say for sure, but after someone pointed out that Brent was my brother and I was probably lurking, her next post was “oh fuck.”

But reading about how people saw and interpreted the show (versus what actually happened) was usually pretty interesting. There were some pretty insightful and intelligent people there, many of whom had my back when things were going in the toilet with gathering phone numbers and Scarlet chewing me out for a majority of our final episode on the show.

When I read that TWoP was going to be shutting its proverbial doors soon, I decided to go read through what people wrote oh so many years ago. Ah, nostalgia… And ah, sex dreams… I spent way too many hours last night reading the first fifty or so pages of the forum (that’s when they started writing about later seasons and who cares about those?).

Brent had referred them to my blog at various times, particularly after the 4th and 5th episode when I was ranting about what happened, what appeared on the screen, what didn’t appear on the screen, etc. Since people were discussing that, I decided to pile up some more nostalgia by going to the blog and reading those entries as well.

There was just one problem: they weren’t there.

I thought I transferred all of the posts that I’d saved on my hard drive. As I wrote them in the past, I’d copy and save them in a Word file, then add the date and title to a “Blog entry dates” file to keep everything in order. When I compared that list to what was on the website, there were two dozen missing.

If it was just a long string of entries, I’d understand. I was reposting everything on the new blog, got sloppy and missed a big chunk. In this case, though, there were maybe five scattered here and there within a span of about two months. I’m not sure what happened, but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I’m going to fix the problem. I’m going to post everything that’s currently missing, change the publishing dates to their original dates and everything will be back to the way it should be. Order will be restored!

Thus, I’m going to be busy for a day or two and you may end up reading a whole lot of outdated stuff, but who knows? Maybe some of you will get the same sense of nostalgia. But you probably won’t have the same sex dreams.