Cattle…I mean, casting call: That time I was on a terrible dating show.
They were casting “sexy singles” in my town. I was 26, and enjoyed inserting myself into sociological experiments for the sake of having a good story to tell, so I went.
They had me fill out a form with probing questions like “Are you shy or outgoing?, “Are you willing to wear a bathing suit on camera?”, and more importantly, “Do you look good in one?”. I turned in my paperwork and entered the interview area where a brawny actor-type was contorting his lips and eyebrows in his effort to flirt with the entire room. They sat us side by side on a couch, then the casting agents instructed us to ask each other questions as if we were on an actual date. I guess they were trying to gauge how hot, sexy and socially competent we were.
The actor asked what I did for fun.
“Write, ski, go to the park.”
I asked him what he considered his best quality. He took off his shirt.
He asked what traits I looked for in a guy.
“Kind, intelligent, witty, loving,” I replied.
I asked what he looked for in a woman.
“Good body, good face, likes to party,” he returned.
He wanted me to tell him something most people wouldn’t ever guess about me.
I hated this question. I could never think of anything clever or memorable to say. So like a disgusting human being, I told him I could burp like a lumberjack. The casting agent’s face lit up like a Christmas tree, although I’m still not sure why.
“Dooooo iittttt!”, the actor and the agent pleaded like frat boys, but stage fright consumed me. I started gulping for air the way my brother did right before belching at least 24 letters of the alphabet. Just when I thought I had a decent one to present, the air escaped and the wind left my sails.
“Ooops,” I giggled. “I guess I swallowed it.” I didn’t even get the sexual innuendo until I was back in my car.
But they loved me. I knew I was totally in. Hook, line, sinker.
On the day of taping, a pimply P.A. fetched me from my apartment and drove me to the filming site. You know how actors describe shooting a movie or TV show as a lot of “hurry up and wait”? The same applies to low-budget dating shows–I had to sit in this girl’s filthy hatchback for three hours in a vacant parking lot before any actual filming began. She chainsmoked while yapping on her cell phone. She dithered for hours about some guy who left hickies on her neck the night before, and complained endlessly about not getting along with her stepmother (who, incidentally, played Violet Bouregarde in the original Willie Wonka). When I told her I was getting antsy, she got out of the car and began tap-dancing outside the passenger side window. I should have punched her in the face. Team Blueberry all the way.
In case you’re wondering, the show I’m referring to was called ElimiDATE, or as one of my girlfriends called it, Elimi-trash. It ran from 2001 to 2006 and I auditioned for it on a stupid whim while living in Denver. (Don’t google my episode– you won’t find it anywhere. Thank god.).
It was without question one of the most tasteless programs ever to hit the airwaves, and offered basically zero in terms of redeeming qualities. The premise was this: one hot guy or one hot girl goes on a date with four other people at the same time. The date is split into three parts, with one contestant eliminated each round until there’s just one lucky lady or gent standing. The producers encouraged people to drink heavily, hurl insults at their competition and eventually make out with the main player, usually beneath the glow of strobe lights or in a hot tub filled with tiny bubbles and STDs.
The stars of our episode:
Amy: 22, cocktail waitress, appeared in Maxim Magazine half-naked and bent upside-down over a streetpole. Memorable quote of the evening: “Goals? I don’t have any goals.”
Marisa: 23, cocktail waitress, mother of a one-year old baby boy whose father had recently been sent to prison. Memorable quote: “My baby daddy’s in prison.”
Holly: 22, Hooters waitress, looked like Christie Brinkley, sweet and quiet, no memorable quotes
Me: 26, graduate student, negligible cleavage. Memorable quote: “This wasn’t exactly a Mensa meeting, was it?”
We were all competing for the attention of one man– a 25-year-old club promoter named J.J. who prided himself on having 600 girls’ phone numbers in his flip phone. He was about two inches shorter than all of us and had the brain span of an avocado. Memorable quote: “I hope these girls are hot because Denver’s biggest player needs Denver’s hottest girls.”