(Courtesy of fancast.com)
You may already know what happens when strangers are picked to live in a house and forced to stop being polite and start getting real.
But you don’t know about the insufferable long waits, the aggravating task of having to spend all of your free time with complete strangers, having to change in a room full of cameras, or the lack of Twitter, your cell phone, the internet, or even that book you’re currently devouring - which is exactly what happens each season on ‘Big Brother.’
I was picked to live in a house with eleven reporters, radio personalities, publicists, reality stars…and one bare-chested, leather-clad young man who gave us a fake name and told us he worked for a late night talk show.
Come back to check out all things ‘Big Brother 11′ on Fancast
The lot of us were plucked from the comforts of our everyday lives and forced to mingle and play pie-in-the-face games with each other all for the sake of ‘Big Brother’ Media Day 11 (or should I call it 10.5?) - a chance for press to get a sneak peek into the new season of the reality series. And what follows is the best - and worst - of my whopping 13 hours at the Big Bad Brother house.
The ‘Big Brother’ house is now green! Complete with compost bins, numerous recycling cans, bike-powered light bulbs, bamboo eating utensils, and a whole room decorated in old glass bottles, aluminum cans and bubble wrap. The walls of the back yard are wallpapered with images of wind-powered turbines (perhaps the show is offsetting its carbon footprint by investing in one of these?) The walls in one of the bedrooms - the red room - seem to be made up of some type of recycled material, while the walls of the bathroom are made out of giant industrial storage bins. (For an extensive run-down of the house interior, please scroll to the bottom of this post.)
Our group was like a subsection of the cliques you had in high school. We all seemed to fit into neat little categories - the princesses, the jocks, the geeks, the populars, the sexpots, the crunchy vegetarians, the mysterious bad boys, and the straight arrows. But did we all live up to our labels by the end of the day?
In the bunch: Rosanna Tavarez, lovable on-air personality from TV Guide Channel, ‘Big Brother 8′ star Jen Johnson (there for MSN.com), reality star in his own right, Dennis Luciani (’Average Joe’) representing National Lampoon, Katie Neal for WeLoveBigBrother.com, Melissa for CBS LA, Stella for CBS.com, spunky Carrie Moten from the Johnjay and Rich radio show in Tucson, knowledgeable Ben Mandelker from BSideblog, scheming (in a good way!) publicist Jay Schwartz, Reagan Alexander from People magazine (whose bad boy reputation from last year’s BB Media Day preceded him), and myself, Ann Murray from Fancast.com.
Oh yeah, and there was the one house mate who said his name was Gunther and quickly changed into leather shorts, a leather biker cap, and suspenders (sans shirt). He SAID he was on the ‘Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.’ But can you really trust a man in leather trousers and black socks?
Most of the grueling 13 hours were spent twiddling our thumbs, cooking/eating and peddling on indoor bicycles inside the spa room while clapping with feigned glee when the attached light bulb lit up. We also succumbed to alliances, battled paranoia, got shushed (and sauced), and told complete strangers all about ourselves for no particular reason.
My defining moment? Getting caught stealing alcohol from the proverbial parent’s liquor cabinet. My partner in booze-related crime, Ben Mandelker, and I circled the liquor corner like a couple of hungry hyenas, discussing the merits of opening the sake and getting sauced. But we didn’t want to get busted (because big brother is watching!), so we eventually left the wacky sauce alone. Luckily, a thirsty Reagan later found the bottles and fearlessly poured us all a good shot.
And we enjoyed several good shots - until a booming, audibly annoyed voice coming from the speakers asked, “Guys…are you drinking the sake? Those are supposed to be set props.”
So, like Hansel and Gretel, we had succumbed to eating the house props.
Gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘chewing the scenery,’ doesn’t it?
Being the household vegetarian also took on a life of its own. I found myself talking soyrizos and preaching about the carbon footprint to my eleven roomies. The quizzical looks I got when the convo turned to quinoa was priceless, and a disgusted Reagan turned up his nose. Truth be told, having a veg in this new season would go great with their new “green” house. Because quinoa is a heck of a lot better than slop - a brown, slimy concoction oozing out of a pot, left in the kitchen for us.
Speaking of slop, four unlucky guests were forced by Head of Household, Reagan, to eat the stuff all day. Dennis, the HOH explained, was “slopped” only because he was such a big BB fan (maybe THE biggest BB fan) and needed to get “the full BB experience.” Right. I rightfully escaped slop patrol by telling Reagan I was vegan. But in the interest of, um, transparency, I can now safely come clean. I’m not a vegan, just a vegetarian. I was just trying to get out of eating that goopy crap. Thanks Reg!
There weren’t any major alliances to begin with. Jay, intent on not getting evicted, asked each of us to vote for him in secret, and I agreed - because what good is Big Brother without an alliance? I caught a few shady ladies planning their own alliances, but none were really carried out - or needed. The HOH knew who he was going to pick for eviction from the very beginning. Jay and Reagan never really got along to begin with - and their Nixonian paranoias about each other were quickly getting the best of them. Heck, had we been in combat, they would have done each other in by the fourth hour.
Dennis was the perfect culprit because he was a huge BB fan and probably would have enjoyed the experience. Gunther (aka “Chris”) seemed another likely candidate - his leather get-up made him a giant walking target for eviction. But all the guys were sweet, so it likely made it a tough choice for the HOH.
It turned out to be a choice between Gunther and Jay, and poor Gunther was turned away, head down in defeat. Our very own Rosanna sang him a farewell song as he quickly left the room, being true to an earlier bet she had made.
We were involved in two fierce competitions. In the first, where the winner would get HOH, we were asked to step into backyard booths and answer questions according to how we felt our house mates would respond. One of the honest-to-goodness questions was “Who would rather be in the middle of a Jonas Brothers sandwich. Ann or Stella?” To my relief, everyone answered “Stella.”
Even Stella herself.
The second game consisted of us grouping into pairs (”with someone you trust,” bid the booming voice coming from the walls) while the backyard was transformed into a sky, complete with clouds made out of cotton and plastic birds. The challenge was this: We both - in pairs - transported two sets of creamy, goopy pies from one cloud to the other - while walking on buckets. Someone in the winning team would then be forced to pie themselves in the face. Reagan and Jen won the trophy, with Jen’s gigantic leap to the finish line being the defining moment in the game. This allowed her to obtain the power of veto, but only after taking a pie in the face.
And that pie? That stuff doesn’t come off easy, no matter how much you clean off.
Kind of like the memories of my time at the ‘Big Brother 11′ house.
Wanna know more about the interior of the house? Then read on:
The inside of the Big Brother house is gorgeous. It seems to follow a Oriental motif with shades of environmentalism thrown in.
The kitchen’s reddish interior is decorated with Buddha statues, while a large red door hangs above and clings to the wall by the patio entrance. There are numerous separate recycling bins - for bottles, paper or plastic - and interestingly, upon our arrival we noticed there was no trash can, leading us to devise our own out of a small kitchen basket. A large industrial-strength composter sits intimidatingly in the counter, but we were not allowed to use it. There is also a miniature, portable herb garden located on the window sill, which also leads me to wonder if there will be an organic garden somewhere in the house? In keeping with the greening of Big Brother, we ate with disposable bamboo plates and cutlery, said to be environmentally friendly since they contain no chemicals, are organic, and completely biodegradable. There are bottles of sake propped up on the wall. And yes they are real and full!
This is an open space with walls made out of what appears to be parts of large industrial bins (the type you see at airports, train stations, or large construction sites). There is a spacious, comfortable black resting couch in the corner. But who wants to lounge around while your friend is peeing just a few feet away? The TP in the bathroom itself is also environmentally friendly (because it says so in the package!). The shower is large, and the door is transparent, save for a stripe around the middle, so that folks walking by aren’t force to look at your naughty bits. A bit too risqué for me to take a shower in there, but that didn’t stop one BB veteran housemate from cutting loose and showering away. There are cubby holes all around the mirror by the sink with towels and from what I can recall, the sink itself is made out of a dark cement-like material.
The HOH Room:
By far the most beautiful room in the house, the Head of Household room contains a large bed, with the wall behind the headboard consisting of a very lightly trickling waterfall. There’s also a round spinning couch, a flat-screen TV on the wall were you might secretly peer into other rooms (the spy screen); A CD player, a bowl of candies and toiletries, a Hef-like bathrobe; and a spacious bathroom to die for - with a bathtub as well as a shower (hmm, not very water-wise, if you ask me). To get to this room, you take the orange-colored spiral staircase from the first floor. There is also a small lounge area directly outside of this room, with a chess set.
The Spa Room:
This is an additional room with a large comfortable couch/bed and two stationary bicycles that power light bulbs when you ride them - and the faster you ride these, the brighter the light bulbs get. One half of the room is made out of giant bubble wrap and the other out of old recycled bottles, cans and cardboard. One piece of personal advice to the new BB cast? Try to curb your neurotic desire to pop the bubbles to pass the time.
The Water Room:
There’s a bedroom designed to look like it is under a pool. The four beds are covered with plastic pool beds, and the walls are painted to look like the inside of a pool. There’s also a fake underwater pool slide leading into the room, from nowhere in particular, and rubber duckies and pool toys as random decorations.
The “Red” Bedroom:
Not much to see in this bedroom for 4 people, but the walls seem to be made out of some recycled product. The beds are red and black, and quite small.
Not much seems to have changed here, except walls are adorned with pictures of wind-powered turbines. The washer and dryer remain, and so does the jacuzzi, the pool, lounge chairs, hammock and a pool table. The patio furniture is similar to last season’s but differ in terms of coloring.