By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
Our town, our beautiful Denver, is being hussied up in slut skirts and hair gel just so some corporate dicks can film their next season of The Real World. Our pure mountains majesty, our folksy ways, being sullied and pranced around like some martini-infused, oversexed marionette peering into the wasted glory hole of American excess!
It's about goddamn time. Seriously, what does it take for a decent city to get sullied now and again?
Yes, we may despise The Real World, just as we hated the new kid in the neighborhood who showed up at the local dirt hills with his electric scooter and awesome Game Boy and a dad who never hit him. Sure, we might have thrown rocks at his house -- but only because we wanted to be inside his house, playing Jenga with Dad. Or, perhaps, in the Jacuzzi, dry-humping some bimbo from Fort Worth. Sure, we might sneer at The Real World coming to Denver, but on a deeper, more profound level, we desperately wanted to be a part of this celestial sphere of reality television.
And then it hit us: We could make up our own seven-person cast, with a TV crew and producers, and then spend a night out raising a spectacle.
A fake Real World. Oh, hellyes.
It actually took a lot more consideration than we imagined to assemble a phony cast of characters that could accurately fill the cliched niches found on the real Real World: farm girl, cynical rocker, intelligent inner-city girl, party chick, gay guy, frat boy, etc. Instead of a stadium full of overeager applicants, our candidates were harvested from the lukewarm margins of our staff. As normal people go, everyone is pretty decent-looking, but none of them have the ultra-hottie exteriors now mandatory on the MTV franchise.
Local filmmakers Johnny Morehouse and Ben Kronberg volunteered to work as our bogus camera crew. Craig Peña, John Killup and Juanito Tamez signed on as our beefcake security detail. Funnyman Adam Cayton-Holland and I donned clipboards and suddenly morphed into full-fledged asshole producers. And then there was the most vital piece of official paraphernalia: plastic lanyards that read "Real World." (Not with the current logo, mind you, but the scribbly old-school logo, circa 1993.)
After outfitting the cast with non-functioning wireless microphones and battery packs borrowed from Channel 12, we set off around 8 p.m. in a beat-up newspaper-delivery van to Mezcal. As our gaggle assembled around the corner, I shook off any vestiges of self-doubt and marched into the busy cantina. I waved my clipboard and cell phone, spoke authoritatively to the bartenders about "what I need" and scooted some customers off a row of stools. The restaurant was already aflutter with speculation when the cast rolled in, buffered by our security and cameras. Every neck in the restaurant craned to see the commotion while our fakers sidled up to the bar.
"Oh, my God!" exclaimed two young women. "No. Way." It was barely 8:20 p.m., and they were already slurring drunk. "You're The Real World!"
Every time a bystander talked to one of the pretend cast members or got anywhere near a camera shot, I swooped in with a Real World filming release waiver. "If you don't sign it, we'll have to blur out your face on national television," I told them in my best asshole-producer voice. After I got the bartender to fix up the cast with a round of tequila shots and beers, the ball really got rolling. Instantly, T.J. "whiteboy rapper" from Rochester had the two drunk women sitting on his lap and mugging for the camera like some horrible Girls Gone Wild throwback. When a drink-ordering patron made the mistake of stepping in front of the camera, one of the women turned and muttered, "Don't fuck this up for me. I'm going to be on MTV no matter what it takes."
After 45 minutes of boozing, we took our throng out the door. As we passed, the hipsters at the Goosetown Tavern scowled and flipped us off, but we didn't care. We were walking on sunshine. "I seriously cannot believe how easy that was," said "farm girl" Molly. "No one even questioned a single thing."
Our group of un-extraordinary twenty-somethings had been instantaneously transformed into pseudo-celebrities merely by virtue of cameras, clipboards and lanyards.
"Hi, this is Adam. I'm with The Real World," my fellow producer said into his cell phone as our van headed to Govnr's Park Restaurant and Tavern. "Yeah, we're going to be down there in fifteen minutes. Can you set aside an area for us?"
Again, I walked into the crowded bar ahead of the others and discovered that the management had already reserved an entire area of couches for our exclusive use. Word had apparently spread among the natives that the Real World cast was showing up. When Team Sham strode in with camera lenses blazing, the bar-goers glanced up and then looked away quickly, trying to pretend they weren't interested. Later, they sidled up to the security staff, hoping that flirting with the boys would get them into the inner circle.