The Cuddly Casanova
Looking back at my reality show aspirations and the times I auditioned for American Idol and a plus sized dating show
It all started innocently enough with Karaoke Revolution.
I was always a ham growing up. Though my acting (or overacting skills) are debatable, I always enjoyed being in front of a camera or performing in front of an audience whether I was participating in someone's telecommunications class project or filming my own home movies. I was definitely the outgoing one in my group of friends.
Prior to Guitar Hero and Rock Band, Harmonix and Blitz Games released Karaoke Revolution in the fall of 2003. Karaoke Revolution was a singing game for Playstation 2 that came packaged with it's own microphone that would judge a singer’s ability to hit a song's vocal arrangement by giving a score after each performance. The funny thing is that you didn't really have to sing the song per se to get a high score. As long as you hummed the melody on cue, you would be able to be ”beat" the song and move on to the next level.
So because a video game told me that I was a really good singer by giving me high scores provided me with enough confidence to audition for American Idol. Yes, you read that right. I was never told by an actual person that I was a good singer. The fact that I was able to dominate a PS2 game persuaded me to drive my Chevy Malibu to Washington, D.C. alone in August of 2004, sleep in a disgusting hotel, and to camp out in a convention center overnight. All of that for a minute long rendition of "Always and Forever" performed in front of a producer. I swiftly had my wristband snipped and was sent home in the first round of cuts. Driving home I felt so electrified from the adrenaline pumping in my veins. I didn't care that I got cut, I had a blast.
So I continued to perform karaoke at the local bar at my college as well as at home after graduation. Still, no one had told me that I was a very talented singer. You would have thought that I would have learned by this point that I should move on to something else. But I wasn't that smart. When American Idol held their auditions in Philadelphia in the summer of 2007, I was back in line for more 60 second singing. But this day had a little more than just singing.
Remember when I told you that I was a ham throughout my life? Was I one of the first people that Lance Crawford of Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia interviewed when Citizens Bank Park opened for business in 2004? You bet your sweet ass I was. So when I saw Steve Schirripa of The Sopranos’ Bobby Baccala fame walking around with a camera and microphone interviewing people in line for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, I had to give it a shot. Our conversation went something like this:
Steve: "So Joe are you a good singer?"
Joe: "I think so."
Steve: "Well, what are you going to sing?"
(I proceed to sing an original song, "How Do You Mend My Broken Heart?")
Steve: "So Joe, what do you do for a living?"
Joe: "I work in advertising."
Steve: "Here's some advice. Stick to advertising!"
You would have thought that at this point I would have smartened up and cut my losses and drove to the Jersey Shore for the day. But no, I was a glutton for punishment. I jokingly mouthed off to Steve, "But what if it was a Sopranos audition?" as the show had just ended. Steve wasn't very amused. I dreaded for months that The Tonight Show would air our exchange on the show, but thankfully it never aired. So I stayed the entire day from dawn until dusk until I finally auditioned with my original song that once again did not impress the judges.
But I still had a great time! However, I finally wised up and retired from auditioning for American Idol. Though I was finished with reality singing competitions, I moved on to a different genre.
I wouldn't say I'm much of a fame whore. I think I auditioned for reality shows because the shows looked fun to be on. Who wouldn't want to perform on a stage in Hollywood every week? Who wouldn't want to compete for the affections of a gorgeous Bachelorette? I became a fan of The Bachelorette in the summer of 2008 for DeAnna Pappas' season. When the controversy reached a boiling point on the next season of The Bachelor after Jason Mesnick rejected the woman that he gave the final rose to and asked to get back together with his runner up, I was chomping at the bit to get the opportunity to be the next bachelor because I thought that I could have done a better job. (That sentence made me laugh at loud after I typed it but it was true!) This was before I understood how TV worked and realized that the producers love the controversy more than the actual love stories because they bring ratings. (See this season's episode with Chase Rice.)
Now I knew that my abs weren't ripped enough to get on the show. I had a keg, not a six pack. But my wishes would come true with an online ad for big handsome men to audition for a new reality dating show on FOX where one lucky man would have to choose one lucky lady from a pack of curvy cuties. The show was called More to Love, and it was going to air in the summer of 2009. So I sent this awesome email to the casting director with several photos letting her know why I would be the right stud for the job. The casting director replied with a request to send an energetic video showing why I have excellent traits and what makes me such a fun and outgoing guy that will captivate millions of viewers each week. What they got was this video that makes me cringe to this day:
(If you want the remixed 2020 version with pop up hilarious commentary, please see below)
It's not the dancing, the awful puns, or the strutting that make me shudder. It's the interview portion where I'm talking about the type of special girl that I was looking for. I kind of stumbled through it because I honestly didn't have much experience with long term relationships at that point in my life, and I felt embarrassed having to admit that. Like my American Idol auditions, I had a blast filming it as my closest friends helped me with the filming process and gave me ideas with what to say. Plus, who else was I going to get to hold the camera for me? My mom?
I edited the video while watching Wrestlemania 25 and sent the the package to the casting agency in Los Angeles via overnight delivery. I didn't hear back from the casting director but followed up a couple of weeks later where I was told that I didn't get the role. Reality TV is the worst. The casting reps are only nice to you when they need you and come off as extremely fake.
More to Love would go on to find their hefty hunk in Luke Conley, a 26-year-old property developer from California. Though the show was produced by Mike Fleiss of Bachelor fame, the show didn't really show the curvy women in a strong light as a lot of them would cry and talk about how their weight was holding them back and to me that wasn't really the point of the show. The show didn't gain much traction with viewers and would only last one season.
I never really got the chance to achieve reality show stardom. I can live with that. It would take me six more years before I would find the love of my life...but it was worth the wait!
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