After the jump, read a detailed, first-person account of the Flavor of Love 2 Reunion taping, as witnessed by one blogger. Find out what the girls are like behind the scenes, what it was like to witness the melee madness and what got Nibblz and Toastee to do this:
(Truthfully, it didn't take much.)
It was like the best parade I've ever witnessed, really, watching almost every participant from Flavor of Love 2 march in and out of a green room on a Hollywood soundstage. I was there to soak in the reality of reality TV; they were there to shoot spots for the Flav Day marathon that ran Oct. 15 on VH1, leading up to the broadcast of the season finale. The setup was in a modestly sized green room, full of wires, lights, crew members and producers, with a makeup station in the rear.
Wendy Williams was to orchestrate the spots – she'd interview the Flavor of Love girls (and a few others) about their time on the show. In person, Wendy is as imposing as you'd need to be for such a job. Her hair is big, her mouth is bigger (I say this affectionately -- it's her job to have a big mouth!) and she is Amazonian enough to make Flav's heart flutter (because, based on Brigitte Nielsen and Deelishis, Flav obviously enjoys being towered over). One of the producers Simone and I had prepared some questions for Wendy to ask the girls, but she didn't need them – she was clearly a fan of the show and knew it as well as any of us. "I like that this is a controlled environment instead of having all these bitches jump me," she said while getting her makeup done. Clearly, she'd done her research.
Not long after Wendy stepped out of the makeup chair, the first girls started showing up to tape their spots. I'm not sure where they were before they came to the green room for the taping of the Flav Day promos, but I am pretty sure that there was alcohol wherever it was. It was a good thing, I think, because the girls' brief interviews with Wendy were almost all hilarious. There were times that I had to almost bite a hole in my cheek to keep from laughing (forget about looking at the producers, who were as hysterical as I was). I mean this endearingly. The girls are all likable, eccentric and even if they took part in the show for (say it with me now) the wrong reasons, they all would appear to be real in their informal exchanges.
So, one after another, the girls would come in, answer maybe 10 minutes worth of questions from Wendy (keep in mind that these interviews were for 30-second spots – the length of the interviews would have seemed tedious, were it not for Wendy's oh-no-she-di'in't interview style and her subjects' oh-yes-I-will type of responses). What follows is some highlights from each of the girls, in the order of the recording of their spots:
Somethin' – Wendy, of course, grilled her on the poop incident, which Somethin' explained in gory detail. At the end of the interview, she said, "See, I ain't so bad." It's true – she didn't desecrate the room or anything!
Nibblz – Somethin' and Nibblz arrived outside the green room together. That's where I first snapped their pictures. I introduced myself to Somethin', saying I was the one who interviewed her for the blog. I then turned to Nibblz and said, "I tried to interview you, but you never called me back." "Oh, I'm sorry," she said. "But I like you." All's forgiven, then! I heard her say to at least one other person, "I like you!" upon meeting. So, I guess that's kind of her thing. Also, she told the producer Simone that she looked like Fergie, obviously without realizing that Simone could easily take offense to that. The loopy bluntness continued as Nibblz made her way into the room and told Wendy, "You look better in person." Ha! To be fair, though, so does Nibblz.
During the interview, Wendy asked Nibblz to make her booty clap. It should be noted now, that there was no place for underwear under Nibblz' skin-tight cotton cat suit. It would have shown through, so Nibblz (wisely?) opted not to wear it. She told Wendy that she would make her booty clap, but only for Wendy. She turned her butt to Wendy and did her thing, although this show wasn't as private as Nibblz would have liked – those of us in front of her got to see an oh-so similar, but oh-so different kind of clap. You don't see that everyday, or at least, I sure don't.
Buckwild – Like Nibblz, whose new weave was about a hundred times more flattering than the one she had on the show, Buckwild seemed to have gotten an upgrade. In addition to some new hair, Buckwild was showing off some relatively insane nails.
She said the one on her right ring finger had Down syndrome.
At the end of her interview with Wendy, Buckwild asked for a hug, but Wendy declined, saying that she just doesn't hug. Unfazed, Buckwild said, "OK, well keep talkin' yo s***, bitch. As if Wendy needed encouragement.
Bootz – Bootz could very well be my favorite personality of the season – there's something about her sharp tongue, brashness and seeming unflappability that I admire. Plus, she said just about my favorite thing in the history of the English language: "If I was a hoe, I'd be a top-dollar hoe." I can relate, you know? In person, however, Bootz is cool, maybe even icy. She doesn't announce herself like the other girls, and she's relatively soft spoken.
I should explain now that as each girl came up for their interview with Wendy, I snapped their pictures. I'm not really rude enough to go up to someone and blind them with my camera's flash without warning, so instead of the candids that would have given this post a more behind-the-scenes-and-in-motion feel, I have mostly posed pictures of the girls. If anything good came of this it's this:
I think this shot of Bootz really says everything. It's a dignified portrait -- Whistler's Mother has nothing on Bootz.
She was similarly reserved in her Wendy interview, until the subject of New York was brought up. It was like a power switch, the way the mere mention of that woman set Bootz off ranting about New York's punk-like nature and trash talking. This would provide foreshadowing for the reunion.
Saaphyri – Earlier in the day, the first girl I saw was Saaphyri, who was outside of the soundstage, in the California sun, smoking and drinking her coffee early that day before even Wendy arrived. I asked if I could take her picture and she said, "Let me get rid of my vices." "No, don't," I said. I wanted to capture her as she was.
Not that any picture could truly capture the unbelievable creature that is Saaphyri. I think the first thing that she said to Wendy was, "Nice hair." Perhaps the highlight of the interview, though, was when she said in a tone so blasé that she might as well have been talking about the weather, "This African dude needed a green card and he was my pastor, so I was going to marry him." I don't even remember what this related to, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't anything much, and I'm totally sure that she offered this information without any probing. The situation, by the way, didn't work out because said pastor was also interested in sex. Go figure. Saaphyri also asked for a hug, but Wendy was not having it. For her grand finale, Saaphyri asked Wendy if she had any interest in buying a lace-front wig. Apparently, Saaphyri makes them and was able to persuade Tyra Banks to buy one, after appearing on The Tyra Banks Show. Wendy declined. "I don't wear lace-fronts. They're for people who live on TV." I'm not sure what that means, but it seems like the right answer.
Like Dat, Beatuful, Buckeey, Krazy – These girls rounded out the contestant interviews – they were all pretty typical, which isn't to say unentertaining, but they did lack the certain booty-clapping, lace-front-peddling spunk of their predecessors. Beatuful was more lippy than how she was portrayed on the show. I think she felt as though editing didn't let her personality shine through enough, so she overcompensated (and really, New York smear campaign aside, the quote of the reunion was when Beatuful said to Krazy, "I didn't ask you how old you are, I said, 'Is that why you came on the show?'"). Buckeey made me take her picture three times before she was satisfied with the result. Krazy, who's very sweet and probably didn't get a fair shake on the show because of her supposed (elevated?) opportunism, made me take hers twice. Both know the importance of photo approval. Savvy!
Buckeey was able to get a hug out of Wendy. I asked Wendy what made her break her no-hugs rule for Buckeey and Wendy said that it just felt right. It's hard not to love Buckeey.
Big Rick – You haven't seen big until you've seen Big Rick squeeze into a director's chair. And so, for the first time in your life, I present big:
Big Rick's interview was kind of sweet – I believe it was his first interview ever and he was excited to be asked to give his input. He said the most apparent result of his association with the show was getting attention from women, but then this wasn't exactly new to Big Rick. "Women like me," he said. It's just the way things go.
Flav – Flav was as much of a live wire as you'd expect. Over the course of his 15-minute interview with Wendy, he didn't answer a single question without veering head-on into a tangent (mostly of the "Yo, Wendy's my girl! I'm serious!" variety). What can you say? The guy clearly has a lot of love in his heart. He wouldn't have a show without it!
With Flav, the Wendy interviews wrapped. I was disappointed that Deelishis and New York hadn't come down to talk to Wendy, for selfish reasons. I had yet to meet or talk to Deelishis (I didn't interview her till the week the finale aired) and I had already talked to New York twice on the phone for interviews. To say the least, she is a fascinating person, and I not only wanted to meet her, I wanted to see how she'd stack up against Wendy. It was only apparent later why New York didn't make an appearance that day until the last minute possible. Again, foreshadowing.
Regardless, since it was around 4:30, it was time for the reunion taping to start. Kristen Kelly, a Flavor of Love producer and all-around great person, escorted me two soundstages down for the taping of the reunion. I'd sit backstage, watching what was going on 50 feet away on a monitor. I wasn't to sit in the audience – perhaps a dude taking notes wouldn't make for good reaction shots. Or maybe I'm just not TV-pretty. Hmmmm.
Anyway, it worked out, despite being in a heavily trafficked area, for soon after sitting down to watch the proceedings, Deelishis came out with her daughter, Jasmine. I ended up watching the bulk of the first half of the reunion with them, since Deelishis wasn't to be brought out till almost the end of the reunion. Now, I've said before that I like all of these girls, but Deelishis struck me as the warmest of all of them. She's polite but not overly so, and she's kind without seeming saccharine. It makes sense that virtually every girl on the show, almost every one of Deelishis' "competitors," agreed with Flav's ultimate decision to have Deelishis "win" – she's just great, a natural protagonist to New York's natural nemesis. And, like almost all of the girls that I talked to, she's a fan of the show. Backstage, she wasn't a participant, she was a spectator. Me too, obviously, and that's how we bonded. Deelishis and I both, for example, shared dread when Krazy started singing. It wasn't entirely a judgment on Krazy's talent or lack there of, we just both knew that no matter what Krazy did, she couldn't win – too many girls in the house didn't like her for whatever reason. The editing of the reunion segment in which Krazy sang was merciful – in actuality, the song went on twice as long and the negative reaction was at least four times as pronounced, with a lot of booing and Showtime at the Apollo-inspired gesturing. Poor Krazy.
And speaking of crazy, it strikes me that Jasmine, who's maybe 6-years-old, must live somewhat of a surreal existence. Deelishis told me that she monitors Jasmine's TV watching, and that her child is allowed to watch Flavor of Love, but not all of it. I'm not sure what Jasmine isn't allowed to see, but regardless, she's a huge fan of the show. When Like Dat walked by backstage, her eyes lit up as though Like Dat were wearing ears and a tail. Wearing a T-shirt that said, "Got Flavor?," Jasmine ran down her favorite girls on the show to me (Buckeey, Buckwild, Nibblz…), as though she was telling me about her favorite cartoon characters. And really, I think this interpretation of the show was pretty insightful. Regardless, it must be weird to have your mom take part in a show that you love so much.
I'm not sure why the segment featuring Jasmine never made it to air, but I did snap a picture of her getting miked to go out onstage...
It's a rite of passage for any child of the new millennium.
Like mother, like daughter: Deelishis was ecstatic when Goldie popped up backstage for her segment. I snapped a picture of the two of them.
Deelishis said she was "star struck" to meet Goldie, but then, she was also star struck when New York entered the house. Guess that didn't last so long.
It was only minutes after the taping started that it came to a halt – none of this made the final reunion show, but Lala started out talking to Somethin'. The excretory exposition devolved further into a screaming match with Bootz. I assumed that this had something to do with the fight they had on the show, but really, it was so chaotic that it could have been about the war in Iraq, for all I could make out. After maybe five minutes of screaming, a producer jumped in and told the girls to shut up. To cool down, producers ushered all the girls backstage. Bootz, however, remained worked up.
Like Dat was also upset. "This isn't The Somethin' Show! I'm gonna kill that bitch!" She, however, didn't.
During the break, some of the girls went out to smoke cigarettes. I followed them and found Nibblz and Toasteee together.
At some point, Nibblz mentioned that she had the opportunity as a child to have her lisp corrected, but opted not to because she thought it was cute. Plausible! Nibblz and Toasteee seemed to have reconciled after their tiff that led to Toasteee being booted from the show.
Who doesn't love a happy ending? They were playing for the camera here (imagine!). I wonder what they would have done if the break had been any longer.
Taping soon resumed and the show was relatively incident free until New York showed up. Basically, things went down exactly as they were shown, except with more ranting (the opening argument between Bootz and New York lasted for what seemed like 10 minutes straight). The mounting pressure was almost palpable, as Deelishis addressed New York and got up out of her seat. When Bootz popped up, people backstage visibly braced themselves. When the mass rushing of the stage happened, with Saaphyri, Buckeey and Buckwild joining in, backstage became as chaotic as onstage. People just started running, wires flying everywhere. It struck me, while watching this on the monitor, that if I were watching this at home, it just wouldn't ring true. New York is too obvious a villain. She clearly pushes these girls' buttons, wanting them to react, and the way to beat her is by inaction. New York practically extends her hand while yawning and the girls jump eagerly into her clutches. All they have to do is not jump.
But that sort of logic wasn't to be found on the set of the Flavor of Love 2 reunion. The hatred that Bootz, Deelishis, Buckeey and Buckwild had for New York at that second was palpable and beyond any realness that I'd expect from reality television. The entire ordeal frazzled New York. She came stomping backstage after the melee, cigarettes in hand. This picture captures just how frantic things were...
...it is perhaps my favorite picture that I have ever taken. After New York was ushered out (and to her dressing room, which I believe, was separate from the other girls' spot), a single file line of Bootz, Deelishis, Buckeey and Buckwild came out from the other side of the stage, led by producers who walked the girls outside. The journalist/gossip monger in me told me to spring up and start shooting pictures of the girls as they filed out. The human in me told me that that wasn't a good idea -- they were clearly worked up and it wasn't time for bloggy cuteness. Although, lashing out at me would have made for perhaps more post-worthy material, I just couldn't take one for the team. The bottom line is that I respect these girls and their rage.
At this point, the reunion taping was stretching past the four-hour mark. Basically, all that was left was to film the final segment, in which New York would confront Flav and Flav would end up announcing the Flavor of Love spin-off I Love New York. This required not only rounding up New York, but bringing Flav back onstage, which was no easy feat. Flav openly argued with a producer about the decision to ban Deelishis, Bootz, Buckeey and Buckwild from the rest of the taping. He was especially adamant about Deelishis being allowed back because, "That's my girl!" Flav eventually won, Deelishis was allowed back onstage (which, I think was good for everyone, as the audience was able to see a now-cooled-out Deelishis, who was clearly caught up in the moment earlier) and the show wrapped without further incident.
When the show was over, before most of the girls had left the stage, New York came backstage. A big part of what I had been looking forward to was to finally get the chance to meet her -- like I said, I find her fascinating, and I almost needed to see her to know that she was real (not necessarily in the head-swaying, there-for-the-right-reasons "real" of Flavor of Love, but real as in, not a cartoon or a product of digital engineering). A bodyguard accompanied her as she walked backstage, and I went up to her and introduced myself as the guy who'd interviewed her a few times for the blog. Not wasting any time, I asked if I could take a picture with her. If she was flustered about what had gone down earlier onstage, she didn't show it. In fact, as brash and difficult as New York often acts in front of the camera, she's never once been less than polite and agreeable with me. I think she maybe gets along better with men than with women. She told me I looked "fabulous," and coming from someone obviously invested in the concept of fabulousness, I took this as a compliment.
Her handler snapped the picture and...
...and I mean, if you were standing next to that, I'm sure you couldn't take your eyes off of it either. The security guy/recruited photographer was awesome enough to say we needed a new picture, thanks to my roving eye. He took another one and...
...produced a keeper. Yeah, I called it a keeper -- when you're in the presence of vanity, act vain. New York had to go (I think the other girls were on their way out and clearly, the smartest thing to do would be to stay away from them), but she told me that she was excited for our next interview. She wasn't the only one!
The lights came on, the audience and Flavor of Love girls left, and the backstage crew thinned out. The producer who had shown me around, Kristen, walked me out. We neared the door, and another producer approached her, talking about the craziness of the filming. "I know, I know," said Kristen. "We always freak out and then it always turns out to be good TV." Those were the realest words said all day.
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