“Go ahead and take off your pants,” one of the producers told me.
Sweat dripped from my pits and my hands shook holding the card displaying my tryout number (3-8).
"A woman watching online wants to know if you're big?" the personable host wearing too many clothes for Florida asked.
“I have a big personality,” I said, trying to hold a grin and remember where I was supposed to look.
"I think she means, 'Are you well-endowed?' "
There are plenty of reasons why someone would try out for the reality show, The Nak'd Truth, set to be filmed at Caliente Nudist Resort in Land O’ Lakes Florida: a personality kink, a desire to be famous, a month-long vacation, the chance to see other people naked, or just for the experience. My reason was a combination of all of these — that and I wanted to
land a deal as the face of products like Busch Light, Alka-Seltzer and Mach 3 razors for manscaping, all of which I planned to use heavily on the show. While there were several aspects of being naked for 30 days that terrified me — running without support, coaxing my dick out in cold weather, or standing next to men with much larger censor strips blacking out their trouser luggage — I was excited about the freedom that comes with putting your insecurities on parade, as well as all the boobs. That, and as an aspiring writer I wanted to recreate Dave Eggers' scene from A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius where he tried out for the first Real World.
The show will roughly follow the format of a naked Real World with seven roommates living in a Caliente house with an attached hot tub. Roommates will be required to be completely nude for 30 days and keep "daily video journals." They will also be expected to do jobs such as door greeter, activities assistance or cabana boy/girl.
I was invited to try out by Caliente's marketing and PR VP, Deb Bowen, who wanted me to get the real story about the show after I wrote a snarky blog predicting that producers would stock the roommates' house with condoms and booze.
“There won't be any condoms laying around," Bowen told me as I waited to try out.
"What about free liquor?"
"All the food and beverages are included," she said. "We’re not encouraging bad behavior, but we’re not discouraging whatever you would normally do. We want you to be yourself. If you want to have a cocktail, that’s up to you. Still, everything has to be in line with the rules and regulations of Caliente or you’ll get booted out like anyone else."
Bowen, an athletic woman who parties like a 20-year-old and seems to know everyone, is understandably concerned about the family-friendly resort being depicted as a heathen's paradise. Calinete doesn't fit the stereotype of a nudist resort that is merely a glorified trailer park filled with an aging population. In fact, the producers told Bowen that Caliente was the only clothing-optional location where they would even consider filming because of the quality of the grounds and the growing population of younger people. While I haven't been to any other nudist resort, Caliente does have a very relaxed crowd and their pool is by far the nicest I've seen of any resort around Tampa Bay.
"What's your goal with hosting The Nak'd Truth at Caliente?" I asked.
“It’s definitely to help get younger people involved and to come out," Bowen said. "The second goal is to explain to the population what nudism is, that we’re just the same as anyone else. Just because we like to live without clothes on doesn’t mean we're perverts."
Although Bowen has some control in regards to how Caliente is depicted on the show, the producers' first and foremost goal is to create an entertaining product. With that in mind, a majority of the questions they asked me during my tryout involved sex. (I can't give an exact count, as I'm still too embarrassed to watch my tryout video). They wanted to know about my first sexual experience and my wildest sexual encounters.
Most importantly, they wanted to know about my relationship status. I had been warned about this by another married contestant who was rejected. I said that my wife and I got married about a year ago, mainly because we assumed it was what you did after dating for six years, and that now we were trying to figure out what we wanted. I said that she was actually just as excited about me leaving the house for 30 days as I was about getting away from her cat that constantly pisses on the floor. Combined with my apparent anxiety about stripping down, the idea of me being away from my wife for 30 days on a "journey of self-discovery" enticed four of the producers. However, the fifth producer, a Miami-based actor, didn't think I would make for a compelling character.
Would you cheat on your wife?” he asked repeatedly.
“What do you consider cheating?” I said, channeling Bill Clinton.
“What are the circumstances?”
The real question wasn’t whether I would cheat, as no one can accurately predict what he's capable of, and no sane married man would openly admit on a national broadcast that he would or has cheated. The real question he was asking was, how far was I willing to go to be on TV — how far would I let the producers lead me with their questions into fitting a character that would make for entertaining TV? I could have said yes with just as much honesty as I said no, but I didn't and I wasn't given a callback. To be fair, I knew going in that married people are never picked for Real World-style shows. And the producers had plenty of other reasons for rejecting me: a lack of online votes, my missing head-shot photo, my nerves, or maybe I just wasn't sexy enough.
I swallowed my pride and showed up again at Caliente Sunday night to cover the casting party, as well as to stuff my face with free booze and food while quietly criticizing those who were picked. Not being selected for a reality show is a funny thing. While you still suffer the sting of rejection, not being chosen is a little like someone telling you that you're not nutty enough or promiscuous enough — or at least that's what I told myself. It could also be that they already filled the role of "average white dude."
While the final group won't be determined for several months, the lead contestants went onstage to introduce themselves. None had any illusions that they were picked to fill certain roles. There was the obvious choice of the overly nice male stripper who introduced himself as "Max the Russian." There was the large, sheltered guy, CJ, who came to the audition in an over-sized suit jacket and a Mario Brothers t-shirt. There was the woman with enormous boobs who described herself as "the nurse/stripper." My rival for the role of "average white guy," and consequently the guy I identified with most while waiting to try out, Nick, was self-conscious enough of his surfer hair and laid-back features to brand himself "Stoney." There was Jennifer, the fresh-faced hottie from New Port Richey. There was the twink who introduced himself as "Wade, the gay one,” and his backup who referred to himself as "the other gay one.” And, of course, there was the All-American asshole who was shirtless and aggressively drunk, and who had undoubtedly answered "hell yes," on the survey question that asked, "Have you ever set a fire?”
Perhaps only professional wrestling fans are under the illusion that reality TV is absolutely "real." Still, one has to wonder if producers will eventually forgo the farce of casting types from the general population and just pick actors who can play these roles in staged scenarios. If producers had framed the casting call in these terms, then perhaps I would have been picked — it's not cheating if an "actor" has to kiss or simulate sex as part of his role.
In any case, if called back to be an extra to replace Caliente residents who don't want to appear on camera, or simply to fill out the club scenes, I'll say yes. Even if we were all hyper-conscious of the ever-present cameras and judges, I genuinely had a great time at the resort with all the potential cast members.
Atlantic Overseas Pictures hopes to shop a pilot to various TV networks by December and to have the show on the air within half a year. Check out other potential cast members and vote for the ones you like, including me (3-8 = group 3 number 8) at nakdtruth.tv
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