Mose Ponders Life After Reality TV
'Amish' Star Mose Ponders Life After Reality TV
(Friday, September 17 01:20 PM)
By Kate O'Hare
After a controversial launch and a successful run, UPN's unusual reality series "Amish in the City" is coming to a close on Tuesday, Sept. 21, at 9 p.m. ET. In the season finale, the 11 housemates who've spent 10 weeks together in a Los Angeles mansion -- five Amish-raised young people and six "city kids" -- reflect on their experiences and announce plans for the future.
The inspiration for the series is "rumspringa," an Amish rite of passage in which as-yet-unbaptized young people are allowed to leave their insular communities and experience the outside world before committing to the Amish way of life. Those who stay often forgo electricity, automobiles and other modern conveniences (along with education past the 8th grade), while those who leave face the prospect of separation from their families.
Since the show's two-hour premiere episode in late July, the undisputed breakout star is easygoing Mose, the oldest of the Amish, a construction worker and former teacher from Wisconsin, now living in Missouri. Mose is the only Amish participant that was already baptized, making his separation a more serious matter.
Sitting with show producer Jon Kroll in a Los Angeles restaurant (where he eagerly devours his pork loin, while leaving behind his vegetables), Mose seems generally unfazed but a bit puzzled by his sudden celebrity.
"I was at the state fair," he says, "and people recognized me there. And I was at a football game last weekend, where a bunch of people recognized me. I actually had a couple stalkers.
"As I was waiting in the hotel lobby today, this woman walks in and she stares at me a little bit. You can always tell from that glance. She walked past, then two minutes later, she pops around the corner and snaps a picture of me, and that's all. And she disappears. I'm like, 'Just come ask me.'
"Some people will just stare, but some come out and ask who I am."
If he wondered how the Amish felt about "Amish in the City," Mose found out at the fair with fellow Amish participant Jonas.
"I met several Amish kids there," he says. "They weren't supposed to be there, but they were, and we talked with them for a while. I decided, 'I'm just going to throw this whole show thing at them and see how they felt about it.' That's the first time I talked to the Amish.
"I said, 'Did you see the show?' They said, 'We've heard of it.' I said, 'I was one of the guys on there.' It was just like, they were gone, just like that. They were like, 'I gotta go.' They would not talk one more word to me. I was like, 'Now I got my answer.' It's their loss."
According to Mose, this comes on the heels of an article written about the show in The Budget, a newspaper servicing the Amish and similar communities.
Calling the writer "some jackass, excuse my language," Mose says, "Basically, we were prostituting our goods in California for a bag of gold, is what he said in The Budget. He didn't have anything good to say at all. He criticized all the way through. My family got to read that. They believe exactly everything that is in The Budget.
"My mom said, 'If I would have known Mose was that desperate for money, I would have given him some, rather than him going to California and doing something that stupid.'"
According to both Mose and Kroll, though, none of the housemates got rich from doing "Amish in the City."
"My contract said $10,000," Mose says, "non-negotiable. I knew better than to ask for more."
"It was to cover their rent and expenses," Kroll says, "as a stipend, so people can afford to do this show. Mose will be the first to tell you that maybe that wasn't enough to make things comfortable for your re-entry."
Although his experience on the show exposed him to a wide variety of other cultures and experiences, Mose has further ambitions.
"I would love to write a book on my life story," he says. "I really feel like I've gone through -- with my dad dying and everything -- a lot more struggles than some guys have. It might not be interesting to someone else, but I would still like to try that."
There are also the plans he drew up years ago for his dream house on 150 acres of land. "I have this perfect green lawn, like golf-course lawn, huge lake, and a white fence going around the front. It's everything in one."
"Is Halle Berry going to swim in your pond?" jokes Kroll.
"That would be nice," Mose says, "but I didn't know her when I made the blueprints."
In the series, Jonas took the test to get his GED high-school equivalency exam, something Mose already did. But he wants more.
"For what the Amish are doing," Mose says, "they don't need higher education to farm. But if you're going to try to survive in the outside world, you'd better get higher education. I aim one day to do that, when I can afford a college education."
Kroll is mulling an idea for another TV project involving Mose.
"Do you think it's materializing?" Mose asks.
"We'll talk about it later," Kroll says.
UPN has yet to announce a second season of the show, and while Kroll says there is some talk of doing a reunion special (some housemates keep in touch, evidenced by Mose receiving a cellphone call from "city kid" Kevan during lunch), one has not yet been ordered.
But if the "untitled Mose project," as it were, becomes a reality, the self-styled country boy might just be tempted to return to the big city.
"I will tell you this much," Mose says, "although I try to be a humble person, and I want to go back to the country, if there is money involved, I have a small weakness. Money is a good thing."