Deptford native stars on reality TV
Monday, January 26, 2004
By CHUCK DARROW
When it comes to positive energy and an upbeat outlook on life, Theo Kousoulis makes Pat Croce look like Dennis Miller.
"Your attitude, not your aptitude, determines your altitude," is the guiding philosophy of Kousoulis' life. Which is why it didn't surprise him when he was one of the "hunks" recruited to try to sabotage the contestants on the NBC-TV reality series, Average Joe 2: Hawaii.
"My nature is, I'm not one to watch, I like to do," says the 26-year-old Deptford native.
Tonight, he makes his second appearance on the program whose premise has a group of rather unremarkable men vying for the affections of the comely Larissa Meek.
To make things tougher for the poor shlubs, last week's episode introduced a group of buff studs with whom they must compete.
"I watched (reality shows) and I said, `You know what, I gotta be on one of these shows. I think I have something to offer. I can entertain viewers.' "
Kousoulis apparently wasn't just bragging:
"Theo is not only handsome, but intelligent, sensitive and from a strong Greek family that guides his value system," says Stuart Krasnow, executive producer of Average Joe 2: Hawaii. "We knew he would be someone that the audience would never forget, and he didn't disappoint us."
That Kousoulis, whose parents and twin siblings, Nick and Chrisa, 24, still live in Deptford, is on the show hardly comes as a surprise to his friend of 10 years, Jerry Kappatos of Mount Ephraim.
"He's very aggressive, he goes after his goals," says Kappatos, 28, who also describes his pal as "super-nice and smart."
The Theo Kousoulis seen on Average Joe is a far cry from the one familiar to those who grew up with the 1995 Deptford High School graduate. As a youngster, he was far more geek than sheik.
"I used to be an awkward child," he admits. In high school, he says, he was picked on.
But unlike so many in his situation, Kousoulis refused to accept the hand the fates had dealt him. While in his late teens, he undertook what can only be described as an extreme makeover.
"I took off the glasses and put on contacts," he says. "I changed my wardrobe." He also got into bodybuilding.
But those cosmetic adjustments were simply adjuncts to the more profound changes he made in the way he approached life.
"What's the difference between a winner and loser?" he asks rhetorically. "Being proactive. I changed my self-image. Now I'm a guy that goes on the move."
Accordingly, Kousoulis, who is a chiropractic student at Atlanta's Life University, spent eight months in Los Angeles, meeting with agents and casting directors. He took with him a love of the spotlight he discovered as a boy doing magic tricks and then as a high school actor.
His Left Coast visit was, ostensibly, a washout; no offers were tendered. But last summer, a call from the Average Joe people came out of the blue. "I don't even know who gave them my name," he says.
Not that it mattered. All he knew was they wanted him to be part of the series, which meant a free trip to Hawaii.
"We were told there were a lot of guys and a lot of girls, and that it was going to be some kind of relationship show," he says.
In standard reality-show fashion, Kousoulis, who also works as a fashion photographer, is prohibited from divulging how long he'll remain on the show, which was taped late last summer.
Being in Hawaii was reward enough for Kousoulis. "Everything was spectacular," he reports. "The places we stayed, the things we saw." However, he adds, interacting with the show's male contestants had quite an effect on him.
"I was happy to be on the other side of the spectrum," he says of the less-than-impressive men competing for Meek's attention.
"I felt so bad for those guys. I know what it feels like. God, my heart goes out to them. I felt their pain. I really did."
As for the future, Kousoulis isn't sure of the details, but his self-confidence all but ensures we'll be hearing from him again.
"I'm not one to close doors," he says. "I do enjoy the show business lifestyle. If (a career) is gonna take off, it'll take off. I'm just taking it all in as it comes.
"If something happens, great. If not, either way, I'm going to be successful."