Making a name for comic-book-loving theologians everywhere, Mario Muscar was the latest to be eliminated on “Beauty and the Geek” along with his partner, Nadia. Mario may be a “geek” by a casting director’s standards, but he showed his social savvy on the show, most notably when he was able to listen to a nude model babble about old movies instead of focusing like a laser on her naked breasts and drawing an awkward social commentary on the effect of the breast upon stick-figure men. So kudos to Mario for sticking it out, and winning our hearts, if not the final prize.
I understand you have a Master’s in Theology.
And that you have a tattoo of a Nintendo controller, and own many, many comic books, of course. That seems like an eclectic mix, but does that really spell “geek”?
Well, if you talk to any of the girls in the house, or any girls like that, or any “popular” people—if you tell them that you have a tattoo, they’re like, “Yeah, cool!” But then if you tell them it’s a Nintendo controller—that’s geekier than not having a tattoo. And then if you tell them you have 25,000 comic books, you’re a third class citizen. (laughs) It’s a subculture, I guess you would say, and in that subculture, some people think it’s cool, but to the mass population, it’s geeky.
So how did you come to be on the show? Had you watched the previous seasons?
No, I’d never seen an episode before. I ran into a casting producer at a comic book convention, actually, and I struck up a conversation with her, because I thought it was funny that she was there, and it kind of snowballed from there.
It was kind of clever of them to hit the convention like that.
That’s what I thought, and I thought, “Great, I want to talk to her about it.” (laughs)
The premise of the show is that the women are socially savvy but the men are a bit awkward in that department. Is that how you see yourself?
Sure—I would never, in a million years, approach a girl like Nadia. I have trouble talking to girls that are taller than me. And I’m pretty short. And I have trouble talking to blonde girls like that anyway. With guys I’m totally cool. We guys were all fine with each other and we had a good time. But as soon as you put girls in the room—it was uncomfortable. It was like junior high dances where all the guys were on one side and all the girls were on the other. (laughs)
When it came to the women, were they what you were expecting?
They were everything I was expecting and so much more.
Let’s go back to the second week of the show, when you and Nadia did very well in the challenges and were able to nominate two teams. You told Nadia that you thought Cecille and Megan were the two who deserved to go home the most. Do you regret that you and Nadia didn’t take the chance to get rid of either Megan or Cecille back then?
I don’t, because our ultimate decision came down to “let’s send back the ones that were probably the biggest threats to Nadia, challenge-wise.” Andrea and Sheree, they had the potential to just sweep challenges. I think that’s part of the reason the blondes really wanted to get them out of the house. They were a threat.
This whole blonde vs. brunette thing—do you feel like there’s any correlation between intelligence and hair color?
I don’t know. I mean, I would like to know how many of the girls on the show were actually real blondes.
I don’t know! (laughs)
Then is there a correlation between the kind of person that would pick up a bottle of bleach to make themselves blonde and who they hung around with?
(laughs) That’s probably more like it. A girl who would dye herself blonde is probably a little less functioning. But -- (laughing) um, I always went after the brunettes.
Do you think either of them changed from your impression back then? Meaning, do you feel like they learned to grow from the experience?
Sure. My first impression of Nadia—I didn’t think I would be able to talk to her at all. But she really was the best girl there. I’m not just saying that because she was my partner. Everyone loved her, and she was so great to talk to—I couldn’t ask for a better teammate.
She did seem very well liked. Turning to the challenges… how were you able to hone in on the fact that the nude model’s continual prattle would turn out to be important?
In our study materials, there were all these different things about drawing the female figure, and about fashion and makeup, and one of the sections was “listening to women.” So about thirty seconds in I thought, “This woman’s talking a lot, and she’s moving,” and life models, as far as I know, aren’t supposed to move. I thought. “She’s talking so much,” and it just immediately clicked. I would have lost the challenge if I hadn’t had that realization so early.
At the charity auction, did you feel like it was a disadvantage to go first?
I don’t think it was necessarily a disadvantage—that’s a horrible situation. It’d be hard for anyone to put themselves up on a stage, and have someone bid on them. It was difficult. I don’t think it really had anything to do with the order.
Especially just being judged solely on your appearance and being given a dollar value for it. I don’t think you can get any more awkward and judgmental than that right there.
In general, did you think the challenges were equally challenging for the men as they were for the women?
I think there were a lot of ups and downs. The standup was really hard. That was really nerve-wracking. But at the same time, for a lot of those girls, the interview with a best-selling author, that was totally foreign to them. Some stuff was obviously harder than others. Different people considered different things hard. While the standup might have been what I thought was difficult for me, I might have been easier for Nate.
He’s used to being on a stage. He didn’t strike me as being to geeky, either. But the two of you, because you had those tattoos—that shows you can endure pain, if nothing else—it’s worth something to have a tattoo, it doesn’t matter what the design is. And Nate, being in a band, it seemed that maybe you weren’t the same sort of geek as other people like Pi who really seemed like he had trouble relating to any of the girls.
Well Pi’s just… Pi.
About the personal dynamics in the house, it seemed like Nadia was pretty well in this crowd with the blondes and befriended some of the more “catty” people in the house. Who do you think were the ringleaders.
The ringleaders of the gaggle? I think Cece was very good at manipulating people. And people flocked to her. Cece’s personality is mesmerizing. It really is. It’s almost hypnotic. The girls just flocked to her because she was a strong personality and that’s who you typically flock to.
What did you think of the way she put bracelets on her dog?
It hurts my heart. I have a dog, a little cocker spaniel. And I remember Nate came into our room with the little dog, and said, “Look what Cece did!” We were all flipping out, and he asked, “What am I going to do?” And I said, “You’re going to get pliers and you’re going to cut those off. I don’t care whose bracelets they are.” They were just plastic bracelets, but they could have been like, diamond bracelets, I didn’t care. Cut those off!
I don’t even know how she got them on there.
It was one of those things where you push them over the head and you can’t get them back off.
Poor dog! Who would you say you were closest to in the house?
I would say besides Nadia—I really was closest to Nadia—I hung with Nate probably the most. He was very much like a college friend that I had.
Did you get out of the show what you were expecting?
Yeah! I met a lot of great people, and I don’t necessarily take girls at face value any more, like blonde “stupid” girls. There was a great scene in the first episode where Cece comes in and she gives her little spiel when we’re picking teammates, and I say, “I don’t want her.” Because she just drove me crazy. And there’s the mirror image when I’m standing outside and the girls don’t want me. And that really hit hard. Because I judge girls like that pretty quickly. That kind of hit home.
Was there anything that happened that you wished had made the edited show? Anything we as viewers did not get to see?
The guys had a lot of great interaction. We did a lot of fun stuff. Waiting around for challenges, obviously we were not being filmed at that time, there was a lot of stuff off camera, that was just us being truly, unbelievably geeky, like writing on a white board, every digit of pi up to hundreds of places, or doing math calculations. Stuff like that. I mean, we’re geeky. The guys were geekiest when the guys were together.
So you guys really got along and kind of clicked together.
Yeah, the guys had no problems.
Thank you very much for speaking with me today, Mario! And many thanks to CW for the opportunity to get to know Mario better.