This week I exchanged a number of nice emails with Shy Masters, a contestant on the premeire episode of The Dating Experiment.
Shy found the FORT after a friend sent her a link to the site and a show discussion thread in which some were critical of the character the producers presented in the show.
We gave her a chance to give 'her side' of the story - and were treated to a great first person interview which shows the 'other side' of the reality tv experience.
Q. The Dating Experiment is an unusual concept in reality tv. Did you audition for the show? What attracted you to a very public 'dating experience'?
I think the concept makes it a little contrived and not very "Real" at all. And no, I didn't actually audition. I was bartending where they held one of the casting calls. I served one of the Sony reps who was sponsoring the event and he called the casting director in from LA on his cell. He told him that he found "the girl" and to come up and meet me. I was then handed the phone during a busy Friday night shift and asked the person on the other end what he would like to drink. And the rest is history.
I was talked into doing it and probably said yes due to a bit of an ego boost when selected. They did casting calls in numerous places in Seattle, San Francisco, LA, San Diego, Miami and Houston and I was one of the 2 girls selected. So, someone must have thought my personality was a little better than your fellow FORT members.
Q. You have said that the episode which aired June 25, 2003 was filmed almost two years ago. Why the delay?
Don't ask me - talk to the people at ABC. It had been so long I had hoped it wouldn't air. I'm currently engaged to be married (not to Morgan) and I am so over the whole experience.
But, originally each segment was to be aired over 3 or 4 weeks - I think by shaving so much down it made us seem one dimensional. Unfortunately, some people didn't think that worked out to my advantage. Had viewers seen that I was sick with a temp of 102 they might have been more forgiving. Had they known that the crew was not allowed to speak to us and I was shivering in a freezing prison with strep throat perhaps they wouldn't have judged. Maybe they would have anyway...who knows.
Q. When the producers took you to Alcatraz for filming, what was your reaction?
I was really ill and they had to take me to the emergency room the next day so I don't remember much of a reaction at all. I was trying so hard to be a good sport - but it's kind of hazy.
After I started feeling better I just sort of went along with everything. And I'm being completely honest. They would dangle the cheese in front of my face and I would bite. They gave me the direction they wanted me to go in and I gave them what they wanted.
When the director said, "Did that bother you that all Morgan had to say about you was physical?" I took it and ran with it. I didn't give a shit what Morgan said. I was drunk. Besides, what else is he going to say? He knew me for a week. But I tried to give these people who were working so hard on the show what they wanted. I was going to go back to my normal life here in Houston and they were trying to make an interesting show.
Q. Were you attracted to Morgan? And did the two of you pursue the relationship after the show ended?
Not particularly. I was more interested in Jody at the spa. Morgan's a good looking guy - but not my type. He actually said that he'd rather just "screw girls than take them out and buy them a meal".
It's interesting that I looked like such a bitch when he said things like that. But, as I said before - the crew couldn't speak to us....we spent all of our time while not shooting alone. So after a few days of solitude you sort of look at the guy as someone to hang out with. Any port in the storm. We started to think there was an attraction - but realized once we hit civilization again that it was only perpetuated by the circumstances. At least, I did.
Q. What impressed you most/least about filming this episode?
What impressed me most was the number of women on the crew. Most of the directors were women. And the fact that they had all worked on every other reality show there is. It's crazy how incestuous it all is. People on my show worked on The Real World, Road Rules, Love Cruise, Tough Enough just to name a few. Everyone knows everyone. They've seen it all before.
What impressed me the least is that reality television "stars" (I use the word loosely) are just the cheapest way to make money for these people. You don't have to pay the help much - there are tons more star struck young people willing to get on TV and let you make a fool of them, so we are expendable.
Q. Do you watch reality TV shows now?
Sure, sometimes. I watched the other episodes of my show to see if they came off better than I did. The girl in the 2nd episode was cute. Seemed really sweet.
Q. Would you be willing to be on another reality-based show?Absolutely not. Why not? It was interesting. No one else I know has done it - and I enjoyed the experience at the time. But I've already done it and don't see what I could possibly get out of it. The only thing I really got was experience and that's been done.
Q. What advice might you give other 'contestants'Oh, I couldn't give anyone any advice. Except don't drink a bunch of shots and kiss the guy - because they will undoubtedly have 4 cameras on you and edit the scene to look as if you're totally making out.
And then your fiancée will puke. Seriously, it's not up to you how you look anyway. You just gotta do your thing and hope for the best.
Q. Any other questions or items you'd like to address?
Not really - except that I wish people would consider the possibility of not knowing every detail before passing such severe judgments on people's personalities. I guess some people think I should just expect that since I exposed myself to that criticism to begin with. But, unless someone got to do the filming and the editing themselves....they can't quite be held responsible for the final product. I know because as honest and straight forward as I may be....I'm not quite the cranky bitch I came off as.
Hope this was informative or interesting in some way and thanks for hearing "my side". I wish you the best day ever!
Best wishes to you too, Shy. Congrats on your upcoming nuptials. And thank you for granting the FORT an interview.
Are you a contestant on The Dating Experience (or another Reality-based television show?) The FORT would love to hear from you. Please write firstname.lastname@example.org.