It was 1992 when seven strangers were picked to live in a Soho loft and make television history as the original cast of MTV’s The Real World, the granddaddy of reality TV.
Tonight three of the original housemates reunite for an episode of Oprah: Where Are They Now, airing 9pm on OWN.
Norman Korpi, Julie Gentry, and Heather Gardner (a.k.a. “Heather B”) reunite at the original Real World house, where they lived under the camera’s eye for three months, and discuss the experience filming the show—which also featured housemates Becky Blasband, Kevin Powell, Andre Comeau, and a very sexy Eric Nies—as well as the affect the series had when it aired.
“Filming the show was one experience,” says Gentry, now a married mom who still lives in Alabama. “And then airing it was a whole other ball game.”
Korpi, the first openly gay man to appear on The Real World, remembers how crazy things got once the show became popular. “I’d go to a grocery store, and shut it down,” he recalls. “We were more recognizable than any musician on MTV.”
Nowadays, putting seven strangers in a house is practically cliche—reality personalities are usually chosen for how bombastic, drunk or promiscuous they’ll get—but in 1992, the original Real World cast felt like people you knew—or wanted to.
In a world before the Internet, Korpi was the first out gay man many young LGBT people ever met. His presentation as a well-adjusted man dating and making friends in New York was like a life preserver for those of us of a certain age. And his flirtatious relationship with Nies was a precursor to the modern bromance. of today.
Oprah: Where Are They Now? airs tonight at 9pm on OWN.
h/t: US magazine