‘Real World’ cast discusses social issues

Megan Boldt

Not many people have woken up to a video camera watching them pick their nose.
But one “Real World” cast member has.
Sean, a member of the Boston cast, was one of three former cast members who spoke to almost 200 students on the St. Paul campus Wednesday night as part of Spring Jam 2000.
While Spring Jam is usually associated with music, food and fun, community aspects are also included in the week of festivities.
Kara Koehler, the head of the community issues programs throughout Spring Jam 2000, said the “Real World” event helped promote community issues at the University.
“The cast members addressed what issues are important to college students, and there was also fun involved,” Koehler said.
Kaia, a member from the cast in Hawaii, focused on the abuse of drugs and alcohol and how they are used as an escape from the stresses of everyday life.
“People should focus more on stress and conflict management,” she said. “There are different outlets for stress, forms of freedom of expression.”
The former “Real World” cast members would not disclose their last names for privacy reasons.
Kaia said exercise, painting, dancing or any form of healthy expression is the key to breaking unhealthy forms of behavior.
On the show, Kaia lived with an alcoholic roommate who was hospitalized as a result of common drinking sprees.
“She had no idea she was abusing alcohol at the level she was,” Kaia said.
Besides substance abuse, homosexuality and AIDS were discussed by Rachel, a San Francisco cast member.
Rachel was close to fellow roommate Pedro, who became a national figure for gay/lesbian and AIDS victims’ rights. He died shortly after the show stopped filming.
“My experience with AIDS was nil before I did the show,” Rachel said. “Being close to Pedro changed my life.”
She said Pedro put a human face on AIDS and really reached out to the audience. He got his message across without alienating people, she said.
While part of the night was taken up by heavy topics, there was also some light-hearted conversation between the cast members and the audience.
Sean said he normally wouldn’t have associated with some of his roommates if he hadn’t been thrown in an apartment with them.
“After, I was making decisions on people based on who the person was and not on the stereotype,” he said.
Sean said being filmed 24 hours a day was hard to adjust to, especially with those everyday, embarrassing moments — including the time he was sick and got caught picking his nose.
Sean also said having four people gathered around you when you were having an intimate moment was not only hard to get used to, but annoying, as well.
The former cast members said the show is not staged, but certain aspects of people’s personalities sometimes were accentuated by directors.
None of the former cast members would predict how long the series would run, but Sean said he knew what the deciding factor would be to axe the show.
“As long as they’re getting ratings, it will keep running,” he said.

Megan Boldt welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3212.