I think that the New Orleans season of "The Real World" was the first in which the cast members went on to market themselves via personal web sites. And you know whose fault I think that was, darlings? It was that lunkhead Jamie's, with all his big talk about his venture capitalist project soulgear.com. The others took one look at his fat-cat, self-satisfied goateed face, and just had to jump on the web site bandwagon.
In themselves, the web sites for Julie, Melissa, Matt and Jamie aren't anything special; they sell odds and ends and look like their creators lost interest halfway through. Just like most homepages, they don't cover a specific subject or theme so much as promote the creator's individuality to the world at large. Julie, Melissa and Matt bare their souls on their sites in the same way they did week to week on "The Real World." Jamie? He's too busy flinging himself off of cliffs and selling Gore-Tex trinkets to reveal much of anything.
A winking caricature of Julie greets the web-surfing visitor.. This cartoon, drawn by the Real Worlders' resident artiste Lionel, makes Julie look a lot cuter and slimmer than she actually is. Widening hips, begone! Lionel could teach those caricaturists at the county fair a thing or two about making people look goodŠand there's not a dune buggy anywhere on the page!
The focus of this site is, bien sur, Miss Julie. It falls squarely within the tradition of the "I (heart) kittens and Dokken" homepages of yore. We learn that yes, indeed, Julie loves Twinkies and music and hates Old Spice. She really wants to go to "Cancoon" for MTV Spring Break. She's also busy making cameos aplenty in various music videos, questioning the wisdom of her straw hut haircut and of course, chasing boys.
But, while Planetjulie may be about Julie, the site also gathers information from its readers. When I visited, the "Babewatch" poll asked me to choose which barely post-pubescent male I'd be trapped in a Southern mansion with. Interestingly enough, cracklin' lips Matt was not in the poll. Neither were my beloved Filthy or Mac Davis, so I couldn't bring myself to participate.
Each jewel-toned page has a different function. There's an unfinished RWNO section, and a list of "Mad Links," including princessmelissa.com and soulgear.com, which will discussed below. There's also a daily "horescope."
The site's guestbook is "your chance to rock out with other planetjulie users," you lucky ducks. So, what's rocking right now? Signers of Julie's guestbook include ads for other people's web sites and bands, yearning messages from guys who want to meet a hot lips like Julie and Mormons who are thinking of exchanging the Church of the Latter Day Saints for The Real World Cult. These people don't exactly make me want to rock out.
One thing I learned: Supa-fly.com, Matt's site, is not on her list of recommended links. I think that's very interesting, don't you?
This site is the girliest thing I've ever seen in my life. Girly, as in 4-year old girl, that is. Not only are all the pages in candy-colored pastels, the site is festooned with little duckies and daisies and fishies. She also takes the opportunity to reveal how buying a cute pink sweater and black flats made her feel so much better about the frustrations of air travel. And if that weren't enough, she's currently conducting "Boyhunt 2001" in the dim and dusty record stores of Los Angeles. In comparison to this girl, darlings, I feel like Rambo!
Like planetjulie.com and the others, Melissa's site has separate sections for different segments of her life. Her biography section primarily deals with the shoddy editing job of "The Real World," a common motif in these sorts of things. She says that being portrayed as a "drama queen" is only 94% accurate. Oh, only a paltry 94 percent! "This controversial brown firecracker" (her own words) then lauds Lionel, who saved her from the boredom of her housemates (if only he could've done the same for the rest of us!). Melissa relates how she met him, told him she loved his art, then requested his artistic mentoring in the most annoying language imaginable. "You gots to help a sista out!"
She lists her favorite music, including Hot Rod Circuit and Death Cab for Cutie. Other favorites include Giovanni Ribisi, Lucky magazine, Tonka Truck Underoos and Twinkies! And she wonders why she feels sick to her stomach.
The site also features a calendar of all her events and bands she wants cute boys to see, so she can see the cute boys (cute girls can stay home, s'il vous plait) and her stand-up comedy schedule. We also get to hear about her crush on her orthodontist (who is 26 and has curly hair and 2 offices). Melissa's birthday is the 12th of February- hint, hint. Just because you're a total stranger does not mean you shouldn't scare up some tickets for her to see her favorite band. Actually, sad people all over the country send Melissa all sorts of stuff - clay sculptures of her, mix CDs, so I'm sure she'll get the tickets too.
The point of all this web site hullabaloo? Melissa's store is open, selling prints of her facile artwork and maybe some "little girly tank tops." She's waiting for you to open up your wallets now!
One thing I learned: Melissa bought the "Real World New Orleans" book (for 17 bucks!), but pleads with us not to. Under the RWNO section, she goes through the tome page by page and rants about what everyone said about her. "Just know that The Real World doesn't operate on healthy relationships," Melissa advises. Mais non!
Matt is very pleased with himself, you can see, but it seems you have to be in order to be a Real Worlder. What I didn't know about the strapping young albino is that his prose is pretty darn purple. For instance, he relates that in the winter of 1999, "my heart was shattered and my life was flipped upside down." All this just for attending a mass (a LifeTeen Mass- would any real teenager be caught dead at something called "LifeTeen?"). And you should read how he talks about learning to launch webpages! I confess, my dears, that I could not make it through 16 arduous months of his journal entries.
Supa-fly.com also features a "Real World New Orleans" section which promises an "objective insider's view of each show." At first, he explains that this is not a forum to complain about the shoddy editing, but that turns out to be a big, honking, very un-Catholic lie. He writes about what the editors deleted from the "Real World" episodes, the voice-overs, the misleading segues. Matt's message is that not one single interesting, dramatic thing happened the whole 5 months in the Belfort Mansion. Funny, that completely jibes with my own impression, mes amis!
Matt's busy with his senior thesis right now, but really, he'd chuck the whole design thing in a minute if he could take Jack Lord's place on "Hawaii 5-0." He claims to be good at "kicking doors open, beating people up and cuffing people, too." He also has dozens of Hawaiian shirts in his collection. However, I don't think Jack Lord ever wore a Hawaiian shirt; he always seemed to be dressed rather soberly, as I recall. Perhaps Matt would fare better as the dopey informant. Anyway, in case anyone has a yen to see Matt Aloha-style, he can click on his online shirt collection and view a caricature of Matt wearing red flowery shirts, blue flowery shirts and so on and so on.
If you want to get totally creeped out, my chickadees, read the guestbook. Did you know that people actually drool over Matt? Ick! Other signers are glad Matt stuck up for God on TV, because, I suppose, they feel that God needs it! Surprisingly, it's mostly girls on this page, but then "Sean" blitzes the whole area with ads for his Real World web site.
One thing I learned: Real Worlders on camera aren't allowed to wear windbreakers or the color white.
The site is divided into categories by sport: snow, air, street, water and mountain. For the first category, the sports listed seemed fairly standard: snowboarding and skiing. But what the heck is traction kiting? Of course, there's not a single mention of endurance bon-bon eating, which is my best sport or even high-friction napping. Visitors to the site can, however, check some useful information, such as weather and tide schedules, as well as articles on local environmental issues.
Soulgear.com seeks to be a clearinghouse for information on adventure sports, with a little dabbling in environmental issues. One article is an explanation why soulgear.com wasn't at the X games, just in case you were lying awake at night wondering. Sure, they were denied press passes, but the soulgear staff don't care. It turns out (quelle surprise!) that the whole "X" thing is just a marketing scam that has stereotyped athletes forever as idiotic goateed, Mountain Dew drinking yahoos. And, besides, the X Games are better on tv. Other articles include epics about mountain biking, rails to trails programs and that mysterious traction kiting again!
The true gems are under the heading "About us," which explains the mission of the site and the backgrounds of the founders. Jamie is founder and president, and his pal Jeff is the other founder. The idea for this venture came about when Jeff and Jamie were adventuring in Asia and met a whole bunch of other Patagonia-clad gravity-defying trekkers just like them. They realized that there was a big market out there for sports equipment, especially if it was heavily laced with self-actualization doublespeak. I think they must've purchased all their axioms and motivational statements on clearance somewhere. "Stop waiting for life to happen to you," they exhort. "Place yourself in a cerebral vacumn" and buy, buy, buy! Soulgear.com is a community of individuals dedicated to the "evolution of self" and "awakening of soul" and tshirts.
The soulgear.com chat "community" (another word that gets tossed around a lot here) meets to discuss neoprene goggles and rock climbing shoes four nights a week, with the founders joining in on Wednesdays. That's also when all the infatuated girls log on in hopes of impressing Jamie. I can just hear them, "Oh, I really love traction kiting, too, Jamie!"
One thing I learned: "Extreme" is no longer an appropriate modifier for sports anymore. Nowadays, all the kids in the know refer to them as "A-sports." A for adventure, for adrenaline, for alternative, for aggressive. My sweet husband says that he can think of some other things that "A" could stand for, but I won't print them here.
Who are we? ©1998 by Randy Shandis Enterprises. Questions or Comments?