Annie, the quirky artist who found herself vying for the hand of VH1 reality TV personality, Frank the Entertainer, on a dating show, has blogged about penetrating the ranks of reality television casting and attempting to shatter gender stereotypes. Bust.com features Annie’s series of blogs entitled “Shaming Famewhores” detailing her experiences in trying to crack the “Famewhore” code by creating a carefully crafted character that would appeal to the producers of Frank the Entertainer in A Basement Affair and fill the token “whacky chick” niche all-but required within the reality show’s microcosm.
While Annie maintains in her blog that she did develop strong feelings and an attraction to Frank, she initially came to the show with the intent create a piece of performance art as a character of her own creation and to dismantle many of the negative female stereotypes perpetuated by reality dating shows. Having won over the producers by pulling an Andy Kaufman of the highest calibre, Annie landed the gig by making them believe she was just a daffy darling with an artistic side who would attempt to woo Frank with her charm and personality, rather than the usual high-hoisted hooters and bouncing backsides typical to the reality dating show “type.”
Recognizing that there is a general stereotype created by the editors and producers of these shows, Annie set about to shatter it, cloaking herself in the guise of a persona that would fulfill a certain quotient that A Basement Affair may have been lacking to propel its manufactured drama. Annie’s role was to be the desexualized sweetheart — the anti-vamp in a house full of sexpots — posing the question to the audience at home if Frank could be attracted to a girl without conventional “model” looks and who didn’t overtly play up her sexuality in the usual manner of a typical female reality dating show contestant.
Over time, Annie found her created character evolving and the producers decided to paint her as the underdog of the group — shy, sweet, and the most “real” gal in the house full of contestants. In her blog, she mentions that this more natural extension of who she really was as a person stemmed from her genuine feelings for Frank Maresca, the show’s protagonist and a desire to not base a potential romance on artifice.
The premise of doesn’t deviate from the usual “reality” dating show: 15 girls compete to win the affections of one guy. Week by week, one girl at a time is eliminated because of a lack of a “connection” with the show’s main subject. The twist on this particular VH1/51 Minds collaboration is that the girls are throwing themselves at unemployed VH1 reality stud muffin, Frank the Entertainer who lives in his parents’ basement. The girls not only have to win the approval of Frank, but the parents’ whose home he resides in, as well.
On the latest episode, Annie found herself eliminated during a Big Band crooning challenge in which the girls had to sing songs about their love for Frank. Ultimately, Frank eliminated her not because of her performance during the challenge, but because he had no real romantic connection with her despite valuing her friendship. However, Annie’s hilarious “impromptu” rap, chock full of profanity performed in front of Frank, his parents, and the rest of the girls in the house saw her “breaking character” in a very public way that the writer/performance artist realized could not simply be edited out by the producers at a later date.
My lyrical outburst was an attempt to illustrate and also poke fun of my frustration and inability to perform my own sex appeal in a socially normal way. Rather than sing romantically, dance sensually or even act respectably, I wanted to throw these expectations of me out the window. I wanted to break character in a forum production would not be able to edit out. I wanted everyone, both people on the show and viewers at home, to see the ridiculous game of expectations we were all playing. I didn’t want to allow production to be rid of me for not fulfilling the role of the “accepted” female mate. I wanted them to be rid of me for making a mockery of them to increase ratings rather than the other way around.
Production, using Frank as a proxy, attempted to use the “friendship only” feelings he had towards me as an excuse to let me go. But in fact production wanted me gone because I had stepped out of the role I was assigned in a significant way. Production could not reconcile this difference in character for an audience and now being uncertain in the role I would be able to fulfill for them, had to let me go. By showing my true colors as a performer rather than a potential mate, I temporarily disrupted the illusion of reality production carefully crafts.
You can read more of Annie’s blog and her observations on the negative stereotypes put forth by reality television producers, as well as experiences on A Basement Affair at her Bust.com hub page. I, for one, would love to high-five this lady! Well played!
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