By the middle of the afternoon, Shannon McCarty had already seen a roller derby girl; a punked-out platinum blonde former Marine; a University of Kentucky cheerleader; a self-described pinko Commie who forgot to vote in the last election; and a guy who seemed pleased to refer to himself as "a raging alcoholic with no life goals."
They were all looking for a job.
McCarty is a Hollywood casting director who is deciding who gets to be on Season 24 of MTV's The Real World, a show that originated in 1992. The show focuses on the lives of a group of strangers who live together in a house for several months while cameras record their interpersonal interactions.
For most of the day Thursday, McCarty was sitting at a big table in The Tin Roof on South Limestone in Lexington, scanning tiny print crammed onto two-page forms that represented everyone's first stab at stardom.
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Then the fun began. McCarty wanted to know more and, in groups of 10, prospective Real Worlders heaved up their best and worst characteristics. They spilled their guts about drunk-calling grandma or skating on their credit card bills. They told about not being religious or never having been on a plane in their whole life.
They tried to be memorable, because by 10 p.m. Thursday they would either have gotten the thumbs-up and a phone call asking them for a call-back, or they would have been left among those who tried Hollywood, kind of, and failed.
McCarty figures 99 percent of the 200 or so 18- to 24-year-olds who showed up to be a roommate on the show are fans of the "social experiment" and "know what they're getting into."
McCarty says the producers chose Kentucky because "everybody knows about Kentucky." Then, she added with a smile, like this would explain everything: "We came here with all this construction, and there's a UK symbol on the cement mixer. You don't find that everywhere."
Producers also thought they'd find "forward-thinking and diverse."
They absolutely got diverse.
They got platinum and punked-out Leanna Murphy, a 24-year-old former Marine land surveyor from Dry Ridge, who brought her GED scores and a picture of herself in her military dress to prove that "I am not a big drama fan, but if you make me mad I can drop you like that."
She wore three bras to pump up her assets, because she figured that couldn't hurt.
They got Jacob McGrath, who made a point of explaining that his facial hair was only for Halloween, lest MTV get too attached to it.
They got Lowell Douglas Jr., the UK cheerleader, who said he had thought about applying before and explained that "he's known as the white black guy, but when he gets mad he'll go ghetto on you."
And they got Rob "the Heartthrob" Browning, the guy who has no life goals, who decided one day, he said, "I didn't feel like working ever again. I'm happy and I have nothing to show for it."
Oddly enough, this may be the one job interview they all might nail.