This is a true story about my experience on a dating show. If you want to skip the story and watch the video, follow this link.
I?m standing in a small living room with two other men, three large cameras, and dozens of television crew members. I?m a contestant on MTV?s newest dating show Parental Control. The three of us are lined up waiting for the star of the show, Klarissa, to make her decision about whom she wants to date.
I?m feeling over stimulated and a little nervous.
The guy next to me is Klarissa?s pale-skinned piercing-faced makeup-wearing-emo boyfriend Jensen. Opposite him is Tyler, a clean-cut tan-skinned model, and the living incarnation of California.
?I do hate to do this, but I have to eliminate one of you guys right now,? Klarissa says in her best impression of sincerity. The show isn?t scripted, but she makes it sound that way.
The room is silent.
How I got picked to be on an MTV Dating Show
Three months earlier I was on tour in Long Beach California with my punk rock band 5 Days Dirty. I was sleeping in our beat-up tour van when my phone rang. It was my lead singer Justin.
?Dude, you have to get over here bro! There?s a producer from MTV looking to put people on some shows! I told her about you but she?s leaving, so you?d better get here fast!?
The most important thing to me at this point in my life was becoming famous, so this was news I couldn?t pass up.
That?s me playing drums at one of the tour dates in Los Angeles, circa 2005.
As I ran up to their location I could see a crowd of would-be actors surrounding the producer. We locked eyes and the crowd parted as she sauntered over to me.
The producer was a hip looking lady named Fatima, with a chiseled faced and a bald head. She oozed charisma from her pores and when she spoke I could tell she was from somewhere in Africa.
?Hey baby, you wanna be on MTV? I?m casting for a brand new show and I think you?d be perfect,? Fatima said.
She took down my home phone number and said she?d call me. Everyone said she never would. But you know what? A message from Fatima was waiting for me when I returned from tour a week later.
Parental Control was Pretty Fake.
Do you remember Parental Control? It was that one where the parents hate their daughter?s boyfriend (or son?s girlfriend) so much they set her up on blind dates.
The parents would interview a bunch of potential daters and then select two people they liked. Those two people would each go on a date while the parents and boyfriend watched it all unfold on their television at home.
I was one of those daters on Parental Control.
If you remember anything about it, it?s probably from one of the later seasons. As the concept got stale they had to compensate with crazier people. It got pretty ridiculous and over the top. But I was on the first season, around 2006.
In this scene I?m supposedly picking Klarissa up for the date, but this was actually filmed on the 3rd day.
People always ask if it was real. The answer is mostly no.
The entire thing was pre planned by the producers. It was filmed out of sequence over three days. There was no script, but we were often told what to say.
Klarissa?s parents weren?t together anymore and her so-called boyfriend Jensen was just her friend. How?s that for reality television?
The First Day of Shooting: The Audition.
The first day of shooting was the ?audition? for the parents.
It was shot at some random studio in the suburban sprawl that is Los Angeles.
The stage was a fake living room. The parents were on a couch and I sat opposing them. There were bright lights, a lot of people, and I was terribly nervous. They asked me a few questions and it was over in less than 10 minutes.
Afterwards I got the good news: I was chosen to be dater #2!
Producer Manipulation on Day Two.
The second day of shooting was the actual ?date.? I was informed that it would be shot in the Los Angeles Chinatown. The plan was for us to get acupuncture and then eat dim sum at a Chinese restaurant.
People ask me why I chose the date we did, but the producers of the show planned the whole thing; I had no say in the matter.
Everything was being set up when I arrived. I sat down at the crew?s lunch table and was told to relax and eat because it would be a while. A friendly crew member came over and starting talking to me when I sat down.
She asked me a lot of personal questions about my life and my interests. We must have talked for a half an hour when a flustered young girl walked by, flanked my many crew members.
The girl was a 5?4? brunette with blonde highlights and tanned skin. She was very, very Los Angeles. It only took one glance to see she was high maintenance.
?So that?s her, Chase. That?s Klarissa. What do you think? Pretty cute huh??
?Meh, she?s not really my type. She looks exactly what I?d expect a Los Angeles girl to look like, and that?s not really my thing. But it?s cool; I?m excited to be on the show with her.?
I found out later that Klarissa heard everything.
In a manipulative move I hadn?t expected, the producers gave my friendly crew member a hidden microphone and Klarissa a connected earpiece. They had the crew member talk to me so Klarissa could get to know me before the show!
Thats me with Klarissa during the ?date.? We actually had a great time together and were holding hands for a while.
The Second Day of Shooting: The ?Date.?
The ?date? went really well.
We started off with acupuncture. Yes, it was real. I had dozens of needles sticking in my face and body; it actually felt pretty good. I remember feeling like I was floating off the table. I?d do it again.
After that we tried to choke down a disgusting dim sum lunch at a Chinese restaurant and capped off the date by tossing coins into a wishing well around the corner. It was totally dry.
I enjoyed the free acupuncture session. It actually felt pretty good!
I?m not going to describe the date in detail because you can watch the video on my YouTube channel. But I can tell you that the producers pretty much told us what to say. They would stop us constantly and give us directions to make it more interesting.
?All right Chase, that was pretty good. This time I want you to say her boyfriend seems like a douchebag. And Klarissa, I want you to agree with him a little bit. Make it seem like you?re on the fence about him. Can you do that? Great, let?s do it.?
We?d try what they said, and they?d stop us again for more directions. That?s how they made these shows. It wasn?t exactly scripted and we weren?t really actors, but it was pretty fake nonetheless.
Klarissa and I actually hit it off during our fake date. We had pretty good chemistry, which led to pretty good conversation, which led to us holding hands at some point in between takes.
I drove her home afterwards because she didn?t have a ride. She lived an hour away in Orange County, which took even longer because of the nasty LA traffic. It was really late by the time we arrived, so she invited me inside to stay the night.
Our dim sum lunch was pretty grose. I barely ate anything!
That night I slept with Klarissa. Slept. That?s all.
The Third Day of Shooting: 8 Hours in a Tiny Room.
The funniest part of Parental Control was the witty trash talking banter between the boyfriend and the parents. They?d be sitting in the living room watching the date supposedly unfold in real time, and they?d say very rude things to each other. This was all filmed on the third day.
The truth is that nearly everything the parents and the boyfriend said were given to them by the producers. I know this because I was forced to listen to it all day long.
I arrived early on the third day of shooting. We started off by filming some of my scenes: me walking up to the front door, me walking with Klarissa out of the door; me walking into the living room to pick her up, Klarissa and I leaving the living room.
I was stuffed into a small room with Tyler, the other dater. They gave us a portable DVD player and said they?d call on us when needed.
We were stuck in there for nearly 8 hours while they filmed all the other parts of the show. The control room was in the bedroom next to ours. Only a thin wall separated us.
Let me tell you, the producers LOVED their jobs. I heard them laughing their asses off as they fed Jensen his lines. They?d be laughing like a couple of stoners before telling him what to say.
?Okay, okay, okay? hahaha ? Jensen, lets talk about Tyler?s acne! What is that a pizza on his face? Say that, say that! Hahahahahahah!?
Then we?d hear Jensen say it and the producers would crack up even more.
After nearly 8 hours in that tiny room we were called in to shoot her final decision. The epic ending was about to begin.
Klarissa Decides Who She Doesn?t Want to Date.
?I do hate to do this, but I have to eliminate one of you guys right now,? Klarissa says.
She pauses. Everything is silent.
I think about the whirlwind that was last couple of days in Los Angeles. I think about our long talk after the show, and making out with her in her bedroom.
At this point I should mention one thing. While we were laying in her bed the night before, she told me that whomever she chose at the end would get a bonus payment. She told me she might choose Jensen and split it with him, but she didn?t know.
We hit it off on our date. I drove her home and slept in her bed; I was convinced she?d choose me. I just knew it.
Then, the loud headset of a crew member broke the silence.
Me on the far left. The ?boyfriend? Jensen in the middle. The other potential suitor Tyler on the right.
?Ksssh? camera one, pan to Chase because he?s the first to go.?
Did someone just punch me in the stomach?
?Chase, I think you?re a really great guy. But I think we?re best as friends.?
I was the first to be eliminated and I really wasn?t prepared for it.
The bright lights and the cameras and all the people staring at me were expecting a reaction. But I couldn?t give them a coherent one because I was overwhelmed by the moment.
?I?m sorry,? Klarissa said.
In response I meant to say something like ?hey, no worries. It?s all good,? but it was all I could do to shake her hand and say one word before storming off: ?hey??
If you?re interested in seeing whom she chose, Tyler or her boyfriend, you should check out the video of the show on my YouTube channel.
They continued filming the scene after I walked out, but my part wasn?t over yet. They needed a reaction from me about her decision. I had such a mush mouth the entire time that it took nearly 20 takes before I got it right, and this reaction was given to me word for word by the producers.
?Those two are their own bag of crazy anyway. Good luck psychos!?