While you’re contemplating those New Year’s resolutions (Step away from the cheesecake!), a handful of former Tiger Beat pin-ups are also hoping to start 2009 off on the right foot. Beginning Jan. 4, VH1’s Confessions of a Teen Idol will follow seven comeback kids, including Christopher Atkins, Jamie Walters, Adrian Zmed, and more, as they try to relaunch their careers and recapture fame. We asked you, our beloved PopWatch readers, to tell us which idols we should have a sit down with, and today we have Part 2 of our four-part series: an interview with Real World: New York and Grind hottie Eric Nies. After hitting rock bottom (he contemplated suicide before going home to his mom instead), Nies became a life coach, helping to rehabilitate addicts. We chatted about that pesky “teen idol” label, Real World run-ins, and the virtues of a clean colon.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I watched the pilot last night.
ERIC NIES: Uh oh.
I really liked it, but what did you think when you first heard the concept?
I was really excited, actually. I thought it was a great opportunity to share with the public and some of my fans the things that I’m working on now and what I’m passionate about….I’ve been in reality television for the last 20 years. Any opportunity to stay in the public eye is always positive.
On the pilot, you seemed a bit hesitant to call yourself a “teen idol.” Did you think of yourself that way or not at all?
No, not really. I don’t know. I guess when I think about teen idols and when I think about being a celebrity, obviously, I think about silver-screen actors or pop stars — artists that have sold millions of records. I think that in the business, everybody strives for that level of success. I guess at one time or another in my career, I guess I could be considered that. I was talking to someone yesterday, and they said, “Well, were you in all the teen magazines?” And I was like, yeah, I guess so. I was in YM, Seventeen, Bop, and all that stuff, so I guess if that’s the place where they are…
Another thing that’s quite obvious from the first episode is that you adhere to a very healthy lifestyle. How long have you been on a raw diet?
I’ve been off and on for about four years. For the last year I’ve been completely raw. It’s been a gradual road to where I am today.
No hamburger cravings?
[Laughs] No, not at all.
So who gave you the nickname poopoole [meaning “abundance of poop”]?
We have to talk about that right? You knew that was coming.
Actually, my girlfriend is the one who came up with it. She lived in Kauai for three years. It came from her. It was a Hawaiian name that we created, but the reason why we came up with that name, any doctor, any nutritionist or anybody in nutrition or the health field, they all say that disease starts in the colon. So when I work with a client, I make sure they eliminate regularly. Not to get too grossed out.
Now how many times a day should you be going? Is once enough?
If your system is functioning properly, you’re supposed to go to the bathroom 30-60 minutes after you eat.
Wow. Well, I guess I’m not optimal then. Not to overshare or anything.
Oh, it’s okay. You know. I’m happy to talk about it.
Living in this house with all these guys, did you get any flashbacks to your Real World experience?
I’m gonna tell you, it was a breath of fresh air, because everybodygot along. We all supported each other. And we all just want the bestfor each other. We all want to see each others’ careers flourish….Weall keep in contact; we e-mail, check in with each other. I got e-mailsfrom everybody wishing me a merry Christmas and a happy New Year, justasking me what I’m up to, where I’m going next. It’s really awesome. Ican’t wait until we’re all back together for a reunion show orsomething like that.
Is there one in the works?
Um, I’m sure they’re gonna do that at some point after the final episode. And I know VH1 has been discussing that.
It sounds like you had a very positive experience on Confessions, but were there ever any challenges you didn’t want to do?
Well. I believe that, you know, you are who you are. And you canarrive at a place where you’re happy with who you are and what youstand for and you don’t care about trends….So in the entertainmentindustry you get bombarded by all these people who think you have toconform to this way or you have to conform to a certain style. Ifyou’re not following a certain trend in the clothes you’re wearing,you’re going to fall off, or if you don’t present yourself in a certainway to the big wigs in the industry you’re not going to be accepted. Soyeah, there were many times throughout the show when they brought inso-called experts to critique how we looked and how we talked and howwe presented ourselves. So the only challenge to me was to stick to myguns of who I am and what I do.
So a lot of times they were giving you suggestions you didn’t actually adhere to?
There was this one incident where they asked this woman to comeon who was a stylist. And you know, we were all in the room and we hadto sit there and let this woman just pick us apart. Shewasn’t very kind….She totally ripped me apart because most of thetime I wear hemp clothes, and I wear very baggy clothes that arecomfortable. I dress for comfort; I don’t dress for a trend. So I hadto sit there for about 15 minutes and let this woman unload on me. Butit was good for me….It makes me humble. I have to accept that it’s herjob. It’s what she does. And it’s all good.
When we were asking readers which teen idol they wanted us tointerview, we also asked them to give us questions, and there was onequestion I thought was cute and wanted to ask you from our readerNicole. She wanted to know what happened to the jump rope?
[Laughs] Well, actually, if you saw the trailer there’s a shot of me holding a jump rope.
I did see you jump-roping.
[Laughs] Then she’ll have to watch the show….When Iwas on the MTV show I saw it as an opportunity to promote health andthe projects I was working on. So everywhere I went and everything Idid, I carried that jump rope around.
And it’s probably a conversation starter, right?
Oh, totally. Sometimes, in the challenges, I’d tie it around my headlike a head band, put it around my neck like a scarf or around my waistlike a belt.
When you’re at the mall, do you ever start randomly jump-roping?
Does that ever happen?
If you were there and there was a camera there I might. Ifthere was an opportunity to promote what I was working on in some way.
Do you keep in contact with your Real World castmates?
Not really. But we do run into each other often. It was funny, at the time I was in Kauai and my girlfriend came up with poopoole,I was turning a corner and sitting in a jeep at a stop sign was Norman[Korpi]. And I was like, “Whatcha doing here?” And he’s like, “Oh, I’mhere for a birthday party, here with like 20 people. We’re here forlike five days, renting a house.” And I was like, “No way,” and hepulled over and we talked for about 20 minutes. It’s kind of randomencounters like that that happen.
Would you ever do one of the Real World/Road Rules Challenges again?
Yeah, I don’t see why not.
Do you still watch them or the new seasons of the Real World?
No. I really don’t watch TV that much.
You’re too busy jumping rope?
[Laughs] I’m either surfing, or hiking on a mountain, or traveling somewhere. So I’m very rarely at home watching TV.
That’s probably why you’re in such good shape.
That probably has something to do with it.
So what’s next? Tell me about the project you’ve been working on with your brother.
My brother and I for the last 10 years have trained with an eighthgeneration grand master. The training that we do and the knowledgewe’ve gained, we’ve developed seven principles [called Chi-Force], andthese seven principles helped free us from the suffering and addictionwe battled in our earlier years. We’re now going to take them publicthrough a television show, a feature-length documentary; we have a bookthat’s being published. They’re seven principles based on mental,physical, and spiritual. There’s meditation, prayer, physical activity,nutrition, service, and it’s a way to build a happy, harmonious life.
Last question: According to IMDB, you work out with Mark Wahlberg and Seth Green in a basement. True or false?
[Laughs] That was years ago. I never worked out with SethGreen. I have worked out with Mark, way back in the day. Fifteen yearsago. We worked out a couple of times.
Find out more about Eric Nies and Chi-Force at chiforce7.com.
More on Confessions of a Teen Idol:
Adrian Zmed: PopWatch ‘Teen Idol’ Q&A (Part 1 of 4)
Choose which of VH1’s Teen Idols we chat with