Meet the cast of ''The Surreal Life''
Never before did the query ”Where are they now?” have such a specific answer. For two weeks last year, six sub-C-list celebs — Vanilla Ice, Tammy Faye Messner, Traci Bingham, Erik Estrada, Ron Jeremy, and Trishelle Cannatella (of ”The Real World: Las Vegas”) — moved into a gaudy Los Angeles bungalow. Their mission: shoot season 2 of the WB’s ”The Surreal Life” (debuts Jan. 11, 9 p.m.), which in its first outing made housemates out of MC Hammer and Emmanuel Lewis. Cannatella dished with EW.com about the five housemates with whom she shared a 16th minute of fame.
Image credit: Rob Van Winkle: The WB / Brett Panelli
Rob Van Winkle
Who? Superstar Caucasian rapper-turned-obscure, goateed, embittered (albeit still Caucasian) rap-rocker
Career high point Sold millions of records thanks to ”Ice Ice Baby” (sample lyric: ”Will it ever stop?/Yo, I don’t know.”)
Downfall It stopped.
Surreal moments Throws a tantrum at a farmer’s market, claiming that it lacks ”American food.” Throws a tantrum when he sees pictures of his early ’90s self hanging in the ”Surreal Life” pad. Reveals that he’s had a lot of therapy.
Surreal quote ”I think it’s a proven fact that we’re all aliens.”
Trishelle says ”I had a crush on him when I was 15. I hit on him [during the show], but it was alcohol-induced. If he returned it at all, I would have been freaked out.”
Image credit: Tammy Faye Messner: The WB / Brett Panelli
Tammy Faye Messner
Who? Former wife of televangelist Jim Bakker — and, for some reason, a cult icon in the gay community
Career high point Kept the mascara industry afloat with daily crying jags alongside Bakker on ”PTL” (”Praise the Lord,” natch)
Downfall Jim was convicted of fraud and conspiracy for bilking the faithful out of $3 million
Surreal moments Slow-dances with porn star Ron Jeremy and giggles when he lifts her in his arms. Chides Vanilla Ice for his language. Notes that the only curse word she uses is ”crap.”
Surreal quote ”My favorite thing in the whole world is to minister the Gospel.”
Trishelle says ”I thought she was going to be a Bible-beater and judge me, but she took care of me.”
Image credit: Erik Estrada: The WB / Brett Panelli
Who? Played Ponch on NBC’s ”ChiPs,” which ”Surreal Life”’s narrator helpfully explains was ”one of the highest-rated shows of the ’70s”
Career high point People magazine named him one of the 10 sexiest bachelors of 1979.
Downfall Two years later, he left ”ChiPs” in a salary dispute, and pretty much disappeared. By the early ’90s, he resurfaced on a Mexican soap opera, despite his inability to speak Spanish.
Surreal moments Adjusts his signature hair helmet with a single tug. Forms a close bond with Vanilla Ice. Takes the only nice bedroom in the house. Feels bad and gives it to Tammy Faye.
Surreal quote ”It was better than being buried alive,” Estrada says of his telenovela career.
Trishelle says ”Love him, but he worried too much about me. He was concerned about my drinking.”
Image credit: Traci Bingham: The WB / Brett Panelli
Who? The first African-American ”Baywatch” star
Career high point Posed in Playboy
Downfall Her character, lifeguard Jordan Tate, was written out of ”Baywatch” in 1998.
Surreal moments Nearly comes to blows with Trishelle. Accuses Ron Jeremy of having smelly shoes.
Surreal quote ”I can’t take a bath in this house. I don’t like the color of the bathtub.”
Trishelle says ”At first it bugged me that she’s a little high maintenance. I’m not used to people who are so girly.”
Image credit: Ron Jeremy: The WB / Brett Panelli
Who? Hairy, portly, well-endowed porn star known as the Hedgehog
Career high point Appeared in more than 1,600 adult movies; slept with 4,000 women
Downfall Is still trying to break into mainstream acting
Surreal moments Repeatedly leers at Trishelle. Ducks Bingham’s attempts to see the, uh, tool of his trade. Turns out to be remarkably witty and likable.
Surreal quote When Tammy Faye reveals that she ”owns the organ that was in Frank Sinatra’s house,” Jeremy replies: ”Really? I own the organ that was in many, many movies.”
Trishelle says ”Ron Jeremy was attracted to me? I didn’t know that! Yeah, he was flirtatious, but he’s a porn star.”
Image credit: Trishelle Canatella: The WB / Brett Panelli
Who? The sweet, hard-drinking, boy-crazy blonde from ”The Real World: Las Vegas”
Career high point Made it through a ”Real World” pregnancy scare
Downfall No ”Surreal Life” pregnancy scare
Surreal quote ”I don’t mesh well with ridiculous people.”
Trishelle says ”I know I don’t have a drinking problem. They filmed this for two weeks and I only got drunk four nights. For me, twice a week is not bad. There were a lot of nights where I went to bed before Tammy Faye.”