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Anyone who’s even been a casual TVgasm reader for the past six months knows that we have spent countless hours railing against Amazing Race villains, Jonathan Baker and Victoria Fuller. So it should probably come as a great surprise to you that J-Unit and I had dinner with this infamous couple recently. Yes, we dined with the enemy, and well, it wasn’t so bad. In fact, some might even say that it was a fun time.
Find out what we learned from this dynamic duo (including their candid thoughts on Phil) after the jump…The saga began about a month ago when Jonathan and Victoria contacted us about the possibility of an interview. They apparently wanted to demonstrate to the blogosphere that they are, in fact, just a happy, loving couple (with occasional bouts of globetrotting hysterics). How could we turn down such an opportunity? After all, we are the site that not only liberally bashed this couple (via a nifty video mocking their Dr. Phil escapades) but even went so far as to stalk Victoria at the baggage claim of LAX. Surely, it was time to take on the monster no holds barred.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. J-Unit and I met up with Jonathan and Victoria at the quaint Il Solé restaurant on Sunset Boulevard. Team JV was already seated when we entered, and after a few handshakes and introductions, J-Unit promptly went off to the bathroom, leaving me with the awkward endeavor of smiling, making small-talk and pretending in general that I hadn’t spent the past six months savagely tearing apart these two. Luckily, J-Unit returned to the table after a few minutes, but by then the awkwardness had pretty much gone away. The truth was that Jonathan and Victoria could roll with the punches (or at least, so they would have us believe) and over the next two and a half hours, proved to be extremely forthcoming about the entire Amazing Race experience, as well as life as reality star alumni.
The two shared all sorts of interesting information about the nuts and bolts of The Amazing Race such as how long those Pitstops really are. Turns out teams really do only get twelve hours of rest time (minus four hours for interviews), but occasionally, some legs do have a thirty-six hour Pitstop. Jonathan and Victoria were also pretty convinced that the producers must buy up blocks of airline tickets to make it more difficult for teams to get seats (oh, and the two also reside firmly in the conspiracy camp when it comes to Uchenna and Joyce’s infamous airplane fortunes). Of course, I always ask about stupid little details, and I was quite happy to learn that teams could in fact listen to the radio in cars, but only when the camera man was sleeping. Finally, my curiosity has been SATED!
Of course, Jonathan and Victoria gave us the lowdown on some of the bigger incidents as well. Regarding their first meltdown in Iceland, Victoria explained that after six hours of missing turns due to the extremely long road names on the extremely small road signs, the two became frustrated, aggravated, and of course insanely contentious. As for the famous “shove” in Berlin, Victoria noted that they had accidentally stumbled upon the Pitstop during their travels, but before they could check in, they needed to find some obscure clue that didn’t even make it to air. Unfortunately for them, this task proved to be massively difficult, and the longer it took them to find the clue (a guy holding a monkey, I think they said), the more frustrated they became (surprise, surprise). Eventually they found the clue, but since Freddy and Kendra were still poking around for it, Victoria wanted to go off and read the directions in another location. The cameraman, however, insisted they read the clue there, ultimately alerting Frendra to the location of the monkey dude. And yes, this caused Team JV to get frustrated… again. Sensing an anger management problem here?
Well, with their stress skyrocketing, Victoria said she became absolutely nuts (ie. her infamous hysterical crying that we love oh so much), and when Jonathan threw down his bag en route to the Pitstop, it was like the last straw for her. As for Jonathan, he simply summed up the entire event by reiterating that he was running the race like a Mack Truck and every time he hit the gas, Victoria was there to stop him (forced analogy, but we’ll take it). As they hurtled towards the Pit Stop, Jonathan shoved Victoria in what he admitted was a “conscious decision” to motivate her. Jonathan claimed he wanted to show the audience how serious he was about the competition but never expected the reaction his theatrics received. Still, he told us that he takes full responsibility for his actions and wishes he had never done it. Jonathan then revealed to us that in the wake of that episode, he has received copious amounts of hate mail, and yes, death threats. In fact, up until about a month ago, he claimed that their spa had lost about thirty percent of its business.
As bad as Jonathan had it though, Victoria noted that it was actually her who received the most grief from people on the streets. Many viewers actually faulted her for either whining so much or putting up with Jonathan. Victoria said one woman went so far as to fake spit on her — a bizarre but oddly amusing reaction, if you ask me. Yes, it’s good to see that blame-the-victim mentality still reigns supreme. Way to break the cycle, SOCIETY. At the end of the day, the only people that ever seemed to be friendly to this team were, you guessed it, Canadians. For some reason, Canadians love Jonathan and Victoria. The couple couldn’t explain why, but hey, you can’t always ask for logic from a country that embraces Celine Dion.
Anyway, after the “shove” incident, Jonathan and Victoria knew they would be primed as the season’s villains, especially several months later when exec producer Bertram Van Munster called the couple and warned them that they’d be portrayed “a little badly.” It’s kind of like saying Hitler was “sort of mean.” Anyway, according to Jonathan and Victoria, the producers were so eager to make them look evil that they completely excised footage of them donating all their clothes, money (over a thousand dollars), and items to the Ethiopians after they were eliminated. In fact, the Prime Minister of the country allegedly called the production the next day to thank the couple for its charity.
And as long as we’re dishing the dirt about Prime Ministers and such, I might as well share some of the scuttlebutt Team JV passed along to us.
When we asked about Phil, the two of them immediately recoiled in anger. Jonathan then seethed, “Phil is a two-faced motherf–ker!” Whoa. Apparently Phil used to come and sit down with them during Pitstops. He’d even encourage their behavior, saying they were making great television. But later Phil bashed the couple in the press — hence Team JV’s vehement reaction. Still, they may hate our puffy-haired New Zealand host, but he’ll always be welcomed here at TVgasm.
Nevertheless, as fascinating as these behind-the-scenes glimpses are, the real question is “Are Jonathan and Victoria as crazy as they appear?” Well, I’m sad to say that the answer is no, not really. In person, they were pretty friendly, and after a season of watching Jonathan completely dominate his wife on The Amazing Race, I was fairly surprised to see that Victoria is very much her own woman — not the wilting flower often portrayed on the series. In fact, for stretches, it seemed like Victoria actually dominated the conversation — to the point where we witnessed some classic Jonathan Baker as he snapped, “Would you stop talking? Such a motormouth!” Yeah, not a terribly classy thing to say to your wife in front of virtual strangers. In fact, it had me wondering whether or not we had just seen a crack in the “happy-marriage” façade. After two and a half hours though, I didn’t get a sense that we were being conned into some image. I left the dinner believing that these were two people who actually do function well as a couple, but unfortunately go absolutely nuts under stress and duress.
In fact, J-Unit did find time to ask the obvious. How did the two meet? As previously stated Victoria is gorgeous, and I’m not saying that Jonathan is a bad looking guy, but I think J-Unit wanted to know the details of how the two met so maybehe could get a few pointers to help in his search for the perfect girl. Victoria then went into some detail on how it happened. Met at a party, Jonathan pursued (big surprise, I think not), moved in together, and the rest is history.
While Jonathan seemed to soak up the spotlight that his time on the Amazing Race afforded him, Victoria was a little bit of a different story. In a previous item when J-Unit wrote on Team JV, he sort of mocked Victoria for her obsession with art centered around the Playboy bunny logo. He wrote it off as a Playmate who was trying to use her appearance in the magazine to boost here career, and thought that “painting” would be a good way to do that. On the contrary, Victoria was always a dedicated art student. She concentrates on Playboy and the bunny logo because she is the only artist who has ever been licensed to secure the rights to use the images. How successful has she been? When Playboy and the Maloof brothers decided to build a casino in Las Vegas next to the Palms, they contacted Victoria to fill the place up with original art.
So why did Jonathan and Victoria contact us now? I mean, all this stuff is great, but to be honest, we’re kind of the sloppy seconds to Dr. Phil, let alone all the other media outlets that have taken on Team JV — four months ago. Could it be that Jonathan and Victoria just want to extend their fifteen minutes of fame? Well, actually, yeah. Jonathan explained that after you’re a reality star, you can either fade away into oblivion or become a “fame whore,” a title he seems to relish quite a bit. You see, according to Jonathan, having the spotlight means having a chance to have a “raised voice” (whatever that means), and if squeezing out every last bit of fame means he can have a raised voice then… well, oh never mind. Who knows why they truly wanted to do the interview. We just wanted to talk to reality stars.
Oh, and by the way, Victoria said that she totally noticed me stalking her with my camera phone at LAX. Blast!