After eight long, enjoyable months, The Real World: Key West has come to a teary-eyed close. I gotta admit, it was pretty sad — on many different levels. They were sad because they were all saying goodbye. I was sad because they seemed so sad. And the entire situation was sad because I was way more caught up in the moment than I ever would like to admit. Don’t worry, no tears were shed here in the TVgasm offices, but you gotta admit, that scene with Paula and Jose made you a little verklemped. Just a little. No? Yeah, me neither. Pssh.
But goodbyes aside, this supersized finale came with a whole extra half hour full of petty resentments, silly costumes, and the triumphant return of FANTASY FEST 2005. The episode seemed like it was heading towards some gigantic, climactic fight, which would have been awesome, but this ain’t no Austin cast full of hothead idiots and shrieking girls. And while fisticuffs would have made for more interesting TV, I had to respect these people who I’ve relentlessly bashed for the latter part of this year. They actually managed to act like adults. Well done. Now, let’s make fun of them.The big finale began with great news: Fantasy Fest was back! Strange costumes! Half-naked men! Body makeup! Hooray! For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, Fantasy Fest is like Key West’s answer to Mardi Gras. We first learned about this celebration (which I erroneously thought was called Fancy Fest) a few weeks ago. John was all gung-ho about creating a float, and everything seemed like it was leading to the best-est partay ever. But then one of the hurricanes showed up — I think it was Wilma — and Fantasy Fest was ruined! But now it was back, and ready to party on like a drag queen at a Cher show.
Surprisingly, the person most excited about all this seemed to be John, who was eager to resurrect his abandoned float and see it to completion. The whole theme to it was going to be Mystic Tan in some sort of fairy garden. A tanning booth would be situated amongst flowers and whatnot, and John would step inside. A smoke machine would go off (with requisite disco ball and light — c’mon, this is Key West, not Omaha), and John would emerge a party animal, shooting streamers and fun times at all the eager parade goers. Just imagine Cats with less fur and more tanning chemicals. At least, that’s the way I would describe it.
Well, John was going to be the booth guy (with perhaps some assistance from Paula), and Janelle was going to be the queen fairy. And no, I will not make some awful Tyler joke now. Some of us like to keep things tasteful. Speaking of Tyler, Ricky asked him what he’d be wearing on the float, and he replied proudly as if it were some sort of achievement, “Next to nothing!” He will be the human manifestation of RED GOD!!!
Amidst all this planning, Janelle grabbed Ricky and brought up across the street to local restaurant La Te Da. She wanted to talk career to him. Prior to going on The Real World, she had been accepted to law school, which was cool and everything, but it meant that she had to give up her job working as a makeup artist (a.k.a. she was a counter girl at a MAC store). Now, having seen Ricky’s passion for all things unnaturally sprayed and tan, she’s decided to scrap law school and pursue makeup. Ricky nodded politely, as if to say “You’re kidding me, right?” but yes, she was serious. And hey, if that’s what she wants to do, all the more power to her. I just hope she realizes she’ll be doing Gauntlets and Infernos for the next few years first.
Later, John and Tyler were busy working on the float, but soon it became a one man operation as Tyler abandoned the project after ten minutes to tend to something else — perhaps penning a new entry in the burn book? Maybe checking on his Amanda Beard Yahoo! group? Or simply writing a hostile letter to the unfinished float: “I hate working on you. You should have stayed in storage, you low-life incomplete BITCH!” Yes, John was the only roommate working on the float, and luckily, he had the assistance of Ricky. Without him, nothing would have been completed, and John was more than happy to point this out.
That night, it was time for the roomies to all get into costumes and hit the town. Tyler leapt at this opportunity to get all did up in drag, which was pretty amusing in lieu of last week’s antics when he “pretended” to be flamboyant. The good news for him was that he had Janelle applying his makeup. Could she put this on her resume now?
“I couldn’t ask for Fantasy Fest to be at a better time because it’s a celebration. It’s ending our time here,” Tyler then said, once again talking as if he were on a job interview. Anyway, we soon learned that he had enrolled himself in a striptease competition, and since he was in drag, he would be stripping out of his dress. The rest of the gang, however, would be hitting up a toga party, and let me say that they all made excellent togas, especially Janelle who managed to show quite a good amount of backside with her Helenic gear. I don’t know how they pulled those off. Whenever I wear a toga to a toga party, I look like a total idiot. To be fair, I sort of am an idiot. One time I wore a fitted sheet for my toga. BAD IDEA. I looked like I was wearing some sort of deconstructed pantaloon.
Anyway, the roomies all headed out for their night of partying, and while Tyler got his groove on at Aqua, Johnny Bananas hopped on stage at the toga party and entered some contest. I don’t know what the contest was for, but apparently, it required some generous flashing of the derriere — which John supplied quite happily. At the end of the night, Mr. Bananas managed to snag the top prize, a solid $250. We already knew that Tyler would be mad. If he didn’t earn first place too, he’d be pissed that John had beaten him. And if he did win first place, he’d be mad that John had stolen his thunder. Well, I was right that Tyler wound up mad by the end of the night, but I was a little wrong in my reasoning. You see, after John’s toga triumph, the plan was for everyone to go to Aqua and see Tyler’s contest. Jose was trying to rally everyone, but when John complained that he didn’t want to go to Aqua, everyone followed suit. Next thing we knew, the whole gang was partying at a place called Rick’s while a lonesome Jose wandered off to the gay bar. Understandably, he was pissed. After all, they had all agreed to go together, and now because John had whined, they were all bailing on Tyler’s special occasion. Nevertheless, Jose’s a standup guy, and he soon arrived at the bar where the producers inexplicably stuck him with the label, “Tyler’s Friend Stephanie.” Huh? His name is Jose, not Stephanie! Silly producers! Oh wait. Turned out there was a girl off camera named Stephanie. Now it made sense.
Well, finally, it was time for Tyler, or perhaps I should use his stage name, Tyra Kwan (Tyra Banks and Michelle Kwan, I imagine). The music started up, and he began his striptease, which wasn’t so much an act of seduction as it was a one man reinterpretation of Bring It On. Yes, Tyler pulled out all his cheerleading moves (again, he’s not flamboyant. It was just a joke for Martin) and high kicked his way around the stage. In short: it was miserably, hilariously awful. I know it was supposed to be campy and everything, but this was just embarrassing. Plus, it didn’t help when he literally fell off the stage. I’ll give credit where credit’s due: it was damn entertaining.
Unfortunately for him, only Jose and Stephanie were there to see this drunken performance. “Part of winning the competition is having the most friends there to cheer you on,” Tyler said, “So the fact that I only have two friends there doesn’t really bode well for me.” Hey, maybe they all just assumed it was invite-only. You know, like the marathon. Sorry Tyler. Payback’s a bitch.
If it was any consolation, Tyler did take home second place, and the next morning, he complained, “I gave them two days notice before the event, and none of them showed up other than Jose.” Okay, I’ll be honest. This all really did suck for Tyler. Say what you will about him, but it hurts when your friends don’t show up for something like that. At the same time, if you’re gonna act self-centered and prissy all the time, don’t expect people to go out of their way to support you. Well, Paula apologized to Tyler, which was nice, but when he then told Zach how disappointed he was that the group caved into John’s hissy fit, Zach threw his words right back in his face.
“I was having fun, and the last thing I know you want me to do is to do things just for other people,” he said, quietly citing all the times Tyler had acted out of his own self-interest.
“If that’s the case, then I’m happy,” Tyler said, barely able to control his anger. He then left a note on Zach’s bed that said, “You should have stopped having fun and come to my contest, you low-life fun-having BITCH!”
That night, Ricky and John summoned the roommates outside to test the tanning booth on the float. They flipped the switch and… IT’S ALIVE!!! Fog poured into the booth, a disco ball lit up, and all dreams became a reality. I had to admit that it looked pretty cool. Unfortunately, the rest of the float still needed major sprucing up, but there were bigger things to worry about: namely, ’80s night at Fat Tuesdays! Whooohooo!! With the sounds of “Our House” playing on the soundtrack, everyone in the household stepped into costumes. Paula looked pitch perfect in some poofy-shouldered blue dress, Svetlana had like a red bathing suit on, Janelle was working her Flashdance style, Jose was attempting A.C. Slater, I think, Zach had a neat hat on, and Tyler, who was only pretending to be flamboyant last week, was dressed in drag again, this time as a female aerobics instructor in a striped unitard.
He’s super, thanks for asking!
“KISS MY ASS!!! KISS MY GODDAMN TUBULAR ASS!!!”
It seemed like the beginnings of a fun night, but wait! Wasn’t there someone missing? Why yes. Johnny Bananas. The party man skipped out on the festivities because he was tired, and also, quite frankly, he claimed that all this was planned while he was outside working on the float. First everyone shuns Tyler, then they shun John. I love the way passive aggression flows through this house like water in an aquarium.
With more ’80s music on the soundtrack (and by the way, there should be more ’80s music in reality TV in general), everyone except John headed out to the club, took the stage, and then danced around like happy idiots. Tyler again showed off his goofy cheerleading moves, nearly exposing his taint to America in the process. He was outdone, however, by his loyal sidekick Janelle, who took her passion and made it happen with some Jennifer Beals moves. All that was missing was the bucket of water. Needless to say, Real World won the competition. Best Fantasy Fest ever! Nothing could ever go wrong now!
Gimme a G-R-O-I-N!
After the commercial break, we found ourselves at parade day, and with seven hours before the good times rolled, only Johnny Bananas was out working on the poor float. Ricky was helping too, and when he called the house at 3:00 PM to find out where the hizzell everyone was, he did not seem very happy. Janelle told him that she and Paula would be leaving soon to come help, but she commented that they would only be able to participate for like two seconds because they had to get into costume and look good for the parade. Ricky looked a bit annoyed by this. Either that, or years of Mystic Tan chemicals had finally caused him to go bat crazy like a mercury poisoned clown.
While the guys toiled away at the float, Janelle began rationalizing why it was such a ridiculous request that they go out and help. “I asked a long time ago, ‘Do people need help on the float?’ The day of is not working out for Janelle’s schedule because I have to concern myself with my costume,” she said, acting as if her costume were some sort of multi-layered, electronic float in and of itself. Listen people, she is a professional woman pursuing makeup. She must concern herself with her costume!
Well, Janelle officially decided to skip out on helping John, saying that her options were, “go help out on the float or jeopardize having our costumes look terrible.” (I think she meant an “and”, not an “or”, but that’s just me nitpicking as usual). As the hours ticked away, we got to see some of the other floats heading into the parade, and they all looked pretty amazing. And then there was the Mystic Tan offering. Basically, it looked like an army shower stall stuck on a flatbed. It was in dire need of decoration, and time was running out. Knowing that the girls would be totally useless, Ricky then called up Jose and Zach (who appeared to be wearing eyeliner) at the tanning salon. They wanted to help out, but for whatever reason, they couldn’t. Sorry, John. You’re S.O.L.. Yay selfishness!
Luckily, John’s friend Barb (yeah, I don’t know who she is either) showed up with some friends, and they pitched in thankfully. The float still looked kind of crappy, but at least it wasn’t as tragically lame as it had been earlier. At 6:00 PM, the roommates were supposed to show up just to get on the float, not even to help out, but no surprise here, most of them were late. Zach and Jose, dressed like two geeks (literally — it was the theme), arrived promptly, and to be fair, by the time they showed up, the float actually looked good. There were all sorts of lights up, not to mention an ambiguous sign that said “Mystic Tranz.” Didn’t know what this was implying about the cast members and their sexual organs, but anything goes at Fantasy Fest!
Well, the parade was to start at 7 PM, and as the magic hour approached, there still was no sign of Paula, Svetlana, Janelle, and Tyler. This was making John increasingly angry, but that’s only because he had no appreciation of how long it takes to get into a costume. Just because Tyler’s costume was “next to nothing,” didn’t mean that he could put it on in ten minutes. He needed two hours to get that wig and frilly skirt on! Sadly, John just seemed incapable of understanding the rigorous demands of getting into a costume. He told us that the roommates were at home, screwing around. Excuse me, but Janelle was not screwing around. She was CONCERNING herself with her costume, dammit! Concerning herself!
Just when we thought Johnny Bananas might burst a blood vessel, Zach gave him a nice pep talk reminding him that this night was not about the roommates getting there on time. It was about John successfully making a float. Here, here! A toast to the float! You know, this whole story line about one man’s insane devotion to a float was really about one step away from being a quirky, working class, British comedy.
Anyway, the lagging roommates finally left the house and began running towards the parade staging area. They couldn’t run that fast, however, because Svetlana said her boobs were about to fall out. Well, there’s never a bad time to belittle her, and so Tyler passive-aggressively scolded, “I wish you would have thought about that earlier, now young lady!” He really doesn’t stop, does he?
Well, with the parade technically already started, the roommates finally reached the float, and the fun began. Even though John was pissed off, he didn’t want that to ruin his time, and so the rest of the evening went off without a hitch, drama free. The gang dance and shot confetti into the crowd. Great times were had by all. And the costumes were all a hit. I personally loved Zach’s wig — oh, wait. That was just his hair.
“There’s thousands of people lining the streets. There’s boobs everywhere. It’s actually kind of exciting,” John said. He then commented that by taking part in the parade, they and Mystic Tan have really made a “footprint” in the community, a real lasting effect. Technically, so did Hitler. It’s not always a good thing.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and such was the case for not only Fantasy Fest but this season as well. The next morning, the kids got to work packing up all their junk, mentally preparing themselves for an uncertain future on the next Challenge. At one point, they all hopped in the car and traveled over to Mystic Tan where they met with Ricky for one last electric time. From the way he was talking, it sounded like as go the roommates, so goes the business. Yes, Mystic Tan was closing. No startup could survive two hurricanes, he explained, especially since the customer base was supposed to be largely tourists. Tyler suddenly lurched onto his knees and yelled, “I could have done more! I could have brought Amanda Beard back! I could have sold my ring! I could have saved more lives!”
Okay, Tyler didn’t do that, but indulge my Schindler’s List moment, would you? Anyway, Ricky told the roommies how proud he was of them, and he even got choked up at one point. Either that, or he accidentally swallowed a seed that had been lodged in his teeth all morning.
Ricky then asked Svetlana how much money was in the bank, and she revealed some shockingly low number just about $1,000 (not great for a business). Well, this was not acceptable. Tanning Overlord Ricky said that he could not deal with that low figure; so he had corporate toss in some extra dollars so that the kiddos would receive a decent payday. Yes, there was now $35,000 in the account, which meant everyone would be taking home a sweet check of $5,000. This resulted in a giant group hug/people-pile on Ricky, and then, just like that, the saga of Mystic Tan came to a close. So long, Mystic Tan. May our memories of you always be a sickly shade of orange.
After the commercial break, the gang all assembled for one last meal at a restaurant called Blue Heaven, which incidentally was the first place they’d chowed down at without Paula. This was not lost on our recovering roommate, who proudly noted that by her eating there this time, it symbolized the rigorous journey she’d gone through in the house. Everyone then began sharing memories, and Tyler amusingly said, “John will forever in my mind be unloading that dishwasher.” John laughed and said he was hoping that other people would take his lead and unload the washer too, but it never happened. To be fair, Tyler once tried to do it, but he got angry and left a note on each dish that said, “You should have stayed in the dishwasher, you low-life porcelain BITCH!”
Paula then said how they all fight and back-stab and bicker and sell each other out to each other, but the moment an outsider tries to do the same, they all become fiercely defensive like a family unit. Um, in that case, I really hope they’re not reading this blog (laughing embarrassedly, quietly stepping away).
That night, in a sweet sign of solidarity, the roommates all cozied up together and slept as a group on the couches in the living room. Well, not everyone slept there. Paula couldn’t catch her zzz’s; so she snuck out to the phone room and called Keith. “I just can’t wait to hug you,” he said, adding, “Maybe one night we can get really drunk, and you can bite my arm, and I can call the cops on you!” Okay, he didn’t say that, but Paula did tell us that they would be going to couples counseling, which was encouraging. Hopefully, it’ll go well. But then again…
After her call with Keith, Paula then busied herself by packing more stuff, and along the way, she happened to find a poem she had written at her lowest point. We actually have an excerpt:
he tide is rich with the hope I seek
A cold wind snakes through my soul
Darkness where there should be color
A warning bell, a cup of coffee
The reality of illusion, my skinny frame grasps
a morning bird sings its song.
A pheasant, hunted, my body its respite
I am but a folded piece of KISS MY ASS!
KISS MY GODDAMN POETIC ASS!!!!!
Anyway, Paula typed up her poem and printed out a copy for all her roomies (attaching a piece of her blanket cut out in the shape of the first letter of their names too). I couldn’t help feeling really badly for her at that moment. She was so proud of the progress she’d made, and it was almost tragic to know that she had relapsed and gone to jail. I do really hope she conquers her demons. Gosh, I am really getting cheesy, aren’t i? KISS MY ASS, THOUGHTFULNESS!!! KISS MY GODDAMN ASS!!!
The next morning, it was time for goodbyes. “I can say I’m leaving with six friends. No matter how much I fought with them, there’s a lot of love too,” Tyler said, adding, “Well, not so much love for Svetlana. Stupid bitch.”
“Red (sniff sniff) God (sniff sniff)…”
Zach then commented on Paula’s progress, saying, “It makes you believe that no matter how bad things can be, they can always get better.” Ahem…
Well, after some sad, introspective moments staring at sunrises and whatnot, the first cab was here. Time for Zach and his giant hair to go (does his Jew-Fro count as carry-on luggage?). There were hugs all around, and soon the waterworks started. First Paula began to cry (and never stopped the rest of the episode), and then Tyler, and then pretty much everyone else.
“I have zero regrets about all the things I’ve done here,” Zach said. To be fair, he’s only done about two or three things. (Smell ya later, Crystal!)
Cab #2 showed up looking for “Michelle.” When Svetlana said there was no Michelle in the house, the other roomies barked “JANELLE.” Dumbass. Well, Janelle’s departure was met with more tears and hugs; although, her goodbye with Tyler was surprisingly unemotional. Either way, she was off to pursue her career in makeup, and after Svetlana talked about what an honor it was to learn from her and after Paula said she was such a good, sweet person, Janelle zoomed off into oblivion.
Good luck with makeup!
Jose then pulled Paula aside and said he wanted to have a quick talk with her. His trembling voice and nervous breathing only meant one thing: tears would be rollin’! Sure enough, before he could even tell her what he wanted to say, he was already crying. I had to admit, I was a little verklemped. I don’t know why. Seeing Jose get choked up was oddly touching. Ultimately, he managed to push out, “You’ve come a long way.” This then led to the two of them crying, and Jose telling Paula to be strong and to make the right decisions in her life. Aww. Jose’s the best. It’s nice to see a normal, good person on this show once in a while.
With that, Jose hopped in the SUV and drove it off to the mainland. I kind of felt badly for him because he probably wanted to just bawl in the privacy of the car, but those pesky car cameras were still there. Anyway, Johnny Bananas was next to leave, which meant more hugs and tears (stop me if I sound like a broken record). And then with only Tyler, Svetlana, and Paula left, a random boat pulled up to the house to fetch the next people. Turns out the producers had arranged for Tyler and Svetty to take this water taxi, which was kind of amusing because, you know, they hate each other. Plus, poor Paula was left behind alone.
Anyway, Tyler dragged his junk over to the boat, falling over in the process (that’s twice in one episode! Gravity LOVES getting its final say!). By the way, I didn’t notice Tyler carrying a certain important piece of art that I call RED GOD. Has it been forgotten?? How can we find it?
Well, Paula and Svetlana had a super long hug goodbye, and with that, the two roommates were whisked away. “This isn’t the end. It’s the beginning of a relationship with these people who will always be family,” Tyler said. And besides, you’ll all see each other on The Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Fresh Meat Inferno Battle of the Sexes XII.
Paula then took a cab to the airport and told us, “I fell in love with seven people: six roommates and myself.” Aww. Give us another one, Paula: “As much as these kids have driven me crazy, I owe the world to them. I don’t think they’ll ever know that they saved my life,” she said, adding, “Now KISS MY ASS, KEY WEST! KISS MY GODDAMN RECOVERING ASS!!!!!”
What did you think about the finale? And how about the season?