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Celebrity Zoo: Commentary on The Surreal Life, Season 2

Starring: Ron Jeremy, Trishelle Canatella, Rob Van Winkle, Tammy Faye Messner, Traci Bingham, Erik Estrada

Episode 1: Hop on the Surreal Life Trolley
Episode 2: Tuna Melts and Meltdowns with Gary Coleman
Episode 3: Let's Put on a Show!
Episode 4: Preaching and Porno
Episode 5: Strip Volleyball
Episode 6: Talk Show Trauma and Farewell Food Fight

Can this cast top last year's lovable menagerie? Ape Culture will judge by convening a focus group to review and provide commentary on The Surreal Life (airing Sundays on the WB).

Episode 4: Preaching and Porno

The Show opens with shots of Ron sleeping naked again and Ron tricking Tammy into giving him a mouth to mouth kiss.
Coolia: Tammy is like a little doll. a little cupie doll.
Ron won't get off the phone. He's making arrangements to throw a BBQ party. Rob tries to get him off the phone.
Coolia: Why does Rob call everyone Hasselhoff?
Nerdia: Is that his self-censoring way of calling people ass-hole? Or should that be Asselhoff?
All the celebrities get into the celebrity shuttle to go to Tammy Faye's book signing down in Long Beach. Ron Jeremy stays behind to clean for his BBQ. He's upset because he thought people would be helping him clean. Tammy Faye listens to a Vanilla Ice song on the way.
Nerdia: Tammy Faye has never heard a Vanilla Ice song...look she's rapping. Isn't rap a sin? Like Heavy Metal? Do you think Tammy Faye would have sung along to Vince Neil songs if she had been on Season 1?
Coolia: Tammy Faye is so supportive, even to Rob.
At the signing, Tammy tells the crowd that she is here with other Surreal Celebrities and how disappointed she is that Ron couldn't come. She declares that she finds him to be an honorable man, although she has never seen a porno.
Coolia: I love how they refer to each other as celebrities. Not room-mates, or friends, or people.
Nerdia:  I wonder if Tammy will rent Deep Throat now. There's a porn star theme running though this show when you think about it...Vince Neil....Ron Jeremy. I wonder if Tammy would watch the Vince Neil porno now.
Ron's friends start to show up. They look porn-ish.
Coolia: All of Ron's porno friends will show up. They crave mainstream fame, too.

"Let's give a big Long Beach welcome to Tammy Faye!" The book signing crowd is crazy mixed with sedate looking Christians next to outrageous cross dressers.
Nerdia: How do these people know Tammy?
One cross dresser claims he started following Tammy after seeing the movie
The Eyes of Tammy Faye.
Coolia: They've come to know and love her.

Nerdia: Is Tammy shocking these Christians by talking about Ron Jeremy?
Coolia: Tammy is a much better stand-up comedienne than Ron. 
Rob talks about being surprised by the makeup of the crowd. Trishelle says the same. She was expecting "sweet little church people." Erik claims he has a big gay following, too.

Coolia: For obvious reasons. 
(Surreal shows close-up of his butt)
Nerdia: I didn't think Erik had a big following of anything.
Rob claims that Tammy blew him away. Traci claims Tammy changed her life. 
Nerdia: Celebrities are easy to transform. That's why they all join dianetics.
Tammy peruses the art her fans have made of her image.
Coolia: That one is a scary ghostly Tammy Faye. At least she can laugh at her image, unlike Vanilla Ice.

Andy Dick arrives as a guest of Ron Jeremy and former paramour of Real World alum Trishelle.
Coolia: Andy Dick is such a nerd. He could never get any if not for being semi-famous.

Surreal Life Bus brings back the celebs just in time for the Porno BBQ. Tammy mingles with great success at first but soon finds herself alone by the pool when girls start to take off their tops. Tammy is upset that they would be so inconsiderate and leaves to go read her bible and turn in early.

Coolia: Poor Tammy! She's putting pillows against her windows to block the noise.

Nerdia: Traci instigated all the disrobing. She basically dared Ron & Friends to take off clothes.
Coolia: Ron hasn't had sex in like four or five days! That has to be a record for him.

Traci instigates naughty behavior and then turns into good girl when her fiancée arrives. She and Andy Dick are behaving badly.
Nerdia: Traci is shallow to the core.

Coolia: Her fiancée is a dud. Why is he making her change?  Andy Dick is a celebrity scene whore.

As happens with all parties, when one person leaves, they all try to escape in droves. A smaller version of the party circles around the fire pit. Traci asks if you can get a sunburn from fire.

Coolia: That was a Jessica Simpson moment. Andy Dick would be a good contender for season 3.

Nerdia: Is his career that much over? 

Trishelle makes drunk overtures to Rob again. He rebuffs her much more harshly this time. She trips into the arms of Andy Dick as a result.

Nerdia: That is sad. 

Coolia: She wants to get with him.

The next morning Rick James arrives and Erik and Rick and Ron reminisce about the days of Studio 54. Rick claims Erik was once quite the playa.

Nerdia: I wonder if that means there are little bastard Eriks all over the world? Rick James isn't making eye contact with anybody. 

Coolia:  He seems high.

Rick James mocks Vanilla Ice, points to his picture in the Warholian collage and says Rob will always be remembered like that. 

Coolia: Just like Rick James will always be known for cornrows and having Mary Jane Girls on his arms.  All I can say is "Superfreak, know thyself!"  


Ape Culture Weekly Ranking (from least to most annoying)

2/8/04 - Episode 4


  1. Tammy - Populist Word of God attracts Cross-Dressers in Long Beach bookstore/Tammy Faye-themed art gallery! Now that's irresistible!
  2. Ron - Still annoying but also still well-meaning
  3. Rob - Opening up to the Gospel of Tammy
  4. Trishelle - Should wear a sign: "embarrassing when wet" - a self-humiliating drunk
  5. Traci - Why are all the vegetarians on these shows stupid?
  6. Erik - Okay...the camp counselor thing is starting to make sense to me



  1. Tammy - did a really good job at the book signing and wasn't judgmental about the party or the queers in the book signing crowd or even "Ice, Ice Baby"
  2. Ron - tried hard to throw a fun party, brought Rick James to Rob who idolizes Rick
  3. Trishelle - poor judgment with Andy Dick, but still fun and open-minded to Tammy
  4. Erik - dullsville, except when talking about Studio 54
  5. Rob - showed strength in resisting porno girls and Trishelle, but still annoying
  6. Traci - the vegetarian thing - dumb - pulled a Corey



  1. Tammy - a good sport, not preachy
  2. Erik
  3. Ron
  4. Rob - improving, I'm starting to think he's a decent guy
  5. Traci
  6. Trishelle - pathetically drunk



Nerdia’s Notes

Sigh. Why are all the vegetarians on these shows hypocritical and stupid? I'm starting to think Surreal Life has an anti-vegetarian agenda. Between Corey Feldman and Traci Bingham, we've seen the absolute worst spokespeople for the cause of Animal Rights. These people couldn't debate their way out of a paper bag. Traci flirts aggressively with Ron and porn stars, pulls out an unbelievable good-girl about-face for her dull-but-rich fiancée who suddenly appears just as she's about ready to bare her boobs. Then later she informs macho meat eaters Erik and Rob that when you cook a bird, it becomes a chicken. Didn't she watch season one to see how ineffective it is to preach vegetarianism while wearing leather? It's like Vegetarianism 101, people! She's a perfect example of how aggressive preaching is a turn off no matter what the topic. On the other hand, Ron opens like a flower to the quiet evangelism of Tammy Faye. This might be even weirder than the deep Tammy and Ron friendship that has formed. Tammy grows on you mostly because she doesn't preach judgmentally, the way Traci does. In fact, she doesn't preach much at all. She just goes to her book signing and tells her personal story and everyone is surprisingly moved. She packs a small but deft punch by being her cute-as-a-button self. Ron proves much is true regarding his Porn Star documentary as soon as he whips out his crazy address book, continues to whine about having to blow up pool furniture and vacuum for his own party, and gets razzed for being cheap by his friends who claim he's never ever bought them lunch let alone doled out free BBQ before. But hey, when Surreal Life is paying, the time is right to be generous. Ron, however, wins back points for bringing a Vanilla Ice dream to fruition...hanging out with Rick James. Who knew this was anybody's dream? Erik Estrada did a whole lot of nothing this week. He's open minded about psychics but not vegetarians? If The Black Eye Peas did a single with guest singer Albert Einstein, it would be called "Where is the Logic?"

Coolia’s Notes

I think the most touching moment of the show was the conversation in the Surreal Life Van between Rob and Tammy Faye, where Rob mentioned he had read some of Tammy's book (who knew Rob could read?) and Tammy shared some of her pain with him in a very low key, open way and got slightly teary-eyed but not overly dramatically and not at all fake. When she cried in the PTL days or when her talk show with Jim J. Bullock got canceled, it always seemed so fake. This was a real moment on a Surreal show and it recalled the sharing of Vince Neil and MC Hammer in Season 1. Porno BBQs are always fun but the show could benefit from just allowing more moments like that to happen instead of manufacturing wackiness 24/7. Unlike The Real World, The Surreal Life plan seems to be to keep celebs so preoccupied with silly tasks that they have no opportunities to start getting real. Other than that, it was a largely fun but shallow episode. I was excited to see them pull back the covers and give us a glimpse at Ron Jeremy's gigantic notebook. Someday that messy book will probably be as heralded as Da Vinci's Notebook and go for quite a bit on eBay.

Which cast member is aggravating your soul? Who would you like to see kicked off and who would you replace them with? Please share.

Read Ape Culture's commentary on Surreal Life Season 1


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