Exclusive: John English dishes on 'Beauty and the Geek' experience
By Christopher Rocchio, 03/17/2008
John English was disappointed to be sent home so soon but can't argue with the reasoning behind it.
The 25-year-old CW-billed "recovering Microsoft addict" from Tempe, AZ was labeled as in need of less help than some of the other geeks, causing him to become the first participant eliminated from Beauty and the Geek's fifth season during Tuesday night's broadcast of The CW reality series.
On Monday, John talked to Reality TV World about why none of the 18 participants were big fans of the fifth-season's twist; which of the beauties he would have worked well with had they been placed into the traditional pairs; why he was never in it for the money; and what he learned via his short-stint in the Beauty and the Geek mansion.
Reality TV World: What exactly is "recovering Microsoft addict?"
John: (laughing) You know that whole thing started out as a joke that I made in some of the first interviews we did. I played it off like an Alcoholics Anonymous thing and I was like, "Well, I've been completely Microsoft free for over 10 years." I guess the producers really liked it because they took it and ran with it.
But I'd say I'm less of an "addict" and more of a "recovering Microsoft user." I never used the word "addict" in the interviews. I don't think I claimed to be a "recovering Microsoft" anything. But it's a joke and I thought it was funny, so...
Reality TV World: How were you cast for Beauty and the Geek?
John: It's a funny story. A friend of mine called me up and he said, "Hey, guess what I saw on TV? They're doing open casting calls and you're the geekiest guy I know! You should definitely go audition." My first reaction was, "Ha ha... Screw you," and I hung-up on him. (laughing)
Later that day I was having lunch with another friend and so the three of us guys were sitting there and these two guys sat there for an hour convincing me to go try-out for the show. I don't watch TV. I've never seen the show before -- I don't even own a television. Of course I'd heard about the show, but I didn't see a single episode of the thing until after my first audition. So after that first audition, I went onto the next round and onto the next round. I got a couple seasons of the show and watched it.
The farther I went with this the more I really started believing in what they were doing here, trying to bring people up. It's not a mean-spirited show at all. It's just trying to show improvement and help you better yourself, and I really started getting into the spirit of it. As it turns out I made all the way past finals and onto the show.
Reality TV World: What attitude did you take in approaching the competition? Did you come up with any sort of strategy to claim the $250,000 grand prize?
John: You know, I don't think I was ever after the money. This was never about the cash for me. I mean $250,000 split two ways after taxes, you're talking about considerably less than $250,000. (laughing) Granted I'd never look a gift horse in the mouth, but I was never after the money. I was after the experience. I was after improvement. I was after the confidence building. All the things that the show is really about.
That's why you're not going on to win $1 million or $2 million or anything like that -- it's about more than the money. That's why I did it. It had nothing to do with the cash.
So as far as strategies and everything, I'm not sure I really thought about it a whole lot. I think I went into it with no expectations whatsoever, which makes it very difficult to form strategies obviously because you don't know what to expect.
None of us knew what they were going to throw at us this season. Last season they threw in so many twists that when we got into that house, none of us knew what was going to happen once we got there. I think it really kind of threw us for a loop when they told us it was beauties versus geeks.
Reality TV World: That leads well into my next question. What was your reaction when host Mike Richards revealed you'd be competing as geeks versus beauties?
John: The whole thing, none of us liked it at first. The whole beauties versus geeks thing, we looked at each other and we just went, "This sucks!" The girls are very competitive. Right away, they got down and they were like, "Okay, let's plan a strategy. let's figure out how we're going to beat the guys." The guys are looking around going, "This doesn't even begin to be fair. We were the kids that were picked last at dodgeball." We're looking around going, "We have nothing going for us here!" the girls to mind sleeping in a bed with other girls, but the guys? All of a sudden the bunk beds became the most coveted room in the house! (laughing)
We were pretty disappointed with the whole thing. I think after we got in the house and the girls got to know us a little better, I think they really did start thinking, "You know, we're pretty disappointed about this too." So I feel like I really tried to come up with ideas to bring us all together -- activities we could do that would bring us together and allow us to get to know each other a little bit better and have some interactions with the girls. We didn't have to be so separated and so divided.
I feel like we accomplished that while I was there. I hope they carried that on after I left the show. I really hope some of the other guys... I was kind of the ringleader for a number of things that we did together -- trying to get people together -- and I really hope some of the other guys stepped up and took that ball and ran with it because I feel like it could very easily become very segregated very quickly without someone bringing people together.
Reality TV World: You just used the word "disappointed." Do you think the fifth-season's twist takes away from the show's "social experiment" mantra?
John: All of us did -- I think the girls and the guys included... It's like Jason said, "I could have done this at home!" We're all looking at each other going, "Well, why are we here? If this is what the show's about now, why did we even come here?" We didn't come to compete -- we came to improve -- and how are we going to learn from the girls if we're competing against them. It didn't make any sense.
Reality TV World: If you had been put into the show's traditional pairs, which beauty would you have liked to have been partnered with and why? Were there any beauties you didn't think you'd work well with?
John: Umm... Let me think about that. As far as the wouldn't work well with, I hadn't really thought about it because I tend to get along with everyone.
I'll answer the second part of that first. Now that I think about it, I think Randi I probably would not have worked very well with because she tends to be fairly loud and very talkative. There's nothing wrong with that, but I tend to not like the constant loud noises. (laughing) That's one thing that tends to bug me a little bit. So she probably would have gotten on my nerves a little bit. We were great friends while we were in the house.
I think Randi and Amanda were the two that I really didn't get to know as well because I didn't have a lot of time. When you're making your rounds trying to get to know people, it's hard to really get to know them very well. So Randi and Amanda were the two I didn't get to know really well because I didn't get to spend a lot of time with them.
But Amanda lives here in Arizona, so we've spent some time together after the show and I've actually gotten to know just her a little bit better just hanging out in Arizona.
As far as which ones I would have worked well with, I think Cara caught my eye immediately and we seemed to hit it off at the little meet-and-greet in the hanger. So I felt like I really would have worked well with her. I think I really would have worked well with Leticia. I really liked Leticia as a friend. We along pretty well. I still talk to Leticia once a week or so or more often, whenever she has time. She's kind of busy. I talk to Cara almost daily. We hang out here in Arizona.
So I really did make lasting friendships even though I was only in the house for a few days. One of those weird things in isolated situations like that, you end up forming friendships very quickly -- getting very close very fast. That's why you see it on TV, these people are crying when people leave and it's like, "Come on! You're only there for one episode!" You don't realize how quickly you bond in a situation like that.
Reality TV World: Even though the beauties had all the prosthetics, bad hair and makeup, were you confident the geeks could win that first challenge?
John: The outcome of that challenge did not surprise any of us at all. We were all looking around going, "You girls don't look that bad." But the girls, they look in the mirror and they're picking at themselves all day long! I mean you're primping and preening -- they're like little birds, every spare moment that they're still, they're looking in the mirror preening, fixing everything.
So to have something like a mole or to black-out a few teeth or give them bad hair and bad clothes, all of a sudden it shatters their whole world. There were a few who are very strong personalities -- such as Cara and Leticia and Randi -- who were able to push past that and completely ignore it and go into [the challenge] without allowing it to affect them. But all of them were picking it at (laughing), sitting there trying to look in the mirror and figure out what was wrong with them. They thought they looked horrible. They didn't think it was fair at all.
The guys were looking around going, "This is really not bad." I think the one thing the girls didn't catch -- a few of them got it after the challenge -- is that beauty is more than skin deep. The guys didn't think we looked that bad because we were looking at them. We had already gotten to know them, and it didn't matter what they looked like at that point. To us, they were still the same person. To them, it was like they lost the one advantage they had.
But I had no misconceptions about that challenge whatsoever. I had no doubts that they girls would win because girls have boobies (laughing).
Reality TV World: Amanda said the beauties chose to nominate you because some of the other guys seemed to need more help than you did. Is that something you agree with?
John: You know what, I can't disagree with it. The point of the truth? Being kicked off the show for not being geeky enough seems like it really isn't an insult. (laughing) I was disappointed in going home, but I was appreciative of the opportunity and was glad that some of the other guys had a chance.
I do think [the beauties] are right -- I was a little bit farther along. I think the girls didn't really understand why I was there. I mean clothes, shoes, hair -- that stuff you can change overnight. How you interact with people, how you talk to people -- that's the stuff that's really important and that's why I was there. That's what I was there to learn, not clothes and shoes. The makeovers are great. I wish I would have made it to the makeover round.
But I'm really not terribly disappointed with why I was chosen to leave the house. (laughing) I can't really be insulted by that.
Reality TV World: Were you confident you'd be able to survive that first elimination room?
John: Absolutely. I was not nervous at all going into it. Nothing hit me until the very end. I felt great, I walked in there, I was joking with everybody, "I'll see you in a minute. I'll be right back up." I guess I just wasn't fast enough on the buzzer. It was disappointing and nothing hit me until the very end.
I was sleep deprived. I had nothing to eat all day. I had low blood sugar. I wasn't thinking clearly. I wasn't fast enough. I think all of that combined with everything just hitting me all at once and I swooned a little bit.
Reality TV World: Do you think participating in the show really had an impact on the way you look at other people who are different from you? Do you think the show taught you anything about yourself?
John: Oh absolutely. Absolutely. One of the funny things about this, just going into it -- once I knew I was on the show -- already my confidence started to raise. There's something about just knowing you're on national TV that boosts your confidence tremendously. (laughing) It's like the ultimate comeback! If somebody tries to throw something at you, it's like, "You know what? I was on TV. Where were you?" (laughing)
It makes me feel great because you know you've accomplished something. It makes people really look at you differently and listen to you, and that's been the weirdest thing of all this. After the whole thing, walking down the street and people looking at you like they kind of recognize you but they're not sure. And then the people who walk up to you and say, "Hey! I saw you on TV!" It blows your mind sometime. It's like they want to know you -- they want to walk up to you and start a conversation with you. That's never happened to me before.
So it has been a tremendously beneficial experience for me, and I do look at the beauties differently. I went into it expecting... After watching last season, some of the things the girls said, it's like, "Oh my God, could you really be that stupid?" (laughing) But getting to know these girls, they really are smarter than they come across. Just because they can't communicate as effectively as some people and they say some things...
Even in one of the commercials, Cara says, "I think smart in my head, but I just can't get the words out." (laughing) I was sitting right there when she said it, and it made sense at the time. I mean I've got to tell you, it really did make sense at the time. Then it shows up on the commercial and I had to laugh because it sounds so spaced-out.
But they really are smart and a couple of them have college degrees. It's not like they're just stupid people, it's just they've never had to think about these things -- they've never had to work at intellectual pursuits -- because they've always gotten by on their beauty. I think the whole experience for them has really prepared them for later in life when beauty starts to fade a little bit. They'll have the confidence they need to pursue things intellectually. They've used other assets other than just their obvious ones.
Reality TV World: So what's next for you?
John: Actually this whole enterprise has opened a few doors for me. I've gotten a few job offers since I got back in town and it's been a tremendous impact on my life. I'm done with school now, and I'm definitely going to be moving on soon to be a better job and better things. I'm just happy to be back in Arizona. It's a lot of fun to be hanging out with Cara and Amanda and their friends and being recognized in nightclubs and things. It's been a tremendous impact on my life.