INTERVIEW: 'Beauty and the Geek's John Gardner, Natalie Reeves
By Christopher Rocchio, 11/08/2007
John Gardner and Natalie Reeves felt they were one of Beauty and the Geek's strongest fourth-season couples.
Unfortunately for them their competition viewed them the same way, causing John, a 22-year-old analog circuit design student from Frederick, MD, and Natalie, a 22-year-old waitress and Hooters promotional model from Raleigh, NC, to become the sixth pair eliminated from Beauty and the Geek 4 during Tuesday night's broadcast of The CW reality series.
On Wednesday, John and Natalie talked to Reality TV World about why they felt their team chemistry was so good; why they have differing viewpoints on who they want to see win; how they weren't big fans of the fourth-season twist right from the start; and how that contributed to their eventual ouster.
Reality TV World: How were each of you cast for Beauty and the Geek 4?
Natalie: I was cast at Hooters. A few people came in, and they were talking to me because at the time I was just hostessing; I didn't waitress that day. So I was just talking to everyone who walked in, and I started talking to them and they said, "Hey, we'd really like you to try-out to be on this TV show that we're casting for." I said, "Oh, what TV show?" They said, "Beauty and the Geek." I was like, "Really?" They were like, "Yeah." So I was like, "Sure! Why not?" I didn't know much about it...
Reality TV World: How about you John?
[At this point, Reality TV World discovered that John was experiencing technical difficulties dialing in for our interview.]
Natalie: My first impressions were, "Wow, he's funny." He was hilarious. He seemed really outgoing, because as soon as he came in he just had that great smile on his face. He didn't seem too nervous. Of course everyone was nervous at first, but I felt like he had a lot of social skills, more than the other geeks. I thought it was really impressive with his juggling act [John's first night icebreaker]. I thought that was pretty cool. Obviously he was coordinated and didn't have ADD like me (laughing).
Reality TV World: If you could have chosen your own partner, do you think you still would have picked John?
Natalie: Yes. Yes I would have. All the beauties were talking with Shay [who picked the teams with her partner Joshua] when she was trying to choose, and we were all telling her who we wanted to be with or who we didn't. I wasn't that picky, but I mentioned John as one of the people I wanted to be partnered up with, so I was very happy that he was my partner.
Reality TV World: Why did you go with a super-villain instead of a superhero when you created "Vinity" for the Comic-Con challenge?
Natalie: I chose a super-villain because I thought I wanted to be different and would stand-out more. Everybody tried to be a superhero, and so I thought a villain would be different. But also, John was like, "Do something you feel more comfortable doing. Don't just make-up something absolutely ridiculous." I was like, "Well I feel more comfortable being a villain." (laughing) He was like, "Okay, well do that." I was just thinking of something that would be a good creative idea... I don't know, I guess something different. I felt like with females, it's hard to be a superhero sometimes because we're not like Sam [Beauty and the Geek 4's hunky guy], you know, we don't have the muscles or anything, so people would look at us like we're crazy. Like, "You're going to save the day?!"
Reality TV World: Were you surprised Sam won that challenge?
Natalie: No I was not surprised at all he won that challenge. I actually was going into that challenge thinking he was going to win...
John: Hey, I'm here.
Reality TV World: Okay John, Natalie already answered this but how were you cast for the show?
John: I had watched all of Season 3 with my friends at MIT. I thought that it would be a fun experience and a good time, so I went to the open audition and I guess the rest is history (laughing)!
Reality TV World: What was your first impression of Natalie?
John: I remember the first night after we selected partners, we were unpacking and getting to know each other. It was just kind of like, "Wow. I'm actually having a conversation with this girl." I thought that she was very nice and I thought she was going to be a great partner. My initial impressions were that she was a good competitor and that she would get along with me and we'd be able to work well together.
Reality TV World: So you probably would have picked Natalie if you could have chosen your own partner?
John: Yeah. I would definitely choose Natalie.
Reality TV World: John you commented during the premiere broadcast that you and Natalie were a "difficult team to beat." What gave you that impression?
John: I guess the reason I thought we'd be difficult to beat is that I knew that Natalie was dedicated to studying her material and preparing for challenges, and I felt the same way about myself. The other thing too is that I thought we would have a good team dynamic. I felt that I could trust Natalie and she wouldn't put extra pressure on me during challenges, so that I could perform my best. I thought that we really worked together well in that way. Natalie: We got along really, really well. So I felt like was one of the things too, because we hit it off right from the bat as a team because we got along so well. Other teams had to struggle a little bit to get to know each other, you know as a team trying to understand each other. A lot of people are really different from each other, and John and I just clicked... We both were going to work hard and we were both going to give it our all. We were ready.
Reality TV World: What did you think initially about the fourth-season twist of including Sam as the hunky guy and Nicole as the nerdy girl?
Natalie: I hated it (laughing). I thought it was unfair. I just thought it was completely unfair to have a male beauty because there's a lot of things -- yes, he's a beauty -- but he's a male, and males are still dominant in other areas that females aren't. So he has an upper hand on us, and I felt that wouldn't help us... As soon as I found out, I was like, "Oh great, we're doomed from the start."
Reality TV World: What about you John? What did you think of the twist?
Reality TV World: Sounds like we might have lost John again. So Natalie, what was your reaction when you noticed Sam and Rebecca were becoming romantically involved?
Natalie: My first impression was that this is ridiculous that... Rebecca, she was looking at it as romantic or something, like she just met the man of her dreams. Whereas Sam was like, "Hey! I'm on a show and I'm also getting laid! I'm about to get with a girl!"... She's just thinking more romantically and getting ahead of herself with the game, like she's not even focusing on the game anymore. She wasn't talking to anybody. She was just really talking to Sam. She said that we didn't talk to her ever -- like we stopped talking to her when she was with Sam -- but that was not true. She was a little bit tongue-tied.
Reality TV World: So you think it took her out of the game a little?
John: Hey guys, I'm back.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised Sam nominated you for elimination twice?
Natalie: I wasn't surprised at all. He knows we're a strong team and I wasn't a big fan of them coming in. John: I wasn't surprised either. I think he was playing the game very strategically and I think that he viewed us as competition. I wasn't surprised by his choice.
Reality TV World: Natalie did you ever talk with Sam or Nicole about your displeasure with them being in the game?
Natalie: No, I never told them I didn't want them to be in the game or anything. I didn't need drama or anything. They kind of knew.
Reality TV World: Yeah, so they could sense it.
Natalie: Sam and I, we talked as friends to each other's face. But in the end we both knew that if one of us had the chance, we'd eliminate each other. We both know that each other are very smart and we both know that we could play the game well. So when we were together, we just hung-out and had fun in the hot tub or when we're all drinking and talking -- but in the end, when it comes down to it -- we're both going to study and try to get each other to leave.
Reality TV World: You were victorious both times you were sent to the elimination room. Why do you think you were so successful?
John: I think it was a combination of two things. I think that we were able to cram and memorize the material quickly. And I think the other thing -- I said this, I was quoted about this on the show -- that it's kind of the luck of the draw too because there's a large variance in the questions. Natalie: Yeah... John: I think it was a combination of those two things.
Reality TV World: John what was your reaction when those in attendance at the prom didn't believe you were a geek?
John: (laughing with Natalie) I thought that was really, really fabulous. That kind of caught me off guard. I was really pleased with the reception my makeover got when I was at the prom.
Reality TV World: Do you think it was just the makeover that helped you win Prom King challenge? Did you do anything socially?
John: I think it was both. Because of my makeover, it helped me get my foot in the door. So I had a leg-up before I even started talking to them. Then I think once I got talking with them, things went well. I felt confident when I was talking to them.
Reality TV World: What's your current style? Have you kept any of the makeover changes?
John: (laughing) Well I need to do some more work on my hair. I definitely want to keep up the haircut. You know, after seeing it on TV and then the reception I got I definitely want to keep it up... Natalie: Yeah, we want to see your forehead (laughing). John: You want to see my forehead. I've been wearing jeans more, and I almost never wore jeans before the show.
Natalie: It was really sad to beat Jesse and Erin in the elimination room. That was really tough for both of us. We didn't take it very well...
Reality TV World: Why did you have such a good relationship with them?
Natalie: We were really, unbelievably close. Our rooms were right next door, so we were always around each other. We just all grew together pretty much. People thought we were in an alliance, but really we were just close friends. John: It's hard to say why we got particularly close to them, but I think our personalities matched and our views of everything going along were similar, so it just kind of happened organically I guess.
Reality TV World: Natalie you've already touched upon your relationship with Sam. Was your fiesta conversation with Sam in Cancun strictly strategy?
Natalie: Well, to start off, that was also after several shots of tequila... Wonderful tequila (John is laughing). I don't know if you noticed on the show, but I look a little wasted (John is still laughing). So yeah, I probably should have done my strategy when I was sober to make it be a little more affective. But I was trying to strategize because I felt that the two strongest teams were John and I and Sam and Nicole. I felt that, "You know what? I want us to be the last two teams, so therefor it's actually a challenge to see who wins... Because the other teams, we could both beat. If you eliminate us, than that's an easy win for you." If you're going to play a game you mine as well say, "If I won something, I at least struggled to get there." Instead of maybe hop-skipping by and saying, "Oh I won. That was easy."
Reality TV World: John did you know Natalie approached Sam about that or did you not learn until you watched the episode?
John: I knew that Natalie was talking to Sam... I didn't know that she had done that. I think that it's fine to talk to him about that because I don't think he would really change his decision. I think it's hard to trust someone to do something when you're competing against them. [Sam and Nicole] knew we would send them if we got the chance, and I think they would send us.
Reality TV World: How surprised were you when host Mike Richards revealed there would be no elimination round? Did you immediately think the twist was the end of the game for you?
Natalie: Oh yeah... John: Yeah... Natalie: John and I looked at each other. You can see our looks.
Reality TV World: So you didn't think there was any chance David and Jasmine would rally Sam and Nicole to try and eliminate one of the other teams?
John: Well the thing was [Sam and Nicole and David and Jasmine] had to come to a unanimous decision. We knew that Sam would be gunning for us, so I felt that even if the others put in a good word to him, it would be hard for them to budge Sam. I think that he would have been the stronger will in that conversation and so I thought that was really the deciding factor. I thought [David and Jasmine] might fight for us somewhat, but I think it would have been very hard to persuade Sam. Natalie: Yeah as soon as I saw it... I was like, "There's no way." David has his good points and he'll try to fight but overall, Sam is a very dominant person. He's very forthcoming with how he says things... I guess he convinced them mentally to join his side, and so I just knew.
Reality TV World: Do you think William and Jennifer should have been booted before you based on their rocky relationship with each other?
Natalie: Yes. John: Yeah, I think it depends on how you want to view the game. It was very disappointing to have to leave when there was a team that was kind of on the rocks and was thinking about wanting to leave. But you could see [Sam, Nicole, Jasmine and David's] logic in wanting to eliminate us if they thought we were a threat. So it's kind of what percentage is the game and what percentage is the experience.
Reality TV World: After your elimination, John you commented how you and Natalie "have been the closest team in the whole game." Do you really think you had the best relationship of any couple?
John: It's hard to say. I think that Natalie and I are close and I think that the fact that I could trust her; she wasn't putting added pressure on me; we kind of had the same feelings about what was important in the game and what wasn't, I think that that really helped me get the most out of the experience... I would say we were the closest team.
Reality TV World: Is there anybody in the house you'd like to see win? Although I think I know the answer to this one already, anybody you wouldn't want to see win?
John: (laughing) I think I would like to see David and Jasmine win. I think the fact that initially David was not pleased with Jasmine as his partner and Jasmine was able to kind of shrug that off and they were able to eventually grow to work together and get over that. I think that's a pretty amazing thing -- it's pretty huge -- so I would like to see them win. Natalie: I kind of disagree. I kind of hope that Shay and Joshua [win]. I like David and Jasmine; I hope they continue to grow and I wouldn't be upset if they won. But I felt Jasmine never studied -- never opened a book, never looked at it or anything -- and I felt that wasn't really growth. She's growing as in becoming closer to her partner. But overall, she never studied to become anything more than what she already was. I felt Shay and Joshua were really trying, really working, really trying to study and help each other.
Reality TV World: So again, I'm assuming you wouldn't want to see Sam and Nicole win?
Natalie: Yes, you're definitely correct in saying that.
Reality TV World: Do you think participating in the show really had an impact on the way you look at yourselves as well as other people who are different from you?
John: Yeah, I'd say that's definitely true. I knew going into the show that I kind of wanted to change my look and get the makeover, but I wasn't really prepared for how that would make me feel. It definitely made me feel different. I knew that it would change how other people viewed me, but it definitely made me feel confident. Also during the [beauty's] debate challenge, I think I got a sense of how the beauties are being judged everyday and how that can be tough for them... being viewed as unintelligent. So that was something that I definitely learned about them.
Reality TV World: How about you Natalie?
Natalie: Well, I've learned a lot from the show. Learning from all the beauties, I thought a lot of them were going to be very... not unintelligent, but all about themselves and very selfish and just caring about money and materials. They were actually nice beauties. They were fun to be around. And the geeks, I now at them and, "Wow!" They're not all that bad! They're funny. They're fun to be around. They make you laugh. They're nice... Some guys you kind of stereotype, and you learn through this show that you really shouldn't stereotype anybody. You never know what to expect and what can come out of each person.
Reality TV World: So what's next? Got any plans?
John: I'm still going back to work -- doing my analog circuit design -- which I still love. But I live out here in California now, so I'd like to take-up surfing. I think that'd be fun. Try to meet new people and to learn to do that would be great. Natalie: I'm hoping to meet more people to continue on with modeling and see if I could possibly get into acting. I've been trying to move out to L.A.... I haven't talked to Erin since the show, but when we were on it, we wanted to move to L.A. together. So I'm hoping to still do that.