By Caroline Fontein
Making a group of random people roommates provides enough drama on its own, but putting them in Vegas, well that’s when things get real. For the upcoming 25th season of MTV’s hit reality television series “Real World,” the show decided to celebrate in style by once again bringing their hand-picked cast of seven strangers to Vegas and setting them up in a decked-out suite at Hard Rock Hotel.
The show first came to Vegas for its twelfth season in 2002 at the Palms.
“The characters were big, Vegas was big. You know for young people it’s just such an exciting place and a place where you can stay out all night and do a lot of crazy things. The original Vegas was just such a breakout season why shouldn’t we come back to celebrate 25,” said the show’s executive producer Jim Johnston.
Filming for the 25th season started in October 2010 and wrapped in January 2011. Before the roommates and crew said sayonara to Sin City, VEGAS.com had an opportunity to tour the suite and speak with the roommates and the show’s producer about what it’s like to live in a hotel in Vegas and what audiences can expect to see on the new season set to premiere on March 9.
Ranging in age from 21 to 25 and hailing from all different parts of the country, the roommates got to call home what most people only get to dream about staying in during their trip to Vegas. Their four-bedroom suite located in the Hard Rock’s Casino Tower features modern décor, views of the pool area and a hot tub, bowling alley, pool table and bar.
Because the show is supposed to be a documentary the roommates had no idea where they were going to be living in Vegas until their ride from the airport pulled up to the Hard Rock Hotel.
“None of us could even fathom this,” said one of the roommates Adam, 22 from Portland, Maine. “We would never see anything like this and then we’re like, holy sh** this is where we’re living.”
With the Hard Rock Hotel being a popular night spot and offering a diverse menu of entertainment and nightlife options hosting the new season there was an easy decision for the show.
“Hard Rock Hotel and Casino lately has been the hotel. It’s a rock ’n’ roll place, it’s classic rock, a lot of crazy things have happened here. It’s a place that young people are very excited to go to,” said Johnston.
For the roommates, the Hard Rock wasn’t someplace they just went during their stay in Vegas. They lived there.
“This was our house,” said another roommate Michael, 23, from College Park, Md. “The club is our basement.”
“I had the best time of my life,” said Leroy, 25, a roommate from Detroit, but he also admitted that living in a hotel and casino in Vegas meant that there was “a lot of temptation.”
Yet, that didn’t stop him or any of the roommates from being themselves in front of the cameras.
“Everything I do on camera is what everyone does in their normal lives, they’re just not being filmed,” said Leroy.
“At the end of the day I’m proud to say we didn’t edit ourselves,” said roommate Dustin, 24, from Rayne, La.
Aside from indulging in the city’s generous nightlife offerings the roommates also participated in an internship program with the Hard Rock’s marketing department.
“With all the nightlife it was nice to do something to stimulate your mind,” said one of the three female roommates Heather, 21, from Delran, N.J.
Through their internship the roommates were able to work with a local charity called Make Music Matter that helps provide instruments to the students in Vegas schools.
“We did come out here and we did party, but we did some good things too,” said Nany, 21, a roommate from Jamestown, N.Y.
While the roommates were busy experiencing everything Vegas has to offer, Johnston and his crew were at work catching it all on film and in a city that really never sleeps that’s a 24-hour job.
“We feel like we’re doctors, like we’re on call 24 hours a day because the biggest thing can happen in the most private and smallest conversation at 5 a.m. particularly after you’ve been out at a club, and then you come back and you realize, wow, ok,” said Johnston.
Along with the roommates just getting to know each other and figure out living together, being in a city like Vegas adds a unique element when it comes to reality television, a genre that “Real World” redefined when the show first debuted in 1992.
“The challenge is that you come to Vegas for maybe a weekend or a week and you do it up during that weekend or that week. When you’re here for three months how do you stay grounded when it’s like you’re trying to go out every night… There were some earth-shaking things here discovered about each other. Some very emotional stories, and it’s going to be good,” said Johnston.