to all news clippings
to all news clippings
The Real World’s Norm strikes back at
MTV’s prying eyes
By Jack Shamama
When MTV originally picked “seven strangers to
live in a loft” in 1990, Norm Korpi made an impact
by being openly and unapologetically gay, not to mention
empathetic and levelheaded (an anomaly on the show).
Norm paved the way for gays on television, especially
on MTV, which featured at least one gay or lesbian character
de rigueur in each subsequent season of the Real World.
Although he’s been keeping a low profile since
then, Norm has now decided to air some of his frustrations
from the experience with his new movie, The Wedding
Video. In it, he gets together with a bunch of ex-0Real
World cast members and creates a faux-wedding video,
which challenges people’s perception of what’s
real and what can be created through careful editing.
How did you first heat about the Real World, and what
motivated you to apply to be on the show?
The producers scouted my loft in Brooklyn for the show.
Several weeks later they asked if I would be interested
in applying for the show. I sent an application, which
was quickly rejected. More weeks passed when I got a
call from a producer who asked me to come in for a taped
audition. They handed me a contract on the spot.
Did you have any idea that ten years they’d still
be repeating the show ad nauseum on MTV? I was in London
a couple of years ago and was surprised to see the show
running on channel Four...
They keep the cast very much in the dark about the intentions
of the show. The saturation of the show into global
pop culture gives me the benz.
Do you still get recognized a lot on the street?
On the streets, in the airports, bathrooms, cars, malls,
restaurants, foreign countries-- all this and more--
8 seasons after I was even on the show. I must say though,
that I have met some of the greatest people in my life
as a result, and wouldn’t change it for anything.
One event that you were most remembered for was your
accidental “outing” of a short-lived TV
talk show host, Charles Perez. Was there anything “behind
the scenes” action going on there?
You’ve decided to channel some of your frustrations
and issues into your new film project, “The Wedding
Video”. How did this come about?
I like to think of myself as a barometer of what’s
happening around me. My educational and creative background
is in the arts. As I watched my life on television I
could see how people were perceiving me-- and it was
not my life that everyone was reacting to. I began to
feel the pressure of this person who was not really
me. With the Real World playing around the clock, “The
Norman robot” became more famous, and more trapped
in a world I knew very little about. I felt the need
to express myself in a way that would make people understand
my complexity as a human being.
I started developing this project over 3 years ago with
my collaborator Clint Cowen. We played around with several
different ideas before settling on the Wedding Video.
At one point we were going to make a film called Snuff,
killing off real worlders in a glorious blood-bath of
terror—but the financing fell through at the last
minute. We then decided we couldn’t wait any longer,
so we chose a format that was smart, timely, and affordable:
A wedding video-- where someone’s reality and
unreality could be created in-and-out of context from
the same materials (just like the Real World). “The
Wedding Video” was the greatest solution to many
of the hurdles had to make this film work.
The cast: Heather B, Rachel, Julie, Sean, Syrus, Lars,
Cory, Lindsay, and many others were in their element
and gave the most realistic, unreal performances ever.
I owed to this fine people with helping set me sprit
free with taking the risk of parodying their likenesses.
This was the hardest and most rewarding project of my
life. I just got a tear.
The format of the film is a mockumentary ( a la “Blair
Witch Project.”) How did this format address your
experiences being on TV?
In my mind the format is a critical piece of this artistic
project. Subject matter, and the characters who illustrate
that subject matter, must relate--in film and video--
just as they do in painting, or any other creative media.
In this case, the real world cast help shape the story
of a wedding video into a comedic commentary on reality
vs. perception. Generally in Mockumentaries, people
are poking fun at someone else. In this case of the
Wedding Video, however, the actual cast are making fun
of themselves which, I hope will give viewers a smarter
perspective on what they consider real.
How far is this film from being released? When can we
look for it in theatres?
Hopefully not too far. We’ve submitted to several
film festivals—so probably within a year.
It seems that gays and lesbians have had prominent roles
on very “reality based” TV show, from Lance
Loud to Richard Hatch. Why do you think this is?
They are many reasons. When you have a person who is
gay or lesbian, who is
equal to all other persons on a reality based show it
is hard to stop them from acting out. However in scripted
shows, there are many more people involved in the decision
making. The roles are more predictable and forced, but
they are becoming more visible like Ellen, and Will
& Grace. Hollywood is a creative community, and
many people who are gay or lesbian have found homes
in the business. They also have say in what happens
behind the scenes of a television show. “The Real
World’s” co-creator John Murray is openly
gay and has promoted and brought to light many gays
and lesbians on, and off-camera. I think this process
has been moving forward and the level of awareness and
toleration has risen as a result.
As one of the first real openly gay people on TV, do
you feel like you’ve made a difference? Although
I might not have know I was gay when I first saw the
Real World, NY I was captivated by your character, nonetheless.
I think you just answered that question, and that has
been my biggest impact.
One last question...what ever happened to that wonderful
painting of the Cul De Sac that hung over the NYC loft?
We are going to need the History Channel’s Lost
and Found show to find that one: MTV bought the painting
a year after the show, but someone in the building didn’t
like it, so it was sent back to my former gallery in
Soho where is was put into storage. My gallery dealer
died of a heart attack a few months later, while I was
living in California. I haven’t been able to contact
the estate, and don’t even know the name of the
trust. It’s a mystery.