Ex-'Buckwild' cast member dishes on his experience
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- For good or ill, the "Buckwild" reality train has left the station as the MTV series screens its fourth week of shows Thursday. (There are two more to go.) But one of its original passengers has been booted off the program, which The Hollywood Reporter dubs the "Jersey Shore-esque, redneck reality show" set in West Virginia.
That would be "Jesse B," a 23-year-old Sissonville native whose real name is Jesse Boardman and who works in Charleston as a server at Recovery Sports Grill. He showed up Jan. 17 at a "Buckwild" viewing party that occurs weekly on the heels of the Third Eye Cabaret I host at The Cellar, 8 Capitol St.
We invited him onto the stage for a brief interview before the show aired on the Cellar's TV screens at 10 p.m. The night's episode happened to showcase a fight between a seriously drunk Boardman and another character, Tyler, after Boardman hit on cast member Salwa.
It was an off-camera fight that got Boardman booted, though. There are apparently good and bad fisticuffs in reality TV land.
In this transcript, this is what "Jesse B" had to say about his "Buckwild" experience.
Q: How did they find and cast you for the show?
A: "They found me at a party in Sissonville as they were coming to meet people to try to get a show together. It was through Zoo Productions. Then, MTV picked it up two years later. I've been filming for about three years. I've been filmed in Sissonville, in Charleston. I've been filmed in Huntington. I've been filmed in Morgantown."
Q: How did they pitch the show to you?
A: "They were coming to us, looking for people for a TV show. I was just sitting on my John Deere tractor, havin' a beer. They were, like, 'We like this guy!'
"I guess there was a show they were trying to do called 'We Know How to Party Down South,' and they did a casting call at the Civic Center, which obviously if you go to the Civic Center you're not going to see people in the real way they act. Then another company picked it up, the idea of it. Then, MTV picked that up."
Q: How did you get kicked off the show? You were at the Kanawha County courthouse for a custody case for your son, you said.
A: "I was real upset afterward. I didn't get any custody. I come outside, and there's all these people standing around with cameras. And they're like, 'We're going to do an interview right here.'
"Well, I was tore up, I didn't want to do it right then, so I went to walk away. And the producer grabbed me and was like, 'No, you're going to do it right there.' And I swung and hit him.
(Addressing audience) "Let me just tell you, when I get hit tonight, everybody? I was really, really, really intoxicated. I don't even remember being there. It's kinda like a first viewing for me, too."
Q: So, the episode's fight was at a party?
A: "Yeah, it was at the girls' house. The girls have a cabin in Sissonville. The caption on the show tonight says 'Tyler Fights an Unwanted Guest.' Well, I was brought to the show by the MTV crew, drunk. And then I got into a fight. So I don't know how they're going to play it out..."
Q: Did they get you drunk?
A: "No, no, no. I was drunk before I got there. They called me, lookin' for me. I was passed out at a bar, and waitin' for a ride home. They come and picked me up instead and took me to this party."
Q: They knew you were drunk, though?
A: "Yeah. Really drunk."
Q: What do you think of the reaction to the show? What do you think of the show?
A: "I think it's exactly how I thought it would be, where they take Sissonville and make it PG-13, instead of rated R. Everybody was worried about 'The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia' and wondering how they were going to do it.
"This is also a reality show on television, not a documentary that you have to go buy. It's on TV for everybody. So I knew they were going to keep it PG-13, which is awesome.
"There's some stuff I wish they'd do a little bit different. They did a lot of editing around things that make things look like they aren't. But I guarantee you, I tell everybody now: the show is not scripted.
"There was times when they'd be like, 'OK, guys, let's all go muddin' and have a campfire today.' And then we'd do it, and they'd just film it and see what kind of reactions they would get out of it."
Q: Wait a minute now. What about the putting of a swimming pool in the back of a coal truck [as seen in one of the first episodes]?!
A: "That was an idea by Shane, the main guy on the show, but was just enforced with money by MTV -- something we would do if we had the money to do and we already had the idea for. But MTV was like, 'Well, hell, we can get that together.'"
Q: So, they rented the truck and..
A: "No, no, no, the dump truck came from a friend of Shane's, and then they just made sure that everything made it to work to where, you know..."
Q (from audience): Who was driving the dump truck? He spun around that corner.
A: "Hell, I don't know. That day was the same night as I got in the fight, so..."
Q: Is anyone going to make a living off this show? Are they paying good wages?
A: "Well, let's see. I'm gonna be on two episodes it looks like, but I got paid for eight-and-a-half. So, I got paid $8,500 for the first season.
"OK, let's talk about 'Jersey Shore.' They got paid $1,000 an episode on the first season. The second season was $25,000 an episode. So, it just all depends on if we have a second season or not."
Q: Do you think there's going to be a second season?
A: "I don't know yet."
Q: Do you like the show?
A: "I don't not like it. I wish there was more me in it."
Q: Were you pretty upset when you got kicked off the show?
A: "I didn't know until it came out. Had no idea. They didn't let us know what was going on. I was still filming two-and-a-half months ago. I was still doing pick-up lines here and there they needed to fill in places. They didn't tell us anything.
"I actually watched the pilot for the show six months ago that looked way better than the show looks now. But then they also took me off the show.
"I don't know how many of you all actually watch the show, but I have a thing with Salwa on the show where we got together and we hooked up. But then they cut all that out because obviously I'm not a cast member no more. So for somebody random to be with one of the cast members, it didn't even mean anything for the show."
Q: There's a lot of talk about how the show depicts West Virginia, and a lot of people are concerned about that. How would you respond?
A: "Like I said, I just think that there's a lot more stuff going on in Charleston that's bad than that TV show. They didn't scratch the surface.
"I think that they did really well keeping it PG-13. I remember one time that we were at a cabin in Summersville filming, and they caught two of the cast members smoking synthetic weed out in the woods and told 'em next time they'd do it that they'd be kicked off the show and never be allowed on MTV again.
"So, it's not as bad as people thought it was going to be. I think a lot of people are let down by that because the worse it is, the more people want to talk, the more publicity it gets. And then it just kind of got 'kidded' down a little bit."
The audience is invited to ask questions.
Q: Is there a hope you had for the series, a place you'd like it to have gone that it didn't go?
A: "Well, yeah! I'd wish I'd have been more in it!" (Laughs.)
"I did three-and-a-half years of filming. I did get paid for the two years I did filming before MTV picked it up, but it was only like $100 a day. They'd pay us a $100 to come out and film wherever they wanted us to film.
"And they would use us for that $100. The first time I ever filmed for $100 it was a 21-hour session, and, you know, they just want to get as much stuff, so then they can put it all together and figure out what they want to do.
"I just hope there is a second season. Adam Paul is my producer, and I'd already had a conversation with him when I seen how the show was going to go. I was, like, 'Buddy, I did a lot of work for you...' But I talked to him, and he said if there is a second season, I would become a cast member again and I would get a second shot at it. So I'm gonna see how it goes."
Q: My kids are the ones that sort of turned me around: 'You know what, mom? This is about fun, right?' And I'm like, 'If 'Buckwild is branding West Virginia in the hearts and minds of people as a fun place to visit for people, maybe that's not such a bad thing.' But, so, c'mon, Jesse, let's be real. What do you think this show is telling America about West Virginia?
A: "A lot of TV shows show that there's a lot of fun things you can do- -- you know, go out, have a good time. All that stuff has to have money. I feel like we show that you can still do all these fun things in a different way. There's a different way of life in the country."
Q: I'm a West Virginia girl. I didn't jump off barges. I have had my 'Buckwild' experiences, but I didn't have access to -- you are playing with million-dollar toys.
A (as the show begins to screen): "If I didn't live in this town, I would see this and say, 'I want to hang out with these ---" Boardman uses a word that's definitely not PG-13, but starts with "mother." Then, he repeats it for a nearby camera.
As the drunken fight scene approaches, Boardman comments to the room: "I want a sober rematch on national television! I'm just hoping they show a glimpse of how drunk I really was."
The "Buckwild" viewing parties take place right after Third Eye Cabaret, which runs 7 to 10 p.m. Thursdays at The Cellar, 8 Capitol St. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/thirdeyecabaret.
Reach Douglas Imbrogno at email@example.com or 304-348-3017.