If you want to skip the story and watch the video, follow this link. The three of us are lined up waiting for the star of the show, Klarissa, to make her decision about whom she wants to date. Opposite him is Tyler, a clean-cut tan-skinned model, and the living incarnation of California.
The room is silent. I was sleeping in our beat-up tour van when my phone rang. It was my lead singer Justin. As I ran up to their location I could see a crowd of would-be actors surrounding the producer. We locked eyes and the crowd parted as she sauntered over to me.
The producer was a hip looking lady named Fatima, with a chiseled faced and a bald head. She oozed charisma from her pores and when she spoke I could tell she was from somewhere in Africa. Everyone said she never would. But you know what?
A message from Fatima was waiting for me when I returned from tour a week later. Do you remember Parental Control? The parents would interview a bunch of potential daters and then select two people they liked.
Those two people would each go on a date while the parents and boyfriend watched it all unfold on their television at home. I was one of those daters on Parental Control. As the concept got stale they had to compensate with crazier people. It got pretty ridiculous and over the top. But I was on the first season, around People always ask if it was real. The answer is mostly no.
The entire thing was pre planned by the producers. It was filmed out of sequence over three days. There was no script, but we were often told what to say.
The First Day of Shooting: It was shot at some random studio in the suburban sprawl that is Los Angeles. The stage was a fake living room. The parents were on a couch and I sat opposing them. There were bright lights, a lot of people, and I was terribly nervous. They asked me a few questions and it was over in less than 10 minutes. Afterwards I got the good news: I was chosen to be dater 2!
The plan was for us to get acupuncture and then eat dim sum at a Chinese restaurant. People ask me why I chose the date we did, but the producers of the show planned the whole thing; I had no say in the matter. Everything was being set up when I arrived.
A friendly crew member came over and starting talking to me when I sat down. She asked me a lot of personal questions about my life and my interests. We must have talked for a half an hour when a flustered young girl walked by, flanked my many crew members. She was very, very Los Angeles. It only took one glance to see she was high maintenance. What do you think? The Second Day of Shooting: We started off with acupuncture.
Yes, it was real. I had dozens of needles sticking in my face and body; it actually felt pretty good. I remember feeling like I was floating off the table. After that we tried to choke down a disgusting dim sum lunch at a Chinese restaurant and capped off the date by tossing coins into a wishing well around the corner. It was totally dry. I enjoyed the free acupuncture session. But I can tell you that the producers pretty much told us what to say. They would stop us constantly and give us directions to make it more interesting.
This time I want you to say her boyfriend seems like a douchebag. And Klarissa, I want you to agree with him a little bit. Can you do that? Klarissa and I actually hit it off during our fake date.
We had pretty good chemistry, which led to pretty good conversation, which led to us holding hands at some point in between takes. She lived an hour away in Orange County, which took even longer because of the nasty LA traffic. It was really late by the time we arrived, so she invited me inside to stay the night. Our dim sum lunch was pretty grose. I barely ate anything!
That night I slept with Klarissa. The Third Day of Shooting: The funniest part of Parental Control was the witty trash talking banter between the boyfriend and the parents. This was all filmed on the third day. The truth is that nearly everything the parents and the boyfriend said were given to them by the producers. I know this because I was forced to listen to it all day long.
I arrived early on the third day of shooting. We started off by filming some of my scenes: I was stuffed into a small room with Tyler, the other dater. We were stuck in there for nearly 8 hours while they filmed all the other parts of the show.
The control room was in the bedroom next to ours. Only a thin wall separated us. I heard them laughing their asses off as they fed Jensen his lines. What is that a pizza on his face? Say that, say that! After nearly 8 hours in that tiny room we were called in to shoot her final decision.
The epic ending was about to begin. I think about the whirlwind that was last couple of days in Los Angeles. I think about our long talk after the show, and making out with her in her bedroom. At this point I should mention one thing. While we were laying in her bed the night before, she told me that whomever she chose at the end would get a bonus payment.
We hit it off on our date. I just knew it. Then, the loud headset of a crew member broke the silence. Me on the far left. The bright lights and the cameras and all the people staring at me were expecting a reaction. They needed a reaction from me about her decision. I had such a mush mouth the entire time that it took nearly 20 takes before I got it right, and this reaction was given to me word for word by the producers.