Touch My Backstage Pass Again: Behind the Scenes of the Rock of Love 2 Reunion

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The girls are hungry and nic-fitting, having been unable to move from their seats in the studio for about four hours. They are cranky, having been at the studio on which the Rock of Love 2 Reunion is being shot for about 10 hours. And now, they are upset, having just watched Heather pound Daisy on the head five times with a closed fist. Everyone’s at their breaking point when a voice emerges above the grumbling crowd: “This is not a TV show. This is my life!”

It’s Big John, who’s angry that security didn’t allow him on stage to protect Bret during the brawl. But really, the sentiment could have come from any of the 15-or-so girls whose investment in this show was stretched to the limit at this point. Frankly, at this point I felt lucky to be a mobile outsider.

It wasn’t the only time that day, either. Below is a chronicle of my experience on the set of the Rock of Love 2 Reunion. From gossiping backstage to pre-fight chats with Daisy and Heather to a post-show interview with Bret, I did it all and lived to tell the readers of this blog whassagoinon.

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If most of the girls had a choice, here is where they would have parked for most of the day. Not at all ironically, it is the studio’s parking lot. I arrived on set to find them taking a rare smoke break — since the audience was lined up outside, this was pretty much the last chance the girls would get to smoke before the taping (most of the girls had arrived on set around 10 a.m. and filming was to start at 2 p.m., although it ended up really kicking off at 3:30). That they couldn’t smoke in their dressing rooms was much to their chagrin — Bret has nothing on nicotine when it comes to these girls’ desperation (and all but, like, Jessica and Megan puff).

So there was a smokers-high sense of euphoria at this particular moment: I talked to Destiney, Inna, Peyton and Catherine, who’d join us a few minutes after the shot above was taken…

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…and “excited” is how everyone described their feelings. The other general consensus? Disdain for Megan. If you thought you saw vitriol in the girls’ treatment of Kristy Joe (whom Destiney immediately admitted she’d been too hard on), you haven’t seen anything. From what I gathered, this sentiment arose only after the show began airing: so much of Megan’s perceived misdeeds occurred as she talked smack on her opponents in interviews that they weren’t privy to (and stuff like her taking and hiding Peyton’s note went unbeknown to everyone) until the show aired. Maybe Megan does smoke, she knew better than to hang around people so openly displeased with her.

I mean, even Daisy and Destiney found it within themselves to play nice (I believe that this is the first contact that they had since the show):

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Many of the girls, after their pictures are snapped, ask to see them, informally demanding photo approval that I’m happy to give (I know what it’s like when people post fugly-ass pictures of you on the Internet). Inna, however is not one of those girls. In fact, she actually even mugged for me:

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How’s that for down-to-earth?

Daisy has a message for you. Or maybe me.

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“I was hoping you’d do that!” I told her, after watching her strike the same pose for an earlier shot. “Yeah, it’s, like, the only thing I know how to do right,” she said. Nobody disagreed.

Daisy also did this routine for the VH1.com cameras in which she pretended this car was hers:

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Frankly, I didn’t really get where she was going with that, but I did admire her leg-warmers.

Some more shots of the girls outside the studio:

Inside, Daisy and Peyton both showed off their CDs:

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And then, I met Megan.

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I never interviewed Megan for the blog, because she never returned my call or email. “Oh, yeah, I remember that. I wanted to get back to you, but I never made it all the way down my to-call list.” “And I was at the bottom,” I assumed. “No, you were in the middle,” Megan told me. How confidence-boosting. I actually enjoyed Megan a lot — I would never want to be on a reality show with her, for fear of the terrible things she’d say about me, but from what I could gather, that’s not an act: who she is on TV is who she is. “So, who here do you hate?” she asked me. I told her I had to remain impartial, and the fact was that I didn’t hate anyone. Yet!

Megan said she had mixed feelings about being amongst her Rock of Love 2 competitors. “Why?” I asked. “Because of all the bitchy things you said about them?” She took a gape-mouthed pseudo-offense for a second, explaining that the things she said weren’t bitchy; they were just honest. This was a line Janice Dickinson said frequently of her America’s Next Top Model stint, and it only endeared Megan to me more. “They’re just brutally honest, and practically factual,” she said. I don’t know who could disagree with that.

Megan was fairly blasé regarding the ire she caused. “I don’t have any problems with anybody, but apparently, everyone has problems with me! It doesn’t really matter. It might matter for the next couple of hours, but that’s it.” Again: hard to disagree. Besides, as long as you have a following, haters can hate all they want. “I get up every morning at noon and read my MySpace, which is all fan mail. Everybody tells me how much they love me, and that’s how I start my day. I can’t imagine it being better.”

Megan made me shoot her from above because she said it’s more flattering.

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Agree, y/n?

Speaking of MySpace:

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Erin says that she talked about a lot more stuff with Bret than just what was shown on that first (and her only) episode. It must be rough to be tagged as the MySpace girl. Jackie (incorrectly identified as “Jackye” on the show) talked about removing herself from the competition on that first episode: “I do regret leaving to a certain extent. I wonder what would have happened. The whole show would have been different. Everything they did, I could have done. Like the dance contest? I would have ruined it. The chopper challenge? I was in auto and welding in high school. I’ll play football. I don’t care, I’ll break a nail.”

I then saw Angelique, who was wearing more clothes than perhaps she ever has in her life:

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To offset the shock, I asked her about stripping, which she’s given up since the show: “I went in January, and the girls recognized me in the dressing room, and the guys all screamed, ‘Frenchie from Rock of Love!’ The customers want to take picture and I’m like, ‘What the f***?’ They want to talk to you and they don’t even want me to damn remove my clothes and that’s how I get paid. I tried to go back a couple of times and just wasn’t working. When you’re used to so much cash every day and you stop, it’s like, Uh! Was going on? It’s very addictive because of the money.” Have no fear, though, Frenchie is doing just fine, hosting events and has “more reality TV stuff coming, but I cannot talk!” She said it!

You may have noticed that Megan was holding a dog in the shot of her above. That’s her “baby,” hilariously named “Lily Megan.” I pointed out that it was weird that she named her dog after herself and she said, “It’s just her middle name!”

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Anyway, Lily Megan was pretty much the star of backstage, although she did have a scooting habit, which caused Peyton major concern (“Get her checked out for worms!” she urged).

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After this shot, Peyton said offhandedly and to no one in particular, “I love animals more than people.” Given the environment, I couldn’t really blame her.

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You may remember Ashley from the first episode, when she informed America that she was holding her butt cheeks together for no particular reason (even she couldn’t remember why she said it when I brought it up — apparently, it wasn’t in reference to her other comment that she felt like she was going to “s***” herself, because believe me, I asked). I also asked about her costume, but according to Ashley, the get-up pictured above isn’t out of the ordinary for her: “This is me, all the time. It was definitely inspired by Bret, but I’ve been wearing this for years. I’m not a groupie, but I’m stuck in that day. I love it.”

Catherine pointed out the lipstick marks on her paper cup of wine.

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Documenting it felt appropriate.

And then there’s Kristy Joe, who introduced herself to me by saying, “I don’t like you.” Immediately, I thought back to the way she introduced herself to America — by wiping off Bret’s face during the first-episode photo shoot and announcing that she has “a thing with germs” — and I realized that this woman does not care too much about making good impressions. I asked her why she didn’t like me and she said it was because of things I’d written about her. “What did I say that was unfair, Kristy Joe?” I asked, genuinely interested. I feel like I walk a tightrope with my job — when I write about these shows, I have to poke fun lest I come off totally lame, but at the same time, I can’t be too mean since I’m officially writing for VH1, and, hello, I have to deal with these people later.

Apparently, Kristy Joe did not like the fact that I reported that she cried a lot. “I was just going through a lot of stuff, and I thought that was insensitive,” she told me. I suppose that the implication is that I was trivializing her pain, although that wasn’t my point at all: my point went more like when you willfully enter a group-dating scenario with baggage that you proceed to air out for a nation of TV viewers, you’re doing all the trivializing yourself. I asked Kristy Joe about all the times that I pointed out in my recaps that I thought it was unfair that she was being used as the house punching bag. She had nothing to say to that. Shocking.

Catherine came into the room, and I heard Kristy Joe mutter to her that she just ripped me a new a**hole. Clearly, our definitions differ entirely on what that entails . To her credit, she was gracious enough to pose for a picture.

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I talked with Destiney, who really is so much more easy-going than you’d ever expect from watching her televised displays of anger and rocking out. Once again, the topic of Megan came up. “She knows everybody hates her,” she told me. When I pointed out how high school-esque this particular scene was, Destiney agreed. “Absolutely. It’s retarded.” Heh. Case and point?

Riki Rachtman was also around and he found it particularly funny when I told him Megan named her dog after herself.

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He tried to pump me for information about the girls, saying that he hadn’t even read the notes he was given. He soon decided he’d go out there and wing it, which he did, to hilarious effect: not a minute after Bret took the stage, Riki referred to him as a “likable pig.” Bret was so not amused, and said that he felt that he’d been thrown under the bus. They actually ended up having to retake that and Riki used the “likable pig” line again, and it still didn’t make the show. America’s loss!

The filming approached and I was near Daisy’s dressing room when there was a call for lockdown — whenever someone like Bret or Heather comes through that the producers don’t want the girls reacting to just yet, they’re all made to stay in their dressing rooms with the doors closed. So I tucked away with Daisy for about 10 minutes, and I have to say that I really like this girl. She has it a lot more together than I ever thought she would (on her numerous online haters she was totally, “Whatever. You can’t please everyone.” And while this is the common-sense approach to being in the public eye, I frankly didn’t expect her to have that much common sense). I brought up an online extra that showed her telling Destiney of wealthy people employing the help of dolphins for birthing children. “That’s true!” she said, reiterating what she says in the video. So, uh, that’s her story and she’s sticking to it.

We also talked about Heather, whom she still didn’t know would be attending the reunion (none of the girls did until minutes before Heather hit the stage). “I was intimidated by her because obviously she’s a big presence and she was close or is close or whatever with Bret. The minute she came in the house, I just felt this, like (opens mouth). Even though I was like, ‘I love your outfit, I love your hair,’ automatically, she was just like, ‘Nope,’” said Daisy, adding that she thought Heather was cool from the first season. “But whatever. It’s done now.” If only it were.

I also talked to Ambre and Jessica, briefly.

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Ambre noted that a lot of the girls weren’t aware that she had won, which was kind of weird, being that it would be obvious as soon as they entered the stage to find that she wasn’t there. She said she was excited to see everyone — especially Frenchie. Little did she know how much of Frenchie we’d get to see.

And speaking of Frenchie, I snapped this shot as the girls were lining up to take the stage:

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Is artful, no? No? How about in black and white?

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Art.

I noticed Megan chatting with Kristy Joe as they lined up.

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Perhaps they related as pariahs? Anyway, I wasn’t the only one to notice this: Aubry asked Kristy Joe if she was feeling OK, since she was talking to the untouchable Megan. I didn’t catch Kristy Joe’s response.

Some more backstage shots:

The girls and Big John took the stage.

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Here’s a better look at Angelique’s outfit:

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Come closer!

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There was no way that she was going to get away with wearing this on air, and she was soon escorted back to her dressing room to put on a bra. The person who broke her the news did it softly, calling this wardrobe choice a “noble effort.” Indeed.

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That’s the after shot.

The girls’ introductions were taped and when it was Ashely’s time, she turned around to reveal a sign taped to her back that read, “Your Tour Ends Here!” She was told that she couldn’t put her back to the camera, so I made sure to get a shot of her showing it off.

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Just doing my part, you know?

Ashely wasn’t the only one dressed up like Bret in the studio. Some superfans were there…

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And speaking of superfans, this woman could be seen on last year’s reunion:

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A painted torso two reunions in a row. More than anyone, it can be said that this woman was there for Bret.

Before the taping began, I went backstage to snag some time with Heather, who just had her makeup done.

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And you know, I really like Heather a lot. In her defense, the most interesting thing about writing this whole reunion recap is that going back over what we talked about before the show, her story matches up to what she told me after. These were not excuses that she made up after the fact: right there, she told me how sick she was, how she tried to get out of attending the taping and how over Rock of Love she was.

Of course, she talked plenty of smack about Daisy: “She still lives with her ex-boyfriend, she’s trying to hook up with this guy I just filmed a show with. She’s obviously a follower, she’s got the same hair that I have. She’s always going to be a desperate, needy girl that blames everyone for everything.”

Still, I wondered if Heather wasn’t going to have fun taking the stage. I mean, doesn’t she thrive on this sort of thing? No. “I’m gonna get out there and Bret’s not gonna say s***, and then I’ll say something and he’ll have her back so he gets another b***j**. It’s just bulls***. I’m tired of everybody being p****s. Someone needs to start calling motherf***ers out.”

As I was leaving, I couldn’t help but feel like what she said had the tone of a WWF pre-fight interview. I couldn’t believe how right I’d turn out to be! Oh, and I snapped another picture of Heather before I left. “Should I kick it old school?” she asked. Why of course, she should.

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Despite how she sometimes comes off, the woman’s got a lot of love to share.

I also finally got to snap a shot of a now done-up Ambre:

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The dress looks really familiar to me in retrospect. Did New York wear something like that at some point?

For the most part, the reunion taping went smoothly until the fight. Kristy Joe’s segment went on way too long (probably four or five times as long as what you saw on TV), but I thought Riki handled it well without relenting. A few highlights you didn’t see on TV:

- Angelique’s original lapdance was much more explicit. Basically, as Riki was throwing to commercial, he was standing to the side of Bret and Frenchie and you could see her entire ass. This had to be reshot. Also, she gave Bret and Riki her porn DVDs, which were girlishly wrapped. Irony!

- Megan was brought on stage for an entire unaired segment that started with about three minutes of clips of her trashing the other girls. Aubry, having gotten used to chiming in after Angelique’s segment, stood up and ranted. Voice of the people?

- Destiney promoted her condom-tin line, which she said was for “smart, safe sex and to prevent STDs and HIV.” Mutual exclusivity, is there? They contained an “STD card” and two condoms that weren’t Magnums, Destiney reported. Perhaps these tins are not for everyone, then.

- Peyton’s song lasted about three times as long as what you saw on TV, though the audience was just as enthusiastic as you saw.

- Jessica told me that she was upset that she made it as far as she did, yet wasn’t called to the stage for her own segment.

Some more on-stage shots:

And then came the fight, which threw everything into disarray.

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This doesn’t even give an indication of the chaos that broke out and shut down filming for about 30 minutes. I asked Destiney what she thought, being Heather’s close pal and all, and she said that it wasn’t cool at all. She was more inclined to blame the situation — having both girls on stage — than anything else, though.

In the meantime, Ambre was brought out…

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…and she, Bret and the girls ended up hanging around and talking to fans while everyone else scrambled to get things back into order (Riki needed ice for his hand after breaking up the fight, for example). Daisy reemerged and here’s the first post-fight picture of her:

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I asked her how she was and she gave me the thumbs-up.

At this point, the shooting time was nearing two hours, so Ambre’s segment was shot quickly. There was some rumbling of having the girls give their say on the fight and shooting that, but that idea was quickly abandoned. I’m not really sure how much there was to say, anyway, except a Flav-inspired, “Woooow.”

After the shoot, there was meeting and greeting.

And then?

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FACE TIME!

Every time I meet Bret, I make sure to get a picture with him, and in every picture I do the horns. It’s tradition and it will come in handy later in life when I go through all of my pictures and assess how I’m aging. I figure I should keep the variables down to a minimum, you know? I briefly interviewed Bret about the show, which he described as, “eye-opening and insane and off the hook.”

I brought up Destiney’s father, and Bret said, “I knew he wanted to go out on the Harley, and that was the least I could give him. I just wanted to let him know that he’s a great human being, very unmalicious. A nice guy who went through hard times and gave up his motorcycles for his kids. He gave up everything he had so his kids could have a good life. And Destiney’s a great person. Watching that night, I couldn’t even breathe I had such a lump in my throat.”

I always ask the girls about how they felt about their on-screen portrayals, so I thought it was time to cover that topic with Bret. What he told me was magical: “This is Bret Michaels in real life: I am a junkyard dog. My sole existence has been survival on my own from entertainment to music to movies to anything I’ve done. Most of the people I’ve met in entertainment have not been good people. But I came onboard to VH1 and there were some people that I trusted. Still, I was leery that this could be edited to portray me as I wasn’t. My life continues whether I’m on reality TV or not, and what I wanted to convey to people is: I don’t want to be a retro-star. I like reality TV. I think people want to see someone who can be a musician or a rock star that is still the guy next door that you could have a beer with. I came from a small-town existence with the dream of playing in a band that lasted a long time. And that show helped me do that.”

The interview continued like this:

Me: I’m sure you watch the show every week.

Bret: Absolutely! I have to find out what the girls are saying about me!

Me: Are you sad that it’s over?

Bret: Yes. Here’s the sadness: some of these girls will probably not be a major part of my life. Even ones that were on the show for a long time. Some of these girls I’ll see again, and some of them, I’ll probably never see their faces again. That’s the harsh reality of the world I live in.

Me: What was the best thing about doing this show?

Bret: Sex with Ambre, Daisy, Kristy Joe and a few others.

Me: Your take on the Heather-Daisy rumble?

Bret: Here’s my thing: in a million years, I never thought it would come to blows. No one expected that. When I heard the initial sound of impact, I said, “That’s not good. This is a problem.” This isn’t kind of angry, this is really angry. I grabbed Heather and I pulled her arms down and I carried her off that stage. At first, I thought they were kidding. When I realized it was real, I jumped right in. Listen, we all laugh about a cat fight, but I really don’t want to see anyone get physically injured. It was out of control. It was insane.

Me: What’s next for you?

Bret: With VH1 and myself, we’re on the road, doing the Rock of Love Tour. Every show so far has been a complete sell-out. East Coast, West Coast, Midwest. That’s just Bret Michaels. And then there’s a new album coming. It’s called Rock My World and hits stores June 3. I cannot wait for people to hear the new material. It’s a lot of solo stuff from the show and songs that were written over the course of the past few years. And then Poison’s out this summer. And then I come out again on the Rock My World Tour, which will start in October.

Also in the room were Mark Cronin and Cris Abrego, the producer-creators of Rock of Love. I wanted to get them all in a shot together.

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That way, if anyone wonders who’s responsible for this one-of-a-kind, wild, salacious, eye-opening, off-the-hook, insanely awesome, insanely insane spectacle of a show, they’ll know exactly who to blame.

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