If it feels like the stars of “Jersey Shore” make club appearances in Chicago all the time, that’s because they do. Ronnie Magro appeared at 8fifty8 nightclub in the West Loop last month after appearing at Manor in River North in February. Vinny Guadagnino appeared at Enclave in February after appearing at Republic in Old Town in September 2010. And on Friday, Pauly DelVecchio (aka Pauly D) will DJ at Enclave for the second time in eight months.
I’m not complaining. I’m the same guy who watches the MTV reality show every week (for work-related reasons, of course …) and have interviewed nearly every member of the cast (twice, in Vinny’s case). And because of this, I often am asked which cast member was my favorite to interview. Here’s my list:
7. Ronnie Magro: To be fair, I didn’t actually speak to Ronnie. No, I waited hours at Manor only to hear later from the club staff that he wouldn’t be doing interviews. I would be miffed if it wasn’t for the fact that Ronnie introduced me to the term “smush.”
6. Sammi Giancola: The self-proclaimed “sweetest b---- you’ll ever meet” wasn’t as bratty as you’d expect when she hosted an OK! Magazine party at Vertigo Sky Lounge in the Dana Hotel in Sept. 2010, but she was the one cast member whose publicist made a request before the interview: No questions about her relationship with Ronnie. That would be like the rep for the Baha Men saying “No questions about ‘Who Let the Dogs Out?’”
5. Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi: This appearance at Manor in February 2010 was before Snooki became a household name, but it was clear she already had the confidence of a star when we spoke. “I did Leno (recently) — it was my third time doing it,” Snooki said. “It was another day for me, like, ‘I’m going to Leno, whatever.’” I saw Snooki's more relatable side after we took a photo together. She asked to see the photo immediately, like many of my female friends often do, and summed up the picture with one word: "Cute."
4. Vinny Guadagnino: Vinny was serious and focused on his career the first time I interviewed him, in a hotel lobby in February 2010. The second time, at Enclave, he seemed more Hollywood (he was sporting sunglasses and a scarf indoors) but also also more loose. And when I hinted that he had changed the most of all the cast members, he laughed and took it in stride. “I started this when I was 21 years old,” Vinny said. “Naturally, there is going to be some change. I'm definitely more confident, but I'm not cocky. I still get scared talking to girls.”
3. Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino: Remember when Mike was the star of the show? It was his catchphrases — not Pauly D’s — that “Jersey Shore” fans were quoting. And in case anyone thinks his material was planned ahead of time, he demonstrated his spontaneity when I asked him at Lumen in the West Loop in February 2010 if Ronnie and Sammi’s on-again-off-again relationship would ruin the show. “I run that house,” Sorrentino said. “(Ronnie and Sammi) are the cartoon section. I’m the front page.”
2. Jenni “JWOWW” Farley: Due to some miscommunication, JWOWW thought she was done with interviews by the time I was brought over to her VIP table at the now closed RiNo in January 2010. Rather than roll her eyes or decline, as some celebs would, she offered me a drink and was friendly, talkative and didn’t hide how excited she was about the show’s success. When I asked what the best part about her newfound fame was, she responded: “Celebs coming up to us. Leonardo DiCaprio came up to us and said ‘GTL for life.’”
1. Pauly “Pauly D” DelVecchio: OK, so I’m biased because he’s my favorite cast member on the show. But just like on the show, Pauly D is funny and outgoing in person. After a line of attractive women waiting to meet him screamed his name at Enclave, Pauly D nudged me with his elbow. “Life sucks, huh?” he said, smiling.