Evan Starkman made his TV debut as one of the eponymous newbies on MTV’s Real World/Roud Rules Challenge: Fresh Meat. On Fresh Meat, Evan was so beloved by fans that MTV brought him back for another challenge, this time taking place in Brazil and called The Duel. The Duel currently airs on MTV. Evan recently took time out of his hectic college schedule to sit down and talk to us about his start on MTV, the behind-the-scenes action on The Duel, and his plans for the future. Evan, for those of us who might not know, maybe you can tell us a little bit about yourself before you got into the MTV business. What exactly were you doing before Fresh Meat and The Duel?
Before Fresh Meat I was just going to college. I go to Cornell University in Ithaca. When I was on Fresh Meat I was a Junior (in college). I actually stayed enrolled in school and left for Fresh Meat, which we filmed in October and November of 2005. I’m a Liberal Arts major and I do an independent major, which means I wrote my own and I’m studying social movements and how to create change in the world. So, that’s it. I’m Canadian, but I ended up in the states on a hockey scholarship to Cornell. So, it’s kind of crazy how a Canadian winds up in the states not really a huge fan of the show. We actually didn’t even have MTV in Canada, so I didn’t grow up watching the Real World. I didn’t grow up as a fan of the show, and then my Junior year, they had a casting call for Key West in Ithaca, like right outside my apartment in this bar right in College Town by Cornell, and I just went with a friend and, you know, six months later I’m on the show. And since then, after Fresh Meat, I went back to school to finish up my Junior year and I’m trying to finish up my Senior year right now. Are you still on a hockey scholarship at Cornell? I’m still on a scholarship, but as we know, when I left Fresh Meat I got a hernia, which definitely kept me off the ice for that whole year. And now my life has been so crazy with school and life after a reality show that I’ve never really gotten back on the ice. So, I don’t know if I’m going to pursue it after college, but the college hockey thing is over for me, which is sad. I still get on the ice and still practice and hang out, but my life is just too busy right now and filled with other things. So, in a way, Fresh Meat was a blessing because I got a great opportunity to pursue entertainment and be involved with the Real World, but at the same time, I did screw up other parts of my life. Were you pretty bummed out with how things ended for you on Fresh Meat? Oh, absolutely. I think most people don’t realize that as much fun as these shows are, and as fun as it is to be in the house away from home, you give up everything. It’s impossible to have any relationships back home, it’s impossible to do anything back home while you’re on the show. It’s such an intense experience that you have to give up everything – your social life, your family life…you have to give up your personal relationships with your girlfriend. Whatever it is, it all has to go on hold. You don’t have that much access to a phone, you don’t have access to a computer. You don’t have access to anything. You’re away, out of touch in a total fantasy land for a couple of months and you give up everything. So, once you put yourself in that situation, as crazy as it seems – as much as you think being in a Speedo covered in oatmeal is a joke – the way that the show is set up, it becomes the most intense experience ever. When you give up so much and then get kicked off, and still feel like you can compete…yeah, it was definitely shocking and I was definitely bummed out. I thought I had a good thing going on there with Coral, for sure. Is that one of the big reasons why you decided to do The Duel? Did you feel like you still had something to prove? Well, you know, it’s funny…a lot of times when we meet kids, they’re like, “Oh, are you going to do another one? Are you going to be involved in another one, are you going back?” And, you’re like, “Listen guys, I read The Real World/Road Rules Blog as much as you do.” We don’t have a choice. I could call up Bunim-Murray and be like, “Get me on the Challenge, get me on the Challenge.” I know a lot of popular cast members of the Real World and Road Rules who have been begging to get on the Challenge and can’t. So, it’s like, they make the decisions and they call you based on the type of show they’re trying to produce. So, I was lucky enough to get the call to go to The Duel, and I definitely wanted to come back, and I felt like I had something to prove. I really felt that…again, I was on a real winning streak on Fresh Meat and it felt good and I had fun. I didn’t lose Fresh Meat, you know what I mean? I wasn’t defeated. So I felt like I needed to come back and prove myself and see if I can sort of regain the good thing that I had going on Fresh Meat and try to win The Duel. How did your experience being on the Duel compare to being on Fresh Meat, which was your very first challenge? Was it a different experience for you? Well, yeah. I think on Fresh Meat, for one, you’re fresh meat. So, the fact that you’re in a house with a bunch of alumni who’ve made a living doing this and have done this several times, was intimidating for sure. They know the routine, they know the drill. They also sort of feel like you’re stepping on their toes…you’re the fresh meat, you don’t deserve to be on a challenge. So, that was all intimidating. Also, you’re not used to having a camera in your face, you didn’t have the prolonged experience, you’re just thrown into it. So, all that was definitely hard, but at the same time, I really felt like, on Fresh Meat, there were some really weird, crazy people. And to be trapped in a house with nothing to do – no television, no music, no iPod…nothing to do – you want the crazy ones there so you can have a good laugh once in a while. You got Tonya, Coral, Katie…these people are out of their minds, you know? There were definitely some real characters there which kept the place pretty lively. And then on The Duel, we were more accepted as cast members ,so there was a lot less pressure from some of the returning veterans. Also having the camera in your face started to feel a little more normal…I don’t know if that’s a good thing when a reality show starts to feel normal. But, I felt like that as much as I got along with everyone on The Duel, and really, there were some great people and some of them I’m really great friends with, it was lonely. The Duel was lonely. On Fresh Meat you had a partner, someone you lived and died with. And there were a lot more people left in the house. But as The Duel went on, not only were you all alone. It’s like you really couldn’t trust anyone, and everyday you were paranoid, because you’re just like “I’m just here by myself.” You got to admit man, the Real World used to pump out some real wacko’s, and we’re missing some of those. Obviously, there’s some fun, good looking people that are coming through, but there used to really be some whack jobs back in the day. So, do you think there’s more drama this season on The Duel compared to Fresh Meat, or less? I think on The Duel there’s a lot more drama. People are paranoid. Like I said, you’re by yourself. Everyday you’re looking behind your back. You see conversations happen around the house. You want to be in every conversation. You’re paranoid because it is just you, you don’t have anyone that’s guaranteed to have your back. Also, I think that a lot of the stuff that went down on The Duel was very intense. You have some love relationships with CT and Diem, you have some racial tensions between Robin and Aneesa. That’s very intense stuff that really divides the house. There was none of that bullshit on Fresh Meat. The Duel had some very intense situations. Beth obviously raises the tension level in the house by about a million percent. Part 1/ Part 2 / Part 3
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