Sex, Booze and Fist Pump Fever: The Secrets Behind 'Jersey Shore'

Exclusive Q&As with the Situation, Snooki and Co.

Jersey Shore Snooki
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Rolling Stone goes beyond the jacuzzi in our current issue, getting the real backstories behind the cast of MTV's smash sleaze-fest Jersey Shore. For the full story, read Jenny Eliscu's "The Wild, The Stupid & The Jersey Shore Shuffle" in All Access now. Check out video of the cast chatting about how to have an awesome summer, and read exclusive bonus Q&As with the Situation, Snooki, Pauly D, J-Woww and Vinny here:

The Situation
"I'd like to be one of the biggest stars in the country in movies or TV"

Did you have a strategy going into Season One?
When I stepped foot into the Jersey house the first day, I had so much confidence because of all the steps that I had done and where I'd come from. Maybe some of the other people were unsure about what was going on, but when they'd go to me, I was like, whooooosh, and that was it. After that, it was history: Millions of people were logging on, and the name Situation had taken off unbelievably. When we'd do the talk shows, it would be me, Pauly and Snooki, and we'd be backstage, and Pauly was all nervous, and Snooki was like, "What are we going to say?" and I'm like, "Guys, I've got this." I love people, so everything I do, I go to the max. I'm very blessed to have the popularity that I have, and that's why I shake every hand, I kiss every cheek, I sign every autograph, I'm just as nice to a fan as I am to, say, Leonardo DiCaprio, if I meet him.

Did you meet him?
Yeah, I was in L.A., hanging out with the guy from Entourage, [Kevin] Connolly, and he comes up to me and says, "Somebody wants to meet you." We walk into this VIP and it's all models everywhere, and somebody's got a baseball cap on and he lifts up his head, and he's like, "GTL all day." And this is Leonardo DiCaprio, this is the biggest freaking movie star in the world. I was like, "What's up," gave him a pound and he pulls me aside and is like, "You're doing awesome right now, I love that quote you said about hating being your occupation, I'm getting shirts made of that," and all his boys were around me. I met the Rock at an airport, and he's huge, giant dude, and he comes up to me and he's like, "Situation? America loves you, you've branded yourself and nobody taught you how, and you're doing great, keep it up."

Some people have said that Jersey Shore paints an unflattering portrait of Italian-Americans.
I love to hear that, because we're just a bunch of young twentysomethings, living, working and partying together. Everybody knows that when you're in your twenties, you go out, you're going to go to a club, you're going to party a little bit, if you're single you may go for a girl or a guy or whatever.

It's not the partying; the whole guido thing is what people say paints a stereotype.
It just so happens that I have spiky hair and a six-pack or whatever — that’s just the way it is.

It doesn't just so happen, because you put this gel in your hair and you choose…
Yeah, I choose to spike my hair, I work out, I wear certain clothes, and it's my style that I have. I don't point my finger at someone that's the opposite style of me, maybe the rocker-type dude that has blonde hair or whatever. If that's your style, good for you, but in my opinion, if they put a camera on anybody else, 24/7, you're not going to see cookie-cutter stuff.

If the Situation brand gets maxed out, what do you see yourself doing?
Because of the way that things have been going with my popularity and the Situation brand, I'm able to sit back and make the right choice as per my career, as per the Situation's career or Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino's career, as per should I do one more year of reality, two more shows, or should I take a stab at Dancing With the Stars or should I do scripted TV with NBC? Let's say in five to 10 years, I'm in Hollywood, and hopefully the Situation brand is still going strong, and I shoot for the stars. If I go for the moon, I'm still doing OK, so I'd like to be one of the biggest stars in the country in movies or TV.

Do you and your housemates ever get into heavy conversations about shit that's happened in your lives?
Me and Pauly reminisce a lot, because when we were on Season One, me and him were the people that stuck together the whole time, and we'd be listening to Drake, "Successful." The song is about, "I want to be successful," and this was before the show even aired, we were sitting there like, "We know we did well this year, this is a cutting-edge show, this is new, we want this, we want that."

What's your favorite music of all time?
Definitely Tupac, Notorious B.I.G., I like club, but mainly I like hip-hop. I've got that swag to me, that backwards cap, that attitude, say what I want to say, if you don't like me, guess what… it doesn't matter too much. Right now, I like Drake, Lil Wayne, Lady Gaga — anything that's new, cutting edge. Our show is new and cutting edge, and people didn't understand it at first, so when I see new cutting edge artists, I support them. I support the underdog, because it's kind of our situation, you know?

 

Snooki
"I really don't care what people have to say about me, as long as they're talking about me"

It seems like now you accept your personality. When you were younger, were you as confident?
Growing up, I was very shy, and I think I got over that when I got to high school, because I had to deal with a lot of catty girls trying to be mean to me and my friends. I was like, "I can't be shy anymore, I have to stick up for myself and stick up for my friends."

Did you approach the second season any differently from the first?
I wasn't going to walk in and get trashed and not remember what happened the first day. I got in the house and was like, "You know what, I'm not going to get wasted to the point where I don't know what I'm doing — I want to remember my first night here." I definitely questioned the drinking, because it was really embarrassing to watch myself. I was like, "Oh my God, what am I doing?" I don't want to drink too much to make myself look like a freak of nature.

Were there any major changes in the relationships between the people in the house?
The only person I think who changed would be Vinny. In the first season, he was very quiet, and you didn't really get to know him. But as we were on the road and did press together, he opened up. And he actually grew up into a guy, where he wanted to go out and make out with a girl and he wouldn't feel bad. He grew up into like a Pauly D stage.

Did you watch reality TV growing up?
Yeah. Real World. My favorite season was Boston. And Johanna, she was my role model. She came to a club near me in Poughkeepsie, and I was like, "Oh my God, I have to go," and I met her and I almost cried. So now when I do public appearances and people are like, "I'm your biggest fan," I know how they feel.

Why do you think some people find the show offensive?
I think people get offended by our drinking, how we talk, and people have such an issue with us being so tan. They call us orange, they call us burnt hoes, and they think that hurts us. But to be honest with you, I'd rather be called that stuff than be called pale. I really don't care what people have to say about me: As long as they're talking about me, then that's a good thing. If you're not talking about me, then I'm going to do something outrageous to make people talk about me.

There must be things about you that you hold back for the cameras.
Not at all, I let it all out. The first season, naked in the hot tub, kissing all these guys… I pretty much let it all out first season.

I meant from an emotional standpoint.
Even emotionally, I let it out. I feel people relate to us because we're real. And everything that I went through the first season, that happens to people. You get drunk and then you wake up the next day and are like, "Oh shit." That happens to a lot of girls, and I got a lot of fan mail from that, being like, "Oh my God, I do the same thing, I feel you."

Do you think your main drive is to find love?
Honestly, yes. I have a timeline, and it's pretty shitty, but I have a timeline where at 25, I want to get engaged. I want to get married at 26, and have two kids before I'm 29 so that I'm a MILF when they're 18. I want one boy, Frankie, and one girl, either Giovanna or Isabella. I'm going to be the strictest parent ever, or I'm going to try. Because I know what I did growing up, and I do not want my kids doing that.

What did you do?
I snuck out a lot and I drank and met boys — just a typical teenager growing up.

Your parents weren't strict with you?
My parents were strict, but I never listened, I don't listen to anyone, and I still am like that. Jenni always gives me advice on guys, and I listen to her, but I don't take her advice.

Other than physical attributes, what would make an ideal boyfriend or future husband, personality-wise?
The guy definitely has to have a sense of humor. I'm obviously a dork and I like to laugh and be funny and just act like a kid, and that's what I need in a guy, I need a guy to not be embarrassed, and to not care what other people think.

Is there any celebrity dude who epitomizes your style, if you had your pick?
I don't think any celebrity's a guido, but I think the one that could definitely change into a guido is Vin Diesel. He has the muscles, guaranteed he can fist-pump, he has the style, so all he needs to do is go tanning and have that New York accent and he's good. You could just call him Diesel, hellooo.

Some studies suggest that the tanning is unhealthy. Are you worried about that at all?
No, because the last time I went tanning was on the show, and I'm still dark as hell. I usually spray tan.

You obviously have a dark complexion — you're never going to be pale.
I'd kill myself.

 

Pauly D
"I will not do a wing-eating contest, I will not do anything but DJ"

How did you first get into DJing?
I was always into instruments when I was little, and I was always big into music. I loved playing music loud in my car. Before I even got my first car, I had an Alpine deck and a Zeus Hifonics amp for that car. I was 16, and I got a Toyota Corolla, and the music was bigger and louder than the car could ever be. It was insane, and that's when I bought my first set of turntables, because I knew I liked driving by with loud music, and I just wanted everybody to listen to my music and have a passion for the music.

You were still in high school?
Yeah, I was practicing in my room, and then I got my first party. It was a Sweet 16, and I smashed that party, so everybody wanted me to do their parties after that — all different kinds of things, from birthday parties to baby showers. I was also working at a car dealership at the time. I actually worked at the dealership for 10 years. I started off washing cars, because I'm OCD and I like to keep everything nice and clean. I worked my way up. I went from washing cars to quality control, then I went to the service department, I went to parts, then I went to sales. I was a used car buyer, and they sent me all over the world to buy cars. Then I became used car manager.

Things are really taking off for you as a DJ. You took over the late DJ AM's residency in Vegas, and Larry Rudolph is managing your career. How are you feeling about all this?
It's honestly a dream come true. For me to be able to do what I love doing in all the bigger spots and all the bigger venues and show them what I can do, there's nothing better than that. Even though Rhode Island's small and the clubs are small, I used to rock a party, and when you got the crowd involved and they had their hands up, you shut the music off and they're singing the rest of the song, you know you've got that crowd, you know you own that crowd, that's the best feeling in the world for me. The show has opened a lot of doors, but you still have to know what you're doing. You can't just throw somebody in Vegas, you have to be able to prove yourself.

able to prove yourself.

 

Who are your role models for having made the transition as a DJ that you're hoping to make?
I look up to Paul Oakenfold, I look up to [David] Guetta. I also look up to Scribble, believe it or not. He kind of went through the same thing I did. He was a local DJ, did some television stuff, and now he's building his brand around the casinos and stuff like that, and he's producing and has some albums out. So I look up to guys like that. I'm an open format DJ, I don't just play one type of music, I play to the venue. I've never made a set in my life, I just go, I'll look at the crowd, and that's how I'll know what I'm gonna play that night.

How much music do you bring to a gig?
I bring everything, I need to have every song with me at all times. I bring a two-terabyte hard drive with me, and even when I was DJing on vinyl records, I'd make 10 trips back and forth to the car, because I had to have all my records. It's like an OCD thing. I need to have the exclusive remixes, and I don't ever want to not have a song you request. That's why I'm so glad that we have Serato now, only because I can hold my hard drive right here instead of looking at records. I'll have every request — you request a song, I’ll have it.

Some of the others have merchandise-oriented things they're working on — are you doing anything like that as well, or are you just focusing on DJ-ing?
For me, I take DJ-ing very seriously, and I don't ever want to cheapen that brand. I will not do a club appearance, I will not do a wing-eating contest, I will not do anything but DJ.

Who did a wing-eating contest?
I don't know, but… I just won't do something like that. I got offered a ridiculous amount of money to walk a girl down an aisle to get married, and I'm flattered, but I won't do that. I'll DJ the wedding, but I really take that serious.

You have that skill in your tool belt, and the others are still figuring out what they might do. Mike showed me his own new pair of turntables…
Interesting, right? They're going to eat him alive. The DJ world is a tough world to be in, let me tell you. People think it's all gleam and glory, but, first of all, to even touch a turntable, you have to have a passion for music. And all that aside, the skill itself, in order to spin music and beat-match and blend? There's so much involved in controlling a crowd and bringing them up and bringing them down. I didn't consider myself good until I was in the game for seven years, and it's always progress. I still learn stuff every single day, I'm still watching YouTube videos, I'm still watching other DJs. But at the end of the day, I do my own style, that's a DJ Pauly D style.

 

J-Woww
"Snooki is the little sister I never wanted"

You grew up in Albany. Is the guido culture the same upstate as it is down here?
Coming from upstate, I was never like this. I was more of a tomboy and a computer geek. To my knowledge, there really isn't a guido culture up there. I came down here for college, and I had a boyfriend that was severely into it, and that's how I got accustomed to it.

What does "severely into it" mean?
He was the epitome of a guido: 6'4", really big, tattoos. He was a huge Sound Factory junkie, and in the summers, he'd spend his time in the Hamptons going to day parties. He seemed to follow a trend: Every Memorial Day weekend, they'd go to Vegas, Miami in March, Labor Day weekend, Vegas, closing parties. They all follow each other — hundreds of thousands of them.

Had the whole world opened up to you, because you'd never seen guys that muscled before?
I had cousins that looked like that upstate, but they were like the ghetto, 22-inch rims, pretty boys, Abercrombie outfits and stuff like that. The only place they played house music was at this gay bar in Albany, and it was mainstream house, where they would just take mainstream music and remix it. But I'd come down here and they had actual DJs that made that music, so I fell in love with it.

Did your look change as you were getting more into it?
I always had the look. I probably had the look more back then than now. I'd just destroy my clothes: rip them and re-sew them, destroy them and add accessories, go to Hot Topic and buy all my jewelry and stuff. And I'd make it an extreme version when I'd go out.

What's the plan now for you in terms of career stuff? How are you going to use this as a launching pad?
I didn't go to college for seven years and get two degrees to just go, "All right, I'm famous, screw it." So I want to do networking sites, and plus I have the opportunity to take my knowledge of websites and maybe make bigger ones. And I'm developing my own networking site.

Before you auditioned for the show, what was the ideal?
Moving down here, my dream was to work for Disney and be an animator. And when I went and did an internship and learned how hard it was to work for Disney, I was like, "F that," so I opened up a graphic design business. And then I was like, "All right, I'm going to be this huge freelancer on Long Island in five years." Then I started getting in the club scene and making my own clothes and I was like, "All right, I'm going to make my own rock-ish clothes, open up a boutique on Long Island, sell to everyone who goes to the Hamptons…"

How did your relationships with people in the house, especially the girls, change from when you first met them until now?
The first time, it was very short-lived -- just five or six weeks, and we were still getting to know each other. So I knew them but I didn't. In Miami, it was much longer, and we really grew as a family. There's always those fights and makeups and breakups, because you're living with someone, but at the end of the day, I can look at them when I'm 90, 95 years old, and say, "This is my family; it's a dysfunctional family, but it's still my family."

You and Snooki seem pretty tight.
Yeah, I consider her my best friend, we talk every day.

How did that relationship develop?
I felt like she was the little sister I never wanted. She felt the same with me, like I was her older sister, always protecting her and looking out for her. She's the one that's pushing me to have more fun, and we just balance each other out. And we have the same clock, too: We wake up at like two o'clock in the afternoon, we look at each other and shake our heads and go walk on the boardwalk, we just have that mentality.

You and Tom are still together. You figured out how to not let the show fuck with your relationship?
Yeah. Last year, I was still getting into the relationship. I think 7/25 is our official date. I left for the show August 1st, so was it a week? I didn't know what I wanted, he didn't know what he wanted, and we were still trying to get to know each other. It's like, "Hi, I'm on a recorded phone now, I don't have a cell phone," so it was really hard. Going to Miami, it was like a clean slate, because we were together for a lot longer, we'd lived together. I didn't care and he didn't care. We weren't going to do the drama thing, we weren't going to let little things get us down. For being twice as long as Miami, it was twice as easy in the relationship aspect.

 

Vinny
"People really got to know our real personalities, and they stopped laughing at us"

Did you feel any pressure to conform to the guido thing?
They asked me at the first interview, "So, are you proud to be a guido?" and I'm like, "What's your definition of a guido? Are you thinking about spiky hair, big steroids, orange skin all year 'round? If that's your definition of a guido, then I'm not one." But I'm like, "If you're looking for someone at the shore who's 100 percent Italian, someone who has good family morals, someone who likes to party, then I'm your guido." I like to fuckin' fist-pump and shit like that. I love going to the gym every day, I love being tan, and I get my eyebrows waxed. Instead of getting my hair spiked, I get a tape-up every five days. When you have short, thick Sicilian hair like me, you can't style it, so a tape-up is when they just fade the sides down here in the back and shape you up in the front. I can't go out without a haircut, like how Pauly can't go out without his hair spiked.

During that first season while you were living there and filming, did it feel interesting to you?
It's funny, sometimes we'd sit in there and say, "This is boring." We could never comprehend what the mass audience was going to see about the show; we were just living our life. Once in a while you'd picture, "Am I going to have fans?"

Did you expect it was going to be so funny after you finished shooting?
No, not funny at all, we were just being ourselves, and the things that we don't laugh about, America laughs at.

There's got to be some element of "sometimes people are laughing at us rather than with us."
You see Snooki and her big hair and tan, and you just laugh at it right away: She's funny. But, if you watch the show, I feel like people really got to know our real personalities, and they stopped laughing at us.

Were there ever moments where you were like, "Fuck this, get me out of here"?
Yeah, 100 percent. Especially in the beginning, I was like, I just want to get the fuck out of here. I don't know these people, and cameras watch me while I'm sleeping. But I feel like everybody had moments like that: You get run down, you don't have a phone, you don't have communication with the outside world. The second season wasn't really like that, though.

What's the nicest thing you've purchased for yourself since the show took off?
Right now I'm looking at a couple of high-end cars. Like, classy, luxurious cars that you wouldn't expect me in. Like a nice S-class Benz or something like that, with my backwards hat, chillin'. Like, "What the fuck is that 22-year-old driving a Benz for?"

Do you want to get your own place or are you happy at home?
I want to buy property and stuff like that, because I don't like having my money sitting there or I'll spend it. But I'm never home. I've still got my parents' house where I can just post up whenever I want to, and it's a little secluded so I can bring girls back.

Your mom doesn't mind if you bring girls over?
She stays on the other side of the house. I'm the only guy in my house [with my two sisters and my mother], so the girls know the deal.

It wasn't new to you living with girls, then.
No, not at all, I'm used to women. But the girls I live with aren't like any of the women in my family. The women in my family actually clean after themselves, they cook and shit like that.

If you go by the traditional Italian-American gender roles, they should know how to do that?
Hell yeah. I've got into this conversation before, and people were like, "Oh Vinny, you're being sexist, chauvinistic," or whatever. And I'm like, "Listen, the way I'm raised, all my friends on Staten Island and in Italy where my family's from, that's just what happens." Women can be independent, too; they have great personalities, they put their men in place, it's not like they're fucking submissive slaves. But they cook, they clean, and it's just natural to them. If a pair of shoes is laying on the floor, the first thing my sisters or my mother does is pick them up.

Is it equally traditional to stay at home until you get married?
That's what everyone in my family has done, they moved out at 30-something.

So your mom's siblings lived with their grandmother until they got married?
Yup, every one of them, they all moved out in their thirties or as soon as they got married. Everyone says, "Oh, you're such a mama's boy," but I have news for you: Come to my house and every guy you see, my grandmother takes care of just like my mother takes care of me. It's the instinct that they have, and I don't think there's anything wrong with it. My dream in life is to have my mother have a maid one day, cooking and cleaning for her. But she'd probably start taking care of the maids, she's so crazy.

stopped laughing at us"

 

Did you feel any pressure to conform to the guido thing?
They asked me at the first interview, "So, are you proud to be a guido?" and I'm like, "What's your definition of a guido? Are you thinking about spiky hair, big steroids, orange skin all year 'round? If that's your definition of a guido, then I'm not one." But I'm like, "If you're looking for someone at the shore who's 100 percent Italian, someone who has good family morals, someone who likes to party, then I'm your guido." I like to fuckin' fist-pump and shit like that. I love going to the gym every day, I love being tan, and I get my eyebrows waxed. Instead of getting my hair spiked, I get a tape-up every five days. When you have short, thick Sicilian hair like me, you can't style it, so a tape-up is when they just fade the sides down here in the back and shape you up in the front. I can't go out without a haircut, like how Pauly can't go out without his hair spiked.

During that first season while you were living there and filming, did it feel interesting to you?
It's funny, sometimes we'd sit in there and say, "This is boring." We could never comprehend what the mass audience was going to see about the show; we were just living our life. Once in a while you'd picture, "Am I going to have fans?"

Did you expect it was going to be so funny after you finished shooting?
No, not funny at all, we were just being ourselves, and the things that we don't laugh about, America laughs at.

There's got to be some element of "sometimes people are laughing at us rather than with us."
You see Snooki and her big hair and tan, and you just laugh at it right away: She's funny. But, if you watch the show, I feel like people really got to know our real personalities, and they stopped laughing at us.

Were there ever moments where you were like, "Fuck this, get me out of here"?
Yeah, 100 percent. Especially in the beginning, I was like, I just want to get the fuck out of here. I don't know these people, and cameras watch me while I'm sleeping. But I feel like everybody had moments like that: You get run down, you don't have a phone, you don't have communication with the outside world. The second season wasn't really like that, though.

What's the nicest thing you've purchased for yourself since the show took off?
Right now I'm looking at a couple of high-end cars. Like, classy, luxurious cars that you wouldn't expect me in. Like a nice S-class Benz or something like that, with my backwards hat, chillin'. Like, "What the fuck is that 22-year-old driving a Benz for?"

Do you want to get your own place or are you happy at home?
I want to buy property and stuff like that, because I don't like having my money sitting there or I'll spend it. But I'm never home. I've still got my parents' house where I can just post up whenever I want to, and it's a little secluded so I can bring girls back.

Your mom doesn't mind if you bring girls over?
She stays on the other side of the house. I'm the only guy in my house [with my two sisters and my mother], so the girls know the deal.

It wasn't new to you living with girls, then.
No, not at all, I'm used to women. But the girls I live with aren't like any of the women in my family. The women in my family actually clean after themselves, they cook and shit like that.

If you go by the traditional Italian-American gender roles, they should know how to do that?
Hell yeah. I've got into this conversation before, and people were like, "Oh Vinny, you're being sexist, chauvinistic," or whatever. And I'm like, "Listen, the way I'm raised, all my friends on Staten Island and in Italy where my family's from, that's just what happens." Women can be independent, too; they have great personalities, they put their men in place, it's not like they're fucking submissive slaves. But they cook, they clean, and it's just natural to them. If a pair of shoes is laying on the floor, the first thing my sisters or my mother does is pick them up.

Is it equally traditional to stay at home until you get married?
That's what everyone in my family has done, they moved out at 30-something.

So your mom's siblings lived with their grandmother until they got married?
Yup, every one of them, they all moved out in their thirties or as soon as they got married. Everyone says, "Oh, you're such a mama's boy," but I have news for you: Come to my house and every guy you see, my grandmother takes care of just like my mother takes care of me. It's the instinct that they have, and I don't think there's anything wrong with it. My dream in life is to have my mother have a maid one day, cooking and cleaning for her. But she'd probably start taking care of the maids, she's so crazy.

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