15 of the Craziest Reality Television Stars of All Time
Reality television stars get paid to act outrageous. Whether they are competing with thirty other girls to win the love of an aging rock star, publicly airing their dirty laundry in rehab, or just partying themselves into an idiotic stupor, reality stars constantly push the envelope of acceptable behavior. The more they act like a train wreck, the more people want to watch. But even within the moral vacuum of reality television, certain stars’ behavior leans toward certifiable.
Anna Nicole Smith
A stripper turned playmate turned Guess model turned trophy wife to a 89-year-old billionaire, Anna Nicole Smith’s reality show debuted on E! in 2002. The Anna Nicole Show followed the once-svelte, now-plus-sized Smith and an entourage of golddigging enablers (such as her particularly odious, toothless, long-lost cousin who suddenly appeared at Smith’s home when the cameras were rolling). Smith made a spectacle of herself even while performing mundane tasks such as renewing her driver’s license or taking her dog, Sugar-Pie, to a psychic. Hyper-horny Smith was barely clothed most of the time and hardly coherent, slurring and stumbling her way though the show with seemingly no internal sensor whatsoever. Sadly, nobody was surprised with Smith died in 2007 from an overdose of prescription medication.
Brooke LaBarbera, the meltdown queen on The Real World: Denver, started the season off right by exposing her bisexuality with a female housemate in the hot tub. However, it quickly became apparent that the 24-year-old Brooke’s psyche was, well…fragile. She turned into puddle when she missed a nail appointment, freaked when her date wanted to go to a bowling alley, and became completely unhinged by a housemate’s comment about her “double-chin.” But Brooke’s most memorable meltdown came when a housemate called her a “whore.” Brooke’s screaming, shaking explosion was so ridiculously over-the-top that VH1 named it #5 on 40 Greatest Reality TV Moments 2. Brooke later appeared in Road Rules/Real World Challenge shows The Gauntlet 2 and The Dual 2, where she continued to act like a nutjob.
Swedish actress Brigitte Nielsen became famous for her roles in Red Sonja and Rocky IV and for her marriage to and divorce from Sylvester Stallone. Then, she became infamous for being drunk, naked and domineering on the Surreal Life 3. During the show, Amazonian Nielsen fought with, then slept with, diminutive rapper Flava Flav. The unlikely couple then starred together in their own reality show, Strange Love. Not surprisingly, the volatile, jealous, and alcohol-fueled relationship between Brigitte and “Foofy-Foof” (Nielsen’s annoying pet-name for Flav) didn’t last. Nielsen ran back to the arms of her Italian lover. Later, Nielsen publicly battled alcoholism on Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew.
Kelly Killoren Bensimon
The casts of Bravo’s Real Housewives series make up a psychiatrist’s (and pharmacist’s) wet dream. Picking the housewife with the most intense psychosis and largest addictions is not easy. Though several of her costars can give her a run for her money in the crazy department, Real Housewives of New York star Kelly Killoren Bensimon may actually have suffered a schizophrenic break with reality on the air. Always twitchy, she became increasingly incoherent, hostile and paranoid throughout the season. While the housewives vacationed in the Virgin Islands, Bensimon completely lost it, convinced the other housewives were out to murder and/or destroy her and her family. Even the most jaded of Bensimon’s fellow housewives were roused from their pill-and-booze stupors by Bensimon’s crazy talk and sudden mood swings.
Born Stephen Gilchrist Glover, Steve-O is a clown college graduate who catapulted to infamy on MTV’s Jackass and Wildboyz. Stunts that should land Steve-O permanently in a rubber room include setting his head on fire, jumping face-first into a tub of elephant dung, and stapling his testicles to his legs (“The Butterfly”). On Wildboyz Steve-O was known to harass dangerous wildlife such as scorpions, snakes, and sharks. Steve-O has never made a secret of his copious drug and alchohol abuse. Finally, his bragging landed him Swedish jail after he bragged about swallowing a condom full of marijuana. He was arrested again when a neighbor made a citizen’s arrest during a particularly violent encounter. Finally, even his Jackass costars began to worry about his well-being and held and intervention, the results of which were eventually a sober and somber Steve-O recapping his intense and highly self-destructive, drug addicted past in a tell-all documentary.
Bonaduce was once the red-headed, wisecracking child star of the Partridge Family who, like many child stars, did not make the transition to adult star. His reality show, Breaking Bonaduce, painted a portrait of a very troubled, angry man on the brink of destroying his marriage, his life and his career. In the beginning of the series, Boneduce, a recovering alcohol and cocaine addict, entered marriage counseling with wife Gretchen to deal with his infidelities. Almost immediately, Boneduce fell off the wagon — hard — and began taking steroids. From there, his behavior became increasingly abusive and erratic, but the cameras kept rolling. Finally, after a drinking and pill-popped binge triggered by his wife’s request for a divorce, Boneduce attempted suicide by slitting his wrists. The second season of the show was a bit tamer, following Bonaduce in recovery. At the end of the series, Bonaduce and wife turned to religion to try to keep Bonaduce from breaking once again.
Sociopathic hairdresser Ryan Leslie heaped abuse on his costars during The Real World: Back to New Orleans. Diagnosed with both OCD and ADHD, 21-year-old Leslie was prone to bizarre behavior such as chasing his castmates around naked. He was quick to anger when his housemates accused him of being gay (though he has admittedly never slept with a woman — he wears a “purity ring”). He often reveals a deep-seated and highly suspicious homophobia. Relations were tense between Leslie and gay housemate Preston O’Neil Roberson-Charles. The police were called after Robertson-Charles peed on Leslie’s toothbrush and Leslie rubbed Roberston-Charles cigarettes against his anus. Leslie got himself evicted by episode 10 after stealing another castmember’s prescription pain pills.
Former self-proclaimed “supermodel” Janice Dickinson climbed to reality star infamy as a judge on America’s Next Top Model. After being fired from the show for clashing with the ever-narcissistic Tyra Banks, Dickinson moved into the house on to The Surreal Life 5 where she clashed on an epic scale with former Trump-protege Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth. In one of the show’s most memorable moments, Dickinson wielded a prop knife and stalked Stallworth, who seemed genuinely frightened for her life. Upon realizing that fans couldn’t get enough of Dickinson’s alcohol and Vicodin-fueled antics, Oxygen gave her her own series, The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, where she could scream at models with impunity. Dickinson speaks openly of being raised by a sexually and emotionally abusive father as well as her battles with anorexia, bulimia and alcoholism. She appeared on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew where she fought with fellow rehabber Rachel Uchitel. Dickinson has also acted insane on European television. On Finland’s Next Top Model, a clearly inebriated Dickinson fell down the stairs before screaming profanities and random insults at the shocked models looking down at her in confusion.
Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino
MTV’s Jersey Shore’s former exotic dancer and bonafide sex addict, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino insists, relentlessly, that he’s a pimp. By now, even his half-witted housemates realize that 27-year-old Sorrentino bases his sense of self-worth on how many women he can sleep with. With no talent, very limited intelligence, and no future once his fifteen minutes of fame are up, Sorrentino’s sole purpose in life is to use his celebrity to bag chicks. He spends most of his time at the gym, tanning, or doing laundry in an attempt to appeal to more women. When he fails to win the attention of a girl who is “DTF”, he becomes angry, sullen, and depressed. He is not above “robbery” (stealing a buddy’s date) if he can’t find his own. He has asked girls to leave in the middle of the night after he’s finished having sex, as well as thrown girls out of the house who won’t have sex with him. He has never slept with the same girl twice, no matter how much he claimed to like the girl at the time. Watching his physically relentless behavior with many of the women in the house and in the clubs, sexual assault or rape charges seem inevitable in “The Situation’s” not-too-distant future.
“Speidi” (Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag)
America loves to hate self-centered, toxic Spencer Pratt and his dumb-as-rocks, plastic-surgery-addicted other half, Heidi Montag. The couple, dubbed “Speidi” by the press, seemingly has but one brain and one personality between them both. They graced The Hills and I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! with their whiny, inflated senses of self-importance. A believer in the “New World Order” conspiracy theory, Pratt is convinced Sept. 11 was an inside job, and Montag, a born-again Christian, believes birth control has corrupted society. The fame-loving couple have often been accused of staging their break-ups and make-ups just to get press. On I’m a Celebrity, they fell apart while forced to live in the jungle, storming off the set and spreading rumors that they would quit. Perhaps the craziest thing they’ve done was attempting music careers (she as a pop artist, he as a rapper!) when they have zero talent.
The bisexual, alcoholic, Filipina star of the Real World: Hawaii spent an alarming amount of air time unconscious. Her housemates got a taste of things to come during the very first episode when 21-year-old Alcaide drank herself unconscious, prompting her costars to call the paramedics. As the season progressed, Alcaide’s binge drinking turned dangerous as she repeatedly vomited, passed out, or got behind the wheel of a car. Eventually, her castmates and sisters staged an intervention, but not before viewers got to watch some spectacularly inappropriate behavior, such as Alcaide giving a lap dance to her boss’s wife. In a surprising turn for most reality stars, Alcaide seems to have pulled herself together in the ten years since the show and has become a spokesperson for alcohol awareness and a gay rights activist.
Generally, bad behavior is encouraged on reality shows, but Big Brother 2’s Justin Sebik took it over the line. When the 26-year-old bartender from New Jersey wasn’t threatening his castmates with physical harm or having violent sexual fantasies about the females in the house, he indulged in pastimes such as pissing on a window, throwing chairs, and smashing chess sets. The final straw came when an intoxicated Sebik held a knife to an even more intoxicated female castmate’s neck (she did not remember the incident the next day.) Later, Sebik would claim he was just kidding around, but the show’s producers were not amused and he was thrown off the show on day 10. Not surprisingly, after the show ended, Sebik was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend.
Jeff Conaway, famous for his roles as Kinickie in the smash movie Grease and Bobby on the hit sitcom Taxi, resurfaced in the public eye on n VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club 3, which he was forced to leave the show due to his drug and alcohol abuse. Later, he became known for his recurring appearances on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.
Viewers were shocked to find the former heartthrob now barely able to walk or talk. Years ago, Conaway suffered a back injury which often leaves him wheelchair-bound or using a cane and necessitates the use of painkillers (the cocaine and alcohol use is optional). His violent, enabling relationship with his opiate-addicted girlfriend Vikki and his threats of suicide kept Celebrity Rehab viewers riveted. With no end in sight to Conaway’s addictive, destructive behavior, Dr. Drew gave up and publicly admitted defeat on The Howard Stern Show. Conaway has claimed physical and sexual abuse as a child and dabbled in Scientology under the wing of his Grease co-star John Travolta.
Golden-voiced pop singer Whitney Houston’s appearances on her husband’s reality show, Being Bobby Brown, pretty much convinced America that the couple was smoking crack (which they were). Brown, a B-list R&B singer and former member of boy-band New Edition, had just returned from a stint in jail as the short-lived series began. At first, many questioned why a woman as beautiful and talented as Houston, would stay with a deadbeat dad, jailbird, and cocaine addict. But Houston’s squeaky-clean pop-princess image from the 80’s was annihilated every time she opened her mouth on Being Bobby Brown, revealing a fast-talking, crude, hot mess of a harpy. Whether she was screaming at “Bobbeh!” to “Kiss my ass!”, going off on incomprehensible, religious rants, or popping the blackheads on Bobby’s face, Whitney’s unexpected insanity was the reason American tuned in, and “Mr. Houston” became background noise.
Perhaps the most insane reality star of all times was not a former child star or a drug-addled pansexual post-adolescent, but a Christian housewife from Louisiana. Marguerite Perrin, a.k.a “The God Warrior,” appeared on Trading Spouses in 2005 to spend a week in the home of a family of new-agers. The Flisher family tried to be respectful to Perrin, who has never met a non-Christian she didn’t want to burn at a stake. Perrin, on the other hand, physically fell apart, crying and vomiting whenever anything challenged her personal belief system. Meanwhile, her children and husband enjoyed their time with the open-minded and even-tempered wife of the other family. Upon returning home, Perrin spewed forth avolcano of religious hellfire in which she refuted the Flishers and their beliefs as “dark-sided.” She declared herself a “Warrior of God” and chastised her family for not praying hard enough for her. As her horrified family looked on, Perrin refused to take the “tainted” $50,000 offered at the end of the show. Later, she decided not to “give it up to God” after all and took the dirty money.