It’s freshman move in day, and like any good Cornellian, I’m in collegetown enjoying the smiling (read:drinking) faces when I catch a glimpse of somebody familiar. Somebody from my freshman dorm? An old classmate? A long-lost relative? Nope. It’s Eric first-name-only-for-security-reasons Jones. How do I know him? I don’t, well, not really. Following in the tradition two other Cornell students — “Jaimee” and “Catherine” — Eric currently appears in one of two television programs created by what is perhaps the largest and best-known reality television production company in history, Bunum Murray. Eric recently sat down with daze to talk about his experience as the “Geeky Jock” of Road Rules 11: The Campus Crawl.
daze: So, Eric, what was it like having your life taped and now having it readily accesible to millions of people on TV and on the internet?
Eric Jones: The way I describe it is that there’s nothing that my parents have never done or that anyone my age can’t relate to and therefore, even though I’m a good kid, you know, I’m not a saint. Who knows, there might be some things on there I wouldn’t want my parents to watch, but whatever I did, I did and I had a really good time doing it and I think anyone can relate to that.
daze: Do you get any backlash from your parents?
EJ: No, surprisingly. I watched the casting thing with my parents. They [MTV] asked me to send in a video after I’d gone to open call [auditions] and like the first half was of a frat party. The second half was of me studying and writing poetry and all of that. But, none of the studying and poetry stuff was on the show, so it was like “Oh my god, we’re in for a long season.” On the first episode I was kissing Kendall, one of the girls on the trip, and you know, my brother and my dad were happy. My mom was looking the other way and my grandfather even said, “Why is that girl kissing my grandson?” But, that’s the worst of it. As I told my parents, I didn’t have sex on the trip and I’ve never done drugs in my life, so whatever else happened, it wasn’t too bad.
daze: So, where did that kiss come from? I saw that episode. You’d fallen off of that high-wire and then you’re hanging in mid-air. Did you kiss her, or did she kiss you?
EJ: Then she kisses me. I’m a young, innocent child [laughs].
daze: She’s older right?
EJ: Yeah [still laughing], she’s older, more experienced. I mean, it just happened. I’m terrified of heights, so it was a good way to break the ice and all that. I mean, there’s more kisses to come, so it’s all good.
daze: What do you think of the way MTV portrayed you? Were there any times you were like, “What the hell are they doing?”
EJ: Right now, I’m very happy with the way they portray me. They kind of look for a villain throughout each episode to have a storyline. I hear I get a little bit bashed on at the end of the season … but so far I’ve looked like a really good kid and the times I will get crapped on, I’m not worried about because in 22 minutes I’ll look bad but later on, I’ll look good. You sign up for it, you know what you’re getting into … and you just have to go with it.
daze: Do you keep in touch with your fellow cast members?
EJ: Yeah, through different things you kinda get to see them, like little reunions and things. I talk to Dyrell, Kendall, Racheldaze Shane on the phone every once in a while. I don’t really keep in touch with Sarah or the replacement.
daze: Was that a tough decision, getting rid of Sarah?
EJ: Yeah, it was a tough decision because there are a lot of little things they don’t put on TV. You know, every morning we’re travelling a couple hundred miles and if everybody gets up at 9 in the morning and kinda pitches in and does the dishes or cleans up the RV, it helps a lot. I’m sure anybody living in a dorm room knows that if the smallest thing is out of place, it gets to be a total mess. And, while Sarah’s sleeping, everyone else is doing it … I mean, it was just the little things that added up. The prizes for me were just extra, and something that was a big concern to me at the time was Kendall going to college. I wasn’t going to take prizes away from my friends who’d earned them. It was a difficult decision, but everybody who’d had second thoughts is happy with the decision that was made.
daze: I remember that caused a little problem between you and Kendall.
EJ: We’re just friends now, but I think she’s gotten over it and is happy with the decision that was made.
daze: What was it like having those cameras in your face at moments like that?
EJ: After the first day, you don’t even notice the cameras because they’re there for 24 hours a day … At first, there’s a bit of a wall, buy as the trip goes on, you break it down and being on Road Rules, you put your life at risk with some of the things you do. So, they’re [the cameramen] are a little bit more compassionate with you and they travel with you also. But, you really don’t notice it all that much.
daze: What motivated you to get into this?
EJ: It was two summers ago. I was bored so I went online and looked at reality shows. I went down to an open casting call … I went with a friend and we had a good time just n1.sng with the people and they kept on calling me back. When I came back to school, I scored a show on the WB called Lost in the USA which never aired and they gave me a call back to let me know I was in the semi-finals. Then, a week later they called to say the show was cancelled. So, I was like, ‘Okay, I guess I’ll just be a regular college student.’ Three months later, they gave me a call out of the blue and said they’d like me to be a semi-finalist for Road Rules and since they knew I went to Cornell, I went to the Semi-finals up here and then they called me to go to LA for the finals and then it was off to North Carolina for the beginning of the trip.
daze: How has it affected your life back here on campus?
EJ: I don’t know, it’s cool. One thing I’m happy about is that my firends have said, ‘You act the same on TV as you do around us’ which is cool. Even my firends from high school are like, ‘You haven’t changed.’ I mean, my firends are my firends. I’m not going to be all bad or anything. If anybody comes up to me on the street, I’m cool with them unless they’re disrespectful. I’ve really enjoyed it.
daze: A lot of people have used Road Rules and The Real World as springboards for their careers. Are you hoping this is gonna help you out?
EJ: Where I take off from this? I’m back to being a college student. If somebody were to come offer me a movie or something, I’d sign in a second. But, I know that, if anything, reality television probably hurts your chances in the industry. Really, only a couple people have gone far … I’d say probably the earlier casts had a better chance. But now, how many reality shows are out there? You’ve got Survivor and Big Brother … but being part of the MTV life was really cool for me. I was happy to be a part of it.
daze: Apart from the people you’re surrounded by now who now know you as Eric from Road Rules, what’s it been like coming back here for you personally?
EJ: As soon as the cameras stopped, I flew home and I was going home for six weeks. My parents moved to South Carolina and I really didn’t get a good job over the summer because I missed all the internships and everything and the economy sucks right now, so I ended up working in a warehouse. I think that was the best thing for me because it really just shot me back down saying ‘Now you’re in the Real World, the REAL Real World.’ So, I’m glad that that happened and now I’m really determined to just be back here and get the grades and experience the other aspects of life.
Archived article by Nate Brown