Thursday, July 1, 2010
I am one of the biggest fans of The Amazing Race. I have seen every episode since its premiere in 2001. I have discussed at length each episode with some of my family, friends and basically anyone who would listen, so it should come as no surprise that I jumped at the chance to meet the cast of the recently concluded Amazing Race 15.
That opportunity came this past weekend when RealityWanted’s Gina Scarpa contacted me about attending TARcon, an event organized by Amazing Race fans to meet and mingle with the other teams. After I accepted the invite, Gina gave me the contact info for Tiffany, who I thought was a publicist or an organizer of the event. When Tiffany asked me to also come to the private dinner for the cast, to be held on the Saturday before the finale at Essex Restaurant and Lounge, I assumed it was to get more reality faces at the event. Imagine my surprise when I walked into the restaurant and the Tiffany who greeted me was Tiffany, from team Maria and Tiffany.
As a huge fan of the show, being in the room with all the teams became almost too much for me. All of the teams were present except for Eric and Lisa, the unfortunate first team eliminated who did not even get to travel past the starting line and Mika and Canaan, the team that was eliminated in Dubai due to Mika’s paralyzing fear of both heights and water. As I got to know the cast a little better, I was asked by the three top teams who I thought won the race. I was originally a Globetrotter fan but, after they were eliminated, I switched to Brian and Ericka. They were the underdogs but one could not forget how well Cheyne and Meghan had run the race and the abilities of Sam and Dan, so I basically said the answer that anyone would have at that point: “Cheyne and Meghan.”
At the dinner table, I was seated with Brian and Erika, Cheyne and Meghan (who were actually fans of Make Me A Supermodel and knew me from the show), Tiffany, Big Easy, Sam and Dan. It was funny listening to the stories and antics that took place behind the scenes and really cool to see how close they had gotten after the experience they all had. The tattoos that eight of the racers got depicting the Japanese license plate symbol that eliminated the first team was a mark of just how close these teams had gotten. However, as a veteran reality personality, I realized this was the finale high that all cast members feel when there show is about to end. You believe that you will never lose touch with these people and that they will become a part of your family. However, time and distance has a tendency to slowly erase those bonds that, on finale night, seemed impenetrable. While I sat at that table, I really hoped that that would not be true for this cast who had accepted me into their family to join in their excitement.
Sunday night was the night of the actual finale viewing. The majority of the teams were there to celebrate the victory of two of their competitors and I felt privileged enough to be invited as the only non-related guest. The viewing was held at the Soho House, in a private theater that seats about 30 people. All that kept going through my mind was, “Who here is acting like they won?” I had been trying all weekend to get the answer out of them but no one was letting go of the secret. I thought for a moment that I would break Sam but a laugh and a smile was all I got. Cheyne and Meghan made sure I had an excellent seat for the viewing right between his little sister and Justin’s (of Justin and Zev) father.
It was crazy to actually be watching the finale with the cast themselves. Seeing their reactions to the editing and reliving the moments of this once in a lifetime experience brought back memories of my own finale night. Ericka was so proud of herself for scaling down the side of the hotel and Brian kept shouting, “That’s my baby!” throughout the entire scene. The entire room erupted in screams of “No!!” and moans of concern as the cab driver told Meghan and Cheyne that the Venetian was the most famous hotel in Monaco. Sam and Dan were on edge the entire night and it was especially funny to see how embarrassed Dan still was for forgetting Wayne Newton’s name. I must admit the editors of TAR 15 did an excellent job with the finale because the suspense was on from the start and never let up. I had predicted a Cheyne/Meghan victory but, when the show began, I didn’t know who was going to win.
The rest of the night was spent at the actual TARcon event where the fans were jumping for joy for their favorite teams. Some of the other reality personalities in the room were Kisha from the infamous team Jen and Kisha, who failed to make it to the final three of TAR 14 because Jen needed to go to the bathroom, as well as Survivor alum Eliza Orlins of Survivor: Vanuatu and Micronesia. It was an excellent weekend… TAR 17, here I come!