I know I have to tell my side of the story, but I am working up the gumption. I am just so shocked and sad! I don't even know where to start. There is so much to say. I guess it is best to start at the beginning.
This was a good experience up to the point where TLC picked the pilot up. Then TLC chose the producers they wanted. They assured us that they were filming this documentary style and they wanted to show our lifestyle and why we love it. They said people would like to see our homes, unique style, and that people love the 50's. Then we had to sign our life away before filming started. For an airing pilot we got paid $500 a piece. They said it would only be a few days, but we ending up filming on weekends throughout the summer. So it was less than minimum wage after you break down the numbers. That is not including expenses like travel, hair, nails, makeup and outfits that came out of our own pocket.
Then, magically everything changed. They started asking weird questions, clearly working out some twisted plot in their minds. One of the producers was fake and rude, and she got on my last nerve. I came to realize they made up some fake plot that Shelby was "new in town" (false) and that we "were just meeting her" (also false).
The first day of filming was at a bistro on the water. I asked why we were filming there. We never eat at fancy bistros. We all feel much more comfortable in a old diner. They said it was easy to film there and it looked fancy. They had to get releases from everyone they film, so in a lot of cases it is easier to get extras to play patrons. For example, at lunch, the people at the table next to us were planted there. They did nothing but talk trash the entire time, which made it really hard to focus on anything else. They wanted us to do certain things, like toast for them. They told us to say that we are throwing Shelby a birthday party. They wanted us to wear fancy dresses, gloves and sunglasses. Every little thing was carefully orchestrated. They even rented 1950's cars for us to drive in with.
Then they told us that we were going shopping for a party for Shelby at Party City. We asked why we had to shop there, and they said it was because the owner opened up early for the crew and that his family and staff would be the extras in the store. They told us it was a pool party and we were doing a tiki theme. But they told us to all come up with an idea of what we wanted and later agree on tiki. Then they told us to go through the store and talk about how cheap everything was and that it was junk. The whole time Amber and I were laughing, hula hooping and playing with disco dress up sets, but they didn't show any of that. Then at the register they told us to make a big stink of the electronic receipts and demand a paper one. Again they told us what to wear and what to say. Everything was exactly how they wanted it.
Then they said we were going "house shopping for Shelby" because she "just moved to town and needs a house". When in reality she wasn't looking for a new place in CA, she was actually working on moving to beautiful Hawaii! So it doesn't really make sense that we were touring million dollar houses that none of us could ever afford. They were really cool through and we loved seeing them. But, again, the producers told us to point out everything modern and say we didn't like it. What bothered me most is that I live in a modest two bedroom home that I am darn lucky to be able to afford in CA, so who am I to scoff at these mid-mod McMansions? Not real at all! By this time I knew stuff was up, so I started pushing back. I started trying to fall into the background. I really tired to say as little as possible. They still managed to edit in nasty looking faces whenever they could though! The best part was that these houses weren't even for sale! People rented out the houses and set them up to look vacant and on the market. Even the "Realtor" and "other home shoppers" were fake. It is sad to think, but I bet they paid these people more to use their houses then they paid us!
The next shoot was at What Katie Did. This was my only recommendation they actually took. I asked them to film us at a rockabilly show, antique shopping, or at a Honeybee Ladies Club meeting. But it was clear they had their own agenda and didn't care about our real lifestyles. The whole time I felt like a cheap bit actor in the Real Wives of Vintage. So while I was happy that they were actually letting me go to a store I actually go to, I was disappointed to know that they just wanted some cheap shot of me in a corset (which I don't even wear). I didn't like the idea of being on national TV in my skivys, but they assured me I wouldn't have to show more then I was comfortable with. Which ended up being another lie because the whole time they were trying to sneak a peak into my dressing room and telling me to come out already! Remember that they also had to work this shopping trip into their "plot", so they said we were shopping for a gift for Shelby's birthday. Which even in TV land didn't make sense I mean, we supposedly just met this girl and now we are throwing her a party and buying her lingerie. Creepy much? So I wanted to buy her a lipstick from Besame, but we agreed stockings were also fitting. They came in a cute stocking holder too! That was nice at least.
After this shoot Amber and Leslie went to a boot camp. This was also staged. They asked us to wear vintage work out clothes. I said I didn't have vintage workout clothes and that I wear normal gym clothes. I was trying to tell them it was a stupid idea and push back against this fake stuff. Instead they just told me not to be in that scene. So while it was fake and the girls didn't enjoy the boot camp scene, it came across really funny. I especially enjoyed Amber running with her lucite purse! lol. Any collector of lucite knows we would never run with one in hand! Silly TV.
The next day of shooting was the "pool party for Shelby's birthday". This was another attempt to see us socializing in a fun retro pool atmosphere. We all knew that Shelby's mom Mary threw her a killer birthday bash at her studio a few days prior. They even had one of my favorite bands, Roy Rapid play. Shelby was so nice and invited us all to her real birthday party, and the camera crew also. But again they said it was too much work to film her party because they would have to pay the band to use their music and get a signed release from all of the party goers. So they found a random house to have the party at. The owners weren't very friendly and wouldn't even let us into the house. Which made everyone have to sit out in the hot sun all day. We were stuck in traffic for 4 hours the day of the shoot, so I was already frustrated. While in traffic the producers called me 20 times (sometimes as little as 2 minutes apart) to see where I was and when I would be there. I told them to set everything up and start the party without us. When I get there one of the producer opened my car door and immediately says "Are you Bitchy?". Well, I am now! Who talks to someone like that! Before I could even get through the door I had all these friends and family coming up to me saying that they won't let them into the house/pool area and told them they cant leave to get a cold drink, but must sit out in the hot cars and wait until I get here to set up the party. That really set me off. You can't ask people to come to your shoot and treat them like that. It was a very hot day and I was not keen on hearing that my Mom and sisters drove from 6 hours away to be forced to sit in a hot car all day. So I get there hours late and the crew had just been sitting around waiting for me when I told them to get everything set up. They said they wanted to see ME set it up. I told them that this is their party for their show, and they needed to do the work. What happened to craft services people? I didn't want my name on their stupid party. Even though they made us say were were throwing this party, it was really all their plot, so I thought they should be responsible for it. The girls and I went out of our way to make cute homemade treats for the party, trying to make it more fun. It didn't help. The flies got on them so no one could eat them. Double bummer! After everything that happened that morning I was so peeved with the producers and venting it at this stupid plastic tiki-bar in a box that they bought and told me to set up. I said it was stupid because Shelby has a real vintage tiki bar and some plastic one is not going to impress her. The whole time I was venting saying that I was upset at the way the producers were running things, and that knowing them they were going to edit it to look like I was mad at Shelby because it was her birthday. And you know what, they did just that! They cut out what I said to say "I am pissed at Shelby because it is her birthday" What? That sentence doesn't even make sense! I said, "I am mad at the producers and I know they are going to turn it around and make it look like I am pissed at Shelby because it is her birthday, like I hate Shelby and I don't want to be planning her birthday party". How right I was!
When the party actually started they had two cameras. One was instructed to follow me at all times. Why, I don't know. I wasn't even doing anything and there was a lot more exciting people and things to watch (like Amber's band for one). I needed a moment to try and regain myself, so I tried to dodge the cameras. Later they tried to make it look like I was dodging Shelby. In reality I explained that Shelby had just driven 10 hours from Sacramento Swingtime to come here, to a "birthday party in her honor" full of a bunch of people she doesn't know, and that I thought it was a good idea to give her some space once she got there. As expected, once she was settled we got time to talk. Any everything was good. I don't have any problem with Shelby at all. In reality she is one of my favorite models and I was glad to be able to shoot with her. I adore her Shaheen collection also! The producers really worked hard to edit in clips of audio and video together to make it seem like stuff was said that was said in a completely different context. For example, when they asked about why "we" were throwing the party I said that "I don't know why the producers made this plot for us to throw a party because its not like ...."Oh Shelby, you don't have any friends or family that want to throw you a party so we will throw you one" because her mom did throw her a huge party!". Then they edit it to just say "Oh Shelby, you don't have any friends or family that want to throw you a party so we will throw you one" Greaaaatttt. Thank you so much for that.
Then after the party we had a interview footage day at our houses. I requested that the producer I was having problems with was not the one to interview me. Anyone else would have been fine. But of course, they didn't care and purposefully made her interview me. She really tried to get under my skin and make me frazzled, which she did. She kept leading me, making me rephrase stuff, and try and make me say mean things. I tried my best to say only nice things and be very careful that I said. At one point I was so upset I started to tear up and asked to take a break, which was denied.
Then they said we were done filming. Yay! But wait.....there is more. I get another call from a NEW set of producers saying that all this stupid made up plot stuff was horrible and they were sent in to fix the show. They blew all this smoke up our ass about how they were going to throw out the whole fake plot and include more interview footage of us at home. When they came over they were really cool. They asked great questions to really get to the root of why we love to live this lifestyle. All of the sudden our hopes were renewed that maybe this show would actually be good. Maybe it would actually capture the real us and tell our story. Maybe they would end all of the stupid plot and fake drama.
Then it went to 3 weeks of editing and was submitted to TLC. Once they got it they do even more editing to it, as they see fit. We were worried so we asked to see the show in advance, but were denied.
We watched it live with the rest of America. To say the least, I was horrified. I didn't know the whole time they were trying to make me out to be the villain. Now I know why they worked so hard to make me mad, so they could turn it around and make me look like I hate Shelby! I have never, and would never, say that I hate someone, or most of those things for that matter. You can tell they edited sentences together because the grammar wouldn't make sense and my tone would change all of the sudden. They would also move from interview footage to a clip, masking that it wasn't a seamless sentence. I knew to some extent that they can edit stuff, but I didn't know how much they really can do! At one point at the party I was talking to my mom and they put in audio from a complete different person like my mom said it!
And remember the new producers that got all this nice footage and nice answers and the REAL me? The only show a brief clip in the intro, when I am wearing a pink lace dress. The rest never made it in. All the nice stuff I said never made it in. The real me never made it in.
What a shame too because we were lied to from the beginning . I was just a pawn in their game. We were told that it would be a nice show. We were hoping to be good role models to kids, unlike those other drama reality shows. We were told we could explain our unique lifestyle to people. We were told it was documentary-style. What a sham. I had such high hopes and was so let down. It really could have been great it they really just followed our real lives instead of making "more exciting" stuff up. I told them that from the beginning too. I was the one always pushing back, fighting to really represent the rockabilly lifestyle well and this is what I got. I will never watch TV the same way again, that's for sure!
The Aftermath: No matter how much I try and tell people that everything is fake and made up on TV, they don't believe me. I have tried 'till I am blue in the face to tell people what really happened. All of my friends who know the real me are sticking up for me. But people see one thing on TV and all the sudden they think they know you. While I am getting a ton of sweet messages, I am also getting a few nasty ones. I even got a few people telling me to kill myself.
That's right, kill myself. With all the terrible stuff in the world, kids being shot at school, people setting fires to trap and kill firefighters, people without jobs, people sick, people starving, there are still bullies online telling people to kill themselves. I may have appeared snobby on a fake edited TV show, but I am not a mean, nasty and sick person like these other people in the world.
So believe it or not, that it my story on how it really happened. I wish I could have vented and told you all sooner how my summer was ruined, but I was sworn to secrecy until it aired. Now the cat is out of the bag!