It’s hard to remember life before Jersey Shore, but in 2009, the reality show infiltrated pop culture in a way that gave us new words: The Situation, Snooki, JWoww, “GTL” (gym-tan-laundry) and smush.
“We are one of the only shows where we didn’t know what the show was going to become before,” Vinny Guadagnino tells me during a Philips Norelco event last year. “It guaranteed authenticity with the people on it, rather than a show that’s already been on where people just want to be on the show because they want to be famous.”
He continues, “We had no idea this was going to make us famous. I thought I’d be recognized once in awhile — like ‘that guy who was on that hour special about the Jersey Shore.’ That’s what I thought it was going to be. I didn’t think it was going to be this big, Hollywood thing. I think people relate to the realness. We didn’t know what this was going to become. We can’t fake that. We really had no idea.”
Now that MTV announced that season six, which debuts Oct. 4, would be its last, everyone is curious about what’s next for original castmates Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, Jenni “JWoww” Farley, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, Paul "DJ Pauly D" DelVecchio, Vinny, Ronnie Ortiz-Magro and Sammi “Sweetheart” Giancola.
For Snooki, who recently gave birth to her first child, Lorenzo, with fiancé Jionni LaValle, life is moving full steam ahead.
“I want to have my family, I want to get married, I want to have good kids, I want to have a good family, and that’s it,” she tells me while hosting The Pool After Dark at Harrah’s Atlantic City last year.
After all, in 2010, she said, “I’m very family-oriented, so definitely I at least want a boy and a girl. And I want them to be involved in sports and respect elderly people like myself when they’re little.”
Although she decided 27 was the ideal age to become a first-time mom, she wouldn’t mind that it happened sooner, at age 24.
“I want to be a MILF when my kid’s, like, 18. I don’t want to be like gross and saggy.”
She’s working on season two of Snooki & JWoww, with pal JWoww, who keeps an open mind.
“I never knew I’d end up in Italy, Miami, back to Jersey,” she tells me this summer at Kiss & Fly in NYC. “I just keep an open platform, and just hope we go back next year.”
Meanwhile, The Situation has been looking forward to calling it quits. In 2009, he envisioned himself making an exit in ten years.
“I’ll probably be retiring at that particular time,” he tells me with a laugh at a GNC event in NYC. “At this particular time, we’re really just starting The Situation brand, with the NoX Edge product. We have the NoX Edge fat burner coming out in about a month. The workout video, the book, the iPhone app, the clothing line, the song.”
He continues, “Right now things are unbelievable. It’s like a fairytale. We’re really cementing the brand and the products for the fans, and Situation Nation, and really just loving life right now.”
What would his retirement be like?
“Just be happy, no regrets. I’ll be in a number of movies very soon. I would say after another year of reality, I’ll probably move into TV and scripted as well as keep my eye on my company, which would be the brand of Situation.”
Good for him – his fame was extended by at least two years beyond his expectations (and he got sober in rehab).
Indeed, Pauly D has made connections. He found friendship with Britney Spears and her fiancé Jason Trawick, a spinoff in The Pauly D Project and is in-demand with DJ residencies at clubs including Harrah’s Atlantic City’s Pool After Dark.
Perhaps he should hook up with a Kardashian.
“My favorite reality show right now is Keeping Up With The Kardashians,” he tells me during a Planet Hollywood event in NYC last year. “That’s a great one. I like it because it’s real.”
Still, he won’t take the Kardashian-primed path to stardom.
“I think sex tapes are a bad idea,” he says. “That’s one thing that probably shouldn’t be public. [laughs] That’s at least one thing they shouldn’t make public. [laughs]”
Vinny hopes to use his college degree.
“I am a Renaissance man, so I like to act, I like to write, I love music,” Vinny says. “I feel like if I can’t do all of those things – I wish, I hope I could – I will try to stick with one of those things, and really turn some kind of career out of it, while at the same time, maybe going to school. Going back to law school, since I have a degree. The sky’s the limit. Hopefully I’ll do something I love – that’s all I want to do.”
For on-again, off-again couple Ronnie and Sammi, life is changing. They recently moved in together in NYC.
Where does he see himself in ten years?
“Hopefully still being successful,” he tells me last year at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn. “I want this for a long time. I want to get into acting.”
His dream costar is Vin Diesel.
“I’ve met him before. He’s a really down-to-earth guy. With all that fame and stuff, you would think that he’d be cocky, but he’s a nice guy.”
Sammi keeps hope alive for her own individual fame.
“I may have my own reality show one day,” Sammi says this summer while hosting The Pool After Dark at Harrah’s Atlantic City when asked if she felt left out of Snooki & JWoww. “You never know what can happen.”
Hm, will the entire Jersey Shore cast be friends in ten years?
“We’re all like one big, dysfunctional family,” he says. “We fight, we argue, but at the end of the day, we would do anything for each other.”
“I hope so. I love every single one of them. We all have an amazing bond. We all shared this amazing experience that I would love to stay connected and be friends with them, hopefully in ten years from now.”
She adds, “I love Jersey Shore. I would do it until I’m old and in a wheelchair. I just love it. I always have an amazing time when I’m doing it. I learn from it, I have memories, it’s an amazing experience.”
Perhaps one day there’ll be a return to Jersey Shore – on VH1.
The final season of Jersey Shore begins Thurs., Oct. 4, at 10 p.m. ET on MTV. Until then, get your fix with Snooki & JWoww, which airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on MTV.