Mark Long Interview: The OG ‘Road Rules’ Alum Looks Back

image1Mark Long has been on my radar since his iconic stint on the first Road Rules in MTV history, but the adventure seeker reached crush-worthy status during his appearance on Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Duel II, when instead of joining his cantankerous cohorts who were screaming at their female partners to perform better, Mark sat down, waited patiently, and seemed perfectly comfortable with the idea that a win was no longer within his grasp. When asked for a lens into this memorable moment and his always-respectful temperament, Long said he has his parents to thank for his admirable character. He was simply happy for a physical challenge among his friends and grateful for the opportunity to compete at all. So what does the reality television veteran have to say about the show that made him famous over two decades ago and his subsequent journey as a Challenge competitor? Read below to find out more about the last true reality-television gentleman.

 Take me through your journey from the beginning.  What was your original goal when you joined  the first season Road Rules?

I have a degree in broadcast journalism, so I always liked hosting. I even thought of becoming a weatherman because I always felt they were less stuffy than the news people. My aunt and uncle live in Huntington Beach, and I visited them one time and then drove up to Los Angeles. It just kind of felt like this is where I was supposed to be.

How did your parents feel about your move?

My parents are great. I could’ve said I was moving to Alaska to work on a fishing boat and they would’ve said, “Oh, that’s great.” They support me no matter what. I’m sure they would want me to have a more structured lifestyle, but I’m hoping that the time I’ve invested in this city will pay through what I really enjoy doing, which is producing, hosting, etc . . .

When you look back at your time on MTV’s Road Rules, can you process that it was truly one of the first reality television shows? In retrospect, it was revolutionary. 

No one knew what it was about or what to expect. I actually did the Road Rules pilot with four other people that didn’t make the show. I have no idea [why they didn’t make it], but I remember that we shot the pilot in Catalina Island. I flew out from Florida and I was up to be the new roommate when Puck got kicked out of the Real World: San Francisco house. They called me back months later and mentioned the Road Rules pilot and how it would be better for my active lifestyle. I later got a call from Bunim/Murray Productions and they said, “I  know we told you that the [people who shot the pilot] weren’t going to make it to the series, but the guy we had in mind that fit your personality didn’t get approved by MTV so we suggested using you again.” That’s how I snuck through. I don’t know what happened to that other poor bastard [who didn’t make it].

Why didn’t you make it in the Real World house? 

The house wanted a girl. They thought, “We had a guy, let’s try a girl out.”

I read about how your parachute didn’t open when you were on Road Rules. It seems like you were not aware until you hit the ground.

I was aware that we were having problems in the air because when we were getting prepped, they said, “We’ll never reach for your equipment.” When I realized he was reaching for my stuff, I knew we were having a problem. We were supposed to pull at 5000 feet, and we just flew by that height. I jumped out of the plane fifth and landed on the ground first. My parachute finally popped out via a CO2 cartridge that serves as a last resort. That night I was laying there trying to go to bed and thought, “I almost fucking died today, and that would’ve been a terrible day.” Then, in true MTV fashion, Eric Nies and I hosted Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Battle of the Seasons, and they asked us to skydive in tuxedos. I thought, “lighting can’t strike twice. Let’s do it!”

Do you ever feel like some of what they ask you to do is unsafe? Are there points where you want to say, “No way.”

They’re not “unsafe,” but I don’t think they truly test how a cast member would actually perform. For instance, we did Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Battle of the Sexes in Jamaica, and they had these roller coasters that were taken off the track and set in the grass. Instead of seats they had huge ice blocks, and you had to wear speedos and bikini bottoms and sit with your hands raised above your head for time. While someone who isn’t playing for a cash prize might last 15 minutes before they hop off, I was on there for an hour and a half. I want to say that one of the girls got frostbite. It was terrible, but it’s part of the allure of being on the show. You want to do stuff that you can’t set up in your backyard.

Just to be slightly sexist, is there a point to having the men compete against women?

No, and what a perfect day to talk about that [given the current climate]. Some girls are phenomenal, but not all of them will be able to perform in a challenge that requires the same skill as men. But line us up in a trivia competition and the girls will crush us.

I think Battle of the Sexes could be better produced for that reason. There are challenges where a woman would succeed that aren’t these high-powered challenges of endurance, such as flexibility or balance.

Balance is great. I think we were hanging upside down from our legs, and the guys dropped like flies, and I remember Ruthie hanging up there like she wasn’t even in pain.

You mentioned Ruthie Alcaide, which brings me to my next question. There are people who used to do these challenges that were beasts, and now there’s a bunch of wusses on there that suck. What happened to the top dogs?

I’ve heard that as well, and I see it. There was a guy a couple seasons back from Are You The One that just quit because he missed his girlfriend. There’s thousands of people that will take your place, so why go?

I also feel like it has become the Johnny Bananas show.

Everyone has a love/hate relationship with Johnny, but he shows up and puts in the work. If you’re going to complain about him being on the show multiple seasons then rally a group to kick him off.

Are you friends with Johnny by the way?

I am very good friends with Johnny. We are actually in the process of doing another project outside of the challenge.

If you watched him on Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Island and the way he spoke to the women on the island, it’s sexist. The people he betrays are all women, and the people he insults are all women. There has to be an argument to be made there.

Johnny will admit that he’s grown up a little since those island days. I don’t think I would have approved of him talking to the women like that if I was on The Island, but I’ve seen him do stuff with the Special Olympics and I’ve seen him around fans that approach him. Cara Maria used to despise him, for example, but after the last challenge they’re now best friends, so something’s changing.

I saw you on Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Duel II, and I remember that you were paired up with a woman who was lagging behind, and you just kindly sat there, waiting for her. You didn’t seem angry at all, and you weren’t screaming at her or calling her a “dumb bitch,” like Johnny Bananas on The Island. It stuck with me. Do you remember this?

I don’t think I’ve ever called a girl a bitch. My parents raised a gentleman. People are different. I just choose to take a deep breath and comfort someone instead of put them down.

What did you think of that infamous move Johnny made at the end of The Challenge: Rivals III, where he chose not to split his winnings with his partner, Sarah Patterson?

I thought from a viewing standpoint, it was  fantastic. How do you not talk about that the next day at the water cooler?

What would you have done?

Come on! Do you even need to ask that? I would’ve split it right down the middle. But again, that’s why I’m me, and he’s him.

Can you analyze it? Do you think it’s an evil move or it’s just part of the game?

It would be a lot harder to analyze it if Sarah hadn’t previously [wronged him] on The Challenge: Battle of the Exes II. I’m not saying it’s the same but in terms of gamesmanship, let’s not forget that this is a game show and the object of any game show whether it’s Wheel of Fortune or The Challenge, is try to win as much money as possible within the time you’re allotted.

You have to take me inside the Chris “CT” Tamburello/Adam King fight on The Duel II where it looked like if CT got his hands on Adam, he’d have murdered him. Did you fear for Adam?

Of course! Production was looking at the cast members like, “Please jump in and help because we do not want to lose a cast member to fists.” I’ll give some credit to the editing as well. It made it look like a horror movie. But much like Johnny on The Island, you have to give people the benefit of growing up. CT is a different person now, and I know at that time he had some family issues. I think you could definitely leave your children alone with CT now and he would be the best babysitter ever.

It also seems like a bad idea to date people on The Challenge, but you again seem to avoid drama. Do you just sleep with saner women?

I have a different way of handling my showmances than these other guys. It’s with fucking padded mittens, because you have to be very, very delicate. But trust me, some of them have not been sane.

Speaking of showmances, what happened with you and Robin Hibbard?

We met on Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Battle of the Sexes 2 and then started dating off of the show. The problem with the challenges is that even if your relationship or showmance was three years prior, people identify you with each other [far into the future]. I could get stopped tomorrow by someone who says, “Where’s Robin?” It’s like, “Dude, she’s married with two kids in Florida. That’s where Robin is.” People still ask me about Kit [Hoover] from Road Rules, and she is also married with kids. I just went on Access Hollywood with her to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Road Rules.

I thought you were a really good host of the MTV Challenge Aftershows, and the hosts they have now are terrible.

Well, they are terrible. I did it for seven seasons but like anything else, they’re like, “Oh, we’re going to [change it up].” And I’m like, “good luck with that,” especially since they chose someone who wasn’t even on the show. At least if you see me pop up, there’s some sort of relevance there. “Oh, Mark’s from the show. Mark’s an OG. He knows the deal.”

Take me behind the scenes of the show. Are you just all sitting around the house bored with nothing else to do but drink and party?

Today, they really monitor what we drink. It’s very rationed, and they’re much more cognizant of what happens with the alcohol now. Back in the day, like anything else, it was the fucking wild west.

Did you announce your retirement as a shtick, or was that serious?

I’ve retired a few times now.

Would you ever return to the show? 

I’d absolutely go back, but I never wanted to be the guy that goes on back-to-back on challenges. I like to let things breathe. If I fit their format, I’d definitely return.

Interview With Camila of MTV’s The Challenge: Rivals III

CamilaMTV’s long-running television show, ‘The Challenge,’ is known for its colorful cast of characters, and when they unite for a very challenging competition abroad (sans any outside communication), drama is bound to bubble to the surface. Camila Nakagawa is certainly no stranger to those unruly events. She is perhaps best known for a heated fight with resident douchebag Johnny Bananas (my words, not hers). Their brief fling turned into an all-out verbal brawl, in which Bananas somehow looked sane while Camila threw a chair. It also earned her the very funny title, “Camilanator.” The events seemed suspiciously unprovoked, which led me to think there might have been some tricky editing at work. But her fiery temperament was also put to a more productive use on a previous season, which featured Camila’s vigorous defense of her sister, after she was insulted by Camila’s current partner on this season of the show. Needless to say, she’s a force to be reckoned with, and she sure had a lot of details to divulge during our interview. Enjoy the read below, and tune into this season of ‘The Challenge: Rivals III’ every Wednesday at 10 PM on MTV.


Tell me how you got started on this show
I actually went to the University of Nebraska to play soccer and I went away for spring break during my first semester. MTV was there for a mini spring break challenge, and they asked me to join the show about a month later. I never watched MTV before, so it was all very new. But once they said, “You get to travel and you get paid, I thought, “Count me in!”
Would you say that you’re a natural athlete?
I played sports my entire life. I moved to America at age 12 and I didn’t speak English. I never felt like I belonged. Sports was a very big part of my life growing up because it was the only outlet that I had to fit in.
I have so many questions about the inner workings of the challenge.
I’m here to answer as much as I can.
Are you ever concerned that the producers have set up an unsafe competition, and do you let them know?
All the time. You know me, I speak my mind a lot. For the most part, it’s a risk, and I decide not to care, but other times I feel that the timing might be unfairly set up. At the end of the day, the producers have control, and you have to trust them.
When you talk about the “timing,” do you mean the order in which people participate?
Yeah. They might say, “we’re drawing it from a cup” or whatever, but you just never know.
When the host, T.J. Lavin, is tough on the contestants for quitting or giving up too easily, is that a real reaction? He seems genuinely invested in everyone’s performance.
I do think that he cares, because he was an athlete. He’s definitely not one to give up. I find myself getting angry when people quit early. I am very competitive.
How much contact does T.J. have with the contestants?
He’s completely separated. The only time T.J. comes in the house is when there’s some sort of problem, and he needs to kick someone out or there’s some twist or something.
There are a few Challenge staples that we no longer see. It seems as if Johnny Bananas is the only long-time veteran left. What happened to Evan Starkman, Kenny Santucci, Big Easy, Derrick Kosinski, and so on? It feels like Johnny doesn’t have anyone in his playing field anymore, and it gives him an elitist attitude.
Good question. I’m not sure exactly. A lot of them had kids or got married. There was also an issue with something that happened with Kenny and Evan, and the others just didn’t come back. It really does suck, though. Wes [Bergmann] is on this season, but the new kids don’t really know him. They only know Johnny Bananas. It’s annoying because they think he’s the only leader, and he can pretty much do whatever the heck he wants.
Didn’t you and Johnny Bananas have some kind of romantic fling?
Yeah, but that was a long time ago
But that was what led to your infamous fiery fight where you threw a chair?
Yes. It was just a very crazy night. We all have those in the challenge house, and it usually happens the nights that we go out.
Did you think you got a bad edit? I feel as if they didn’t show what provoked you.
Yeah, 100%. They did not show everything. They don’t usually show what he does. In the end, the thing we all know now is he’s a total instigator. That’s part of who he is. He knows how to push everyone’s buttons. I don’t want to say everyone, but most people. He does it in a very smart way, so for a while I allowed it until I realized I think he does it on purpose.
He’s also super disloyal, right? But people still align with him despite his previous betrayals. It blows my mind.
He’s a very big manipulator, and he knows how to do it right. He knows how to manipulate people and there’s no way to explain why and how he does it. He just does it. But, on the other hand, he is really good at these [competitions]. He’s turned himself into a really great challenger. Even if you hate him you have to play the game because there’s a big chance that he’s going to do well. So far Bananas has been very smart about who he picks his fights with.
I have to get your scoop on these inner romances. Do you think that Nany [Gonzalez] was really in love with Bananas?
I think that she definitely fell for him, but like I said, he’s a manipulator. The reason Bananas and I went from getting along to pretty much hating each other, is because I called him out on it. I didn’t think twice about it. He is used to not only women, but pretty much everyone just bowing down to him. The girls fall for him because he’s so good at manipulating.
Cara Maria Sorbello and Abram Boise had a lot of cheating drama in the previous season [when she openly cheated on him with another contestant] What was your take on that?
I truly like Cara Maria. The entire show is like one messed up family, and I disagree with the way Cara Maria went about things, and I have told her that myself. But I know their relationship was rocky for some time, and I don’t know what it’s like to be in her shoes. She didn’t expect Abram to [join the show as a competitor]. Usually you have some time when you get home to tell the person about what they will see on the air.
Are you able to communicate with loved ones at all while filming?
We get 10 minutes per week to talk to our family, and they’re listening to the entire conversation.
It seems like there’s no reprieve at all while filming. Everyone’s either partying or arguing.
Exactly. I feel like if I had outlets, I would never have my public outbursts, you know? Never in my real life would I walk around with no internet, no phone, no way to reach my family, and nothing to read. I can’t even read a magazine. On top of that, it’s a competition. I don’t feel like I start any drama. It usually happens during a night out when someone says something to piss me off. I’m already so frustrated, and I usually just blow up. Like I said, I never applied for this. Most people on these shows wanted to be famous at some point in their life. You would be surprised how many arguments start, not because I was fighting with someone, but because I was defending someone.
Are you able to sustain romantic relationships when you appear on ‘The Challenge?’
I’ve been in a relationship for four or five of these Challenges, which is why I never had any sort of romantic relationship on the show. But I’ve seen people completely forget that they have girlfriends. It’s such an unrealistic place, especially when you’re there for a long time.
Speaking of romance, I have to tell you that I think Chris Tamburello (“CT”) is one of the best looking men I’ve ever seen in my life. Why aren’t more women hitting on him?
I think because of Diem [Brown]. She was one of my best friends, and no one wanted to get in the middle of their long history. Plus, some of the things that come out of that guy’s mouth are crazy. CT is crazy.
Tell me a little about your careers outside of this show. You own a spa, right?
It is so exciting. It’s like my baby, I love it. It’s a total body cleansing spa in Miami, and we do everything cleansing from yoga to colonics. Our main service is colonics, and we have an herb shop. Everything is holistic. We do all kinds of treatment, from weight loss to cleansing. It’s really amazing. We are approaching our fourth anniversary in July. It’s called Clean Start Miami. We also opened one in Atlanta now.
Do you have anything else on the horizon you would like to talk about?
I am doing a docu-series in Brazil for the Olympics 2016 that will be taking place in Rio. I’m partnering with some non-profits like Street Child United, and we will be launching a funding page in the next couple of weeks.
What’s the content of the docu-series?
It all about bringing awareness to the non-profit charities who use sports as an outlet to get kids off of the street.
What can we expect from the season that you can tell me?
This is my first show in a while single, so there might be something there. Get ready for a lot of twists and surprises.

The Real World’s Sean Sasser Has Passed Away.

real world San FranciscoYou might not remember this, but there was a time when The Real World was real. There was a time when it stood for something, when it broke ground, and when it pioneered a format for others to envy. With the passing of Sean Sasser, I’m reminded of that time. Sean was the lover of AIDS activist Pedro Zamora during 1992’s ‘The Real World: San Francisco.’ Zamora was one of the first openly gay television stars, and he was bravely ahead of his time. He exchanged vows with Sasser toward the end of his season, and he passed away just hours after his final episode aired. He knew his time was limited, and he wanted to make a difference. Sasser went on to find love with a man named Michael J. Kaplan, who has confirmed the passing of his “life mate.” Watch the episode below where Zamora and Sasser exchange vows. May they rest in peace.

Get More:
The Real World: San Francisco, Full Episodes

The Challenge Rivals II: MTV’s Heated Battle Returns

If you know anything about MTV’s The Challenge, then you know that Diem Brown and Chris Tamburello had the most romantic love story ever told — until it crashed and burned when Diem dumped “CT” to “find herself” while pursuing her career. And though I don’t want to kick the girl while she’s down, it’s fair to mention that Chris Tamburello is arguably the best looking man to ever walk the planet. Enjoy the new trailer for Rivals II below, and catch a glimpse of CT sans shirt. You’re welcome.

Get More:
The Challenge (Season 24), Full Episodes

Jenny McCarthy Covers Playboy — Looks Stunning!

Since Jenny McCarthy is so aware of her strengths, perhaps she can petition MTV to bring back “Singled Out.” Aside from ‘Temptation Island,’ that was the best dating show on television. This is her sixth cover of Playboy, and she looks incredible. In fact, this might be my favorite cover, since she actually looks as if she’s a healthy weight. I hear she brings back the eighties in her photo-shoot. Let’s hope it sets a trend, because it would certainly reduce my monthly grooming bill by a significant amount.

CT and Diem Reunite for MTV’s Battle of the Exes — Still in Love?

There are very few reality show couples that I believe to be truly in love. But CT and Diem’s love story was one of the more magical things to watch. He fell in love with her when she was in her cancer recovery and her hair was just growing back, and she tamed the bad boy. When MTV brought them back together for another show, I was elated. After all, deep down inside I’m nothing but a hopeless romantic. Watch them discuss the show below. Here’s hoping the second time around is a charm. Further Reading: Dear Chris “CT” Tamburello — The Dishmaster Wants to Interview You

Get More: The Challenge (Season 22), Full Episodes

The Challenge: Rivals Reunion: Is Maria Menounos a Bad Host?

There are days where I fantasize about how much easier my life might be if I looked like Maria Menounos. Then I remind myself of my fantastic personality and amazing breasts, and I squash my pity-party. And speaking of personality — why is it that Maria Menounos is hired to interview the cast of MTV’s ‘The Challenge: Rivals’ and can’t be bothered to ask the most important questions? I realize the show is about physical challenges, but some of those physical challenges include sex, and I’d like to know which cast members are still having it — with each other. The only relevant question she asked involved Jenn Grijalva and Adam King, and after watching Jenn huff-and-puff over nothing (no pun intended), I still have absolutely no idea whether she and Adam had sex in the back of a bus. I blame Maria for that. And what about Chris “CT” Tamburello and Laurel Stucky? Since CT is so beautiful he hurts my eyes, imagine my disappointment when Maria failed to confirm his single status. I suppose that’s neither here nor there since CT and I have a date on a deserted island somewhere where he’ll go out into the ocean and catch me fish with his bare hands. A girl can dream, can’t she? And finally, are Wes Bergmann and Mandy Moyer still friends-with-benefits? What exactly did Maria think she was paid to ask during this interview? Perhaps she needs to watch more of those Real Housewives reunions and take some notes from the great Andy Cohen.

UPDATE: It’s been brought to my attention by a very kind commenter that Maria did in fact ask the correct questions but the douchey editor over at MTV decided to edit those out. For details on what really happened, and the answers to the questions I posed above, read Adam King’s blog. You’ll be relieved to know that CT is still available — for me. And my major apologies to Maria for insulting her interviewing skills.

Adele Sings ‘Someone Like You’ at the VMA’s — Kills It!

The most painful reality of life is not getting to share it with our greatest love. For some kind of horrific, unexplainable reason, we don’t always get to be with our most powerful love, and only Adele could master this pain in her beautiful song, ‘Someone Like You.’ She wrote it after her relationship ended with “the love of her life,” and she later said she would “never forgive herself” for its failure. In the song, Adele imagines what it would be like to run into her ex years later, after having discovered he settled down with someone else, and she was still searching. There is quite possibly nothing worse. I’ve posted her chilling performance from the Video Music Awards below, and I dare you to listen to it without crying. I have to warn you though — if you just exited a relationship, you should probably refrain. In fact, I’m currently on hiatus from the entire album. It’s just too damn close to home.

Get More: 2011 VMA, Music, Adele



Kim Kardashian

Maria Menounos — Man, she’s hot!

Katie Holmes

Beyonce showing off her baby bump for the first time 

Selena Gomez

The Cast of ‘Jersey Shore’ — Looking extra orange

Victoria Justice

Shaun Robinson

Kelly Rowland

Britney Spears

Bonnie McKee

*Photos Courtesy of MTV