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MTV's 'Real World' cast members share health and safety tips


Aaron Farnsworth
Arizona Daily Wildcat

MTV's "Real World" cast members Matt Simon and Kaia Beck gave a talk last night to students in the Arizona Ballroom in the Memorial Student Union concerning personal safety. Beck, one of the more popular members, is remembered as the one who "never willingly wore a shirt."

By Vanessa Francis
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
November 15, 1999
Talk about this story

After a four-and-a-half-month stay in Hawaii, former MTV "Real World" cast members Matt Simon and Kaia Beck stopped by the UA last night to share health and safety advice, as well as some behind-the-scenes information about their time on the show.

Aside from poking fun at themselves as they appeared on the show, they spoke on issues regarding personal health and safety.

The presentation was a part of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority fall speaker series.

The program began with opening statements by Beck and Simon, followed by in-depth advice on how to protect yourself and make intelligent decisions while drinking. It ended with a question-and-answer session about the show.

Simon emphasized the importance of drinking reasonably with stories of college kids around the country whose lives were cut short by drinking. He also spoke about the second evening during their stay when cast member Ruthie - whose last name was not revealed - drank so much alcohol, she was hospitalized overnight with Simon at her side.

"I saw the fear in her eyes, waking up with tubes out of every orifice of her body, and even in places where she had no orifices," he said.

Ruthie's drinking became such a problem that the seven roommates met to discuss her problem. This resulted in Ruthie's leaving the show for a month to stay at a rehabilitation clinic.

"Her drinking was a problem then - they (MTV) could have shown more than what they did," Beck said. "She still has a problem now."

Simon used Ruthie's problem to illustrate decision making while drinking.

"If you're a five-feet nothing, 100-and-nothing girl, don't drink six beers," he said.

Simon gave tips such as calling a cab when drunk and knowing one's drinking limits.

While Simon emphasized the importance of reasonable alcohol consumption, Beck spoke about safe sex.

Beck's father died of AIDS four years prior to the airing of the show.

"I received the biggest gift of my life -ěto watch my dad die," she said.

Beck said her father's death helped her to live without regrets, even for things that happened on the show.

Both addressed ways to make one's self feel secure as a college student while drinking and partying.

"And you Wildcats know how to party," Simon said.

After a short video highlighting sexually transmitted disease scares from "Real World" past seasons, the floor was opened and audience members were free to ask questions about the show.

One audience member asked about Simon's scheduled vacation with cast mate Ruthie's older sister Sarah, whom Beck expressed interest in at the end of their stay.

"The person I got to know on camera was much different than who I saw in L.A. (his current home) after the show," he said. "I glorified her to someone who wasn't really realistic."

Another spectator asked about the hostile attitude the cast had toward roommate Amaya at the end of their stay in Hawaii.

"She is a very extreme character...there is was always a level of drama to her days, that was just added to another list of grievances," Beck said, referring to her relationship with cast member Colin and a herpes scare.

Simon said the show's producers presented the cast members' lives with heightened drama, what he called the "Backsteet Boys, 'N Sync lens of MTV."

Beck agreed.

"We were encouraged to make storylines," she said.

She added that the show is only one interpretation of the real world.

"The Real World is real, if that is your interpretation of life," Beck said. "If you live in a controlled environment, like a set, then yes. It depends on what your version of reality is."

Beck is currently living in Brooklyn, N.Y., writing a manifesto. Simon resides in Hermosa Beach, Calif., where he is working on a screenplay.

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