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Pouf and circumstance: A secret interview with Snooki

by Christian Bryant

This past Sunday, I had the incredible opportunity to photograph and interview Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, star of MTV’s “Jersey Shore.” The lovable, whining, bouffant-sporting New Yorker scheduled several appearances in the Piedmont Triad area during the weekend. The interview process lasted about half an hour but the off-kilter occurrences started 12 hours prior.

The Saturday night of Polizzi’s club appearance, I found myself moseying into the drive-thru line at the Battleground Avenue Cook Out in Greensboro. The night air had me calling for a burger, fries and a shake with a side of expediency. In front of me was a sedan full of drained female party-goers; behind me, a stretch limo was creeping into the Cook Out’s limited parking space.

I didn’t think much of the limo until the girls in front of me nearly destroyed their car in a fit of excitement to see who was exiting the stretched vehicle and stepping toward the walk-up window. Impeccable timing led myself and Polizzi to Cook Out at the exact same moment. Go figure! This was especially jarring considering that I spoke with her manager at Neon Entertainment the day before about the details of Snooki’s Sunday book signing.

After the girls took several pictures, proclaimed their love for the star and received their food, I was able to pull up beside Polizzi and her entourage. I brazenly asked if any one of the individuals was Snooki’s manager. A man stepped forward and, sure enough, it was the same guy with whom I shared an hour of formless banter.

The intersection of blessing and luck united at the Greensboro Barnes & Noble in Friendly Center. I was an hour early but fans had been waiting in line since 7 a.m. Surprisingly enough, the sleep-deprived teenagers were incredibly enthused to see Polizzi. B&N staff was on hand along with Greensboro police to ensure a smooth signing process.

When Polizzi emerged from the stock room to take her seat at the signing table, the bookstore turned into pandemonium. Violent screams ripped the atmostphere and crazed

fans climbed bookshelves to get a better view. For a moment, I considered whether my life was in danger. I suppressed that feeling by continually snapping pictures.

Snooki and her surprise guest Ryder, who fans may remember from a recent episode, signed hundreds of copies of Polizzi’s New York Times bestseller A Shore Thing. Press was asked to leave 10 minutes into the signing but I chose not to comply. Instead, I threw the camera strap over my shoulder and stepped to the side.

After a few minutes, Polizzi’s manager approached me and told me I would have five minutes to interview Snooki and take a few pictures. At that moment, I could’ve defecated in my undergarments, but I had to act like I had done all of this before. It’s not often that editorial interns get a chance to converse with legitimate C or D-list celebrities so I had to make it worthwhile.

As the line of fans thinned, I was ushered to the signing table and introduced to Polizzi. We exchanged an informal greeting and she said, “Can you take some pictures of me? I really like my outfit and nobody has seen it and I think it’s really `60s.” Just like any other star-struck fool, I complied.

We didn’t take the pictures right away.

Polizzi and her entourage wrapped up the book signing session two police officers showed them to the employee stock room. I followed the small group into a quiet room of overstocked children’s books and positioned myself near Polizzi and Ryder so that I could conduct my interview as casually as possible. This was my Sputnik Moment.

I began by inquiring about her reception in her hometown. She spoke candidly and made sure not to mince words.

“Um, it’s mixed,” Polizzi said. “I mean, I’m definitely trying to do a book signing in the Poughkeepsie-Newburgh [NY] area and I know some people, like, really, really hate me and some really, really like me. So we’ll see how that goes.”

Polizzi also mentioned her plans post- “Jersey Shore.”

“Hopefully I start my own ride with just myself, you know? When ‘Jersey Shore’ is over, I want to do my own thing. Maybe get my own show.”

My questions and her responses were intermittent between pictures with B&N staff members, signing more books and inside jokes shared with Ryder.

“Right when we met each other, we were just like in love,” Polizzi said of Ryder. The two made eye contact and laughed as if they were in their own world.

During the interview, I noticed a few things about this tiny starlet. Polizzi was irritable, albeit understandably irritable. She was snappy, but very sweet and engaging. Her concern for her fans was surprising. She regaled her entourage with how upset she became when a fan started crying uncontrollably. She was demanding, wanting to know where the next stop was and when dinner was being served. She was altruistic, inquiring about Ryder’s flight information and layover times so she could keep tabs on her friend.

All things considered, it was refreshing to discover that Polizzi was just like any other young woman that I’ve met. Television has a way of painting pictures of people that may not be accurate. Nevertheless, 30 minutes with Polizzi showed me that she’s just a young, ambitious New Yorker trying to etch her name in the scrolls of pop-culture history.

When the interview was over and the photographs had been taken, Polizzi and Co. snuck out of the back in a hurried, clandestine fashion. I exited the stock room to the bookstore that had returned to normalcy. Nobody was the wiser.

For a transcript on my interview with Snooki, visit yesweeklyblog.blogspot.com.

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