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Shorely You Jest

(Appeared in the January 12, 2011 issue of Time Out Chicago)

From the depths of media obscurity, she rose to ungodly levels of fame in the blink of an eye and no one, not even her, can explain exactly how or why. Perhaps it’s the pouf. For Nicole Polizzi—the 23 year-old star of MTV’s controversial reality series, Jersey Shore—life has moved at a lightening quick pace since the show debuted in late 2009. Two years later, Jersey Shore commands more than 5.3 million viewers, teens mostly who line up to see the eight cast members tan, work out, do their hair and party their asses off, while its four-foot nine-inch former high-school cheerleader star has parlayed 15 minutes of reality show fame into an alleged $30,000 per episode paycheck, a line of slippers debuting this spring and a teen novel hitting shelves January 4. Loosely based on the real life friendship between Snooki and fellow castmate Jennifer “JWOWW” Farley, the fictionalized novel, titled A Shore Thing, is published by Simon & Schuster whose other authors include Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Aquinas. According to the editorial description, the book promises plenty of juicehead hook-ups, tequila incidents and at least one shark rescue (seriously). We got the real Snooki on the phone to find out what other drama is in store.

TOC: Tell us about the book.
Snooki: It’s kind of like what happens on the show. Not particularly the scenarios, but stuff that I made up that would probably happen to me. The characters names are the kids names that I would want for my future kids. There has to be drama in it, of course and, you know, working, relationships and struggling.

TOC: In an interview with the New York Times, you said that the only books you’ve read are Twilight and Dear John. Have you gotten more into reading since doing this book?
Snooki: I don’t really have time to actually read books, but when I do, I definitely like to read books that have a lot of drama in it and, you know, funny books so that’s why I wanted to write a book by my own self so I can, like, pull out my ideas.

TOC: What is your writing process like?
Snooki: The idea came about right before we started filming for Season 3. While we were filming, we were trying to put the book together. I was giving ideas on how I wanted it to be so as we were filming, I would have an hour a week conference call with my people telling them how I want the book and then they would tell me what’s going on with it, if I didn’t like it, revise it. I pretty much just, you know, did the book while filming.

TOC: People are totally crazy about you. Can you tell us about some of the weird fan encounters you’ve had?
Snooki: …the craziest thing that’s happened to me was in my hometown. Everyone’s crazy cause I’m from there. I was in the bathroom and one of the girls noticed that I was in the stall next to her, so while I’m peeing, she gives me toilet paper and asks me to sign it under the stall. I’m like, okay, this is weird. This is the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to me.

TOC: Did you tell her that?
Snooki: Um no, I just ran out of the bathroom because I felt creeped out.

TOC: The show has been insanely popular. Have you had a surreal moment? Was there a point where you felt like now I’m a celebrity?
Snooki: …this moment right now. I just got done doing my first interview for this book. It’s just insane because I know that if I wasn’t put in this situation, I would never have had the opportunity to put out a book. So the fact that this book is amazing and it’s my thoughts and I made it up and people want to buy this book, I just think it’s awesome. I think this moment right now is probably the happiest I’ve had.

TOC: What’s next for you after the Jersey Shore? Do you see you guys going out every summer for the next ten years?
Snooki: I don’t know how long the Jersey Shore is going to last but as long as they want us to do seasons, I’m definitely down for the ride. I would love to do my own spin-off and start acting. I did a couple comedy things with George Lopez and a couple with Jimmy Kimmel and that’s my element I think. I did like two takes and I got it. I feel like I have, you know, the comedian in me where I can just act because it’s like just being myself, just reading lines. I would definitely love to try a sitcom or guest star on something. Definitely try acting, but really my main goal is just to brand out myself with my book. I have a slipper line coming out hopefully in the springtime. I pretty much just want to become, like, a businesswoman.

TOC: The New York Times did a particularly scathing profile of you and they said that you probably wouldn’t live beyond the moment, but here you are…Does this book kind of make you feel vindicated?
Snooki: I feel like I’m proving everybody wrong and the negative thoughts that they thought about me. In Jersey Shore, people have this look on us like all we do is party and what are we doing being famous for nothing, but people don’t see the other side of us. When we’re not filming, it’s, like, all business. We really just, we want to get the most of out it like anybody else. That’s why I’m hoping to get a spin-off, so people can see the other side of me. I’m not just partying and the summer and the Jersey Shore and beach and boys. That’s not all of me. There’s like a totally different side of me that people don’t know and I feel like if they knew that about us then they would respect us, but, you know, you can’t win everybody over.

TOC: We heard that you were shopping around a reality show called “Snookin’ For Love.” 
Snooki: That was just a rumor. I’m never doing that show. I think that’s fake. I want to find real love and if I ever did a show, I want it to be real and I feel like that wouldn’t be real and it’s not me, so no, that’s never going to happen.

TOC: You said in an interview with Rolling Stone that being called, and these are your words, a “burnt ho,” doesn’t get to you. Is there a point where the criticism does get to you?
Snooki: I think my struggles in high school with jealous girls have made me a very strong person to where you can call me the meanest thing in the book and I’ll just say “Ok, thank you for thinking about me.” If you can’t say anything that will hurt me, I think that’s what pisses people off, but you know what? That’s how we are and anything that you say about us, negative or positive, we take it as a good thing and say “thank you for thinking about us.”

TOC: Among all the cast members, there’s a disproportionate amount of media attention focused on you and The Situation. Why are you the breakout cast members?
Snooki: I really couldn’t tell you…I feel like people relate to me because everything in the book happens to me, from falling to relationships to bad times, bad luck. People realize that I’m only human and they can relate to me, so I think that’s why people gravitate towards me.

A Shore Thing is in stores now. Jersey Shore Season 3 episode two runs January 13 on MTV.

—Christina Couch

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