Do you remember a simpler time in reality TV? Before Real Housewives, before Queer Eyes, before Tim Gunn? Back when Nighttime Tyra was just a former Sports Illustrated model with a couple weird vocal tics, Survivor was in its infancy (and Richard hadn't been done for tax evasion yet), American Idol had just crowned a young singer named Kelly Clarkson, and, God, there was also Temptation Island, wasn't there? Remember The Mole? Remember Darva and Rick? I am talking about a year called 2003. Back then, a young construction worker named Evan Marriott was tasked with snowing 20 women into believing that he was some kind of member of the landed gentry in need of a bride. I am speaking, of course, about the combination of The Bachelor and the Milgram experiment that was Joe Millionaire.
Ol' Joe — whose real name was Evan Marriott — resurfaced yesterday on BuzzFeed, nine years older, slightly more world-weary, and with 100% more goatee. Jennifer Wright at the Gloss happened to notice, and reposted the recent photo BuzzFeed had unearthed with a dash of added snark about an interview Wright had once read, in which Marriott "said something about how none of the women on the show were his type, and he wanted was a blond with a bubble butt." (His exact words, to People magazine, on the topic of his "dream girl" were, "Blonde, with big boobs, a little waist and a big, thick bubble butt." He also bragged about getting freebies, and said of the $500,000 that he pocketed from the show — in the end, he tells the lady of his choice that he's not rich, and when she decides to stay with him, the producers surprised them with a $1 million check — "The money is sitting in a money market account. What if I go through a dry spell for the rest of my life?")
Today, Marriott wrote Wright this email:
Jennifer, its not like me to respond to articles written about me that are this hateful, (believe me there have been plenty), however I only felt it necessary to write to you because this article really hit home with me and I wanted an opportunity to apologize. I remember vividly the interview I did and the comment I made about the girls on the show and the ideal girl for me. Truth is, I never really wanted to be on TV and because I didn't understand the repercussions of how popular the show was going to be, when it came time to handle the minimal celebrity that I had, I failed miserably.
As I have mentioned in past articles, I was running wild, spending money, partying hard and thinking the ride would never end. The past 6 years of my life have been spent dealing with issues (most self inflicted) that I obtained because of a pretty unexplainable rise to fame all the while taking stock of the shame and heartache that I may have left in my wake. Sure, I gave away hundreds of thousands of dollars to good causes and those I wanted to help, but that was only overshadowed by the ridiculous thought that I would be on top for a long long time. The person my parents raised was better than the one I showed the public when I was introduced to America. No Jennifer, I don't look like the guy that America knew as Joe Millionaire back in 2003. However In the end I guess have nothing to prove to anyone. The only thing I can really do is move on.
You're right about one thing though Jennifer, people in reality television can be terrible people. Their main focus is all about how they can gain fame and steamroll everyone else around them in the process. Only shows like American Idol, and Top Chef produce people with actual talent and for that, they should be commended. I reflect back to that interview I did with you in 2003 and think about what a douche I was. I know for certain my parents were unhappy with it and that's good enough for me. All I can say to you is I'm sorry. Other than giving you some really good dirt to print, I showed you a person who didn't deserve a good review to begin with. Thank you for letting me express these thoughts.
And so today became the first day in nine years that I thought about Joe Millionaire, and the first day that I ever thought something even slightly nice about Evan Marriott. Wait, that first part's a lie — I remember I thought about Joe Millionaire once, briefly, in 2007, when I met the French Joe Millionaire ("Greg le Millionaire") at a party in Paris with my then-roommate and he hit on her in a very persistent way that she found distressing. I guess we can keep on randomly hating that Joe Millionaire. Evan Marriott, you're all right. But that goatee's gotta go.