The grandfather of reality television, MTV’s The Real World, is still kicking, kept alive by new crops of twentysomethings willing to lock horns and lips on camera. When the 23rd season, shot in Washington, D.C., premiered a couple of weeks ago, we were already betting the resident drama queen would be Frankfort, Illinois, native Erika Lauren Wasilewski. Months before the show aired, D.C. gossip blog Shabooty.com became a repository for criticism of the Columbia College grad and tattooed rocker girl, who recently split from local pop-punk band A Quiet Capture to focus on a solo project, Show Me Shoulder. People identifying as either former friends or ex-boyfriends have painted her as attention starved and prone to outlandish lies—so, basically, a reality-TV casting agent’s dream. We gave the 22-year-old a chance to respond.
Were you aware of the blog chatter swirling about you while The Real World was filming?
I was well aware. They’ve made it sound like I killed someone. One [blog commenter] said, “They picked the worst person from Frankfort, Illinois, to be on the show.” If I’m the worst person from Frankfort, I’d be really surprised.
One of the claims, allegedly posted by an ex-boyfriend from high school, is that you faked cancer to get attention and sympathy after he broke up with you. Any truth to that?
Um, there is some truth to what you’re hearing. Yes, it happened. Yes, I regret it. If I could take it back, I would. I was going through some severe emotional problems at the time. I was lashing out and craving attention wherever I could. It was really destructive. I didn’t even realize I had a problem until my freshman year of college. At that point, I received help and I did take antidepressants. I weaned myself off with the guidance of my doctor, and I’ve basically done a complete turnaround.
Congratulations on that. Another allegation concerns you supposedly calling the police after one of your University Center dorm roommates ate all your bacon?
The truth is I ended up with the roommates who wanted to party. There were some nights when they had six or seven people over to our dorm room. One night, they ended up breaking one of my glasses and put it under a beanbag chair. They were out of control. One of them got so intoxicated one night that I had to carry her home. They were also using drugs in the room.
Crazy. Like hard drugs?
They were smoking marijuana. I went to my friend’s room and called the front desk. Little did I know that they were friends with the desk guy, and he told them that it was me who called. So they started trashing the place and cooking and eating all of my food. So I went down to the front desk again and asked, “Is there anywhere I can sleep?” While I was down there, one of the girls came down and tried to attack me. She was a lot bigger than me. The security guard got in between us and called the police. After a roommate experience like that, The Real World was easy.
The Real World: Washington, D.C. airs Wednesdays at 9pm on MTV.