Is Being Bad Good for a Reality TV Career? The ‘House of Villains’ Cast Weighs In (Video)

Stars like Jonny Fairplay and Omarosa have built entire personas around being bad … or badass

Jonny Fairplay, Omarosa and Jax Taylor compete in "House of Villains" (Matthias Clamer/E! Entertainment)
Jonny Fairplay, Omarosa and Jax Taylor compete in "House of Villains" (Matthias Clamer/E! Entertainment)

“I created this villain s–t,” Jonny Fairplay boasted during the “House of Villains” press day ahead of the show’s Oct. 12 premiere. “Good guys are boring!”

The “Survivor” alum, who famously lied about his grandmother dying to gain sympathy from his tribemates while competing on the CBS reality competition in 2003, should know. He’s parlayed those 15 minutes of villainy into a 20-year career.

So has Omarosa, who also made her TV debut 20 years ago in inaugural season of “The Apprentice” with Donald Trump. Even before the days of social media, Omarosa knew the value of personal branding.

“I was one of the first reality stars to trademark my name, start my own clothing line, like I was doing all of this 20 years ago, I didn’t have to build it on clicks, I really built my career on connecting with an audience in an authentic way,” she explained. “My brand is really built on being authentically badass.”

Fairplay and Omarosa are two of ten infamous reality TV stars competing on E!’s new series, where they scheme and backstab their way to a $200,000 prize while sharing a house. Is being branded “bad” good for one’s career, especially in the increasing crowded unscripted space?

“I’ve been on both sides of the coin,” said Johnny Bananas, who competed on “The Challenge” 21 times. “I’ve been a hero and I’ve been a villain. I’ve said and I’ll say it again: On reality TV you either die a hero or you live long enough to become a villain, because if you’re on the screen long enough, you will be villainized. And if we are entertainers, which we all are, and if we want to have people talking about us … you don’t do that by playing nice, right? We’re in ‘House of Villains’ not ‘House of Heroes.’ I’m pretty sure if we were ‘House of Heroes,’ no one would watch. So I’m totally happy to carry that mantle and to carry that torch. There is a difference between being a hated villain and being a lovable villain.”

Housemates Tiffany “New York” Pollard and Corrine Olympios agree.

“I don’t think a villain is a bad term. Not at all,” Pollard explained. “You better be a villain too if you want to get by in today’s society. You don’t want anybody to step on you. So a villain just means confidence and strength and knowing what you want.”

“At first I at first I was kind of like, ‘I don’t really consider myself a villain,’” said “Bachelor” alum Olympios. “And then I was like, ‘You know what, I am a villain. I go after what I want. I say what I want. I’m confident and I’m just me all the time. It’s I think it’s actually kind of hot and sexy to be a villain these days. Go after what you want be confident and it’ll get you far.”

But for Tanisha Thomas and Jax Taylor, both parents, the “villain” label is a mixed bag.

“One of the greatest things about me — because I’ve also been doing this for a while — is I own it,” said Thomas, who rose to fame as part of the “Bad Girls Club.” “There’s great parts of me, there’s parts that I’m still working on. And I don’t make any apologies for it. It’s how I felt at the time. It’s what happened at the time. If I need to apologize. I’m big enough to you know, make the apology as loud as the disrespect was, that’s not a problem for me. I own my ish. And that is why I’m still here.”

Jax Taylor, the original bad boy on “Vanderpump Rules,” also sees a personal evolution beyond the villain label.

“Let’s be honest, I kind of struggled with it a little bit, because I don’t consider myself a villain anymore,” explained Taylor. “But I built that villain character for so many years. So I understand the reason for it. Like anything over time, it gets a little tiring being the bad guy and the guy who’s always getting in trouble. Plus, I got married, I have a child now. My child looks up to me, it’s just the idea of becoming become being called a villain kind of rubs me the wrong way because I just don’t feel like I’ve been that person for the last three to four years.”

However, Taylor admits he can still tap into his darker side when needed, and definitely did while filming.

“I consider myself a reformed villain,” he explained. “I say it so many times and I’m the reformed villain. [But] definitely that guy’s still there. He’s on my shoulder. He’s just very quiet these days.”

Bananas agrees that the villain persona sometimes just needs to be embraced. “It’s like Bruce Banner and the Hulk. The green rage monster is always going to be in all of us. It’s just you’re better at controlling it. But it’s not something you’re ever going to get rid of.’”

Check out the “House of Villains” cast — Anfisa Arkhipchenko, Johnny Bananas, Shake Chatterjee, Jonny Fairplay, Bobby Lytes, Corinne Olympios, Omarosa, Tiffany “New York” Pollard, Jax Taylor and Tanisha Thomas — being bad below:

“House of Villains” premieres with a 75-minute episode Thursday night on E! at 10 p.m. ET/PT.


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