“Yo, is there some story about me on Perez Hilton today?” is the first thing out of the mouth of Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino as three Italian-American stallions drift into a Williamsburg photo studio. The cast of MTV’s reality hit The Jersey Shore has just wrapped the show’s second season, which opens July 29 from Miami, and they’ve all become quickly accustomed to their newfound fame. How famous? Last month, President Obama jokingly excluded both The Situation and House Minority Leader John Boehner from the indoor tanning tax in his health care bill. With porn parodies and clothing lines, the cast has arrived on the international stage.
Sorrentino, 27, remains philosophical about the fleeting nature of reality TV. “I have no control over what other people do,” he says. “All I can control is, you know, I’m The Situation—the leader of the group. I’m the best at being me.”
“I don’t think any of us are replaceable,” Ronnie Magro adds. “We all bring different personalities to the house.” His role mostly consists of fighting for his right to party—a scrappy trait that landed the 24-year-old in the cooler last season. “In the heat of the moment, your pride gets the best of you,” he shrugs.
All three mentioned tightened security as the primary difference this season. They’re returning to Seaside Heights, New Jersey, as a brand, their image crowding T-shirt stalls along the boardwalk. “Last year, you could do whatever you wanted,” Magro recalls, “but now you can’t go anywhere. At least people in Miami knew who you were and weren’t dumb enough to start trouble because you had security with you.”
If Magro appears hotheaded, he also has one foot in the fitness scene with plans for an energy drink in the works. But it’s Vinny Guadagnino, all of 22, who is the one with a back-up plan: to attend law school if and when he ever gets booted from the show. He’s also the most philosophical about the fame machine: “Before this happened, I was just living life, and if my ride with The Jersey Shore stops, I’m just going to keep living life until the next stop,” he says.
For his part, Sorrentino is defined by his “diva” antics. The Situation likens himself to a Ferrari, “high-maintenance, but I look really good and drive at high speeds so I’m well worth it.”
Does that include scooping gelato? According to Magro, the cast will be working at an ice cream shop: “I think they give us a job on the show just to pass the time,” he opines.
“That’s part of what our show is about,” Guadagnino adds. “We’re just regular kids trying to live somewhere, and we have to work to live there. We’re not freeloading celebrities. That’s not how we started, and that’s not how we’re going to act now.”