Reality TV Stars Get Real in Chicago

Thu. April 22, 2004 12:00 AM by News Staff Q&A

This is the true story of seven people picked to live...

It all started in the early 90’s when Bunim/Murray Productions proposed a reality program to MTV. Critics scoffed, but what started in an apartment in New York City was only the beginning of what reality television was to become.

The Real World, is now in its 14th season, has proved the critics wrong. America is a huge nation of voyeurs. We love real-life drama.

Season 11 of MTV’s reality series brought 7 strangers together in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago. Kyle, Keri, Cara, Theo, Chris, Aneesa, and Tonya. It was the gay characters, Aneesa Ferreira, a lesbian from Philly, and Chris Beckman, an artist from Brockton, Massachusetts, that proved most popular and interesting. Beginning with Norm in Season 1, MTV has been a trailblazer in bringing gay characters to mainstream television.

Now, Aneesa Ferreira, Chris Beckman and Tonya Cooley have returned to Chicago along with 4 other reality celebrities, Richard Hatch of Survivor, Reichen Lehmkuhl of The Amazing Race, Marcellas Reynolds of Big Brother, Sophia Pasquis of Road Rules, for The Real Deal Chicago, a benefit party for the Reality Cares Foundation and AIDS Foundation of Chicago. (Event Details)

The 7 reality stars appeared Thursday morning on Fox News in the Morning with Tamron Hall. (View Photos) Before their appearance Aneesa, Chris and Tonya (pictured above) took a few minutes to visit with

CP: Chris, you’re now living in NYC, but immediately after the Real World Chicago you remained in the Windy City. Why did you stay in Chicago and what do you miss most?

Chris: (6/12/78 – Gemini) Well, I stayed in Chicago specifically to continue working for the Chicago Park District managing a gallery for Dale Chihuly’s exhibit at the Garfield Park Conservatory.

CP: Tonya, before heading to LA you remained briefly in Chicago, why?

Tonya: (1/7/80 – Capricorn) I enjoyed the city with freedom away from the camera’s!

CP: Aneesa, what were some of your favorite places in Chicago?

Aneesa: (9/11/81 – Virgo) Some of them are closed, but The Local Grind, Prop House, Stargaze, Red Dog and Berlin.

CP: Chris?

Chris: The Chicago Art Institute, the Grind Coffeehouse, and Potbelly Sandwiches. As for bars, Crobar Chicago, Red Dog (on Monday) and Sidetrack.

Tonya: I miss the amazing food and a little coffee shop named the Grind.

CP: Aneesa, did you get tired of living life on camera?

Aneesa: Sometimes, but who wouldn’t get sick of someone following you around? I would go to my girlfriend’s house to escape.

CP: How important do you feel it is for positive gay role models to be present in the media?

Aneesa: I feel that it’s very important for positive role models both gay and straight to be present in the media.

CP: Tonya, you had a tumultuous relationship with your cast mates. Were there any regrets?

Tonya: At that point in my life I didn’t relate very much to my housemates; however, I do not have any regrets. Seeing a raw side to who I am actually helped me to grow and change.

CP: Chris, you continue as an artist in NYC, describe your artwork.

Chris: I would consider my work to be very much a representation of my environment. Combining emotion, abstraction and a balance between chaos and serenity. Check my site,

Those attending the Real Deal Chicago will experience a one-of-a-kind event with an opportunity to mix and mingle with these 7 reality stars. (Event Details)