reality

18 times people from Philly were on reality shows, from ‘Trading Spaces’ to ‘Hoarding’ to ‘Top Chef’

Francisville’s Raelia Lewis doesn’t eat cheesesteaks. She’s “gotta keep it tight,” as she told CBS last year after being (shockingly!) eliminated from America’s Next Top Model, the long-running reality show where models are judged by Tyra Banks and other angry people.

Lewis is one of many Philadelphians who have appeared on reality shows over the years. We wanted to take a look back at some of the most memorable reality show contestants. Please, if I missed any, email them to me at anna@billypenn.com so I can laugh and add them into this round-up.

Here are 18 times that Philadelphians have appeared on reality TV:

The makeovers

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

Back in 2006, a Northeast Philly family was on that show where the guy with the hair yells “move that bus!” and boom! There’s a new house. The family was whisked away to Florida for a week on vacation while the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition team from ABC took over and basically built them a brand new one.

(And the house was for sale as recently as last October for about half a million bucks.)

Say Yes to the Dress

Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard’s now-wife Krystle Campbell was featured in 2012 on TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress” and picked out a $35,000 gown to wear to get hitched to the baseball star. Then, Campbell, an Eagles cheerleader, and Howard jumped in the Pacific Ocean and literally destroyed the dress. 

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Splash News

What Not to Wear

A Philadelphia firefighter and a trans woman was featured on TLC’s “What Not to Wear” in 2013 when Clinton and Stacey helped her to dress — with the help of $5,000 to spend on a new wardrobe.

Extreme Weight Loss

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Tiffany Kasunich is a Temple grad and former soccer player for the Owls. She also appeared earlier this season on ABC’s Extreme Weight Loss, where she and her fiance, Cain, embarked on a year-long weight loss journey together. She ended up losing more than 100 pounds in the more-than-a-year period before her wedding.

Trading Spaces

Four Port Richmond residents — a couple and a set of roommates — traded homes on TLC to redecorate each other’s places, and it is amazing. Watch the full episode here:

The competitions

Survivor

Probably the most famous reality TV star from Philly is Gervase Peterson, a contestant on the inaugural season of “Survivor” on CBS in 2000. Peterson was made famous for once eating a rat and also saying that “women are the stupidest things on the planet next to cows.” He also always has a nice, clean-shaven head. Peterson was eliminated from “Survivor” on day 30.

America’s Next Top Model

And now, we introduce Raelia Lewis from Francisville who, again, has “gotta keep it tight.” This Philadelphian appeared on ANTM last year on cycle 21 (!) of the show and was eliminated after this apparently heinous photo.

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For the record I have no idea what’s wrong with that photo.

The Biggest Loser

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Philadelphia DJ Nicole Michalik was a contestant on the fourth season of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” and lost more than 100 pounds in the process. But she was eliminated in week 13 of the show after falling below the dreaded yellow line of weight loss percentage. She went on to host a weekly “Biggest Loser” podcast.

Project Runway

West Philly native and Moore College of Art and Design grad Dom Streater won “Project Runway” in season 12 and has since gone on to present her own collection at New York Fashion Week. Make it work, girl.

The chefs

Top Chef

Philly has had a number of chefs compete on Bravo’s cooking show “Top Chef,” including season 11 winner Nicholas Elmi and season seven winner Kevin Sbraga, who both now have restaurants here in the city. Other contestants from Philly include Jason Cichonski from season 11, as well as Jennifer Carroll and Jennifer Zavala from season six. Here’s Sbraga talking about food at the Sundance Film Festival last year:

MasterChef

Ever heard of Delilah’s? As in, the Columbus Boulevard strip club? That’s where Courtney Lapresi worked before she switched from poles to Parisian food and won Gordon Ramsey’s “Master Chef” in season five. After taking home the title with her refined French cuisine, she landed a job as a head chef with La Colombe. 

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The Next Iron Chef

When the Food Network was in search of the next person who would serve as an Iron Chef to compete against others, it did what any good reality channel would do: Hire Alton Brown as a host and hold a competition. Ente rPhiladelphia restaurateur Jose Garces. Garces ran away with the title in season two of the competition in 2010, then followed up as a master chef of sorts on Iron Chef episodes. Before Garces won The Next Iron Chef, he competed on the show against grill master Bobby Flay. Here’s how that went down:

The weird

Extreme Couponing

Philly’s Joyce House is described herein as “a retired nurse who hasn’t paid for a toothbrush, toothpaste or deodorant in 34 years.” She appeared on TLC’s “Extreme Couponing” in 2010, and was able to somehow secure a bill at a local grocery store that was under $10 for more than $200 worth of goods. People call her “The Coupon Diva.” Here she is on the Today Show talking about her gift:

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Hoarding: Buried Alive

It’s unclear where in Philly this person lived since TLC worked hard to conceal his true identity — since he’s (apparently, oh God) a surgeon. But the homeowner identified as “Seymour” made headlines after his cockroach-infested crib made an appearance on TLC’s hoarding show.

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The Real World: Hollywood

Sure, Philadelphia hosted its own cast on the Real World in a house in Old City. But Brianna Taylor, from Philly, appeared on the Real World in Hollywood during the 20th season of MTV’s show. Taylor, a former stripper from the area, also made the Top 40 during the 2005 season of “American Idol.” A true reality show hero. Here’s Brianna, in an interview with Billboard:

A Dating Story

In which Anthony DiMeo III, a fourth generation blueberry farmer from Hammonton, New Jersey, plays around Rittenhouse Square and goes on dates with “Carolyn,” described as “a romantic seeking Mr. Right.” Go Carolyn! Here’s how things went for them:

Undercover Boss

Rick Forman got dirty in West Philly while he was cleaning bathrooms in a Forman Mills, a retail chain that has locations across the country. Little did the people around him know, he was actually the CEO of the company, taking part in CBS’ “Undercover Boss.” The show aired earlier this year in January.

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