Ten years ago, in 2004, someone somehow on reality TV's creaking conveyor belt made Big Brother and Charmed have sex and then put that child on national TV. It was called Mad Mad House. The one-season, discount-Halloween party promised a boot camp for 10 laymen, overseen by practitioners of five different alternative lifestyles. But because everything is made of lies, even this, the series' stars—a vampire, a voodoo priestess, a witch, a modern primitive, and a naturist—have spent the intervening decade becoming more and more themselves, or falling more and more apart, depending on how you tilt your head.
In case you never wondered, here's where they were, went, and are now.
Who: Every reality show needs a villain. That's not quite right: Every reality show needs someone to stand there and stare at the villain and see hero. The house's resident "witch," Fiona's was the series' crackpot incarnation of itself, a projection of the purest kind of reality competition ethic. Her catchphrase: It's more than just a game.
And so imagine that you are a rock star and then imagine that you discover Wicca and then imagine that the Dark Goddess comes into you and commands you to terrorize most everyone but that one guy, the cute one, and you will pretty much have imagined Fiona Horne, shapeshifter.
On the show: Currying favor with her was a whirlwind, probably more hormonal and even—ick—gendered, than politic. She loved Eric, an assistant sports agent who certainly learned competitiveness from Baby Einstein, all assumptiveness and no edge, like White Boy From a Can. But Fiona did not like Jamie or Loana or Nichole. Or especially Loana. Or especially, especially Nichole, who was not liked by anyone, but especially Eric.
Since the show: Fiona slipped skins on and off like they were suits. Eventually, she slipped down to her skin, appearing in Playboy twice. You can now go buy the first in her projected series of YA novels about witches, if you would like.
Iya Ta'Shia Asanti
Who: Iya Ta'Shia could seem quiet and perceptive, the listener of the group, except that literally nothing she said at any time made sense. Including her Voodoo Priestess identity, which was actually a Yemoja priestess identity, a difference that is not at all minor when you realize that it sparked a law suit.
On the show: Accusing Hamin of turning his back on his slave-bound ancestors; accusing Noel of turning his back on his addiction to cold medicine. Warning Eric he was going to become a drunk driver, thus ending the only pleasure in being on a reality show: endless alcohol. Listening by way of leaping ahead of whatever anyone is about to say that she has seen the curve of the future and they are corrupt. She made everyone slather themselves in animal-y pieces and hunt for small totems and bring them to her, in order to prove their worth.
Since the show: A prolific author, three years after the show Iya Ta'Shia penned a psychic-themed novel that appeared to earn her a blurb from the Times: "Iya Ta'Shia is a Priestess with a good head on her shoulders!" But was in reality just a blurb for her head. Most of her work is non-fiction and poetry, though, anchored by her "SLGBT" activism.
Who: There is a proud tradition in American reality TV of being deeply, deeply pointless. Which you would not think an immortal scion of the darkness would be! But Don, for his pale skin and obsidian eyes, was less fascinating than the genre's standbys. He slept while the housemates bickered, schemed, and gossiped. Like Lacy, from Bachelor in Paradise, every time he showed up, you'd think, Didn't he get kicked off after episode 1?; and it's like, No he's just been sleeping in a casket. For want of some blood, the battle was lost, etc.
On the show: So there was this thing with each episode where the Alts challenged their housemates. The winner of each challenge got immunity, and so on, and the performances were prime criteria for elimination. And you just know that Don's challenges were about a) blood; and then b) blood. Don drank both blood and psychic energy. He often lingered too long in view of the camera, even though the metaphysics of his species dictate that that should be impossible, and he would make the most terrible faces. Like so:
Since the show: The Vampire King's main scare seems to be his absurdly huge neck muscles, as seen on Tyra Banks' interview, who makes his non-impressive leg presses seem impressive, and on a Discovery special. Bonus: a fruit/meat/chocolate sniffing scene. Bonus bonus: his Facebook page, where he appears first with a paint splatter arm and then again, in his cover photo, with a moon exploding out of his head. His poetry recalls MySpace, true evidence of the supernatural: "I shall be here for you. For I have not forgotten my promise to your soul. As long as you permit me to be towards you, I shall be here until you deem it necessary to leave my presence."
Don Henrie is a pit of quicksand by which we mean that any further into his present or future fills you with ecstatic futility. Like, Don helps the homeless now? Like, Don is launching a pet food line? Toss all of that into the salad processor of life.
Who: A yoga guru who chose guacamole's main ingredient as a camp name and then quickly dropped both that and the dreads, David Wolfe served mostly to remind us that our bodies are not to be ashamed of. And if we are ashamed, we should stop it, or at least go look at other naked bodies.
On the show: Though in reality (according to one unauthorized tell-all) Avocado was leading the housemates in frequent yoga exercises and generally opening their souls inches more daily, watching the show you think that mostly he ate dirt-seeming grain; and that he loved to teach everyone what fruits and vegetables looked like when printed out on flashcards. Memorable moments include when a state trooper graciously reminded him that jumping naked in an ankle-deep river did constitute public exposure, despite his attunement with the spirit of toddlers everywhere.
Since the show: David Wolfe writes yoga and meditation guides and his celebrity fan base now self-proclaimedly includes Woody Harrelson and Bryce Dallas Howard. He certifies devotees in raw nutrition, a course which we're sure is composed in part of him chanting "David Wolfe" while holding some sort of seed on top of some sort of mountain-like structure.
His website is composed almost entirely of his face, as his Mad Mad House appearance was composed almost entirely of his body. "Enjoy an intimate day with David Wolfe!" he beckons, clasping his hands together and beaming with Shutterstock serenity. "Does your passion grow on trees?" he asks, holding what we are pretty sure is chocolate, but may be sage wrapped in seaweed.
Who: There's something of the stoic's mysticism in his ability to battle the winds of reality TV editing, shitty reality TV editing, and emerge smooth and strong like river rock.
On the show: A lot of hooks, honestly. Just a lot of hooks that he would hang from, as they pulled his skin away in seemingly sickening flaps. His expression is 90 percent disappointment, in himself, in the other alts, in the fact that he can't wrap himself in the wings of his tribal-styled shawls at all times, like a Hayao Miyazaki character who wishes to take flight.
Since the show: The series' sanest Alt has since lived the sanest life and now runs a tattoo parlor in California. Even after 10 more years of screaming and fighting and that one season of that one show where debased each other lower and still lower for money, this kind of basic decency threshold is still new, still startling. Even now, we are not as human as we think.
[Images and video via DavidWolfe.com, SyFy, and YouTube]