What You See is What You Get?

Posted on 20 July 2010

For those of us not in the public eye, our brushes with celebrity can provide an escape from the humdrum nature of daily life, as well as a subject of conversation when someone asks us “what’s new?”  During my own life in the greater New Jersey area, I have personally encountered many personalities from the sports world, including the Philadelphia Phillies’ Greg Luzinski, Philadelphia Eagle Keith Krepfle, Philadelphia Flyers Bobby Clarke, Reggie Leach, and others, and Don Zimmer, former major league baseball player, manager, and coach, most recently with the New York Yankees.  I very nearly literally bumped into actor Ted Knight (who played Ted Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show) a number of years ago on a street in Philadelphia and former Senator, Rhodes Scholar, and guard for Princeton University and the New York Knicks, Bill Bradley, while checking out at a well-known Cherry Hill sandwich shop “Big John’s.”

In many cases, I was struck by how unpretentious these notables appeared, at least on the surface.  Never, however, have I met a celebrity as down to earth and genuinely nice as Olivia Bloise Sharpe.  Who, you ask, is Olivia Bloise Sharpe?  None other than one of the new batch of reality television stars with a Jersey flavor.

For the uninitiated, Olivia is among the cast of characters on one of the Style Network’s entries into reality programming, Jerseylicious.  And, for my money, she is the star of the show.  The program’s setting is The Gatsby Salon in Green Brook where Olivia is hired as a makeup artist.  There, she works under the direction of Alexa Prisco (aka, The Glam Fairy) and the salon’s mother and daughter ownership team, Gayle Giacomo and Christy Pereira.  Much of the program’s drama is created by the tension between Olivia and hairstylist Tracy DiMarco, who is dating Olivia’s former boyfriend and who, according to information gleaned from one of the early programs in the series, has travelled in similar circles for a number of years and had a longstanding animosity with Olivia.

Make no mistake, however, Olivia and Tracy are both Jersey girls.  The big hair, the animal prints, the heavy makeup, and the liberal use of bronzer are all indicative of their Jersey roots, as is the fact that neither would in any way, shape, or form be considered a shrinking violet.  They are just two of a growing number of reality TV personalities hailing from the Garden State.  Like Jersey Shore and The Desperate Housewives of New Jersey, the success of Jerseylicious seems to hearken a national trend toward interest in all things New Jersey.

To viewers in the Midwest, Olivia, Tracy, and the goings-on at Gatsby Salon must seem as commonplace as extraterrestrial visitation.  Yet, like alien encounters, one must question how “real” is the reality being viewed?  In answer to this, I can only reference personal experience.  You see, I met Olivia at an Exxon service station in Green Brook.  The station and appended “On the Run” convenience store is operated by brothers George and Samir Yazgi and is the place of employment of Write On New Jersey’s own contributing writer, Small Town Girl.

I must confess that I had been alerted to the fact that a scene from an upcoming Jerseylicious program was to be shot at the station.  And so, anxious to see “reality” in action, I arrived to find the production staff readying the scene.  Speaking with several production crew members as we awaited Olivia’s arrival, I posed a number of questions about the show and its cast.  Although reticent to provide details, comments from the crew enabled me to draw a couple of conclusions.  First, while the cast members are indeed real hairstylists and makeup artists, they do not work at Gatsby on a regular basis (i.e., if you book an appointment, you are not likely to see Olivia, Tracy, Gigi, Alexa, Anthony, or any of the other cast members present).  Second, while the show does not have a formal script, it does have a theme or context.  The show’s characters simply react to the situation presented.

In the case of the scene shot at the Exxon station, I promised the field production manager that I would not divulge the plotline, but rather leave you to draw your own conclusions.  I will disclose, however, that both Samir and George play significant roles in this scene and that neither was prompted regarding what to say or how to react.  Having witnessed it firsthand, I think that there may be Emmy Awards in the offing for both George and Samir, as well as perhaps a reality program of their own.

Questions of the nature of reality and the impact of the camera on human behavior aside, I would conclude that reality programming is more “reel life” than “real life.”  Yet, in the 21st Century, we seem to be evolving into a culture of voyeurs, and reality television is feeding this voyeuristic compulsion.  And so, if you like your reality staged, tune into Jerseylicious where you can witness the dramatic interplay between the lovely Olivia and the bitchy Tracy.

Write on New Jersey would like to thank Field Production Manager Lisa Colangelo for the professional photo at the top of this article and George Yazgi for the other photos taken with his cellphone.  To catch Olivia in action, you may watch the video below.


This post was written by:

- who has written 408 posts on Write On New Jersey.

Contact the author

3 Responses to “What You See is What You Get?”

  1. Diana says:

    I love this show! Even if it’s staged I would still watch it and Olivia is my favorite too!

  2. Vinnie D. says:

    Oh, we are voyeurs, all right. I think we always were. It’s just that technology has made it all a lot easier (God help us!).

  3. mae says:

    I have watched Jerseylicious several times. Olivia reminds me of Stephanie Plum of the Evanovich books. The show truely does portray Jersey girls the animal prints and big hair. Always wanting to shop and be into fashion. Stands to reason since Jersey has more shopping malls than in any other state.
    Tracy get over yourself. Olivia seems like a girl who wants to have fun but also wants to be a good person. Seeking success when someone tries to step on you is not fun. Go Oliva.

Leave a Reply

Site Sponsors

Site Sponsors

Site Sponsors

RSSLoading Feed...

Live Traffic Feed

RSSLoading Feed...