Reality Bites

Reality Bites: The Catalina: Sexy Time

There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.

The Catalina is "a party hotel" located in South Beach, Miami (not Ohio). It appears to cater exclusively to a demographic Henry Jones Sr. once described as "the slime of humanity." Okay, so they're not Nazis, but rather the sort of people who would drop an inordinate amount of coin to stay in what is essentially a high-end flophouse. The Catalina tries to cultivate a year-round Spring Break atmosphere, catering largely to young people looking to get inebriated, vomit and have instantly regrettable sex. In that order.

I took the liberty of pricing rooms at the hotel, and the cheapest offering goes for $162 a night, which seems a steep charge for the privilege of listening to itinerant musicians attempt to seduce bachelorettes and "wacky" bartenders shooting you with a Super Soaker. I think Señor Frog's lets you crash on a bench for a mere 20 bucks.

The central curators of this would-be Atlantic Chateau Marmont are Stephanie (the hotel manager) and Nathan Lieberman (the owner). This week's episode ("Bikinis and Break-Ups") dealt with the aftermath of Nathan firing several staff members and resolving to rotate through a bunch of hotel jobs to observe the inner workings. This works about as predictably as it's supposed to; he sucks at manning the front desk, is slightly better at cleaning up regurgitated Rice Krispies and sucks at bartending. It's refreshing to see a show about a guy who owns "many hotels" (according to Stephanie) yet appears to have no idea how they actually function. I see a future career in state politics.

Kris and Nancy are bartenders at the rooftop pool and also used to date. And as a former waiter/bartender myself, let me just say what a great idea it is for folks in the restaurant business to be in a relationship. Anyway, he convinces her to join him for a post-work drink and charms her by...wearing a sports coat. That's some low standards, even for Florida. Their storyline is easily the most crushingly boring of the show, which is saying a lot. Things only liven up when Kris and David -- one of the pool waiters, his face is the first result in a Google image search for the word "mook" -- hook up with some of the bikini models from later.


Forced to choose a favorite character, I'd have to go with Malwina Morgan (she just goes by "Morgan"), the Polish restaurant manager who is widely mocked for her Boris & Natasha-y accent. It'd probably never work, however, given our ancestral enmities (we could celebrate every September 1 with a romantic "blitzkrieg" where she attempted to repel my advances.

UnfortunateIy, I didn't find her interlude with the dudebros following Slightly Stoopid around on tour to be entertaining, because jesus christ, who fucking follows *Slightly Stoopid*? No room in the parking lot at the 311 show? I hope their parents donate that trust fund to NAMBLA.

In the episode's other "plot," Stephanie wants Morgan to organize a bikini fashion show for Betty Bangs, who I defy any of you to tell me anything about without using the Internet. Morgan agrees after Stephanie lets her touch her breasts.

To be fair, they *are* pretty spectacular.

Stephanie's big idea is to use the staff for the bikini show. This would probably be an HR nightmare had Nathan been the one to suggest it, but since Stephanie is female (and, as we've established, has impressive bosoms), front desk girls Vicky and Karina agree to it. Hey, they're young and have perky butts. Plus, they like to take their tops off at the beach, which makes the dudebros -- who've just happened to wander over from the hotel at the same time -- extremely happy.

The fashion show rolls around, Betty Bangs gets drunk (I would say "Boris Yeltsin drunk," but don't want to offend Morgan), and Vicky and Karina perform adequately. Which is to say they allow men to ogle them without flipping out like ninjas and killing everyone. Kris and Dave the Mook hook up with some of the less discriminating models, and society inexorably slides a little further towards the Abyss.

About the only interesting part of The Catalina was the hotel's closed-circuit camera footage, spliced in as filler between scenes. In my opinion, they should make a show solely around that. The tantalizing glimpses of a guy in a rainbow wig and a woman possibly being possessed by Satan were far more entertaining than anything the actual cast came up with.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar