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The Real World: Philadelphia

Coordinates: 39°57′08″N 75°08′42″W / 39.95222°N 75.14500°W / 39.95222; -75.14500
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Real World: Philadelphia
Season 15
The cast of The Real World: Philadelphia
  • Landon Lueck
  • Willie Hernandez
  • Sarah Burke
  • M.J. Garrett
  • Karamo Brown
  • Melanie Silcott
  • Shavonda Billingslea
No. of episodes26[1]
Original networkMTV
Original releaseSeptember 7, 2004 (2004-09-07) –
March 8, 2005 (2005-03-08)
Season chronology

The Real World: Philadelphia is the fifteenth season of MTV's reality television series The Real World, which focuses on a group of diverse strangers living together for several months in a different city each season, as cameras follow their lives and interpersonal relationships. It is the third season of The Real World to be filmed in the Mid-Atlantic States region of the United States, specifically in Pennsylvania.

The season featured seven people who lived in a three-story building, and production began filming from April 30 to August 20, 2004.[2] The season premiered on September 7 of that year and consisted of 26 episodes. The season premiere was watched by 3.3 million viewers.[3]

Season changes[edit]

The Philadelphia season is the first with two openly gay men, Karamo Brown and William Hernandez, in the cast. (The first season to have two gay cast members, regardless of sex, was the 2002 Chicago season, although the 1999 Hawaii season featured a bisexual woman and a gay man).


Beginning with the show's fifth season, almost every season of The Real World has included the assignment of a season-long group job or task to the housemates, continued participation in which has been mandatory to remain part of the cast since the Back to New York season. The Philadelphia cast worked for the Philadelphia Soul, an Arena Football League team which was formerly partly owned by Jon Bon Jovi. As part of their duties for the Soul, the cast planned and built a playground for underprivileged children as part of the Northern Home for Children program.[4]

The residence[edit]

Third and Arch

The cast lived in a building at 249-251 Arch Street at 3rd Street in Old City Philadelphia (39°57′08″N 75°08′43″W / 39.9522°N 75.1453°W / 39.9522; -75.1453). The 14,494-square-foot (1,346.5 m2), three-story building, which is adjacent to the Betsy Ross House, was built in 1902, and is known as the Union Bank of Philadelphia Building until 1970, when it was sold to Seamen's Church Institute to house global seafarers. It was placed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places in January 1977,[5] and purchased in 2003 by Yaron Properties, Inc for $2.2 million USD. An additional $3 million was spent on renovating and furnishing the building for production of the series, which included 42 mounted cameras for filming. The interior was designed by Norm Dodge of Norm Dodge & Associates.

In March 2004, producers ceased construction after completing two thirds of the project, and announced they were leaving Philadelphia because of disputes with Philadelphia trade unions. Joey Carson, CEO of Bunim/Murray Productions, and Ted Kenney, a producer on The Real World, met in private over a two-week period with the trade unions. The meetings were brokered by Mayor John F. Street, Governor Ed Rendell, Congressman Bob Brady, and other civic leaders in order to keep the production in Philadelphia. The flap delayed renovations by several weeks. The interior decorations used for the series remained until as late as October 2004.[6][7] Since filming ended, the building has served as an art gallery for the Art Institute of Philadelphia's F.U.E.L. Collection [8] and has become an office for Linode since late 2015.[9]


Cast member Age1 Hometown/State
Karamo Brown 23[10] Coral Springs, Florida
Karamo lives in Houston, Texas who donates much of his time to charities and political causes, which he says are his passion. He is very close to his mother and three older sisters.He attended Florida A&M University, where he majored in Business Administration. Prior to casting, he lived in Los Angeles, where he worked at the Brotherhood Crusade, writing proposals for grants and establishing programs for underprivileged people.[11] He is an avid fan of Beyoncé Knowles, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the band Octavius, enjoys going to art galleries, and dreams of visiting Japan.[12] Although he is gay, Karamo appeared as a contestant on a 2003 episode of The 5th Wheel, a heterosexual reality dating game show. He and another male contestant went on a joint date with three female contestants, with Karamo giving no indication that he is gay.[13]
Landon Lueck 24[10] River Falls, Wisconsin
Landon is an athlete who in high school was a state champion in doubles tennis and ranked fifth in the state in wrestling. At the University of Wisconsin–Madison, he was on the water skiing and wake boarding teams. He doesn’t like being labeled a "dumb jock", however, and fears that others won't accept him. He recently ended a seven-year relationship with his high school sweetheart, and still hasn't gotten over her. He loves female attention, and longs for a long-term relationship again. He is a fan of Brad Pitt, AC/DC, and Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica, and dreams of visiting Thailand.[14] He is sometimes observed to drink too much, which leads to problems with his castmates.[15]
Melanie Silcott 21[10] San Jose, California
Melanie ("Mel") was adopted at six months after being placed into foster care by her seventeen-year-old mother.[16] She is an alumna of the University of California at Santa Cruz and hopes to become a high school English teacher. She has a boyfriend named Andy. She claims to have a spontaneous, wild streak, loves to dance and party, is close to her family, and claims to be passionate about music, art, and politics. She is an avid fan of David Bowie and the band Modest Mouse.[17][18] The cast often takes umbrage at what they perceive as Mel's rudeness and lack of consideration for others,[19] as well as aloofness for choosing to frequent a local tavern by herself, and consorting with some friends there to the exclusion of her housemates.[20]
M.J. Garrett 23[10] Nashville, Tennessee[21]
M.J. graduated from Vanderbilt University, where he majored in Human and Organizational Development, and was a football player. He had dreams of playing professional football, but he was turned down by the NFL. He auditioned after finding his post-graduate, 9-to-5 desk job doing marketing at a non-profit organization unfulfilling, and after a chance meeting with a member of the casting department during a visit to Los Angeles, to which he intended to move. M.J. began a two-month relationship before moving to Philadelphia, and he struggles to maintain it long-distance. He is close to his father, and his younger brother Austin, and is proud to be “a jock who can express himself.” He is a fan of Ali G and Dashboard Confessional.[22][23] He has a preference for blonde women,[24] which is partially the cause of conflict between him and Sarah in Episodes 2 and 3.[25][26]
Sarah Burke 23[10] Tampa, Florida
Born and raised in Florida, Sarah graduated from Emory University and at the time of casting, was working 9-to-5 at a law firm, and planned to attend University of Florida School of Law. According to mtv.com, she is opinionated and outspoken, and isn’t afraid to use her sex appeal to get what she wants. She has overcome an eating disorder, which began when her mother was diagnosed with cancer. As her mother is still undergoing treatment, she continues to struggle with her weight.[27] She was once raped, and she attributes her highly sexual behavior to this.[28] She enjoys cooking, is passionate about politics, is a fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and dreams of visiting Brazil.[29][30]
Shavonda Billingslea 21[10] San Diego, California[21][31]
Shavonda is a woman who likes to party and to socialize with men. She lived a turbulent childhood, and in high school, she was a cheerleader and her school's first African-American homecoming queen. She struggles to support herself, and is putting herself through Grossmont Community College by working nights at a Hooters in Mission Valley. She has a boyfriend to whom she wants to be faithful, even though he is not the kind of jock that usually pursues her. She prefers jocks with a sense of humor.[32][33]
Willie Hernandez 23[10] New York City, New York
Willie is a writer/actor with a passion for the arts and performing who works part-time as a personal shopper.[21] He left home at the age of 15 after conflicts with his religious parents who do not "accept his lifestyle." He and his straight twin brother are the oldest of six children, who all remain close. He admits to being stubborn and confrontational. As a child, he worked in commercials and musical theater and was a regular on the children's television show Ghostwriter, which promoted literacy for children. He is an avid fan of Madonna and the band Scissor Sisters.[34][35][36]

^Note 1 : Age at the time of filming.


No. in
TitleOriginal air date
3141"Welcome to Philly!"September 7, 2004 (2004-09-07)
The seven strangers settle into their Philadelphia house. MJ and Landon are the first to meet, and find they have things in common. They meet Shavonda and then are joined by Willie and Sarah, who finds MJ very attractive. Karamo and Melanie meet and arrive at the house last. Sarah says she likes to walk around nude, and after removing her bra, invites her roommates to inspect her breast implants, but Landon demurs. Shavonda is surprised when Karamo reveals that he is gay, but keeps this from the others.[21]
3152"'Out' in Philadelphia"September 7, 2004 (2004-09-07)
After expressing some trepidation to a friend, Karamo comes out to MJ and Landon. MJ and Sarah flirt. The housemates visit a gay bar.
3163"Bed-Swapping Begins"September 14, 2004 (2004-09-14)
After MJ and his girlfriend break up, Sarah hopes that he will turn his attention to her, despite MJ's penchant for blondes. Landon is unsure of how to address his feelings for Shavonda.[26]
3174"Boys Will Be Boys"September 21, 2004 (2004-09-21)
The roommates learn that Sarah battled bulimia. Willie runs into an old friend at a gay festival and the two become reacquainted. A conflict develops between Sarah and Melanie.[37]
3185"Gunning for Karamo"September 28, 2004 (2004-09-28)
While at a bar with MJ and Landon, Karamo is approached by several police officers who received a tip that he was carrying a weapon. Afterward, he becomes upset with MJ for not vouching for him. Shavonda has money problems.[38]
3196"The Roomies Have Soul"October 5, 2004 (2004-10-05)
MJ has a chair thrown at him by a random guy at a bar. Also, the roommates receive their job assignment: working for the city's arena football team. Karamo and MJ make their peace.[39]
3207"Ivana Have Some Fun!"October 12, 2004 (2004-10-12)
Sarah reveals a secret from her past to Melanie, explaining her needy behavior. Shavonda breaks up with her boyfriend before flirting with Landon.[40]
3218"Frustrations"October 19, 2004 (2004-10-19)
Karamo has a crush on Dorian, who works at the gym, and later meets him while out clubbing. However, Karamo has some issues with the cameras chronicling that part of his life. Melanie's opinionated self grates on everyone's nerves; and the roommates scout locations for a playground they're to help build.[4]
3229"Landon & Leo"October 26, 2004 (2004-10-26)
Landon has too much to drink while out on the town, which doesn't sit well with Shavonda. Melanie opens up to Sarah about her childhood.[16]
32310"Things Change"November 2, 2004 (2004-11-02)
Shavonda learns Shaun has plans with his ex-girlfriend. Landon's ex-girlfriend Becky, who's dating his former roommate, visits.[41]
32411"Happy Birthday MJ!"November 9, 2004 (2004-11-09)
The roommates celebrates MJ's birthday. Landon and Shavonda have a fight about the phone. Landon brings a young woman back to the house. Shaun sends Shavonda flowers.[42]
32512"Passive Aggression"November 16, 2004 (2004-11-16)
Sarah cleans the house and has a run-in with Landon after he and MJ arrive home at 3 a.m. Later, the roommates work on the playground project, but Sarah, Willie and Karamo have no input into it, which upsets them.[43]
32613"Switchin' Teams"November 23, 2004 (2004-11-23)
Sarah finds herself attracted to a gay man and contemplates pursuing a physical relationship with him. MJ meets an attractive blonde at a bar and brings her home.[44]
32714"Forbidden Affair"November 30, 2004 (2004-11-30)
Landon is attracted to the accountant for the Philadelphia Soul, but their relationship is tempered by a "no fraternization" rule for interns. The roommates take part in the Easter Seals walk-a-thon.[45]
32815"Gone Sour"December 7, 2004 (2004-12-07)
Sarah's mother, who is battling leukemia, visits with Sarah's sister and father. Karamo and Dorian's relationship hits a bumpy patch.[46]
32916"MJ's Having Trouble with The Ladies"December 28, 2004 (2004-12-28)
Sarah and MJ argue about Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, which Sarah believes is anti-Semitic. MJ butts heads with Shavonda over the phone. Willie misses work after a late night of revelry.[47]
33017"Altercations"January 4, 2005 (2005-01-04)
After a night of partying, Landon almost gets into an altercation with Melanie's friends.[48]
33118"Ew, Scabies!"January 11, 2005 (2005-01-11)
Melanie learns that she has body lice, which causes the other roommates to become concerned that they might get it too. The roommates present their plan for the playground to the Soul and Northern Home and learn their vacation destination.[49]
33219"Fiji"January 18, 2005 (2005-01-18)
The roommates arrive in Fiji for their vacation. Sarah sets her sights on several British men. Melanie and Sarah try to work out their differences.[50]
33320"Romantic Getaway"January 25, 2005 (2005-01-25)
The roommates continue their vacation in Fiji, where Shavonda and Landon become closer.[51]
33421"Back to Reality"February 1, 2005 (2005-02-01)
After the roommates return to Philadelphia from their vacation, Shavonda calls Shaun and tells him about hooking up with Landon. Later, she and Landon have a heart-to-heart about their relationship.[52]
33522"Intervention"February 8, 2005 (2005-02-08)
After a fight with Shavonda, Melanie contemplates heading home. Karamo, Landon and Melanie skip out on work, which doesn't sit well with Laura.[53]
33623"Willie's Love Triangle"February 15, 2005 (2005-02-15)
Willie meets Neil while clubbing, and the two make plans for a date, but when Dan calls to say he'll be in town the same night, Willie dumps Neil.[54]
33724"Ashley’s Visit"February 22, 2005 (2005-02-22)
MJ's girlfriend, Ashley, arrives for a visit, but the fun is short-lived when he's torn between entertaining her or his best friend. Meeting Ashley gives Landon a new perspective on MJ.[55]
33825"Motherly Love"March 1, 2005 (2005-03-01)
Sarah's mom thinks she needs to lose weight, which causes a rift between the two. Karamo wants to gift a plaque to Landon for his extra work on the playground project.[56]
33926"Losing You"March 8, 2005 (2005-03-08)
The seven roommates bid adieu to one another, and Philadelphia, before going their separate ways. Prior to the goodbyes, the roommates head out to a club with Willie and Landon worries about how his relationship with Shavonda will affect her after they part.[57]

Police altercation[edit]

On November 29, 2005, two Philadelphia police officers were arrested for aggravated assault, simple assault, criminal conspiracy and reckless endangerment, due to an altercation they had with a plainclothes officer guarding the Real World house during filming the previous year. According to UPI and TMZ.com, Officers Patrick Cavalieri and David McAndrews were off-duty when they went to the house during filming of the program, and began banging on the door. Officer Brian Copeland, the plain clothes officer guarding the house, tried to stop them, and was allegedly assaulted by the two fellow policemen, who were suspended for 30 days with the intent to dismiss, according to a department spokesman.[58]

Cavalieri, a five-year veteran of the force, was eventually fired. One of the charges against him was dropped, but he was found not guilty of another, and reinstated in his job. He later sued the city and Copeland for violations of his civil and constitutional rights, asking for a minimum of $50,000 in damages. Copeland alleged that Cavalieri and his "friends" severely beat him, causing severe eye damage. Cavalieri alleged that Copeland was not an officially licensed police officer at the time of the incident, that he did not identify himself as an officer before attacking him, and that he lied several times during the investigation regarding his version of the incident and the injuries he incurred.[59]

After filming[edit]

Seven months after the cast left the Real World house, all seven of them appeared to discuss their experiences both during and since their time on the show, Fistful of Philly: The Real World Philadelphia Reunion, which premiered on March 15, 2005, and was hosted by Vanessa Minnillo.

At the 2008 The Real World Awards Bash, Shavonda received a nomination in the "Best Phonecall Gone Bad" category.[60][61]

William Hernandez continued his acting career, appearing in movies such as Evicted, The Undercover Man, The Narrow Gate, and A Four Letter Word.[36]

In 2016, Karamo Brown appeared as a cast member on the TV One original series The Next :15.[62] In 2017, he hosted Are You the One? Second Chances.[63] He is currently a member of the "Fab 5" in the 2018 Netflix reboot of Queer Eye.[64] In 2019, he took part in the 28th season of Dancing with the Stars, thus being the first person from The Real World to be cast on the show.[65]

The Challenge[edit]

Cast member Seasons of The Challenge Other appearances
Karamo Brown The Inferno II
Landon Lueck The Inferno II, The Gauntlet 2, The Duel II, Fresh Meat II Spring Break Challenge
Melanie Silcott
M.J. Garrett The Gauntlet 2, The Gauntlet III, The Duel II The Challenge: All Stars (season 2),
The Challenge: All Stars (season 3)
Sarah Burke
Shavonda Bilingslea The Inferno II
Willie Hernandez

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Episode synopsis list for The Real World: Philadelphia at MTV.com
  2. ^ Rogers, Steve; "MTV officially announces 'The Real World Philadelphia'"; realityworld.com; February 28, 2004.
  3. ^ "MTV Viewers Numbers Game for the Real World Denver Premiere". November 29, 2006.
  4. ^ a b Summary page for Episode 8 (“Frustrations”) at mtv.com
  5. ^ "PRHP: List of properties with OPA-compliant addresses" (PDF). Philadelphia Historical Commission. Retrieved March 7, 2013.
  6. ^ Former Girard Corn Exchange Bank at realworldhouses.com
  7. ^ Information on 249-251 Arch Street at philadelphiabuildings.org
  8. ^ The Art Institute of Philadelphia
  9. ^ "Wow. Linode just spent $5M on the old MTV 'Real World' house on N3rd Street". Technical.ly Philly. December 11, 2015. Retrieved January 3, 2016.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g "Fischer, John; "Meet The Real World Philadelphia Cast"; about.com". Archived from the original on January 2, 2008. Retrieved February 10, 2008.
  11. ^ Biography page for Karamo Brown. MTV. 2004. Retrieved November 7, 2011.
  12. ^ Interview with Karamo Brown at mtv.com
  13. ^ "The Fanatic - the Latest Sports News, Previews and Opinion".
  14. ^ Biography page for Landon Lueck at mtv.com
  15. ^ This is depicted in Episodes 9 and 17.
  16. ^ a b Summary page for Episode 9 (“Landon & Leo”) at mtv.com
  17. ^ Real World: Philadelphia: Cast: Melanie. MTV. Retrieved February 26, 2012.
  18. ^ Interview with Melanie Silcott at mtv.com
  19. ^ Depicted in Episodes 4, 8, 9, 18, and 22.
  20. ^ Depicted in Episodes and 17 and 22.
  21. ^ a b c d Summary page for Episode 1 (“Welcome to Philly!”) at mtv.com
  22. ^ Biography Page for M.J. Garrett at mtv.com
  23. ^ Interview with M.J. Garrett at mtv.com
  24. ^ His attraction to blondes is stated or seen in Episodes 2, 3, and 13.
  25. ^ Summary page for Episode 2 (“‘Out’ in Philadelphia”) at mtv.com
  26. ^ a b Summary page for Episode 3 (“Bed-Swapping Begins”) at mtv.com
  27. ^ She revealed this in Episode 15.
  28. ^ She discussed this in Episode 7.
  29. ^ Biography page for Sarah Burke at mtv.com
  30. ^ Interview with Sarah Burke at mtv.com
  31. ^ The Internet Movie Database gives Murrieta as her city of birth, but mtv.com indicates San Diego as her home.
  32. ^ Biography page for Shavonda Billingslea at mtv.com
  33. ^ Interview with Shavonda Billingslea at mtv.com
  34. ^ Biography page for William Hernandez at mtv.com
  35. ^ Interview with William Hernandez at mtv.com
  36. ^ a b Salvatore, Rosanne. "'The Real World' cast members: Where are they now?". Daily News. April 1, 2011. Page 32 of 44
  37. ^ Summary page for Episode 4 ("Boys Will Be Boys"). MTV.
  38. ^ Summary page for Episode 5 ("Gunning for Karamo"). MTV.
  39. ^ Summary page for Episode 6 ("The Roomies Have Soul"). MTV.
  40. ^ Summary page for Episode 7 ("Ivana Have Some Fun!"). MTV.
  41. ^ Summary page for Episode 10 ("Things Change"). MTV.
  42. ^ Summary page for Episode 11 ("Happy Birthday MJ!"). MTV.
  43. ^ Summary page for Episode 12 ("Passive Aggression"). MTV.
  44. ^ Summary page for Episode 13 ("Switchin’ Teams"). MTV.
  45. ^ Summary page for Episode 14 ("Forbidden Affair"). MTV.
  46. ^ Summary page for Episode 15 ("Gone Sour"). MTV.
  47. ^ Summary page for Episode 16 ("MJ's Having Trouble with The Ladies"). MTV.
  48. ^ Summary page for Episode 17 ("Altercations"). MTV.
  49. ^ Summary page for Episode 18 ("Ew, Scabies!"). MTV.
  50. ^ Summary page for Episode 19 ("Fiji"). MTV.
  51. ^ Summary page for Episode 20 ("Romantic Getaway"). MTV.
  52. ^ Summary page for Episode 21 ("Back to Reality"). MTV.
  53. ^ Summary page for Episode 22 ("Intervention"). MTV.
  54. ^ Summary page for Episode 23 ("Willie's Love Triangle"). MTV.
  55. ^ Summary page for Episode 24 ("Ashley’s Visit"). MTV.
  56. ^ Summary page for Episode 25 ("Motherly Love"). MTV.
  57. ^ Summary page for Episode 26 ("Losing You"). MTV.
  58. ^ "Police officers arrested for 'The Real World: Philadelphia' fight"; UPI/realitytvworld.com; November 30, 2005.
  59. ^ "Philly Cop Sues Over 'Real World' Fight"; TMZ.com; May 28, 2007.
  60. ^ "The Real World Awards Bash: Nominees" Archived March 27, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. MTV.com. 2008. Retrieved January 17, 2013.
  61. ^ "The Real World Awards Bash: Winners" Archived September 25, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. MTV.com. 2008. Retrieved January 17, 2008.
  62. ^ Augustine, Afiya (December 21, 2015). "First Look at Benzino, Tiffany Pollard, Laura Govan and 'The Next 15' Cast (PHOTOS)". Wetpaint. Retrieved February 26, 2015.
  63. ^ Ossad, Jordana. "ARE YOU THE ONE: ALL-STAR CHALLENGE IS COMING TO MTV". MTV. Archived from the original on February 23, 2017. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  64. ^ Hall, Gerrad (December 8, 2017). "Meet the new Queer Eye Fab 5 in this first look". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 4, 2018.
  65. ^ Carras, Christi (August 21, 2019). "'Dancing With the Stars': See who's who in the wild, weird 2019 cast". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 21, 2019.

External links[edit]

39°57′08″N 75°08′42″W / 39.95222°N 75.14500°W / 39.95222; -75.14500