Petite, buxom and draped in animal prints, she refers to herself as a “little meatball” yet has a reputation for behaving so badly that her new reality show – Snooki & Jwoww – couldn’t even get a shooting permit without promising to have four cops follow her everywhere she goes in Jersey City, New -Jersey.
Don’t let Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi’s pocket-sized four-foot-nine stature and powder-puff weight lull or fool you – this hard-core party girl who brawled, night-clubbed and spray-tanned her way to reality superstardom since 2009 on Jersey Shore can raise more hell than a legion of devils.
At 24, she’s the subject of talk-show jokes, yet even America’s dean of late night, David Letterman, loves her company and her true story of how she was arrested, wildly intoxicated in broad daylight on a family beach, for “annoying” people. Quipped Letterman: “If [annoying people] are illegal, I’m going away for life!”
As MTV’s Jersey Shore enters its sixth and final season, even the New York Times acknowledges the “strange appeal” of Snooki, who got her nickname for being the first to kiss a boy in public school.
So it’s a no-brainer that MTV has given Snooki and her Jersey Shore castmate and BFF Jenni “Jwoww” Farley their own series as they move into an old firehouse to start a new chapter in their lives and take over Jersey City – as a modern-day Laverne & Shirley.
In its US debut in June, Snooki & Jwoww attracted a massive 2.4 million viewers and was the top non-sports telecast across all TV in its demographic.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the dye-namic duo’s total party domination and 50 shades of spray-tan in Jersey City. During shooting this spring, Snooki not only got engaged, but pregnant – forcing producers to veer sharply upwards, out of the gutter, and into the realm of more wholesome, healthier content.
Snooki says: “Our show’s going to be a lot different to Jersey Shore. There’s going to be more of our relationships and us. Not clubbing and partying and going wild. It’s just like our real life. We don’t party all the time like you think we do.”
Some pundits say television went south after The Jerry Springer Show gave America an appetite for trashy behaviour – that the medium that once presented society’s best and brightest has devolved to picking society’s scabs. But don’t judge Snooki too harshly, says the pop culture professor Robert J Thompson of Syracuse University. She’s part of a great American tradition that goes back to the 19th century showman and hoaxer PT Barnum who made his fortune by parading albinos, giants, make-believe creatures and curiosities before the masses.
“Many people wish they had their own show, became celebrities, were getting front page in the New York Times Style section – all of which happened to Snooki,” says Thompson. “But I think we watch Jersey Shore not to see them as role models, but we watch them because they’re so much fun to mock.
“Watching an episode is kind of like going to the zoo. But Snooki and her friends are really good at being human zoo animals. They’re funny. They get into the right kind of fights. They complain and whine in the right sort of ways. Jersey Shore, I would say, is a masterpiece – it’s masterpiece stupidity, maybe – but most stupidity is not masterpiece stupidity. Every now and again, someone hits it. Jersey Shore did. Paris Hilton did. The Kardashians do, maybe.”
And, at the heart of her continuing adventures, Snooki rules her reality roost as she embraces motherhood. She and her fiance Jionni LaValle welcomed Lorenzo Dominic LaValle into the world on August 26.
Can a zebra-print-loving girl change her stripes? Apparently so. Just this week OK! magazine reports she’s getting an “organic baby-food machine”.
• Snooki & Jwoww will premiere at 11.10pm on Tuesday on MTV Arabia