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“Men Stink”: An Interview with ‘Who Wants to Marry My Dad’ Contestant Joanne Newbornby Andrea Shuman -- 08/18/2003
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Observant and witty, Joanne Newborn was the Dorothy Parker of the Who Wants to Marry My Dad? crowd. Joanne was kind enough to share some of her experiences from the show with me via phone from NYC.
Andrea: Joanne, it’s great to talk to you. First, I want to ask, how did you make it through the blackout?
Joanne: Thanks, it’s great to talk to you, too. Yes, the blackout: fortunately, I did okay, as I was at my parents’ house in Brooklyn. Had I been in Manhattan, locked out of a hotel, it would have been a different story. But we all survived. How’d you all do in Boston?
Andrea: We escaped it, thank goodness, but thanks for asking! So, Joanne, let’s start with the first time we see you on Who Wants to Marry My Dad?: the line outdoors at the table, where the kids are “interviewing” the women. Was that the first time you met the kids?
Joanne: Actually, yes. We all saw the kids at that table for the first time. They were really nice, sweet people, as kind and sincere as they seemed on TV. Karla especially is a sweetheart. The two of us really bonded by the time my stint on the show was over.
Andrea: What about the eight other finalists? Anyone in that group who got on your nerves?
Joanne: (laughing) Well, if you remember, we were actually twelve at the beginning, before the first polygraph test with all the Nick look-alikes. Everyone in that group was being very pleasant to each other; you know, just cautiously sounding out everybody else, except this one woman. She was loud, obnoxious, and went around demanding something to eat. I actually thought, “This woman is insane.” Fortunately, though, she was eliminated before we got inside the house.
Andrea: We saw that you were the person who first spied “the infamous fax machine” in the bedroom. Was that comment scripted?
Joanne: Honestly, no one on the production staff told us how to act or what to say in any way. In fact, I didn’t even remember making that comment until I saw the show. After a while, you forget that every room has a microphone. We were all simply being ourselves throughout the whole program.
Andrea: Speaking of the room all the ladies stayed in, was it as crowded as it looked?
Joanne: You may not realize it, but the “dorm” room was really quite large. And while the bathroom had only one shower and toilet, it was also very roomy. And everyone had their own schedule, so the timing issue more or less worked itself out. For instance, I’m an early riser, so I was up every day at six, and I got the shower out of the way. Christena ran every morning, so she would shower later. Things like that.
Andrea: Was everyone really that cooperative?
Joanne: Err… mostly. I don’t want to speak ill of the other women.
Andrea: Come on, tell us.
Joanne: [pauses] I will say that when we first saw the room, I noticed there was a great deal of closet space; one huge closet with shelves and several sections with individual closet rods. I was one of the first ones up there, and I thought, “If we all cooperate, there’s going to be plenty of room for every one.” I stepped away for a while, and when I came back, I noticed that the other women had thrown my things on the floor, taken over all the closet space, and left me with just half of a small rod to use. I ended up keeping most of my stuff in my suitcase. It was really silly... if they had only been organized, there would’ve been enough space for everybody.
Andrea: And you’re saying no one in this group annoyed you, even after that?
Joanne: (laughing) For the short term, they all were tolerable. If we were locked up together for three months, I might’ve had trouble with one or two.
Andrea: So tell us, what was your reaction when you first saw Don pull up in the Ferrari?
Joanne: You know, we all had been there a while before we even met Don. So, I had built up this entire image of what he looked like in my head. When we all finally saw him, he looked nothing like how I had imagined. I mean, he’s very attractive, but he wasn’t what I was expecting.
Andrea: What about the other ladies’ reactions? We heard all squealing and “ooohs” of approval.
Joanne: Oh yeah, we all did really make those noises. But I’m not sure whether it was for Don or the Ferrari… that car was pretty snazzy.
Andrea: (laughing) So, that’s the reason for the Ferrari! In case Don failed to get the hormones going, the car would!
Joanne: (laughing again) Probably! Seriously, Don’s very good looking, but I wish we had seen him sooner, so I didn’t start to imagine someone completely different.
Andrea: I want to clear up a pressing question. In your first polygraph with Nick, you were asked if you married Don, would you spend every Christmas with the family? You answered “I’m Jewish, so yes, sure.” But in the second episode, we saw you wearing a cross. Which is it?
Joanne: Well, my dad is Jewish and my mom is Italian. I grew up celebrating both Jewish and Catholic traditions. But as an adult, I really don’t consider myself Jewish anymore.
[Author’s Note: Perhaps that’s why she received a “thumbs down” from Nick for her answer to the Christmas question.]
Andrea: During the show, your “bad fact” was that you were afraid of commitment and that you hadn’t had a serious boyfriend in seven years. What I want to know is, with all the publicity you’ve gotten, how’s your love life now?
Joanne: (laughing) I have ex-boyfriends coming out of the woodwork! You wouldn’t believe the guys from my past who’ve been in contact with me recently. I even have a marriage proposal from one of them on the table. He told me I don’t have to answer him right away; he’s given me a year to make up my mind!
Andrea: That’s quite a deal!
Joanne: Sure is.1 2 Next-->
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