behind the scenes

They Park Wherever They Want, and Six Other Observations From Snooki and JWOWW’s Neighbor

Four months ago, Snooki and JWOWW invaded downtown Jersey City to film their new spinoff reality show, which debuted last night. Their new neighbors couldn’t help but take notice, which makes sense when you have two young women driving a Hello Kitty Cadillac, walking pastel-dyed dogs, toting around disturbingly lifelike baby dolls, and being followed nonstop by a large television production team. Over the six weeks of filming, freelance reporter and photographer Adam Robb, who has lived in the ‘hood since 2008, evolved from nosy neighbor to amateur paparazzo. Less interested in the boozy partying and intimate (if asinine) gestures the film cameras were guaranteed to capture, Robb found himself tracking the ways in which “life” was constructed and managed for these two young ladies.

Before Snooki and JWOWW signed their lease, 495 Productions signed one down the block at 52 Mercer Street. (Seen here.) In last night’s episode, that townhouse doubled as the first apartment the girls looked at, but in reality it was the crew’s work annex, and the Realtor only walked them through the front door then right back out again. On the last day of filming, five weeks later and after the girls had already moved out, the green doors opened one more time when Snooki and JWOWW knocked to introduce themselves to a “neighbor.”
It wasn’t until the last day of filming that Snooki and JWOWW attempted to make the rounds among their neighbors and introduce themselves as if they had just moved in. Over the course of an hour, the pair knocked on nearly half a dozen doors, getting (at best) mixed responses from retired residents overwhelmed to see more than a dozen cast, crew, and photographers at their doorstep. Most declined to sign releases. After one neighbor (who first refused to answer his door), found his mail slot stuffed with cookies, he came outside and launched into an epic tirade admonishing all involved. After that, the production finally ended up just staging a meet-cute with a crew member back at the production house.
In last night’s episode, Snooki’s mom told her daughter she was worried no one would do the grocery shopping, and she had every reason to be concerned. Not only did the girls make just a single run during their stay, to a financial district gourmet store (a trip briefly previewed last night), it was also the only time Snooki and JWOWW were spotted feeding bottles to the artificial children they were charged with caring for through the final day of filming.
Snooki and JWOWW, like many other reality stars, never had to experience some of the more mundane tasks of living on your own, like taking out the trash and recycling. All the flowers they purchased and all of the boxes from all the birthday presents JWOWW received were tidied up by the crew, who would dump boxes of trash on the curb, regardless of whether it was pickup day. The crew wasn’t so tidy about taking the recycling out of the firehouse, however, and dumped all the cans and bottles out of coolers and on the curb, where it was abandoned until we started taking pictures, prompting a security guard to swoop down to snatch it all back up and take it inside again.
Snooki and JWOWW didn’t spend all their time together, despite “living” in the same apartment. When cameras weren’t rolling, on nights and weekends in particular, a production van would chauffeur the girls to the nearby Newport Westin, which the crew and security team called home. Located just behind Newport Centre Mall, the hotel was also a jumping-off point for Sunday shopping trips down the block, where the duo could spend their rumored $100K per episode at Forever 21 and Frederick’s of Hollywood, and search for tabloid photos of themselves at the CVS magazine rack.
When they weren’t being escorted in production vans, either Snooki (in her Hello Kitty–themed black and pink Escalade) or JWOWW (in one of her two BMWs), would lead the caravan. And from day one of production in Jersey City, whether the girls were apartment hunting, getting their nails done, or dropping off the dogs at day care, the pair almost always illegally parked — in front of hydrants (as seen last night) and no-parking signs — to the dismay of many residents. After weeks of complaints, and after one local cop was caught on-camera talking a parking enforcer out of ticketing JWOWW’s car, summonses were issued and the girls turned to municipal lots around town.
Another change midway through production was the long-awaited appearance of Snooki’s engagement ring. In last night’s episode, the diamond came out of her purse, where it stayed tucked the first two weeks of production, for a cameo. But days before Us Weekly was supposed to break the exclusive of both Snooki’s engagement and pregnancy, Snooki accidentally wore the ring out of the house, making it around the corner before realizing she still had it on. Once she caught herself, security pushed photographers back as JOWOWW gave Snooki cover to slip it off and put it away again. But by then the damage was done, the story was spread within minutes, and the Us Weekly cover only included news of her pregnancy.
Observations From Snooki and JWOWW’s Neighbor