Photo: Vulture Illustration and Photo Courtesy of Seaside Realty NJ
All week long, Vulture explores what happens to reality TV contestants after the show ends, and the future of the genre itself.
Just because Jersey Shore went off the air in 2012 doesn’t mean the party’s over in the state’s cozy Seaside Heights borough. Life goes on at 1209 Ocean Terrace, where you can find the house that brought the Situation, Snooki, and the gang into our lives, virtually unchanged since the guidos and guidettes moved out. And if you can swing the rental fee of $1,200 per night, you can stay in the six-bed, three-bathroom domicile, courtesy of Seaside Realty.
Mike Loundy, the owner of Seaside Realty, was responsible for getting the house on the air in the first place. MTV has worked with Loundy in the past for their MTV Beach House series and approached him about finding a six-bed house somewhere in the vicinity. They landed on 1209 Ocean, a property owned by brothers Paul and Danny Merk, the latter of whom also owns the adjacent Shore Store where the cast worked, with varying degrees of competency. Once filming wrapped, the Merks decided to move back in and remodel, but Loundy convinced them they were missing out on a cash cow. “They painted the walls, moved the furniture out,” says Loundy, who helped the Merks buy the place about 15 years ago. “We were horrified because we knew we would be able to do some tours and use it as a [vacation] rental.” Luckily, they didn’t throw out all the décor or repaint a wall in the kitchen area that the cast had autographed, in spray paint, so Loundy was able to get everything back to looking like it did when the show filmed, including the duck phone and red beanbag chair (the upper deck with the hot tub is also still there, but off-limits, as it was a temporary structural approval by the municipality).
When the house first went on the market post–Jersey Shore, Seaside Realty had no problem renting it at $5,000 a night. Since then, the number has dropped precipitously. “We were getting as much as $3,500 a night about 18 months ago, and presently we’re renting it at $1,200 a night,” Loundy says. “It doesn’t seem like a big number compared to our original $5,000, but it’s still a really big number compared to the other rentals around here in Seaside Heights.”
When it comes to guests, Loundy won’t name names, but he boasts of his diverse bookings. “We had some pro football players in there last week from one of the New York teams,” he says. “We had people having 50th-birthday parties, wedding parties. You wouldn’t imagine people in their 40s and 50s and even 30s would want to have their party in that house.” As far as the hard partying goes, he says the trouble and damages aren’t any different from what happens at any other rental property. If they know there’s going to be a big blowout, like a radio station’s recent promotional shindig, Seaside Realty will hire police officers to monitor the, ahem, situation.
Outside of repping the house, Loundy still holds deep affection for Jersey Shore. One of his daughters worked on the show as a production assistant and he credits the series with putting Seaside Heights on the international map. After the first season, the tourism-reliant town and many of its businesses saw a 20 percent increase in revenue. MTV helped out by adding Exit 82 – the Garden State Parkway egress to get to Seaside Heights – to the green-screen background in the house’s confessional room so more people could easily find the town. Seaside Heights’ official website is now Exit82.com.
As for the complaints that Jersey Shore perpetuated negative stereotypes about Italian-Americans and residents of the Garden State? Loundy doesn’t buy it, considering how much the show helped out the place that four generations of his family call home. “I don’t know how bad it can be when hundreds of millions of people hear about your town that never would have known about it before.”
Flip through our selection of reality TV abodes now available to rent, from $150 a room to upwards of $60,000 a month.