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Guerilla Arts Ink | Imitation of Life on 106th & Park


Imitation of Life on 106th & Park

Imitation of Life on 106th & Park

By Gabriel Benn

As an end of summer reward, I promised my students a trip to NYC for a taping of BET’s 106th and Park. They had a long, rigorous summer, and certainly deserved it. So I chartered a bus, and with about 25 of our SHARPest students and maybe 10 or so chaperones (teachers, family members, etc.) we made our way up to New York City. The bus ride up went rather smoothly, the only problem was that we got to the 1pm taping about 20 minutes too late. Not to be discouraged, we proceeded on over to Times Square, where I called in a favor from a friend to host us at Planet Hollywood for lunch. (Thanks Ayanna!). Another good friend and overall NYC tour guide, Slim Pickens, arranged for us to stay longer and take part in the 4pm taping of the show, which actually worked out better because it was a live taping.

As the students walked into Planet Hollywood, the students were amazed by the movie memorabilia that lined the walls, as they were escorted upstairs to the dining area, where they were given their choice of lunch options. The waitress came over to the table, greeted the students, then asked casually, “Where are you guys from?” Damn near all of the students, spread across three dining tables, gave a resounding answer: “SOUFEAST!!” Not “Southeast, DC”, not even “DC”… Indeed, SOUFEAST is a planet unto itself, and the residents have a pride and attachment to it rivaled (maybe) only by those who live in another coveted part of a major city: Brooklyn.

How could I forget 106th & Park?? We finally get there to the show taping, go through the prep process that all audience members go through, and then our students were led into the actual studio where the show would take place. Out comes the show’s co-hosts, Terrance and Rocsi, and the topic of the show was body image issues and how to deal with them. After a few guests and specialists appear to talk about body image and the pressures of looking a certain way in the media business, Rocsi has makes a tearful confession about how the pressures to control her weight at an early age caused her to make some risky decisions that were bad for her health, and without intervention could have proven fatal.

There was a hush that fell over the entire the studio; everyone was shocked that the usually jovial co-host was having a moment of painful reflection before the whole world on live TV. In the midst of this silence, one of our students yells out, “It’s alright Rocsi, you still look good to me giirrrrlllll….”

Now, if you have ever been to a live taping of a TV show, you know that outbursts of this kind are not welcomed. In fact, as they told us in the prep room, actions like these will get you put out of the TV studio. The stage producer and a few other staffers looked around in shock and awe, and Rocsi and Terrance kept going like nothing happened. If you watched the actual show when it aired, it was also edited like nothing out-of-the-ordinary happened. But we were there, and it was HILARIOUS. The student didn’t mean any harm, he saw one of his favorite celebrities in a vulnerable moment, and wanted to give some words of encouragement, however ill-timed those words came out. In keeping with the theme of the episode, nobody’s perfect — we are all works in progress. LOL