The Slap Heard 'Round The World

In 1998, MTV shot the seventh season of The Real World here in Seattle. The cast lived at the end of Pier 70 down on the waterfront. The address is 2815 Alaskan Way.

Their old residence is now an upscale restaurant called Aqua by El Gaucho. 

Photo Courtesy of El Gaucho
One unique thing about the Seattle cast is that two roommates knew each other before filming. It's the only time that's happened. Roommates David and Nathan were both cadets at the Virginia Military Institute, which is why they say "This is the true story of seven people" instead of "seven strangers" in the opening sequence. The cast worked as "modulators" at KNDD FM, our alternative rock station. The station is at 1100 Olive Way, right next to I-5. 

KNDD Modulators walk and ride bikes around the city handing out stickers and promoting concerts and things. The city wasn't thrilled about the cast being here. Filming was quite the spectacle. No less than six people followed the cast wherever they went. Two, sometimes three cameras with huge bright lights. Along with a boom and various producers and assistants. The Roanoke Tavern at 2409 10th Ave. East on Capitol Hill sold shirts that said "Seattle Says: The Real World Sucks." 

Photo Courtesy of

The rest of the cast was:
Janet: Korean-American who was a junior at Northwestern University with a double major in Broadcast Journalism and International Studies before filming began.
Rebecca: Aspiring singer who got to record a song with Sir Mix-a-Lot during her time in Seattle.
Lindsay: Aspen, Colorado radio show personality. During the season, she learned that a friend committed suicide. The cast later made a video for a national anti-suicide campaign.
Stephen: Business major with a minor in African-American studies at UC Berkeley. During the show, he made a number of homophobic comments.
Irene: Student at Georgetown University who also had Lyme disease. She eventually leaves the show due to her illness. Her departure scene is one of the most infamous moments in Real World history.

Stephen and Irene were at odds from the day they moved in. Stephen was moody, judgmental, and was constantly degrading homosexuals. He seemed to hate being in gay friendly Seattle. They fought about everything and had opposite opinions on almost any subject. The day Irene told the roommates she was going home, Stephen took it upon himself to send her out with a bang. After Irene packed her bags and said her goodbyes, she walked out the front door with Stephen tailing her. What happened next is still hard to believe.

“A marriage between you and I would never work,” Irene awkwardly giggled. “You know that, because you’re a homosexual, Stephen.”

He replied, “You think I’m a homo? HAHAHA. Well, you’re a bitch.” After making masturbatory hand motions in front of his crotch, he went inside to get Irene's stuffed teddy-bear, which he’d stolen and hidden from her while she was packing.

Then, with no provocation, (unless you count the homosexual comment) Stephen threw the teddy-bear into Puget Sound. Irene got in her friend's car.

So, Stephen ran up to the car as it pulled away, tapping the back fender to get the driver to stop. He then opened the passenger door, and slapped Irene in the face. 

The scene today
The best way to prove your heterosexuality is to slap a woman, amiright? The cast was shown the video of the slap, and were of course appalled. They were given the option to evict Stephen from the house, but after some deliberation, they agreed to allow him to stay, provided he attended an anger management class.

After filming, Stephen was arrested in 2001 for soliciting a male undercover cop, and again in 2002 for stealing a car. At the 2008 Real World Awards Bash, he announced that he was gay, and engaged to his male partner, Sheldon. He also stated that he apologized to Irene, and had rekindled his friendship with her, but Nathan adamantly refuted this, saying Stephen, "has never apologized." 

Irene earned a masters degree in Broadcast and Communications from San Francisco State University. In 2006 she won the "Pubbie" Award for Best Bay Area Podcast by the San Francisco Publicity Club. She tours colleges to speak about media manipulation and reality television. She's appeared on VH1 and  E! and was involved with a documentary about Lyme Disease, Under Our Skin: The Untold Story of Lyme Disease.