Saturday, March 12, 2011

GenBlog 6: (Finally)... The Rest Of The Story

Okay, I'm as weary of getting through this tale as anybody else, so we're at last wrapping it up here and now. You've already read about how we were selected, the Coop Board approval process, our prep, and day one, Jan. 10. I promise, this is it... the rest of the story. It's time to move on with life.

TUESDAY, JAN. 11... DAY TWO
With a living room full of "Dear Genevieve" staffers, including producers, assistants, three construction crew hotties, a cameraman, lighting, sound and Gen's make-up man, we were enjoying delicious chaos on day two of our bedroom makeover.

Once Genevieve arrived, we were told that we were filming the "before" shots in the bedroom and while it was Tuesday, everyone was to switch back into their Monday outfits for continuity. Funny, now when I observe the show, I look precisely the same, but from frame to frame, you see Ayhan in a black t-shirt under his sweater, then a white t-shirt, and back and forth.

Because our particular episode was being sponsored by IKEA, we had a problem with our wardrobe in the bedroom, which, after nearly a decade, was barely standing. The design crew insisted on taking off the mirror doors so that it would not appear as if IKEA merch was crap... so in the show, our room looks overtly ghetto. In addition, everything was taken off the walls because of licensing issues, again making the room look all the more bare. Truly, our before shots look as if we lived in a hovel.

The shoot was great fun. I said, "We call this the presidential suite, because it's like Grant's tomb, dark and small." Sure enough, it's a line I came up with during our audition that I thought was delicious enough to repeat. It made the show.

Gen then looked behind our biggest design challenge: a giant drape behind the bed that was hiding a horrible open doorway that was drywalled on the other side. Sadly, it had been our dirty secret for five years. "We could make a great scarf for you," I said. Gen giggled: "Oh, for many, many yards."

She then told us, "This is a puzzle. I'm really excited by this because we're working with old architecture. Storage is the huge problem. We're going to rip her up and build her from scratch without taking away all of her history."

At that point, the construction crew emptied out the majority of the room, so that it now looked like a shell of a slum, instead of a decorated slum. Everything was moved into the living room, packed to the point that there were tiny aisles in which to navigate through. Chaos... but all for greater good.

That same day, we filmed her design plan sitting in our colorful office area—changing clothes so that it became another day. She showed us images on an iPad, while I bitched that I hate beige. Her response: "Everybody needs balance. You have bright yellow and bright green; I need to bring a little bit of neutral in your life."

In the show, there is the insinuation that she showed us the beautiful chandelier that would become a centerpiece of the room. That's not actually the case... which is my best explanation for why, during the reveal, I screamed like a girl when I saw the new lighting. It is the one moment in the show that I loathe, actually. Way gay. Just too flamboyant for my tastes.

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 12, DAY THREE...
Snow! Mother fucker, this season just won't cut us a break. The day was a big messy cacophony of winter weather. Genevieve never shows. The construction crew rolls out the carpet, tears out the well-worn moldings and strips the room to bare bones.

We're allowed to take a peak—and actually see the hardwood floors underneath the ghastly dark green carpet for the first time ever. You can tell that they were once beautiful: dark walnut strips, but sadly there are holes and wear along the edges, proving that there's no saving it, even if we wanted.

We have a good time with foreman Jimmy, cute as all get out, and Mike, hot as a bonfire. They're gracious and friendly. And we're enjoying the fact that not only is our room on its way to reconstruction, but there are beautiful boys in our midst. Slight swoon.

The down side: We had been told that Genevieve wanted to take us on a shopping trip to the Bronx today. It didn't happen. We'll never know what we were supposed to see: the door that became our headboard? The chandelier? It will forever be a damn mystery.

THURSDAY, JAN. 13, DAY FOUR...
Horrible insomnia leading up to this morning. I slept restlessly on the sofa in the living room with Abby & Spencer, while Ayhan slumbered on the mini leather sofa in the office We considered pulling out the living room sofa-bed, but with so much equipment stored in the room, that was about as realistic as living on the set of "Dynasty." Not going to happen.

At 1:15 a.m., I woke up, my head filled with possibilities about the ongoing makeover. I played and replayed various scenarios until nearly 4 a.m., and finally forced my head into inertia. At 7:30, I was up, poured coffee down my throat, walked Abby & Spencer... and waited.

Meanwhile, Genevieve and company were shopping at IKEA in Red Hook before the store opened, which is a grand segment on the show as they shop for the bed, mattress and our stunning wardrobe.

She and the design team arrived late morning, and we filmed a segment on the roof of our building, talking about the beautiful view of the Statue of Liberty and the expanse of Brooklyn. On the elevator ride back down, I asked her if we could keep hot construction worker Mike as a permanent accessory in our bedroom. She giggled.We then filmed a sneak peak of the room with Genevieve, revealing beautiful, majestic new moldings, doors on the closet and entrance. In the show, a careful eye might note that the order is misleading; it appears as if these scenes were filmed on different days, probably to fill in the fact that Wednesday was more or less a lost day...

I follow the crew outside and watch Genevieve film what will be the opening segment of our episode, as she walks down the Brooklyn Heights Promenade in the snow. One of the things I admire most about her is that not a single word of her show is scripted; all off the cuff. She's truly a pro. One always wonders about any "reality" show... just how much is pre-determined, what's written out before-hand and after editing, whether it truly reflects any modicum of what actually went down. With few exceptions—none of which were deceptive—the show was an absolute ace.From that point on, the crew hung a door frame outside of the bedroom that prevented us from seeing what was going on inside. Ayhan tried his best to gain a peak that night, but was locked out. I had no intention of seeing what was going on. I wanted the total element of surprise.

Late Thursday afternoon, discussions ensued between the producers that because we lost much of Wednesday, it was looking as if the team wasn't going to be able to complete the makeover by Friday afternoon. They asked if we were okay with extending the reveal to Monday. My response: "You better believe it. The last thing we want to do is rush this great gift."

FRIDAY, Jan. 14, DAY FIVE...
Work continued on the bedroom at a furious pace. In the show, you see Genevieve commenting on the headboard with her team—which actually occurred on Thursday. As well, there are scenes from our first walk-through the day before that were filmed when we weren't actually in the room. All very cleverly edited. Gen stopped in to film one scene, as Ayhan and I are sitting amid the mayhem of our packed living room, asking how we're feeling.

She says, "I wanted to check in and see how you're doing. Your whole world has been turned upside down (with) our junk everywhere. Ayhan comments that we're not suffering as we wait for the final results, and i add, "It's short-term pain for the ultimate sweepstakes." Gen responds, "That's a great way of putting it," then suggests that we indulge in Friday happy hour and escape the madness.MONDAY, Jan. 17... The Reveal!
After previously renovating our apartment's kitchen, bathroom, hallway and office, I recognize that a weekend living amid continuing chaos is not going to kill us—as opposed to three months with each previous renovation.

Unfortunately, we are now in the same position that we began with Monday: As the construction team is putting finishing touches on our bedroom, Genevieve and her designers are already on site for the following week's episode, somewhere in New Jersey.

We started the day in the very position we began this process with: As the team worked to put the finishing touches on our bedroom, Gen and team had already begun working on the next episode somewhere in New Jersey. She shows up mid-afternoon, and we are ushered out of the apartment as she dresses the room and films sequences about how she spun her magic in the space.

Ayhan and I go to a restaurant and meet up with pals Suzanne and her man Ralph, and Leonard, and drink wine... Three hours later, we are called back to the apartment—not for the reveal, but to film our expectations on the roof. (None of this footage was used in the show.) We're then tossed back on the street for another 90 minutes (yes, thankfully, I was wise enough to switch to water), before we at last get the call... It's time!!

The rest is for you cool cats to see for yourself. Standing outside the door, I teared up and announced that I was "crying before I've even seen the room." Genevieve's signature laugh and "We love you, Chuck," with a hug, is a wondrous accompaniment to my queeny moment here. She then says, "Ready to see your lady, grand dame of 1870 meets today" and... psyche! They had to move the camera crew into the bedroom, instruct us to walk into the room and walk to the right...

We enter the room, Ayhan first, who says, "Oh, my god, look at that." I exclaim, "No way!" and the rest just warms my heart... a sincere overwhelmed reaction to the headboard, the moldings, the wardrobe, the dresser, the doors, the way she wrapped industrial rope around the heat riser as an art element, the mirrors, the lush bedding... I wave my hands and say, "It's not beige!" Instead, it's a beautiful creamy celery...Then Genevieve joins us and Ayhan says, "This is like walking into a hotel room. All you want to do is sleep." She laughs. I say, "This is crazy BLEEP," and she bends over and guffaws, putting her hands over her mouth.

She tells us about the 125-year-old headboard, and I continue, "You took all of the moldings, and you made this into a grand entrance-way into tranquility and serenity." Gen responds, "Oh, keep going. I love the way you're painting this."

And then comes the horrifying moment where I at last see the chandelier, and scream like a big nelly, frightening Ayhan, no doubt, and add, "This is our superstar Genevieve chandelier and—in my fave moment of the show, she grabs me and kisses my face—saying, "It was so much fun making this for you."

In the final moments, she adds, "You're a beautiful couple, so you deserved just that. Enjoy, enjoy. Love you guys."

The show ends with a beautiful shot of a photo Gen placed on one of the side tables of Ayhan and my wedding ceremony in Vermont in 2002.SATURDAY, March 12
You know, the room still feels a little odd. Imagine renovating a 
space in your home, where you see every variable evolve day by day. That's normal. Having a makeover where a primary room is suddenly brand new remains strange.

In the two months since Genevieve made over our bedroom, we have left 99% of her effects in place.
We've filled the wardrobe with our clothes, in meticulously organized fashion, while the books she placed for impact remain. We added a telephone, alarm clock, a trashcan, but otherwise, our homage to Genevieve has not been touched. And why would we?So many have asked, are you happy with the room? Is it as beautiful as it looked on TV? Was it just good television or is it really practical? Oh, what an easy answer. The experience was a once-in-a-lifetime boon. Genevieve was the goods, 100%. Our memories are so positive. And our new sanctuary is utterly spectacular. Bar none, it is absolutely one of the greatest gifts of a life that has been blessed with many rewards.Yes, indeed, we won the lottery. Every night I open the door to the bedroom and gasp. It is an experience I will treasure forever.