The Untold Truth Of Bad Girls Club

You've at least heard of Bad Girls Club, right? It's a reality series on Oxygen that's getting ready to air its 17th season, created by Jonathan Murray. He's a co-creator of The Real World, so he's kind of reality TV royalty.

Bad Girls Club Season 1 aired in 2006, so this has been going on for over a decade. The format is seven "bad girls" living in a house together — and of course, wacky awfulness ensues. They fight, they gossip, they talk a lot of smack. And people, as it turns out, love it. I couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to actually live in that house... so I started digging. Believe it or not, it was surprisingly hard to turn up any credible information.

That is, until I was lucky enough to find Lauren Spears, 'The Southern Spitfire' of Season 6, on Twitter. I sent her a direct message, and she was generously forthcoming in her subsequent responses. So, I bring you, the untold truth of Bad Girls Club, as told to me by a former Bad Girl.

The audition process is crazy

My first question to Lauren was what else they asked her to do during the audition — that we can't see on the video that's online. She said, "Haha oh lord. Everything under the sun. Those people know me better than my parents."

She went on to say the published audition tapes were mere minutes out of about six hours of the first audition. They asked questions about the girls' pet peeves, the type of girl they hate the most (so they could be sure to cast some automatic enemies, obviously) and that the entire audition process was about three months long.

The structure of the show is that seven girls start out, and if a girl leaves or gets kicked out, an alternate replaces her. When Oxygen finally called Lauren with results, they asked if she thought she was going to be part of the cast or if she would be an alternate. She replied, in true Bad Girl form, that if they called her to say she was an alternate, they could go ahead and ask someone else. They told her she was part of the cast, and they'd see her in two days. So, she had a big going away party and left for LA, which was the location of Season 6.

Incidentally, Lauren first saw the show when she was 17, and told her mom she was going to be on the show someday. When she was 21, she auditioned on a lark and actually made it. So see, dreams do come true.

When they arrive in their destination city, they are totally isolated

Lauren got to LA, checked into the hotel, and was told not to go out. She did anyway, because she had friends in LA (and she's a 'bad girl,' right?). She went to a club, lost her phone, and because the producers had only booked hotel rooms for a day at a time (they didn't know the specific move-in date), she got kicked out of her hotel every day for about four days and had to call the producers from the lobby.

When they asked her why she didn't follow instructions, she said "Do you know what show you're working on?" They told her again not to go out, and since her cell phone was gone and the producers took the phone out of her room, she was stuck. Additionally, the hotel had no bar or common area to meet people, so Lauren was on her own. She said Season 5 was airing at the time, so she just chilled in her hotel room and watched it. Sounds like good research, if you ask me.

Moving into the house is exciting

In Season 6, the Bad Girls Club moved back to Los Angeles after a season in Miami. The house in Sherman Oaks, California, was huge, and they had the Bad Girls creed printed on the wall, along with reviews of the show, to enforce the idea that the girls are celebrities. There was even a Hollywood-style sign out back to remind them of the stars they were. Not long after Lauren arrived from her home in Lexington, Kentucky, she moved into the house with other girls from her season.

Even mansions have limited bedrooms, and with seven girls, you know someone will have to share a room. Especially when there are beer pong tables, pool tables, a hot tub room and a dressing room for maximum hang out time. They need these places to tear each other's hair out, right?

The producers don't force the girls to fight, but they don't discourage it either

Lauren said the producers don't actually encourage the fights, but they certainly want drama — that's why they cast girls who have traits other girls have said they hate. They also make sure all their participants have plenty of triggers and aren't afraid to throw down.

Lauren actually got into a fight with Jessica, a girl from Chicago, on the first night, but because of the booze, didn't remember it. Producer involvement in these types of things surely varies by season, but Lauren said the producers did intervene one time during her time in the house. Jennifer was planning on leaving in the middle of the night, and the producers told the rest of the girls about it and said "Do what you want with it." Lauren determined they wanted the girls to cause a scene, and the girls were happy to comply. And, of course, it was all on camera.

There are cameras everywhere

There are scenes every season when the Bad Girls go out to party. It turns out, they have a book with a list of the places they can go — and they can only go to those places. That's because the group is followed by a camera crew 24/7, and there are also little cameras placed all over the house. Some music venues and bars don't want a full camera crew in their establishment, so the Bad Girls can only go to places that have already approved it.

I asked Lauren how it felt to be filmed all the time and she said "I was wildly okay with it. I would wake up with a camera in my face and it was normal. It got to the point where if we were about to gossip, we'd go, 'I'm about to say something super important' and we'd hear feet coming up the stairs to film. That way we wouldn't have to repeat ourselves once they got there."

She says there were small cameras in every part of the house and there were people with big cameras always around. Upon watching, I did notice that people who came into the house to visit were also miked, and that, no matter what a Bad Girl was wearing, she always had a portable microphone strapped to her. Nothing is a secret when you live in the Bad Girl house.

Not everything is free

Fans of reality shows like Bad Girls Club often wonder if everything is free while they're filming, so I took the opportunity to find out. According to Lauren, the girls get a weekly stipend, and the house is stocked with certain items. Bar tabs were mostly comped, as well as weekends away (in Season 6 the girls go to San Francisco and Mexico).

She said "If it was a random lunch on a Tuesday, we would pay." There is one scene in Season 6 where the girls go through a fast food drive-through after a club night, and Kori uses another girl's card to pay for everyone's food. That caused drama — because practically everything that happens causes some sort of drama. What else do you expect when you put seven young girls in a house together?

Also, the girls are in charge of keeping the house clean. That's right, aspiring Bad Girls, there are no housekeepers. Since domestic chores are NOT a big priority to the girls, the house gets pretty gross. Still dream of living in that house?

The editors are pretty heavy-handed

When you watch Bad Girls Club, you're treated to the story as it unfolds, interspersed with mini interviews with the girls to editorialize the events that occur. Traditional reality TV, sure, but when you screen a season, the editing and the story line don't always mesh.

I asked Lauren if she was surprised by some of the edits in her season, and she said she was. She said, "It was usually things like when someone would call someone a b****, and the camera would cut to a certain girl, but maybe they weren't talking about her. That was confusing."

Unpartial journalism, it is not.

Brand placement is important

Obviously, since lots of people watch the show, certain brands want to be featured. The refrigerator at the house will be stocked with foods and drinks that are branded, and that's because the brand wants exposure. It makes sense, and it happens all the time. If you think about movies, you see brand placement all the time. Heck, The Goonies had two Pepsi placements in the first 10 minutes.

The funny thing is that if the girls brought in a drink or food that sported a non-approved brand, they had to put tape over the logo or label so the cameras wouldn't pick up an errant brand choice. I guess that makes sense. They don't want to get sued, and they don't want to give free advertising to someone who hasn't shelled out.

Some of the girls do keep in touch

In Season 6, Lauren hangs around with another Bad Girl named Nikki. Though they go through some ups and downs throughout the season, they are more consistent than any other friendship. At one point, Lauren states that she usually goes out trolling for boys, but that she enjoys hanging out with Nikki, who is "totally her boyfriend." Which, I guess, is Bad Girls speak for "I don't make female friends often but I like and trust this person."

I asked Lauren if she kept in touch with any girls from her season and she said she and Nikki talk all the time, she's cool with Sydney and Kori, and that Jessica "has LITERALLY disappeared."

Bad Girls get good opportunities

Since her season wrapped, Lauren has moved to Los Angeles and works as a casting assistant at NBC Universal. Right after her season aired, she represented several brands and got to do some traveling.

Some girls have gone on to do more reality TV, and there have been spin-offs of the show itself. Season 8 star Gabi will appear on Marriage Bootcamp, and famous BG Natalie Nunn appeared on The Mother Daughter Experiment.

No matter what you think of the show, you can't deny these brazen, outrageous girls hold a lot of appeal for a lot of viewers. And, maybe it's good to have a show where girls can be bad so the rest of us don't have to.

A special thanks to Lauren Spears for being a totally awesome interviewee.