What The Most Memorable Wife Swap Families Are Doing Now

The following article includes mentions of suicide.

Before reality television seemed to exclusively document obscenely wealthy middle-aged women throwing drinks at each other, fans of the genre were hooked on shows based on some rather bizarre premises. Three 20-something women living at what is basically an amusement park and dating the same 80-year-old multimillionaire who exclusively wears pajamas? Undeniably fascinating. A rapper upgrading dilapidated vehicles by installing features absolutely no one needs? Totally addicting. A model screaming at an aspiring model about how much she supports her? Embarrassingly captivating. Reality shows of the mid-aughts remain unmatched, and some of them, including "Wife Swap," aired for years and years after their premieres.

"Wife Swap" boasts one of reality TV's most unique premises. If you're unfamiliar with the show, two families swap wives for a period of two weeks, and the ensuing chaos is filmed. It was popular enough that it got its own spinoff starring famous spouse swappers: "Celebrity Wife Swap."

The original series introduced us to a number of interesting families with unusual traditions. Some of them took up permanent space in our memory banks, leading us to wonder what happened to these unconventional and offbeat "Wife Swap" families after their episodes aired.

King Curtis made some diet changes

A crucial component of the "Wife Swap" formula was to swap wives from families who were diametrically opposed in some aspects of their lives, whether it be belief systems, parenting styles, or socioeconomic statuses. In the "Brown/Holland" episode, the two families had markedly different diets.

While living in the Holland household, Joy Brown worked to make the family healthier, and, as was the case in most "Wife Swap" episodes, her efforts were met with opposition. While she was cleaning out the family's fridge, Curtis Holland, known by his family as "King Curtis," famously told his temporary mother, "Bacon is good for me." His absurd declaration soon became prime meme fodder.

In 2015, "Pretty Little Liars" star Lucy Hale posted a tweet asking for an update on Curtis, and the King himself replied with a video on YouTube. He was naturally sitting on a throne, and he shared that his family had filmed a pilot for an unproduced reality show. He also said that he'd switched from chicken nuggets to chicken strips and was starting a GoFundMe so that he could restore a muscle car. Per Wavywebsurf, Curtis was criticized for asking for money. He apologized in the comments section on YouTube, adding that he was "working on a bacon deal."

Curtis later tried to score some cash to buy a demolition derby car on an episode of "Pawn Stars," but he ended up keeping his antique camera instead of making a "swap" for the $100 he was offered.

The Beaver family became TikTok stars

The Beaver family gained national recognition for their liberal views after appearing on the "Smoak/Beaver" episode of "Wife Swap." The mother, Amy Beaver, caught attention for crying at the sight of a Confederate flag on the Smoaks' porch. She also had horrified reactions to the family's guns and a deer head mounted on the wall. While she was mocked at the time, she and her husband, Jeffrey Beaver, have been lauded for their beliefs by fans who rediscovered the show after Hulu began streaming it.

Their fans are most vocal on the TikTok account of the couple's daughter, Emily Beaver. In Emily's videos, her parents are often featured participating in viral dance challenges and modeling her crocheted tops. As of this writing, she has nearly half a million followers and over 22 million likes total, including over 92,000 on a video of her parents looking like dead ringers for Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin of "Tiger King" fame in their Halloween costumes. In a Q&A video on YouTube, Emily said that the family was "trying to be full-time content creators." 

Amy revealed that she was initially so disliked by some "Wife Swap" viewers that someone threw a deer leg in her family's yard. However, she didn't let the hate sour her experience. "I enjoyed being there. I really bonded with those kids," she said, adding that she still stays in touch with the Smoaks. Quite the feat for two families with such different views.

The Heene family's 'Balloon Boy' hoax

Some of the families featured on "Wife Swap" were more interesting than others. The Heene family, for example, were so fascinating to fans that they were filmed for the show twice, first on the "Heene/Martel" episode, and again on the "Heene/Silver" episode in 2009. The Heenes were described "as alien buffs obsessed with science and UFOs" by the ABC network, according to NBC News.

Months after their second "Wife Swap" episode aired, the Heenes made national headlines. A large balloon they built had floated away, and authorities were led to believe that their son Falcon — who was 6 years old at the time — had been trapped inside and potentially fallen out. But hours later, he was found safe and sound inside the family's home.

As it would turn out, the entire ordeal was a hoax. The Heenes, who were hoping to score their own reality series, had crafted the gripping story to make them more appealing to networks. Parents Richard and Mayumi Heene each served jail time and were ordered to pay $36,000 in restitution, per Deadline

The strange incident came to light again in 2020 when the governor of Colorado pardoned them for their crimes, saying that they'd "paid the price" for their actions. As for Falcon (pictured above), he became known as "Balloon Boy." He and his brothers later started their own heavy metal band and released a song aptly titled "Balloon Boy No Hoax" in 2014.

Justin Starling became a professional motocross racer

Justin Starling took a different approach to extending his 15 minutes of fame than most reality stars. Instead of trying to score appearances on other reality series or turn his social media pages into a source of income, Justin gained notoriety as a motocross competitor. He's been riding since he was young, and his affinity for the sport was a major plotline on his family's 2007 "Wife Swap" episode, "Starling/Sweany-Ernst." It was not well-received by his swapped mother, a "green witch" who said that he and his friends were "desecrating the goddess" by racing motocross bikes around the dirt track his family had built in their backyard.

According to Vital MX, Justin began riding professionally in 2012, and he signed with AJE Motorsports in 2018. In August 2021, he appeared on the "Pulp MX" podcast and said that he was making enough money from his winnings "to get by," even though his top finish in 2020 was 12th place in a Supercross event. He also spoke about "Wife Swap," calling it "scripted" and complaining that the show made him "look kind of bad."  

Justin has an active Instagram account with over 25,000 followers where he posts photos and videos of himself riding motocross bikes. He's also shared photos of himself on a regular bike, soaring through the air in what appears to be tropical terrain. Meanwhile, we're intimidated by Peloton bikes.

The Stockdale family experienced tragedy

After appearing on "Wife Swap," the families on the show have befallen all sorts of misfortune. Divorce, legal trouble, death — they've seen it all. But none have faced quite as tragic a fate as the Stockdale family, profiled on the show's "Stockdale/Tonkovic" episode in 2008. The family was known for their conservative lifestyle and strict adherence to parenting methods many American families would consider extreme, including a complete ban on TV and making the kids earn "chore tokens" just to listen to the radio.

The episode also showed their involvement in a family band, which the mother, Kathy Stockdale, managed. Tragically, in 2017, she and her youngest child, James Stockdale (pictured above right), were shot and killed by her son Jacob Stockdale (pictured above left), per People. Jacob was admitted to the hospital after what police believed to be an attempted suicide.

The story shocked the Stockdales' community. Pastor Steve Todd told Fox 8 after the tragedy, "They have always been the most admired family, from everyone we know loves them and admires them and we have never known anybody that would have said one bad word about any of them."

According to TMZ, Jacob spent time in a mental institution before he went to trial and made two failed attempts to escape the facility in 2019. He later pleaded guilty to two murder charges and "was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison" in 2021, per WHBC

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Laurie Tonkovic spoke out about the Stockdales

After the shocking news about the Stockdale murders began making headlines, media outlets approached those who knew the family to learn more about them, including "Wife Swap" star Laurie Tonkovic, who switched families with Kathy Stockdale on the "Stockdale/Tonkovic" episode. Kathy claimed in the episode that the Tonkovics' "style of living is fruitless," and added, "It's time for the Tonkovics to learn work comes before play."

In the rule change portion of the swap, Laurie allowed the Stockdales to watch cable television and play video games, two amenities their family was not accustomed to. She proclaimed, "I let my kids out there in the world with drugs and sex and whatever," a clear difference from the Stockdales' approach to parenting.

Laurie was bold in her assertions while living with the Stockdale family and bold when asked about their chilling calamity. In an interview with TMZ, she recalled how Jacob Stockdale cried when she allowed the kids to watch television and play video games. He explained his reaction by saying that his parents had told him "he would burn in hell" for doing so. She said of the Stockdale children, "They weren't allowed to make choices. I just think that it caught up to him." She also told "Inside Edition" that she "immediately" knew Jacob was responsible for killing his mother and younger brother when she first heard about their murders. 

Alicia Guastaferro faced legal issues and pursued a music career

In the "Boss/Guastaferro" episode of "Wife Swap," viewers were introduced to Alicia Guastaferro, a 15-year-old beauty queen who described herself by saying, "I definitely think pageants define me as a person. I don't care what other people say, appearance is everything in this world." After her episode aired, Alicia sued Disney and ABC for $100 million, claiming the producers purposely made her appear spoiled and bratty, per Daily News. The lawsuit was later settled for an undisclosed sum.

That was not the end of Alicia's legal issues, though. In 2012, she faced a prostitution charge, per CBS News. After she and an attorney were arrested at a travel center in New York, she told police that her companion had paid her up to $700 for sex on multiple occasions, according to the Associated Press (via the Hartford Courant). The charge was dropped, but she still faced a misdemeanor drug possession charge. It's unclear what, if any, penalties she faced for it.

After seemingly putting her legal issues behind her, Alicia became Instagram famous. As of this writing, the former pageant star has over 178,000 followers on the photo-sharing platform, and, according to her bio, she's a "Hip-Hop/Pop Artist." If you are curious, bored, or looking for some amusement, you can check out some of her tunes, which include "Pretty Girl" and "It's Little But It Jiggles." She can also be found on TikTok, where she has over 49,000 followers.

Buzz Blackburn started doing voiceover work

Reality television can be a great platform for people looking to sell their products and services, whether they're promoting unpurchasable toaster ovens like Sonja Morgan or literally everything else that can possibly be sold like the Kardashians. After appearing in the "Johnson/Blackburn" episode of "Wife Swap" in 2005, Buzz Blackburn, known then as Tony, started selling his voice and became an accomplished voiceover actor.

Buzz confirmed his appearance on "Wife Swap" via Twitter after a fan mentioned him in a tweet expressing happiness over how well he seemed to be doing after the show. Viewers might remember his reluctance to participate in the fitness "boot camp" devised by his temporary mom, Lin Johnson. 

A link in Buzz's Twitter bio leads to his website where his demos, portfolio, and testimonials can be found. Buzz's bio reads, "His natural voice quality is described as robust, energetic, engaging, charismatic, a good bit of grit or extreme attitude ... Whether it's a Cowboy, Butler, Wizard, Monster, General, Grunt, Beast, Robot, or Mob Boss you need, Buzz can do it." He also fronts a "party band" and has worked in radio, winning the "Radio DJ of the Year" award at the Tennessee Music Awards in 2018. Buzz even has his own IMDb page, with credits as both an actor and a composer.

Although it's unclear whether he actually used "Wife Swap" to leverage a career, we are happy to see he's doing well.