You’ve watched Sammi “Sweetheart” Giancola drink, fist-pump and be merry (okay, and sometimes be really, really miserable -- but at least her on-and-off romance with fellow castmate Ronnie makes for some pretty awesome reality television) on MTV’s smash reality show “Jersey Shore” for four wildly popular seasons. An amazing-looking Season 5, which finds the cast returning to the Shore after a season in Italy, premieres January 5th. Do you die?
On a sunny, not-too-cold morning in December, the xoJane team (me, Julie, Olivia) along with brilliant photographer Lee Clower and hair and makeup artist Shannon Grey Williams of Ford Artists met at the crack of dawn (fine, it was 7:20 AM!) in front of my apartment building in Manhattan, where we piled into a van (we took a limo back; swag) and drove an hour and a half to the ocean. Beach day! We were thrilled.
Yup, Sammi lives right on the water in the Jersey Shore, in a lovely apartment complex, and in an even lovelier apartment. She even let us take pictures -- check 'em out in the interview below.
Of course, I demanded that the shoot be out on the beach, even though Sammi was worried it would be cold. It wasn’t. Besides, the coffee that Sammi’s awesome mom brought to the shoot (a Dunkin’ Donuts Box O’Joe -- is there anything better? -- along with a zillion delicious bagels) kept us warm throughout the “winter beach” shoot -- inspired by these photographs of Marilyn Monroe by George Barris -- that I kept insisting on.
Amazingly, Sammi doesn’t own a chunky sweater like we’d counted on, but her mom was wearing the perfect one. So we made her take it off and hand it over.
Sammi greeted us with the wavy hair that you see here -- though she prefers to wear it straight. Actually, that’s an understatement: Sammi is “obsessed” with straightening her hair -- blow drying it, and using a flatiron. "I always straighten my hair," said Sammi. "I’m obsessed with straight hair!" Someone give this girl a flat iron endorsement deal!
She was also wearing black eyeliner at 9:30 am. My kind of woman, to be sure -- but I immediately asked Shannon, our makeup artist, to make sure all of it got taken off. Sammi couldn’t have been nicer or more compliant, FYI. We loved her.
Sammi explained her makeup routine on a typical night out: Foundation, concealer, “lots” of bronzer, (she likes Motives Blush Bronzer Duo for that signature Jersey Shore glow), loads of eyeliner, eye shadow, fake eye lashes, and “always” lip gloss.
Plus, she always shampoos her hair and extensions (more about those in the interview below). Then: "I blow it out and then flat iron and then I tease it so I have some volume," said Sammi. "I don’t even need hair spray."
Total prep time? “Two hours,” says Sammi. "I'm the slowest in the house to get ready." Wow -- that's saying a lot, people.
Shannon Grey Williams of Ford Artists did both the hair and makeup for Sammi’s Makeunder. She started with our subject’s fresh-out-of-bed hair, which was gorgeously imperfect (for once). “Sammi has a great natural wave and bend to her hair” -- it’s what she’s always flat-ironing out of it -- “so I just tousled it and put a little (1) Aveda Pure Abundance Potion in it to give it lift at the roots, and to give the wave definition,” says Shannon.
On to makeup! Sammi had gorgeous, clear skin (and a great base tan, natch). To even out and highlight her skin tone, Shannon used (2) Dior SkinFlash Radiance Booster Pen in lieu of concealer and foundation, “especially across her eyelids and across the cheekbones to do a little bit of highlight.”
Shannon then used a natural look must-have item -- (3) Benefit Benetint—to enhance Sammi’s already lovely flush. “It's something you can use on both cheeks and lips, a sheer natural color,” explains Shannon.
Sammi had good brows to begin with; Shannon used (4) Dior Powder Eyebrow Pencil in Sand to make them perfect and highlight their natural shape. “She just had a few spaces that needed to be filled in,” says Shannon. “This soft pencil is so quick and super-easy.”
Shannon finished off with just the tiniest hint of eye makeup: (5) Maybelline Lash Stiletto Mascara in Very Black. “It adds length as well as thickness,” she says. “All you need it one quick coat.”
TOTAL TIME FOR MAKEUNDER: Literally 5 minutes. I timed it. I'm dead serious.
CAT: How’s it going? Are you excited about the premier of the new season [January 5th, 2012 on MTV]?
SAMMI: Yes and no, I’m always nervous when a new season comes out because you never know what to expect, but I’m really excited. We literally went from Italy to seaside. We’ve been together for a long time so we’re extremely comfortable with each other.
Who are you closest with?
Deena. Deena’s actually my best friend on the show and outside of the show, we hang out all the time, we talk all the time.
I love her.
She balances me out. She’s loud, crazy and extremely positive and fun and I’m more calm and collected so we kinda balance each other out.
Who do you have the most beef with?
Probably Mike because I just don’t get along with him at all; he’s crazy.
Do you think he does that stuff for attention? Do you think it’s calculated?
Mike's the troublemaker in the house and I think he loves it. He loves to stir up the drama, that’s just who he is. He’s a part of my family, he’ll always be a part of my family...but he’s like that brother that you just never really wanted.
It’s so funny. At least he kind of punishes himself for it -- like when he slammed his head into the wall.
Yeah, I think he does it to himself. I think he can be a good person, he just acts out of control and makes people like "Woah; what’s going on?" I don’t know why he likes to stir up trouble or drama, but I think he can be a nice cool person. But he just doesn’t act that way.
I personally think he fits the profile of a pathological narcissist. He’s crazy! Anyway. What's the status of your relationship with Ronnie?
Right now I’m single. Ronnie’s cool. We’re really good friends, I’ll always love him, but I’m working on myself and my career and doing what’s best for me.
So did you sort of get back together with him in this upcoming season?
Well, in Italy the relationship was really, really good and we went right from Italy to Seaside, and in Seaside we had another amazing time in our relationship. So you’re not gonna see too much drama with the relationship because there barely was any.
I think what people really relate to with you are the moments where you relate to what it's like being in a relationship -- those sick feelings you get, like in Italy when there was potentially another girl coming... That dread. You know? [Ed. note: Cat has not been in many healthy relationships!]
You know what? I’ve been through a lot in my life and I think that we’re under different circumstances that not everyone really understands and things happen. But he’s one of my best friends, and on the show we live together. Imagine living with an ex-boyfriend or an ex-girlfriend. It’s just difficult. He’s really a great guy and we’re friends to this day, we’re like family so I can’t say anything bad about him.
I wanna go back to Mike for a second. Do you know anything about how Snookie said he has no money?
I have no idea what even goes on with the Nicole and Mike drama. For some reason, I don’t know, I feel like something did happen between them. Nobody knows because they have their own issues and beef with each other in Italy and that definitely falls out and carries over in Seaside, so I mean, I don’t know what really went on with them but they used to be best friends and when we go back to Seaside it’s just madness.
I mean, what do you think happened with that whole incident? What’s the general consensus?
No one in the house knows.
I thought it was like a blowjob situation with another girl in the room.
That’s what Mike was saying, but Mike is a troublemaker. He’s been a troublemaker with me before, and other people in the house and now he’s doing it to Nicole, so I don’t know what’s true. I feel like something might have happened; I don’t know what, maybe they were just hanging out. I’ll never know, only Mike and Nicole know.
Does Mike ever have girlfriends?
He brings home random grenades a lot, but I’ve never seen him with a steady girlfriend.
I love the twins. The blondes.
Those girls were legit insane.
Do you know anything about Nicole and Jionni’s relationship? Are they still together?
As far as I know, they’re still together. I like Jionni; he’s a nice guy. I mean I don’t really know him, but I like him.
What about JWOWW and her boyfriend?
I think they’re still together and we love Roger. He’s great.
And I love her.
What’s cool is that the girls really get along, so we’re kind of like a girl pack and everybody likes each other so there’s no more issues with the girls.
Does the house get really, really dirty?
Okay let me ask you a question. How much drug use is going on that’s not on camera?
No drugs. I’ve never touched a drug in my life and I’ve never seen one of the other cast members do it.
Really? Because I always thought that there must be so much coke! Like you all must be doing in in the bathroom.
I’ve never seen anybody -- this is being truthful -- I’ve never seen anyone touch a drug.
What do you have to say about Pauly D.?
I love him, he’s awesome. He’s the nicest, sweetest guy ever, he’s awesome. He’s fun, he’s always positive, tries to stay clear of the drama. He’s a good guy.
And is Vinny really leaving the show early [in Season 5], like it's being rumored online?
I mean, you’re gonna have to see, but yeah, he wants to go home.
I love [Vinny]; he’s so smart.
He’s one of the smartest ones out of the group.
And everyone’s career has just taken off in such a big way. How has your life changed?
I think everyone’s life has changed. I think we’ve been given opportunities that we wouldn’t have like to meet awesome celebs, travel...
Who have you met?
I met the Rock, Dwayne Johnson; he’s probably my favorite. He was the nicest guy, who like took time out of his day to say hello. I met Nicki Minaj, who was so sweet and so amazing, and Lady Gaga, who was just amazing and gorgeous. I met Beyoncé who actually came up and gave us a kiss on the cheek, and she was the classiest woman I think I’ve ever met. It’s so surreal. We get to travel, we went to Italy, we went to Miami. It’s just such an amazing thing that’s happened to all of us. It’s so cool, it’s so awesome. I feel like I’m blessed.
What do you do when you’re not doing the show?
I travel for work and do some appearances. I work on my perfume, which is called Dangerous and you can get it at dangerousperfume.com or at Mandee stores. It’s light, it’s airy, it’s floral, it has an almond scent and vanilla. It’s just a mix of such amazing flavors and I love it and it’s the only product that I have out right now, because I don’t want to put my name on just anything, and I feel like it really represents me. I’m working on some other things, too.
Tell me about your beauty routine on a full classic Jersey Shore night out. So I see you have your hair extensions...
I’ve done everything possible with hair extenstions: I’ve done the clip-ons, I’ve done the weave where it’s sewn into my head, I’ve done fused, and now I have tape-ins. I like these because it doesn’t feel like a chunk. When you have your hair sewn in it feels like there’s something on the back of your head and when you sleep, you feel it. These [tape-ins] don’t bother you; it doesn’t affect you, it’s less expensive, and you can do it every other month. I love it.
I love hair extensions.
I only have hair extensions because I feel like my hair is thin and I look like Pocahontas and I need some thickness and volume. Especially for the show -- it’s easier to maintain than my regular hair. So they’re easy. I wash them regularly.
How often do you tan?
I tan…actually I’m looking a little pale right now, but normally when I do things like photo-shoots or events I do a spray tan. Of course, I love to be tan.
Are you rich now?
No, I would think the other cast members are a lot richer than me.
I’m just curious.
I just think that I’m working hard, just like everyone else in this world. You work hard to make money.
And how long do you want to keep doing this -- as long as you can? I mean, I would. It’s a dream job.
As long as I can. I want to work on my brand; I want to work on myself and if "Jersey Shore" ever ends, I want to have my own business. Like, I really want to do my own things and become, like, a business entrepreneur. So I want to work hard for my money, so that it does last longer, if this eventually ends. I would love to do this forever but I feel like it’s not gonna be forever!
What juicy stuff you can tell us about the upcoming season?
The whole Mike and Nicole drama thing is definitely gonna happen again, and then the whole Nicole and Jionni thing, but that’s really it. In Seaside we really got along -- you see less drama with me. Of course, there’s gonna be hookups, partying ...the whole nine yards.
ALL MAKEUNDER PHOTOS BY THE AMAZING LEE CLOWER