Pop Culture Handbook

Ranking Houston's 6 Biggest Reality TV Moments

From our proudest points to our most painful, from Project Runway to personal astrologers.

By Sarah Rufca Nielsen June 21, 2017 Published in the July 2017 issue of Houstonia Magazine

0717 pop culture guide juan carlos ruktxu

Juan Carlos performed on America's Got Talenin 2014, giving national audiences a peek at the joy we Houstonians get to witness most days in Montrose.

The good thing about reality TV is that talented, interesting, telegenic people from all over the country now have a platform to jump-start their careers. The bad thing is, they’re not the only ones. Within, Houston’s biggest reality TV moments, ranked from Proudest to Most Painful:

1. Living well is the best revenge, so there may never be a reality television moment as sweet as the one that took place in 2005, when Houston’s own Chloe Dao, local designer and boutique owner, beat out loudmouthed Santino Rice—who had dismissed her design skills, labeling her a mere “patternmaker”—to win the second season of Project Runway.

2. Juan Carlos, Montrose’s fabulous dancing rollerblader, wasn’t able to shimmy his way to the $1 million prize on America’s Got Talent in 2014, but he did give national audiences a peek at the joy we Houstonians get to witness most days at the corner of Studemont and Allen Parkway.

3. Cypress teen Danielle Bradbery said she’d basically only sung into a hairbrush in her bedroom before making it onto season four of The Voice, impressing with spirited country tunes like “Heads Carolina, Tails California” on her way to claiming victory for Team Blake in 2013.

4. We now live in a world where the current Secretary of Energy is a former Dancing with the Stars contestant, and it’s basically the fault of Sugar Land’s own Tom DeLay. The former House Majority Leader was the first politician to appear on the show, in 2009, with his tango moves earning such praise as “That was surreal,” and “You’re crazier than Sarah Palin.”

5. Opening with “I flew coach for you, which I’ve never done,” is a truly amazing way to make a first impression on a show like The Bachelor, and we could never get enough of tiara-loving Erica Rose’s spoiled-princess act. But considering her discomfort at living without her maid and personal astrologer, it’s probably better that Season 9 bachelor Lorenzo Borghese (an actual prince) cut her in week three.

6. Before she was a porn star and the world’s most unexpected Nazi, Houston-raised Tila Tequila was a MySpace celebrity—remember those?—who starred in A Shot at Love, which emerged from a crowded field to become MTV’s dirtiest dating show of 2007.

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