When the producers of a reality show asked Deb Kilimnik if there was anything she wouldn’t do, her mind went to other reality shows she‘d seen.
“I said I didn’t really want to put anything icky in my mouth, like bugs or worms,” she said.
They assured her that there would be no eating bugs. If she’d known that pole dancing was what they had in mind, she might have put that on the list too.
Earlier this month, Kilimnik spent three days shooting a pilot for a made-in-Kitchener reality show called Renaissance. The premise of the show is to challenge body, mind and soul to find the true Renaissance man or woman.
Kilimnik heard a call for auditions on the radio but got the name of the show wrong and couldn’t find it when she tried to look it up on the Internet.
“I thought oh well, it wasn’t meant to be,” she said.
The next morning her husband Don was reading the newspaper and blurted “Hon, you’ve got to try this.”
“Is it a reality show?”
“Yes, how did you know?”
“Because I tried to find it yesterday. And I went OK, I guess it’s meant to be,” Deb chuckled.
She sent in a short essay about herself and was called for an interview. After the interviews, the producers narrowed the contestants down to the final five: Courtney Willock, a 23-year-old server; former pro wrestler J.P. Parsonage, 35; 28-year-old Sam Gardner, a model/accountant; Andy Garnett, 34, a stand-up comic and bouncer; and Kilimnik, 52, a Winterbourne homemaker who teaches craft lessons.
“I love to fill each day with as much fun as possible, because this is all we have, right? I love meeting new people, I love spontaneity – and this was certainly spontaneous,” Kilimnik laughed.
The surprise element was her favourite part of the show; the producers gave them no clue what they’d be doing.
The first challenge turned out to be a physical one, and the contestants donned football gear and trotted onto Wilfrid Laurier University’s football field to toss the pigskin. Next up was a creative challenge; Kilimnik thought her crafting might give her an edge but found herself painting a still life, a skill that is not her forte.
For the final “ultimate” challenge, the contestants were allowed to vote for physical, mental or spiritual. The men voted for a physical challenge, expecting it would be something like football. Instead, they were taken to Impact Movement Studios and given a quick lesson on pole dancing, then turned loose to show off their skills to Joe Cocker’s “You can leave your hat on.”
Deb was a bit apprehensive; when she finished, she phoned her son Evan, who had been following her progress from college in Barrie.
“I said ‘I know you were proud of me after the football challenge; I hope you’re still proud of me after you find out I’ve just come off a pole.’”
Kilimnik was impressed with the professionalism of the crew, made up of Conestoga College students and Rogers Cable volunteers.
Kilimnik doesn’t know when the show will air, if ever; the producers plan to shop the pilot around to the networks after the editing is finished. They also talked about screening it at the Princess Theatre or Molly Bloom’s pub, where Garnett works.
“I’m just glad I did it, because it was enjoyable. I haven’t seen any of the filming yet, so I say I’m glad I did it; we’ll see when they’re finished editing and everything if I’m still happy about it,” she laughed.