March 30, 2013 10:00 AM by Ryan Haidet
Not long after ABC’s The Bachelor showed us absurdly pretty people looking for love, NBC put their own spin on the reality TV dating game with a wild ride known as Average Joe. 10 years ago today, production began on Average Joe as a slew of so-called “average” suitors were vying to win Melana Scantlin’s heart. Despite the show’s attempt to land an average dude with an above-average beauty, Melana ultimately chose Jason Peoples — one of the “hunks” introduced during a mid-season twist. But after the first season (there were four total) debuted on Nov. 3, 2003, it seemed there was one standout “Joe” who claimed America’s heart for his wildly charismatic positivity — Dennis Luciani, the hula-hooping, self-admitted virgin. We asked Dennis to take us back 10 years to dish his thoughts on Average Joe. Read what he had to say inside!
NOTE: You can meet Dennis at this year’s Reality Rally event in Temecula, California, which takes place April 5-7. Dennis has attended numerous reality television charity events since his time on Average Joe, which is how he and I became close friends through the years. The photo at the top of this story shows me (left) with Dennis (right) during a recent Survivor finale weekend in Los Angeles.
Question: How does it feel looking back 10 years later?
Dennis Luciani: Looking back after 10 years is a really surreal kind of feeling. I have done a lot and met a lot of cool people in this “Reality” world. I take it all with a grain of salt and just go with the flow of things. I enjoy what life brings me and hope to always keep moving forward.
Question: What is the first thing when you think of looking back?
Dennis Luciani: The first thing I think about is all the cool people I would have never have met had I not done Average Joe and all the cool things you get to do as representatives of the reality TV genre.
Question: What did you learn about yourself on the show?
Dennis Luciani: Because I was also one of the older Average Joes on season 1, I think I really more solidified my beliefs of just being myself is OK in the world. I surprised myself, too, with not even thinking about it and standing up to the slight “bullying” that was occurring.
Question: If you could go back and do anything differently, would you?
Dennis Luciani: If I were to change anything at all I would have been a little smarter about cameras and what I was saying in regards to my virginity, which really was my business and not anyone else’s.
Question: How much has your life changed in the 10 years since you started the show?
Dennis Luciani: 10 years hasn’t really changed my life. I have grown. I have gotten to experience a lot of new things both good and bad. I am the same happy go lucky hula-hooping, sarcastically funny idiot that everyone saw on Average Joe.
Question: Who from the show do you still keep in touch with?
Dennis Luciani: With this modern age of technology it’s a lot easier to keep in touch with people, and with most of my season 1 I do keep in touch. I talk to Melana from time to time to stay in touch. My Average Joe bros that I converse with on a more regular basis are Jay, John, Tareq, DLo, Marc and even Brad.
Question: What was your crowning moment?
Dennis Luciani: My crowning moment is still having made it to the top of the rock climbing challenge. I was there with Zach, JFK and Adam — the three jocks of the 16 of us. It was quoted by someone that they didn’t think anyone was getting up to the top, least of all Dennis. Melana only made it up half way. I was the first of the guys to guy to go up and made it all the way up. The guys were then saying that wow, if Dennis can make it up there, so can we. Don’t judge a skinny white book by its cover was the message that I think I was there for.
Question: Biggest disappointment with the show?
Dennis Luciani: I would have liked to have stayed longer. I loved how Kathy Griffin was our host. I wish they could have used more of her in that season and the other three seasons.
Questions: How did you get on the show? I love Survivor and when I saw a Craigslist ad looking for adventurous guys for a new NBC show, I thought and was misled it to be NBC’s version of Survivor, NOT a dating show. Had I known it was going to be a dating show from the beginning, I would have said no thanks!
Question: Where was the show filmed and how long did it take?
Dennis Luciani: The show was supposed to have been filmed in Hawaii but since the conflict in Iraq started they didn’t want to fly anyone. They sent season two to Hawaii. We were told to pack like we were going on a foreign vacation and then got packed into a few vans and driven down to Palm Springs.
Were you a fan of Average Joe? What do you remember most about the show? Would you like to see the show return in the future? Sound off and leave a comment below!
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Photo courtesy of Leah Machek.