Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Monday, July 5, 1999

Ruthie’s real world
is wretched

EVERY new cast of MTV's "Real World" has one breakout wacko who manages to upstage the other roommates, generally through some revolting behavior.

Watching the rum-swilling roomie Ruthie bent over naked in a shower spewing like a fire hose during the "Real World" first Hawaii episode was revolting enough to assure that Ruthie will be the Hawaii segment's most memorable character. Which is good, because Ruthie is the only roommate actually from Hawaii.

Nothing conveys the beauty of the islands and the friendliness of our people to millions of mainland viewers like a drunken 21-year-old alcoholic falling into a coma after consuming enough liquor to float the USS Missouri.

And that was only in the first episode. The second episode, which aired last week, showed the openly gay Ruthie liquored up again and kissing Kaia, a bisexual female roommate. Well, kissing doesn't quite cover it. It was more like a mouth-to-mouth tonsillectomy.

Ah, romance in paradise. A sunset. Warm breeze. Thirty or 40 cocktails. Four packs of cigarettes. And thou.

Ruthie is Hawaii's new poster girl. A dark-haired beauty, wiping away specks of vomit from her mouth, horsely croaking "aloha" through her cigarette-ravaged voice box, beckoning mainland residents to come and experience the mystery of Hawaii.

The only mystery here is how Ruthie got through the extensive screening process without MTV executives finding out that she has, to put it kindly, "drinking issues." To put it not so kindly, she's a lush. And a dangerous one at that. In a coming episode, she gets behind the wheel of a car even though she apparently drank enough to make a fish gag.

ACCORDING to a wire story, producers eventually had to intervene in "Ruthie's World" and have her sent to a 30-day rehab program. They made a big deal out of this because the whole premise of "Real World" is to toss a bunch of strangers together in a nice pad and leave them completely alone -- except for 78 video cameras, 49 camera operators and a few producers lurking around in hidden rooms. I suspect the intervention by producers had less to do with philanthropy than strict liability.

Ruthie brushed off the coma thing by claiming someone had slipped some kind of drug into one of the several dozen drinks she had consumed. She also had no memory of smooching with Kaia. This hurt Kaia's feelings because it's not every day that Kaia lets a drunken chain-smoker attach herself to her face like a deranged remora.

In a coming episode, Ruthie apparently gets in a fight with some of the roommates, which is a violation of "Real World" Rule Numero Uno: Physical Violence Will Not Be Tolerated. Excessive drinking, unprotected sex, running around naked and wrecking a perfectly good multimillion-dollar beach houses, however, is tolerated.

Maybe I'm being a little hard on Ruthie. (They won't reveal her last name because it would violate her right to privacy. Throwing up naked in a shower on national television apparently is OK.)

They've shown only two episodes. Maybe Ruthie comes out of rehab clean and sober in the final reel and becomes a spokesperson for the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau. Maybe she joins the Don Ho show and becomes the state's Ambassador of Aloha. All kidding aside, Ruthie, a daughter of Hawaii, needs serious help.

Charles Memminger, winner of
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite"
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802

or send E-mail to or

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