An Ex-Raiderette Hits the Real World: Hooking up in hot tubs and spare bedrooms may be tired reality TV staples, but leave it to an East Bay native to do it bigger and better than anyone in recent memory. (That would be on the recent premiere episode of The Real World: Denver, with a female castmate (tub) and then a male (bed). The Express caught up with Jennifer Grijalva, 22, who’s now back home with her mother and sister in Martinez.
Express: You were a cheerleader for sixteen years, including a four-year stint as a Raiderette. Was that a tough gig?
Grijalva: Some people view it as, “Oh, whatever, you’re another stupid cheerleader who hooks up with football players and drives a fancy car and has it easy.” But we’re a very prestigious team and respected because we do work so hard. We were always fighting for the number one spot in the NFL with the Cowgirls.
Being a Raiderette was a time in my life where I think I grew up a lot. One thing I want to make clear is that the person you see on The Real World was not a Raiderette cheerleader. When I was, I held a very respectable image because I was representing the Raider organization. I had fifty women expecting me to maintain the same image as they did. The Jenn on TV is the Jenn gone wild, the Jenn that gets to break loose, like most kids do in college for four years.
E: How did you prepare for the show? Did you feel pressure to get super skinny or buy a new wardrobe?
G: I really didn’t do much preparation. I’d been off of the Raiders for a few months, so I probably could’ve been in better shape. I went with the attitude, “I want to be thrown into this.” I didn’t buy new bathing suits that I’d be wearing on TV. I packed the night before I left, and I think I was drunk when I did it.
E: Do cast members get to preview episodes?
G: No, they’re brand-new to us. I watched the first episode at my house by myself. I didn’t want to be around anyone to hear them laughing.
E: How did your mother take it?
G: I warned her going into it that I was heavily in party mode. Her first reaction was, “Oh, my God, I didn’t know you kissed girls!” I told her, “Mom, it’s not what you think,” and that these days, it’s such a casual thing for girls to kiss girls. It was playful and innocent, and that nothing else happened. I explained to her that I’m a heterosexual woman and don’t want to be with other women. She got over it. She thinks the show looks like a big skit, like it’s staged. It’s not — it’s real. But if she wants to think that, that’s fine.
E: The Web site for MTV’s booking agency states that you’re studying at Diablo Valley College while raising your child. Huh?
G: That’s not true! I’ve never been pregnant and I do not have any children. My boyfriend and I are in the process of getting a puppy.
E: So you have a boyfriend?
G: He was a friend of mine who came out to Denver to visit, and we ended up kind of establishing a relationship in July, towards the end of the season. My boyfriend’s almost a blessing, I think. When I’m single I have a lot of fun — sometimes too much fun. All the mayhem on the show was single Jenn.
E: What’s it like for him to watch the show?
G: I encouraged him not to watch it, because watching your girlfriend on TV [making out] with somebody else would be difficult for anyone. But he’s really cool about everything, and not that jealous boyfriend type who would be immature about it. He’s just trying his best to accept it.
E: What are you doing now that you’re back?
G: A lot of fun things. I travel around, make a lot of bar appearances. I’ll do college appearances, too, things like that. It leaves very little time to get a job, and I don’t really need one right now.
E: Your MySpace profile leads off with a quote: “Love me or hate me … it’s still an obsession.” Will we ultimately love you or hate you once the season is over?
G: I think as a whole that I’ll be liked. I will be one of the favorite characters on the show.
E: Are you worried about losing your privacy, or that fans or stalkers might come knocking on your door?
G: No. I’m like, “Bring it on. You want to make me a star? That’s great!” I’ll walk down any red carpet you roll out. It’s easy for me. Maybe that’s because I’m used to dancing in front of sixty thousand fans. You get used to fans grabbing at you and yelling your name.