Busted (My Run In With Eminem)

Ok, so I naively thought this day would never come, but I have been busted. I mistakenly believed that I could get through my adult life without The Most Embarrassing Thing Ever being brought up 13 years later, but people are smart and the internet is wide. So after more than a few “Who me? I don’t know what you’re talking about, haha” comment denials, I’m coming clean. My name is Sherry $herdog, and I was on MTV when I was 17. And it was easily the most embarrassing compilation of moments that could ever be edited together.

I’m an over-sharer, so some folks might wonder why I’d try to hide from this video. And to you I’d say: it’s one thing to invite people into your home and share a video that accidentally features your bra laying out on a bedroom chair or an interview where you flail around jerkily and generally look crazy or admit that you walk around covered in dog fur and cream cheese smears, but it’s a whole different ballgame to say “Let’s take a time machine back to my most awkward moments as a seventeen year old girl being surprised while life-guarding and told she’ll get to interview Eminem for a show called FANatic on MTV – oh look, I have the whole thing on video for you, let’s all sit down and watch it together.” Now excuse me while I giggle uncontrollably for ten minutes. I do that when I’m nervous.

Allow me to spill a few secrets: shows like this are a smidge set up. It’s not to say that I wasn’t completely Marshall Mathers obsessed (I was) but there are certain things you’re highly encouraged to mention so that you come across as the most deserving fan. Things like “I aspire to be a rapper someday.” I’ll pause while you snort whatever you’re drinking out of your nose. It’s true that I did what I like to call “ironic rapping” with my best friend Mariam at high school talent shows (we once donned orange puffy vests and belly shirts and parodied the Eminem/Dre duet Forgot About Dre) but it’s a Jersey thing. You had to be there to understand that it was not meant to be taken seriously. It was our version of Weird Al-ing someone. So no, I didn’t actually hope I’d be touring the country as a famous female rapper when I grew up.

Of course the show sets up situations too, like us going to the old burger joint where Eminem used to work before the interview…

… but it was pretty cool as a teenager to see some random restaurant and think “he really worked here just a few years ago flipping burgers?” Fun fact: the people I’m serving at that table in the restaurant are the limo driver and one of the production people who carted us around.

A few other things about the show were “orchestrated.” For example, I hardly knew the girl who surprised me at the pool and came with me on the entire adventure. See, MTV required that the “friend” of the person being featured was 18 or a parent would have to accompany the fan and the friend (which I’m guessing cramped the crew’s style). So when I was going through the whole “you might be a finalist” phase of the process, they asked me about my friends and I gave a list of all my best 17 year old buddies and they sort of heavily suggested that I list someone over the age of 18. So the girl who worked at the front desk at the Marriott (where I was a lifeguard for years, represent) got listed – and she was the friend they picked to surprise me. And yes, it’s still really cool to be in a limo when you’re 17. Especially if you flash the peace sign with your sleeves rolled up.

Here’s where it gets extra embarrassing. At some point in the interview the word “phat” inexplicably slips out of my mouth. I never said that word before and have never said it since. I can only blame temporary insanity at the thought of sitting next to a hip-hop star and somehow thinking $herdog could pull off a term like that. And I couldn’t. It rung in my ears for the rest of the interview while I continued to grin like a crazy person and giggle nervously. Although a lot of this experience is what I like to call “retroactively embarrassing” (since at the time it was really cool and I felt really lucky to be chosen), the moment I realized I said “phat” on national television was the moment that I wanted to punch myself in the face.

Then they asked me to rap. Repeatedly. It’s bad. Very very bad. Oh and about the pigtails, I wanted to wear a ponytail and an arm band (yes, an arm band) but the crew gently suggested the pigtails and no arm band. I’m thankful they nixed the arm band but still a little weirded out by the pigtails. So without further ado…

As for how I even got on the show, my friends dared me to send in a tape since I really was a hardcore fan and they thought I had a shot at being chosen. Meanwhile I believed I had zero chance, hence me doing all sorts of ridiculous things that I thought would never be on TV/YouTube (like sitting in a tub full of M&M’s) because I truly believed with every fiber of my being that I would never make the cut.

MTV does a really cruel thing to make you think you weren’t chosen (at least it felt cruel at the time) in order to get that completely surprised ‘surprise shot’ when they sneak up on you. They’re in pretty constant contact with you for a while to collect things like “what you would ask if you were chosen” and “who you would bring as a friend if you were chosen” and then they say you’re a semi-finalist but it’s not a done deal, and then they cut off communication for a few weeks. Total radio silence. So you go from being hopeful that you might get picked to completely and utterly bummed out that you didn’t make the cut after thinking “dude, I might actually get flown to Detroit to meet Eminem.” Which is a pretty cool concept as a 17 year old.

This is of course when you forget about the footage of yourself in a tub of M&Ms and it sounds like it could be The Coolest Thing You’ve Ever Done and not The Most Embarrassing Thing Ever a decade or so later. But I have to admit that as a teenager it was a pretty fun time. I got to fly somewhere with a camera crew and without my parents, they put us up in a cool hotel, and Marshall was actually a really nice genuine guy (now I’m going to get weird and tell you that he had the best looking hands I’ve ever seen in my life). And he did kiss my neck, which at the time made me believe we would soon be married and we’d go on to have three bouncing babies named Slim, Shady, and Stan (kidding). Dude, I took a picture of my neck after it happened. I’m that girl (can you believe I managed to bag a guy like John? I still can’t).

So I’m not ungrateful for the experience. In fact, it was kind of amazing (it made “the morning announcements” at my high school – haha). But the fact that the footage from a defunct show from over 13 years ago is now somehow on YouTube is something I never imagined. Haha. Oh well. The cat phat is out of the bag.

Now you tell me your most embarrassing secrets so we’re even. Go.


  1. anne says

    Hilarious! I have an embarassing letter published in Vegetarian Times when I was 16, which I’d completely forgotten about until I googled my name last year. Yikes!

    • says

      I’m so glad my little stint on mtvU never aired anywhere but online. I was picked to be filmed as a “superfan” of Alabama football, and another student and I were tasked with a “fan makeover” of a punk rock-ish type guy who supposedly knew nothing about football. (Of course that was for the cameras. It’s kind of hard to find someone at UA who DOESN’T know anything about football, but he looked the part.) It was fun, but yeah…I’m glad it’s not on youtube to be mocked. (At least not that I’m aware of! You’ve got me kind of scared now.)

  2. Jane says

    Oh man..$sherdog got the Jerzy accent going on.. But you are so natural on the camera even then..no wonder you are so good in front of the camera now :)

  3. Sarah says

    This is the most fabulously hilarious thing I have ever read/seen. Thank you for the comical relief! Amazing. Awkward. Wonderful.

  4. says

    We all had embarrassing obsessions as teens, you know. You were just lucky (?) enough to have yours videoed by MTV. And now it’s on YouTube. Oh lovely social media, how you haunt us…

    I keep saying (to my 14 year old stepson, mostly) that I’m SO glad Facebook wasn’t around when I was in junior high. Can you imagine? All the drama out there in the open? I so would have been the girl to state that I was in a “complicated” relationship when all it meant was that I was obsessed with some boy who didn’t know I existed.

    Anyway, all that to say, you were adorable in that video. And of course you’ve grown up and gone beyond that. We all understand that. Right, $herdog? ;)

    • Mandy says

      I would have totally been the same girl, and just had this conversation with some friends the other day!!!

    • Alice H says

      Ellen – I so agree with you about it not being around then. Ha! I could only imagine what some people could have posted of me. Geez, scary!

    • Carrie says

      I have so had that conversation with my friends too! Thank God for the lack of technology through our teenage years!

    • Lindsay says

      My friends and I also say that we are so glad Facebook wasn’t around in our day. I would have spent way too much time stalking my crush. Instead, I got to stalk him in real life by driving by his house! BTW, the comment about wanting to be a white rapper was hilarious.

    • Barbara says

      Seriously – I’m so glad I grew up in the 70s. No incriminating evidence – even well into the 80s. I would be so mortified if any of that had been filmed…

  5. Christy G. says

    Ha ha! :) I like your current career WAY better than the rapper career you once aspired to have. Thanks for sharing Sherry!!

  6. says

    Aw man, can’t quite top that one! But when in high school, a friend of mine and I were caught for a curfew violation (in AZ at the time minors were not allowed out of the house after 10pm, crazy right!) and we were interviewed by John Stoskle of 20/20 right there in the detention center while waiting for our rents to pick us up. I’ve blacked it out as best as I could, but I do recall going on and on about the US turing into a Russian communist state, and taking away all our freedoms. My dad was actually proud of me, and made sure all the relatives tuned in when it later aired.

    • says

      Hahaha, that’s so funny. My dad is totally the same way. Get this: he shows a VHS clip of this entire FANatic debacle to his students (he’s a math teacher) EVERY YEAR on a half day. How embarrassing is that?!


    • Brenda says

      Nothing says I love you like a VHS tape of your daughter shown to a room of teenagers.

      Julie, that’s a pretty great story!

    • Katey B says

      Seriously, I didn’t think this post could get any better, but the VHS thing is the icing on the cake! Probably my 2nd favorite post over the past 3 years!

  7. N Shirley says

    Don’t be embarrassed- the clip was great! So funny it emerged after all these years! Better that it came out now instead of Clara finding it some years down the road! (M
    om tell me that isn’t you!?)

  8. says

    Hehe, I was one of the people who sent you an email saying, “Hey Sherry, isn’t this you?” But I promised, on my honor, that I wouldn’t tell another soul about it after you refused to come clean and by golly I held my tongue. Scouts honor.

    Haha, at least your “most awkward moment” also involved meeting an idol and celebrity. Most of us just have to blame doing something really, really embarrassing on something really, really boring. For instance, mine just might be the time I tried to do a “really cool” move on the gymnast rings at a playground and ending up splitting my lip, cheek and chin open. With out of town guests watching. Pride goes before a fall…

    • says

      Oh Katherine, at least only some out of town guests were watching. Haha. I wish I was a turtle right now. I would totally hide in my shell for at least a week.


    • says

      Aw thanks Katherine – all that grinny giggling stuff was what I did when I was nervous, so I was totally trying desperately to hold it together.


    • Courtney May says

      I knew I lurved some $herdog but this is too much! You are just so freaking awesome for being on the show and now sharing. THANK YOU!

      I was in a First American Bank commercial when I was in the 8th grade with a girl named Temi Epstein and I thought she was SO famous because she was in a Friday the 13th movie (I realize now there are few people who have NOT been in those movies, as about 800 were made). I think I will Google the whole thing and her, for my little trip down memory lane! The embarrassing part was during the audition, when they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I answered “a star”. Really? A Star? Dying. How they did not all burst out laughing, not sure, but that is just one of many cringe worthy things I think of in my past!

      This whole thing is not embarrassing or cringe-worthy! This is incredible and you should be so proud for not having ever been plain or boring!! You are a total achiever and that is one of the reasons we all love you!!

  9. says

    This is totally amazing. Way better than my I was almost a contestant on the show hosted by Mark Curry called “Dont Forget Your Toothbrush”, and the only reason we werent selected in the pre-rigged show was because my friends passport was expired. They loved us and had decided in advance that we would win the trip to Ireland. So lame…at least you met him. Thats so awesome.

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