Fraleigh lounges on an Ikea couch after a U8TV conference

Photo: Jen Allen

Witch turns to Lofter with shift of the moon

In Arts & Life /

Rye dropout Dan Fraleigh, hopes to gain fame on new reality TV show.

By Jen Allen

From dancing naked around bonfires at Pagan festivals, to being the centre of attention, Dan Fraleigh is not new to exhibitionism.

The former Ryerson technical production student is one of eight new Lofters who moved into an Ikea-sponsored downtown Toronto loft Monday for the second season of U8TV: The Lofters. In exchange for an annual salary of $43,000, free rent and national exposure, he will be hosting both television and Web shows and be subject to 24-hour-a-day camera surveillance.

The 25-year-old actor and Wiccan was chosen from close to 2,000 applicants from across the country for a spot on the hit reality TV show broadcast on the Internet TV station www.u8tv.com and on cable on the Life Network.

On Halloween, he lined up to audition at the Richmond Street studio, in the heart of Toronto’s clubland. At 4 a.m., he stood alongside hundreds of others for a chance at a 10-minute interview with the show’s producers.

Six hours later, he had the chance to prove that he could endure life in a camera-wired loft as well as having enough acting experience to host TV shows. During the interview, he spoke of his unusual desire to become a Wiccan high priest.

It was Fraleigh’s good looks and on-screen presence that won him a coveted spot on the show and the favours of the producers, who were looking for older lofters than those in the first season.

U8TV president Lili Shalev said that this year’s group has more life experience and more work experience. They wanted to avoid a situation like last year’s early defection of Kalen Haymen from the loft after he realized he wanted to pursue his photography career.

Although Fraleigh admits that as a Leo he is a bit of an exhibitionist — a prerequisite for appearing on a show where even the shower is not free from the camera’s gaze (it films only the head and shoulders).

“Being in an environment like the loft is not natural. It’s going to be an adjustment,” Fraleigh says. “But, within a month or two, the cameras will go away and life will go on as normal.”

But most would consider living under a cluster of cameras anything but normal.

“The exposure is going to be incredible. It will launch me further into my career,” says the actor, who’s done everything from delivering Greek food to working as a communications consultant.

And exposure is just what Fraleigh will get. Since its launch in January of last year, U8TV: The Lofters is consistently the No. 1 or No. 2 rated show on Life Network and garners 400,000 viewers per week. The Internet site generates 30 million hits a month, mostly from 18-to 34-year-old urbanites. And these numbers are growing on a monthly basis.

But, unlike last year’s lofters, Fraleigh is not guaranteed a full year in the loft. The show’s format has been changed so that the viewers now have the power, à la Survivor, to vote out one lofter every 10 weeks. The lofter will be replaced by another wannabe yearning for fame.

Fraleigh says he’s confident in his ability to last the year.

Season two of U8TV: The Lofters premiers Monday, Jan. 14 on the Life Network at 8:30 p.m. Fraleigh and his fellow lofters can also be caught on “snoop cams” and hosting web shows on www.u8tv.com.

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