CHASING BRIDEZILLA: A CULTURAL TALE

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By Eric Lam

“Who are you guys? Do you have any identification? Did you talk to Emily?” asked Scott, an MTV PR guy, as a security guard eyed me from the front steps of the MTV building at Yonge and Bloor streets. I had no idea who Emily was.

“If Emily had known about you guys she would’ve e-mailed me. She’s two floors down from me, you know. I think I need to talk to Emily.”

I shrugged in confusion.

It’d only been about two weeks since Ingrid Haas, freshly graduated from Ryerson’s Theatre School last May, had turned the pop culture world upside-down with her YouTube video, “Bride has Massive Hair Wig Out,” which has 2.9 million hits.

And now it seemed her 15 minutes had made her too hot for the student press. The Eyeopener had missed Haas over the weekend, when she and her partners in crime had jumped the country for an all-expenses paid weekend in New York and a taping of Good Morning America.

Luckily, she was in town Monday night for a taping of MTV Live. So off we went, Adam Huras (intrepid photographer) and yours truly, on our quest for Bridezilla. It all started off so smoothly.

I called Haas at her home moments before taping. “I’m very humble and blessed for this experience,” Haas said. “(Ryerson) definitely shaped the person I am. I’m a very proud (alumnus).”

In fact, she had planned to go to a Ryerson play Tuesday night, but she wasn’t going to make it. She was going to Los Angeles.

“Potentially Jimmy Kimmel,” she gushed. Why not? They’d already turned down Jay Leno. “It’s all just been so crazy and wonderful and exciting.” Haas was at one time a struggling actor, until she wrote and directed the five-minute video of a blushing young bride (played by another young actor, Jodi Behan) going medieval on her hair hours before her wedding.

The bride’s sister, Jessie (played by real-life sister Jessie Behan) tries to placate the distressed woman with Champagne, but to no avail. The hair is cut, and a star is born. Turns out the whole thing was a gimmick; it was all just part of a promotional push for Unilever’s Sunsilk line of shampoos.

It’s not the first internet video to launch regular people to stardom.

A Canadian high school student, Ghyslain Raza, better known as the Star Wars Kid, was filmed waving a golf ball retriever like a light saber. It leaked onto the internet in 2002 with disastrous results. But Haas and her cohorts have embraced the attention.

“It’s bizarre. You work so hard, and then this little video you made in five minutes gets national and international attention,” Haas said. On Monday, Richard Gerrits, Haas’ agent, promised to meet me at the doors to work out the details for an interview with Haas, the two Behans and Esther Orosz (who was in the video too), but only after the MTV spot.

“For sure, we’ll have time after the shoot,” he said. “I’m on my way now.” But Gerrits had somehow snuck into a green room downstairs, and sent Scott up to give me the bad news.

No interview, no photo. The girls had changed their minds. So what changed in the hour between speaking to an unguarded Haas and running into the entertainment world’s velvet rope?

A lot, it seems. On the set, hosts Daryn Jones and Aliya-Jasmine Sovani were having an inane discussion on the merits of keeping price tags on bought clothing (not that there’s anything wrong with that) when Haas finally stormed the stage.

The four girls were wearing matching puffy jackets, all garish neon orange, likely made from the slaughter of defenseless bean bag sofas. “They’re souvenirs from New York,” one of the girls said.

They talk about the “genius” of their video, and as they launch into a spirited rendition of “Dreamgirls,” complete with a dance routine, the audience blindly applauds. As Haas and the other women leave the stage, Jodi Behan can’t help but turn around and say, “see you all in Hollywood!” as she blows a kiss.

Here’s hoping her 15 minutes doesn’t run out before our patience does.

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