What It’s Like to Be Slimed: Kids' Choice Awards EP on the Famous Green Goop
It’s cold, but I was ready for that. It’s also dense—much heavier than expected for a syrupy, lime green concoction. But really, I was warned.
As Nickelodeon's Kids’ Choice Awards executive producer Jay Schmalholz explained to me beforehand, “You’re never exactly ready for it, it’s always a surprise.” I definitely was nervous, but who cares? I was fulfilling a childhood dream shared across the country by millions of kids in the '80s and '90s—I was about to get slimed.
Who can fill original host Steve's shoes?
That doesn’t help with the shock though. The moment the chilly, semi-viscous liquid hit the top of my head, my mind went blank. Schmalholz convinced me to ditch the hooded poncho being offered to me by the generous folks handling the Slime Booth.
“The purist in me likes being slimed in normal street clothes,” he said. “It’s like jumping into a cold pool. It does get in everywhere—you’ll be finding it for a couple of weeks. But it’s super fun. You can’t help but smile and feel like a little kid.” And of course he was right. As someone who’s confessed to being slimed “over half a dozen times at least,” I felt I could trust his judgement.
Getting slimed was a really cool experience, especially doing it as an adult after hyping it up my entire childhood. And Schmalholz wasn’t kidding about it getting everywhere. The radioactive-looking stains between my toes and lingering streaks on the light gray t-shirt I sacrificed to the Slime Gods are proof enough of that. But what has really lingered is the legacy of this iconic liquid.
“It really goes back to the early days of Nickelodeon and all of our game shows,” the EP explained. “Slime embodies everything it means to be a kid. I relate it to this: When a kid sees a puddle, their first instinct is to jump into it. When an adult sees a puddle, their instinct is to walk around it. But the kid in all of us really wants to jump into it. It became this rite of passage for any kid growing up back then and even today—everybody wants to be slimed.”
And every kid wants slime in their lives. It permeated everything Nick for years and became its symbol of the Kids’ Choice Awards. In 2003, General Mills even introduced a limited edition “Green Slime” corn puff cereal to promote the show.
This year’s March 24 ceremony is hosted by WWE superstar John Cena, returning to the ring (ahem, stage) for his second year in a row. “He really embodies the same DNA that Nickelodeon does, and we’re psyched to have him back,” Schmalholz said. Will they douse him in the infamous green goop? “Of course,” he added: “We don’t want John to get too comfortable.”
Since the show’s beginnings in 1988, many an A-lister has been slimed: Halle Berry, Harrison Ford, Justin Bieber, Tom Cruise, Heidi Klum, Katy Perry—the list goes on. And yes, stars will also be taking home those plump blimp awards in the network's signature orange. This year, they’ve added YouTube categories to the mix like “Funniest YouTube Creator.”
Now, back to the slime. Not only is it great to watch, but as Schmalholz detailed, there’s a lot to putting on a live show with an extra messy element. “There’s definitely a science to sliming,” he admitted. "There’s a science to how we make it, and there’s a science to how we distribute it. The first thing we do when we design our sets is start with the plumbing. So, there’s been technical difficulties when you cue the slime and it doesn’t go on cue. We’ve had storage containers that heavily leaked and all of the sudden backstage like, ‘Where is all the slime coming from?!’
"But the best part is really the star’s reactions, and the aftermath is fantastic, watching them get de-slimed," he continued. "We go through thousands and thousands of towels. We’re super, super cautious with the safety of it because it’s slippery, but it is absolutely an art form. We’ve got Slime Masters who have gotten really good at it.”
WWE superstar John Cena is part of the exciting project.
What’s a Slime Master? Basically anyone adept at dealing with tons and tons of the stuff. “There’s a crew that makes it, there’s a crew that figures out how to distribute it. And then there’s the crew who cleans up after it, which is equally as important. And they’re amazing at it. When you come to one of our shows, you see the literally hundreds of people during the live show. They know how to swoop in, clean up, keep the celebrities safe and reset the stage, all in a commercial break.”
And they just keep finding new ways to dish out the goop. “Back in the day it may have started with just a bucket, but now, we’ve had slime car washes, slime stunts, slime rodeos, slime slides,” Schmalholz recalled. “I think our audience always looks to us for new ideas and how to change it up. Everyone loves it. There’s nothing not to like about slime.”
After spending nearly a half hour to clean up and "de-slime" before leaving the Viacom offices, still with the largest smile on my face, I can’t help but agree with his sentiment.
Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards 2018, Saturday, March 24, 8/7c, Nickelodeon