Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi

Nicole

Personality

Birth Date: November 23, 1987

Age: 36 years old

Birth Place: Santiago, Chile

Spouses: Jionni LaValle

Just when people believed reality-based television had gone too far, MTV gave them Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi. The charming, outspoken New Yorker emerged as the breakout star of "Jersey Shore" (MTV, 2009-12), a documentary-style program that followed eight young, single, carefree Italian-Americans living under one beach house in Seaside Heights, NJ. Cameras caught every inch of Polizzi's larger-than-life personality - from her obsession with eating pickles to her search for Mr. Right. Polizzi established herself as one of the most outrageous and unforgettable personalities on reality TV.

Born in 1988, Nicole Polizzi, who was of Italian-American and Chilean descent, was raised by her adoptive parents in Marlboro, NY. The aspiring veterinary technician had a few self-imposed nicknames, including "Princess of Poughkeepsie" and "Snooki," which evoked the future reality star's pint-sized frame yet over-the-top attitude.

In August 2009, Polizzi moved into a summer share in Seaside Heights for MTV's reality series, "Jersey Shore." The network had modeled the show after their successful "The Real World" (MTV, 1992- ) franchise, which documented the lives of seven strangers living under one roof. However, "Jersey Shore" had one major twist from the "Real World" formula: the cast members were all Italian-American. Polizzi made a big impression not only on her roommates - whose nicknames included "The Situation," "J-Woww," "DJ Pauly D," and "Sweetheart" - but also on viewers with her distinctive look: a towering bouffant hairstyle, too much spray tan, and clothes that left nothing to the imagination. She loved to consume pickles, an act that often entertained the perverse humor of her male roommates, and often drank alcohol to the point of unconsciousness. But strangely enough, as the show continued, she began growing on viewers; becoming endearing even.

The often belligerent yet bubbly Polizzi was the prime target of ridicule when she moved into the "Jersey Shore" house, yet she held her own even against her loud and opinionated male co-stars. The entire cast came to her rescue after a male bar patron whom Polizzi accused of stealing drinks, punched her in the face. MTV aired the footage during the fourth episode, along with a public service announcement on violence against women.

The network omitted the disturbing punch from subsequent airings after a public outcry that it was being treated as a must-see event, yet various news agencies and viewers turned it into a viral video on the Internet. The "Jersey Shore" star got slugged a second time on the show's sixth episode after attempting to kick out unwanted female houseguests. Polizzi gained even more mainstream attention after comedian Bobby Moynihan impersonated her on a December 2009 episode of "Saturday Night Live." Moynihan donned Polizzi's signature hairstyle, tan, and cleavage-baring clothes while warbling on about the controversial bar fight and her never-ending search for a soul mate, preferably a "muscular, juice-head Guido." The "SNL" skit was just one of thousands of spoofs, both televised and broadcast online, that turned "Jersey Shore" into a pop culture phenomenon.

Meanwhile, Polizzi saved her most shocking act on the show for last when she kissed housemate (and frequent verbal sparring partner), Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino during the first season finale.

The cast's frequent use of the terms "Guido/Guidette" and the perceived misrepresentation of Italian-Americans angered many viewers, including UNICO National, an organization that called for a boycott against the show. MTV's major advertisers such as Dell, Domino's Pizza, and American Family Insurance also pulled their commercials after the program's debut. Eager to throw in her two cents, Polizzi went on "The Wendy Williams Show" (syndicated, 2008- ) and told UNICO - using select four-letter expletives - to stop watching the show if they did not approve. The organization responded with the statement, "[Snooki] is not an embarrassment to Italian-Americans - she is actually an embarrassment to the entire human race!"

However, MTV continuously defended "Jersey Shore" and said it only continued the network's tradition of documenting diverse subcultures. In January 2010, Polizzi's "Jersey Shore" housemate Vinny Guadagnino confirmed that MTV had renewed its water cooler series for a second season.

Despite pundits predictions that Polizzi and her "Jersey Shore" cohorts would be a mere flash in the pan, the program's formidable performance in the Nielsen ratings proved otherwise. As the show became a pop culture mainstay, Snooki's increased over-exposure proved to be, quite literally, an embarrassment of riches. After taking the gang down to Miami Beach, FL for the show's second season, season three of "Jersey Shore" saw - amidst other high and lowlights - an exceedingly drunk Polizzi arrested for disturbing a group of beachgoers, clearly unimpressed by the reality star's foul-mouthed antics. Months later, the deciding judge in the case referred to her as a "Lindsey Lohan wannabe," prior to fining her $500 and ordering her to perform community service work.

In January of 2011, she published a book, A Shore Thing, which despite a vigorous publicity tour, sold quite poorly. Polizzi had a chance to work out her frustrations over those dismal sales when she later took part in a six-person Mixed Tag Team match on the pay-per-view event "WrestleMania XXVII" (2011).

Renewed for a fourth season, "Jersey Shore" relocated to Florence, Italy, where Polizzi was arrested after she slammed her car into a parked police traffic vehicle. Much to the relief of the Italian authorities, the move to Europe was only temporary, as Snooki and the crew headed back home for season five.

The Snooki hits kept coming in early 2012, when Polizzi raised eyebrows during an interview - if only a little - by the admission that she considered herself bisexual. At the same time, it was announced that she had signed with "Jersey Shore" co-star Jennifer Farley to star in the spin-off reality series "Snooki and JWoww vs. The World" (MTV, 2012- ). The "creative direction" of the future project became the subject of speculation when persistent rumors began to circulate that the hard-partying Polizzi was pregnant with the baby of her muscle-bound boyfriend, Jionni LaValle. Initially denied by the reality star, the story refused to go away, with sources claiming that she was withholding confirmation until a lucrative exclusive tabloid deal could be reached.

By Marc Cuenco

Credits

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