by Contributor

The 10 Most Memorable Real World Cast Members, Including Joey Kovar

TV hasn’t been the same since MTV first aired The Real World in 1992. But it was only this weekend, when the wires announced the untimely death of The Real World: Hollywood star Joey Kovar, that we realized how important this show had been to our entire reality-obsessed generation. And for that reason, we’ve decided to give a shout out to the most memorable cast members willing to share a house “with seven strangers.” So here’s to those folks who reminded us over the last twenty years that we’re not the only young adults searching for ourselves in a very real world.

Karamo Brown (Philadelphia)

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Back in 2004 Karamo Brown came into The Real World house, and to much of his roommate’s surprise, came out as well. Given the publicity surrounding Frank Ocean’s sexuality, we can’t help but applaud MTV for giving our generation one of its first glimpses at a queer and black person and his experience–that is a queer and black person that isn’t RuPaul.

Trishelle Cannatella (Las Vegas)

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How could we forget Trishelle from the Las Vegas season–or anyone from that season, for  that matter. Trishelle is most memorable for her sex life with Steven Hill–her unprotected sex life, which led to an unplanned pregnancy scare. Life isn’t always shots and stripteases, but she served as a reminder that safe sex is the best sex.

Ruthie Alcaide (Hawaii)

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As twenty-somethings, we’ve got a many a night of binge drinking under our belts. Ruthie’s issues with alcohol, however, were a reality check for many as to where to draw the boozing line. On the first night in the house, her drinking caused her to pass out and forced her roommates to call the paramedics. She later went to rehab at the demand of the housemates. There are limits, people!

Katelynn Cusanelli (Brooklyn)

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When Katelynn entered the house she quickly opened up to her roommates about her transition from being a man to being a woman, and MTV brought us along for the journey. No newcomer to casting people with diverse backgrounds, The Real World gave many viewers a first glimpse into life as a transwoman.

Rachel Braband (Back to New York)

Rachel was the Illinois-native and music enthusiast in The Real World‘s triumphant return to New York. While not the most dramatic housemate, she’s been on the right track since the show ended, styling for Hot Topic and wowing Swagger’s street style photographers.

Tonya Cooley (Chicago)

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Tonya was the wide-eyed and sheltered roomie from Washington, often offended by fellow lesbian roommate Aneesa’s openness with her sexuality. Her medical issues, and sensitivity, led many of the housemates to write her off as a needy drama queen but her incisive arguments are fondly remembered by viewers.

Irene McGee (Seattle)

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As you likely remember, Irene was the girl with Lyme disease who also got slapped. But more interesting were the arguments that arose afterwards re: the glamorization of domestic violence on TV. Pre-cursor to Real Housewives?

Pedro Zamora (San Francisco)

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Pedro’s courageous and insightful on-camera battle with HIV gave a human face to the once mysterious disease, and encouraged The Real World‘s viewership to take action in informing themselves about HIV/AIDS. Pedro passed away from complications with the disease in November of 1994 at the age of 22.

Frankie Abernathy (San Diego)

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Following the footsteps of Pedro and Ruthie, Frankie brought attention to another issue that many young people know all too well – cutting. Franky became open with her cutting issue early on in her season, and the taboo subject fast became viewer fodder. Sadly, Frankie passed away of suspected complications with her cystic fibrosis in 2007; she was 25.

Joey Kovar (Hollywood)

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While on The Real World, the aspiring actor showcased his bout with alcoholism, going to and returning from rehab, before ultimately leaving the house to prevent a relapse. Joey continued to fight addiction after the season ended, only this time he battled drugs. He was found dead August 17th of this year at the age of 29.

Thanks for the lessons. R.I.P. Pedro, Frankie and Joey.