Once upon a time, we kept certain things to ourselves.
Like if we loved the Bay City Rollers instead of the Rolling Stones. Or if we read romance novels instead of “real literature.” Or if our favorite athlete was Andre the Giant instead of Michael Jordan.
We buried these private crushes deep because, well, they just weren’t cool enough for public consumption.
Or at least that’s what we thought.
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But something funny happened along the road to cultural evolution: We bid farewell to shame and instead embraced our guilty pleasures.
Nowadays, we celebrate indulgences and openly relish excess.
Remember when a footlong hot dog at the ballpark was an extravagance? Now that seems downright quaint when compared to the 2-foot Boomstick, with chili, cheese and jalapeños. Monday at Globe Life Park, when the Rangers open their season against the Seattle Mariners, the Wicked Pig makes its debut. The towering $24 sandwich features five forms of pork and deserves its own hashtag.
Another pertinent example: Back in the day, professional wrestling used to be a fringe “sport,” relegated to sweaty armories and public-access TV channels. Not anymore.
Sunday, the superstars of the WWE will step into the squared circle at AT&T Stadium, the $1.3 billion home of the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, and perform for a record crowd of more than 84,000, as well as a pay-per view audience watching at home. Wrestlemania 32 is expected to pour nearly $140 million into the local economy over the course of this week. The WWE even got $2.7 million in assistance from the state’s Events Trust Fund to bring its roadshow to North Texas.
What was once a guilty pleasure is a now a mainstream, government-aided entertainment spectacle.
Ironically, one of the WWE’s Hall of Famers is none other than Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, who famously shaved the head of WWE poobah Vince McMahon in the ring at Wrestlemania 23. (Don’t expect candidate Trump to make a cameo at Wrestlemania 32 this weekend.)
The Donald was a pioneer of another guilty pleasure that has become commonplace in our culture.
When he starred in the first season of The Apprentice, in 2004, “reality TV” was just beginning to take hold of the public consciousness.
Survivor lit the torch in 2000, and The Apprentice transported the cutthroat competition from the island to the boardroom, where each week Trump would crush the ambitions of a wannabe tycoon with his signature catchphrase: “You’re fired!”
Eventually, we got bored of watching him ax anonymous biz students, so NBC upped the ante with Celebrity Apprentice, and the ratings soared.
This brand of must-be-seen TV spawned all sorts of other concocted competitions: American Idol and The Voice for the karaoke crowd. Iron Chef and Chopped fired up things in the kitchen. The Bachelor and Bachelorette kept things bubbling in the hot tub.
And so on, and so forth.
A&E, once a bastion of high-brow arts programming, dropped that facade, and now its most marketable show is Duck Dynasty, about a scraggly family who made a fortune selling duck calls.
The Robertsons are so successful that the upcoming NASCAR race at Texas Motor Speedway bears their brand. The Duck Commander 500 will be run April 9 in Fort Worth.
Bravo, once famous for its erudite shows like Inside the Actors’ Studio, is now best known as the network of “The Real Housewives” series, a phenomemon featuring affluent, mostly crass women in Orange County, New York, New Jersey, Atlanta, Miami and many more.
Dallas gets its version of “The Real Housewives” beginning at 9 p.m. April 11, and producers promise the five fiery women chosen to star will “show us what Texas really is.”
Their taglines (“I’m the girl next door, if you grew up in a big ol’ mansion”; “I’m no trophy wife, I’m a lifetime achievement award”) are already being debated on social media, and the show is likely to attract equal amounts of disgust and devotion.
But RHOD will proudly take its place in the lineup of America’s guilty pleasures, alongside WWE, Donald Trump, Duck Dynasty, the Wicked Pig and many more. (Come to think of it, maybe a little guilt isn’t such a bad thing.)
In the spirit of embracing these guilty pleasures, we asked a few local notables to share theirs. Turns out they often had more than one.
Mike Kannon and Sybil Summers, co-hosts (beginning April 1), KVIL/103.7 FM morning show
This isn’t the first time we’ve contacted Summers about a guilty pleasure: She participated in our “ugly Christmas sweaters” story back in December. On Friday, she’ll move from her midday slot to join Mike Kannon on KVIL’s 5:30-10 a.m. “More Music Mornings” show.
So we got both of them to tell us their guilty pleasures.
Summers: “Bad reality shows, and the trashier the better. Never missed an episode of Bad Girls Club, and I watch [tattoo competition] Ink Master religiously.
“I also love YA movies like Twilight, Hunger Games, Divergent, Vampire Academy — yassss!,” Summers says via email. “And I’m pretty much unbeatable at board games (because I play so many of them). So basically I’m a teen-age girl trapped in a 30-something woman’s body.”
Kannon: “I find myself seriously interested in and entertained by my 2-year-old daughter’s TV shows. “Peppa Pig? Let’s binge. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse? Deserves an Emmy [Note: It has been nominated but never won.]. Like, I find myself genuinely curious what Mouska-Tool Mickey is going use to get that cat out of that tree, and I have my own version of The Hot Dog Dance that I’m legitimately proud of.”
Kannon isn’t alone: He once posted on the KVIL website about singer Michael Bublé doing The Hot Dog Dance, which can be seen on Bublé’s Facebook page.
Mark Henry, WWE superstar
The former Olympic powerlifter turned WWE wrestler was born in Silsbee. He’ll be competing at Wrestlemania 32 Sunday at AT&T Stadium.
Food: Fried Oreos. I look forward to going to the Texas State Fair every year, so I can get the Fried Oreos.
Movies: I’m a prison movie guy. I’ve watched Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, like, 25 times each.
Cedric Thornton, new Dallas Cowboys defensive end
Thornton just signed a four-year deal with the Cowboys after playing the last four seasons with their NFC East rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles.
Food: I like Starburst jelly beans and I definitely love Reeses Blasts from Sonic. I get one every Wednesday. I also like chicken gizzards; I’m a country boy.
Movies: He likes kids movies, like the Disney soccer classic The Big Green, The Sandlot and The Lion King.
Joel Fitzgerald, Fort Worth police chief
I watch The Walking Dead, though my wife and none of the rest of my family likes it. It’s especially great when I can have my other guilty pleasure while watching it ... tres leches cake.
Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks owner
McDonald’s chocolate cones. Takes all my willpower to avoid them.
David Lowery, film director
I love Kesha. Her big anthemic pop songs just make my day. I dream of one day making a movie that has a song like C’mon on the soundtrack.
I hope Sony does the right thing and lets her out of her contract so she can make more music. I don’t feel guilty about this at all.
Lance Dunbar, Dallas Cowboys running back
The former UNT running back re-signed with the Cowboys and is rehabbing from a season-ending knee injury last year.
1. Food: “I’m a candy guy.” Mamba fruit chews and Airheads are his favorites. Wingstop’s Louisiana Rub wings are another guilty pleasure.
2. Movie: Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood (1996). He estimates he’s seen the parody film starring Shawn and Marlon Wayans about 50 times
3. TV show: I hate the Kardashians, but my girl watches it and I’m like ‘Turn that off.’ ... But then I end up watching it.”
Sydney, Dallas Mavericks dancer
A Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader for seven seasons, Sydney is now performing with the Dallas Mavericks Dancers.
Guilty pleasure foods: Chicken fried steak with corn, mashed potatoes and gravy! My favorite is from Tillman’s Roadhouse in the Bishop Arts area of Oak Cliff.
Oh yeah and my guiltiest pleasure ... iced coffee with hazelnut and vanilla syrup. I like my cream and sugar with a little bit of coffee! Dessert on the rocks!
My favorite candy is anything sour ... I’m the candy queen! Chewy Jolly Ranchers, Swedish Fish, Lemon Heads ... you name it, it’s probably in my purse right now.
Music: I love especially stuff by Ed Sheeran and Florida Georgia Line. My favorite song is Summer, by Calvin Harris. Everything good happens in the summer!
Kent Scribner, Fort Worth school district superintendent
I am a secret fan of romantic comedies. Too bad we didn’t have any snow days this year. A more frequent guilty pleaure is my Jay-Z Pandora station in the car. I try not to get caught singing at a stoplight.
TV: I’d have to say WWE, considering that I’m 31 years old. I’m attending Wrestlemania. My favorite wrestlers: Growing up it was Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Razor Ramon. … But the current wrestlers that I enjoy watching are AJ Styles, Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens.
Food: Blue Bell vanilla ice cream. Microwave it for 12 seconds and add chocolate chips.
Music: Anything pop music-related. I, like, study songwriters on that level. Anything from Justin Bieber to Fifth Harmony.
Clarice Tinsley, 5 and 10 p.m. anchor on KDFW/Channel 4
1. Watching Empire while wearing my Empire T-shirt
2. House of Cards binge-watch with popcorn
3. Watching Billions in my PJs
4. Onion rings
Reagan James, singer-songwriter and season seven contestant on ‘The Voice’
I spend entirely too much time with my son — a 9-month-old bearded dragon named Flynn.
He just gets me.
Jane McGarry, co-host, WFAA/Channel 8’s ‘Good Morning Texas,’ editor in chief, ‘Real Jane’ (www.realjane.net)
McGarry says she has too many guilty pleasures to count, but she did send us five of them.
1. Shoes! Shoes make a girl feel good whether you’re having a fat or thin day. I’m a sucker for sexy shoes, have dozens of pairs in everything from leopard to baby blue.
2. Handbags. I can’t resist them and then can’t part with them. Fortunately my closet has a section for handbags, right next to the shoes.
3. Chocolate. I may feel really guilty after I eat half a box of Godiva but it, unfortunately, doesn’t stop me.
4. Tunes too loud in my car: Everything from Kanye to Adele, with a little Sly and the Family Stone thrown in for good measure.,
5. My guilty-TV watching pleasure is Ray Donovan now that Breaking Bad is over, and I watch Empire for Cookie’s clothes.”
(We should note that there are those of us on the DFW.com staff who share at least Nos. 3 and 4 with McGarry.)
Kalen Morgenstern, executive chef, FW Market + Table
When the Fort Worth Tillman’s Roadhouse moved out last fall, Morgenstern, who was chef de cuisine at Tillman’s, stuck around and opened her own restaurant, FW Market + Table in the same West 7th space (it was one of DFW.com’s picks for best new restaurants of 2015).
But you might know Morgenstern from — speaking of guilty pleasures — her appearance on Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen, where she took in stride the head-spinning yelling of chef/judge/tormentor Gordon Ramsay.
But then, Morgenstern is used to scary things: She’s a big fan of horror movies.
“I don’t judge,” she says. (You’ve heard of B-movies? She’ll watch C-movies, she says.)
“I’ve seen all of them that are at Redbox and on Netflix. I am constantly searching for new ones that I have missed.”
Among her favorites are The Entity, The Descent, Dr. Giggles and You’re Next. And anything by Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, the “Hostel” movies).
Morgenstern also lists tacos, champagne and “extra-filthy” martinis among her guilty pleasures, emphasis on champagne.
“I feel the same about bubbles as I do horror movies,” she says. “I like them all.”
Brandon Carr, Dallas Cowboys cornerback
TV shows: I was just watching Glee on the plane. That’s funny, because the whole episode was on guilty pleasures.
Food: I love Louisana rub from Wingstop. As far as candy, I love Reeses, anything with chocolate and peanut butter I’m game.
Karen Borta, co-anchor, CBS 11 ‘This Morning’
Borta, the longtime KTVT/Channel 11 anchor who moved to the morning shift in early 2015, says her guilty pleasure is reading. “What’s to feel guilty about there?” you might ask. Borta explains the guilt (and the pleasure) via email:
“It’s a pleasure because I adore angst-filled love stories (I admit, I’m a total romantic at heart) and all things British (with full credit to Jane Austen for that).
“It’s a GUILTY pleasure because, like every other wife and mom reading this RIGHT NOW, I’m constantly thinking about everything else I feel I should be doing: Do we need milk? Was I supposed to take the dogs to the vet today? Is Katie’s volleyball uniform clean? Has Kylie had a snack? Did I return Jake’s dorm application?”
Raegan, Dallas Mavericks Dancer
Food: Chips and queso! I could eat Mexican food everyday and not get tired of it. Also, I’m a Choc-O-Holic. Reeses, Butterfingers or Hersey Kisses.
Music: I definitely have Bieber Fever. I actually met him last year in Miami and I’m so excited to go to his concert at the AAC in April.
Reality shows: My favorites are So You Think You Can Dance, Dance Moms, and Dancing with the Stars. Anything that has to do with dancing.
Jay Betsill and Denise Harris contributed to this report.
- 5 p.m. Sunday
- AT&T Stadium, Arlington
- Tickets: $42-$2,360
- Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, Dallas
- Tickets: $55
- Sessions: 6-10 p.m. Thursday; 5-9 p.m. Friday; 8 a.m.-noon, 1-5 p.m. and 6-10 p.m. Saturday; and 8 a.m.-noon Sunday.
- 6:30 p.m. Monday
- American Airlines Center, Dallas