Who: Willa Ford (a.k.a. “Bad Girl of Pop”)
Biggest hit: 2001’s “I Wanna Be Bad”
Claim to fame: Good girl gone bad … really bad
You may remember her from: The former Tampa Bay Children’s Chorus member from Ruskin, Florida, hit the big time in 1999 under the name Mandah when she landed a song on the “Pokémon: The First Movie” soundtrack. After touring with the Backstreet Boys, she began dating Nick Carter and her then-label, MCA Records, tried to position her as a clean-cut cutie.
A raft of negative Web sites blasting the singer for her breakup with Carter led to her being dropped from MCA and reinventing herself as a sexpot bad girl. Her Lava/Atlantic debut, Willa Was Here, was released in 2001 and spawned her signature hit, the Britney-like R&B track “I Wanna Be Bad,” which was used in a 7UP ad campaign and as a theme song for Six Flags theme parks.
Where ya been, Willa?: The first single from Ford’s second effort, the sorority-chant-sampling 2003 track “A Toast to Men” fizzled, and the album, Sexysexobsessive, was never released. The singer went on to host “I Bet You Will” for MTV, “The Ultimate Fighter” show for SpikeTV and perform as a guest in the Las Vegas Pussycat Dolls revue. The curvy blonde continues to eschew music for more revealing fare, such as spreads in Stuff magazine, a stint (barely) suiting up as a celebrity quarterback in the 2006 Lingerie Bowl and appearing naked in the March “Sex and Music” issue of Playboy magazine.
|Willa Ford: Where Ya Been?|
Up next in the Champagne Room: Ford is busy writing a new album and putting together a new band, according to her manager.
The moral: Next time Willa says she’s bad, believe it.
Who: Jesse Camp (a.k.a. that skinny guy who won MTV’s “Wanna Be a VJ” contest)
Biggest hits: Landing the VJ gig, getting to jump onstage with Vince Neil and Van Halen and having his own short-lived MTV show, “Lunch With Jesse.”
Claim to fame: Allegedly won the contest over the less charismatic walking music encyclopedia Dave Holmes when an Internet hacker rigged the voting and sent in 3,000 bogus votes. Also, his onscreen duet with Tori Amos on Aerosmith’s “Dream On” is a high point in bizarre TV.
You may remember him from: The 6’4″ beanpole rocker with the gravity-defying hair made up a story about being homeless on his way to winning the $25,000 grand prize and a once-in-a-lifetime gig as an MTV VJ in a 1998 contest. He released the debut album from his band — Jesse Camp & the 8th Street Kidz — the next year, featuring Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen and Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks, made the cover of Spin magazine and then quickly disappeared from the scene. He had a small cameo in Britney Spears’ movie “Crossroads,” and appeared in the low-budget 2004 horror flick “Skin Walker” alongside other notorious figures such as Joey Buttafucco and drag performer RuPaul.
|Jesse Camp: Where Ya Been?|
The bad news: Unfortunately, the former student at the prestigious Loomis Chaffee prep school in Connecticut appears to have taken his spacey rocker persona too seriously. After the album stiffed and Camp was dropped by Hollywood Records, he fell off the map, according to his former manager, Charlie Stettler, who could not reach him for comment. “The kid was a confused teenager who ended up fooling the whole world, including me. Thousands of fans lined up outside record stores when he released his rock and roll album … problem [is] nobody bought, they just wanted to touch him, be him for a day. … He has spent the last several years trying to find himself and do the right thing, unfortunately without much success to date.” Camp’s parents could not be reached for comment, and a former bandmate said Camp, now 26, contacted him six months ago and said he was living in Los Angeles.
The Moral: Those 15 minutes are a lot shorter when you’re the one in the spotlight.
Ever wonder what happened to Crazy Town? How about Snow? Vitamin C? Tell us which faded stars you’d like us to check up on, and you just might find them in a future edition of “Where Ya Been?” Send us your suggestions and we’ll get digging…