Some of you probably remember Jesse Camp as the squeaky-voiced, spiky-haired street urchin who somehow won 1998’s “Wanna Be a VJ” contest on “TRL,” rode a wave of fame to D-list celebrity status, released an album on Hollywood Records and then disappeared from the face of the Earth.
If you don’t remember him, well, that’s OK. You are probably, like, 13 years old. But, luckily, Camp made an appearance Sunday (November 16) on “Total Finale Live,” alongside fellow, uh, former VJ Dave Holmes (whom he beat in the “Wanna Be A VJ” contest). Afterward, MTV News caught up with him backstage to get his take on all the “TRL” madness and find out just what he’s been up to for the past, well, decade.
“I was only 18 when [I won the contest]. Looking back on it now, it’s crazy. I hadn’t even been done with high school a full year yet,” he laughed. “Even though my Wikipedia page says I didn’t graduate high school, and I have, definitely.
“Anyway, it’s amazing to be back. There’s a real family vibe here,” he continued. “The minute you open the door, there’s this amazing receptionist who makes you feel right at home. So much of the staff has remained in tact over 10 years. It’s essentially the same crew, and that in and of itself is awesome. And to see Carson [Daly] is great, because he’s an L.A. refugee like me.”
And Daly holds the key to the mystery of just what Camp has been doing with his life recently. Camp says he’s used the former “TRL” ringmaster to launch a lucrative career as a personal trainer — of course, that could also be completely false.
“When I heard he was moving to L.A., I basically told him, ‘Listen, I’m really into doing personal training now.’ Carson and I do a lot of cardio. That’s why he’s got the new physique,” Camp said. “I am a heterosexual man, but I do want to go on record and say I always thought [Daly] was a very good-looking, handsome man. I would be happy to have my sister marry him, if it were in the cards.”
Good to know. And though he’s probably joking about his current gig, Camp is dead serious about the impact “TRL” has had on his life. It not only got him a level of fame, it also earned him — and his band, the 8th Street Kidz — a recording contract with Hollywood Records. They released one album in 1999, and when it tanked, he and his band were dropped. Still, he holds no hard feelings. In fact, he said it was one of the highlights of his entire life.
“For me, the biggest thing — although it wasn’t the biggest of commercial successes — was to premiere a video I had made from a record I had coming out on ‘TRL.’ That was an insane feeling,” he laughed. “To think that a year prior to that, I was an 18-year-old toolin’ around. I really entered the contest to see the inside of the building. I mean, this was before ‘American Idol’ and all that. I had no idea that I could even win it, let alone that it would lead to so much. It became hysterical.”
For everything on “Total Finale Live,” including bonus performances, behind-the-scenes action and more, head to TRL.MTV.com. Plus, check out our stage-door interviews with 50 Cent, Taylor Swift, Ludacris and many more superstars at the big show.