All types turn out at casting call for Naples reality show 'House Cats'

From left to right are Victoria Watts and Karen Danni. The duo will produce an upcoming reality television pilot called "House Cats,"  following five women through their journey from reserved and reluctant to bold and sexy. Joanna Chau/Special to the Daily News

Photo by JOANNA CHAU

From left to right are Victoria Watts and Karen Danni. The duo will produce an upcoming reality television pilot called "House Cats," following five women through their journey from reserved and reluctant to bold and sexy. Joanna Chau/Special to the Daily News

Victoria Watts and Karen Danni review the list of candidates vying for a part as one of the five women who will be coaxed out of their shells through pole dancing for an upcoming reality television pilot called "House Cats.' Joanna Chau/Special to the Daily News

Photo by JOANNA CHAU

Victoria Watts and Karen Danni review the list of candidates vying for a part as one of the five women who will be coaxed out of their shells through pole dancing for an upcoming reality television pilot called "House Cats." Joanna Chau/Special to the Daily News

Victoria Watts and Karen Danni wear silver platform shoes, which represents their newly formed company, Silver Shoe Productions, and an example of typical heels worn for pole dancing. The duo will produce an upcoming reality television pilot called "House Cats,"  following five women through their journey from reserved and reluctant to bold and sexy. Joanna Chau/Special to the Daily News

Photo by JOANNA CHAU

Victoria Watts and Karen Danni wear silver platform shoes, which represents their newly formed company, Silver Shoe Productions, and an example of typical heels worn for pole dancing. The duo will produce an upcoming reality television pilot called "House Cats," following five women through their journey from reserved and reluctant to bold and sexy. Joanna Chau/Special to the Daily News

— In a show about pole dancing, one would expect certain things to be revealed.

But not necessarily the things you might think.

The same was true on Sunday, when Victoria Watts and Karen Danni of Silver Shoe Productions, and their partner, Brian Howie of 4th Street Media, set out to cast “House Cats.” The three are producing the reality television show pilot, which will follow five local ladies as they take part in a weekly pole dancing class. Along the way, it will also show their personal journeys from timorous to temptress.

However, many of the women who attended the audition didn’t seem to have a shyness problem. Not at all.

The event was held at the Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club; about 40 pre-registered women were scheduled to interview during the 12:45 to 4 p.m. casting call. By 1:30 p.m., hotel staff had already alerted the producers to a growing number of walk-ins, and the hallway outside the casting room was noisy with voices and laughter. One could-be House Cat listened to music on her earphones and danced in place.

Dawn Fornara, a local choreographer, came to the casting call because she thought that landing a spot on the show would be a surefire way to get motivated to lose weight. And, admittedly, she’s a bit obsessed with reality shows, she said.

True, she’s not a wallflower. But she wouldn’t let that worry her about her chances.

“I’m completely silly, which is entertaining,” she said.

In the interviews, Danni, Watts and Howie sought to discover the unseen side of the women. The asked about each woman’s past and present, such as how they ended up in Florida and why they wanted to be a part of the show. Although the questions seemed straightforward, the goal was to unearth what made each woman tick, Howie said.

“Some are here because someone told them to come,” he noted. “Some are here with no one else knowing they’re here.”

Normally, in casting a reality show, producers would look for the biggest personalities in the room, Howie said. In “House Cats,” however, the process was a little different. Rather than looking for someone who’s already got a lot of punch, they wanted to find someone who had pizzazz potential.

The way to do that, Howie explained, was to read between the lines. Hard.

“People drop hints,” he said. “It’s the ones that let something slip.”

For example, a woman might be very quiet and reserved in her interview, hands neatly folded in her lap and cardigan sweater primly buttoned, but if she suddenly mentions “my sixth husband,” it’s definitely time to start paying attention.

Many times, women have had to change course in their life, and not by choice, Howie said. Some are at peace with that, and others aren’t.

“There might be something unfulfilled there that we can explore,” Howie said.

In the interviews, women told stories of following their husbands to Naples because of his job, or of now raising their children here alone because the economy has forced him to seek work elsewhere. They recalled difficult childhoods and abusive relationships. They gushed about loving children and happy marriages. They talked about careers that stalled and dreams they still nurture daily.

Jeanie Conti Speckmann talked about Wayne Newton. When she was 18, she shared the same bill – and a revolving stage – with him in Las Vegas, singing alongside him night after night. Now she’s an interior designer, and splits her time between Naples and New Jersey.

That’s part of what brought her to audition for “House Cats.”

“When you’ve been from a show business background, it never leaves you,” said Speckmann, who decided not to share her age. “It’s part of your soul.”

As a young woman, she danced the jitterbug and foxtrot, as well as several other dances. Now, she does yoga and Zumba. No pole dancing so far, though.

“Never touched a pole,” she said. She added, joking, “Unless he was from Poland.”

Friends Jackie Liszak, Brooke Klepper and Lisa Guidi all drove down from Fort Myers Beach for the casting call. The women even brought their husbands to support them, too, who they described as “100 percent behind us,” Guidi said.

“I thought it was a fun adventure, and a wonderful promotion for women over 40,” said Guidi, 48, of the pilot. “We don’t all fit a mold.”

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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