Fake tan applied and false eyelashes in place, I arrive at project in downtown Norwich for the start of their Reem Party. In a few hours, the stage will be graced by none other than Joey Essex, the beloved star of The Only Way Is Essex. But, before he goes on stage, I am going to interview the man himself.
Famous for quotes such as, “Who’s the prime minister of Essex?” in all honesty, I was not holding out much hope for a deeply intellectual interview. However, nothing could prepare me for the disaster which was about to unfold. “Follow me girls, I’ll set you up in VIP,” sounds like the start of a good night right? Wrong.
I am sipping on my third (or maybe fourth) cocktail when a buzz goes round the room: Joey is in the building. I am ushered out of VIP and into the backstage area. Joey is in the bathroom. I want. My eyes wander to a table, there’s a list of things Joey would like upon arrival to the club. On the list there are Dairylea Lunchables, pineapple juice, vodka and ready salted crisps. What a diva.
When Joey emerges he is a vision of orange. He looks tired, his face puffy. He is, however, glowing. He glows not as one would after an expensive facial, but as one would after a nuclear radiation leak. He is wearing his signature outfit: a tight, white t-shirt and even tighter denim shorts. He is smaller than I imagined. I feel like the jolly green giant standing next to him in my six inch heels. I wish I’d worn flats. I usher him to a sofa. We sit. The interview begins.
I tell him that it’s fantastic to meet him, that I love TOWIE, that I’d once seen him in Sugar Hut in Essex and that the excitement I felt that day was a close second to Christmas. Joey looks blankly at me, “I like your watch,” he says, “it’s well reem.” Brilliant, Joey likes me already. I have a good feeling about this. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for that feeling to fade.
“Er…wait, what?” Joey says in response to my inquiry as to his opinion of the economic situation at the moment. He scowls at me. Fabulous. I take a different tact and ask him about vajazzles. Now, for those of you who are yet to have the pleasure of watching TOWIE, a vajazzle is when one has little gems (crystals, not lettuces) placed in an aesthetically pleasing pattern around one’s private parts. What a lovely idea, right? Don’t worry I won’t be offended if you stop reading now and rush out to get one.
Joey’s enthusiasm is short lived, however, as he stumbles over the use of the word “inspiration” in my next question. “What do you mean?” he asks, bemused, when probed about the inspirations behind his style. We look at one another in silence for a moment. I wonder if he’s joking. He’s not. I think of another way to ask him, speaking slowly so he understands. Somewhere deep inside his brain a low watt light bulb flickers. “I just wear what I want to really,” he says. I begin wondering if interviewing a potato would be more interesting when Joey suddenly stands up, making me jump, and points at himself. “This is called Joey Essex,” he shouts, “that’s it.” He sits back down.
When asked what he thinks of Norwich, Joey says that he has “only been here for five minutes,” he thinks it’s “reem” but doesn’t really know, he doesn’t think he’s ever been here before. The light bulb flickers again. “Fuck, are we in UEA?” I nod. “Is UEA near Norwich?” Is he being serious? Oh, wait, he is. Nice one Joey. Very reem.
Thanks to Mr Essex, the word “reem” has entered the TOWIE watching public. One could say that Joey Essex is the modern day Shakespeare. Sort of. The word in question is actually a Swedish slang term used to describe an incredibly sexy and talented individual. I, however, am starting to prefer Urban Dictionary’s definition of “reem” which is something along the lines of “saying this word automatically gives others permission to belt you around the face with a shovel.”
While I’m musing this, he gets up again. “Is it me or is it hot in here?” he asks. I tell him that I’m sorry but I can’t being so hot. I laugh at my own joke. Joey looks at me blankly. He turns around and heads towards the bathroom. I, naturally, follow. I tell him to run his wrists under some cold water to cool himself down, he asks where I heard such a stupid idea, I tell him that I don’t know, but I might have seen it in a rubbish TV programme on ITV2.
After a few minutes, Joey’s wrists are cool enough for us to leave the bathroom. Fantastic. Is he ready to answer my questions again? Of course he’s not. He comments on my watch again, which is bright orange. Maybe he is feeling inspired as to his next shade of fake tan. Or he would, if he knew what the word inspired meant.
He picks up the copy of Concrete I’ve brought with me and takes a picture of it on his phone. “What’s this?” he asks. He seems agitated. He gets up again. I tell him he seems nervous. He tells me he’s not. I try another question, what type of girl does Joey Essex usually go for? “They’ve just gotta be reem man.” Fabulous, I think, this interview is going to change the world.
The way Joey Essex is portrayed onscreen is as a dim but charismatic young man with a heart of gold. “I’m just myself on it,” Joey says of his onscreen persona. Bollocks. He must be happy with the way the producers of TOWIE edit the programme because so far the only characteristic I can vouch for is that he is dim, very dim. His favourite food must be dim sum. If he was a household appliance he would be a dimmer switch. His favourite political commentator (if he had any idea what that means) would be Jonathon Dimbleby.
At this point, Joey sits down and starts picking at his knee. He tells me it hurts. Now it’s my turn to look bemused. This interview just gets better and better doesn’t it? Michael Parkinson eat your heart out. I tell him that it’s probably an ingrown hair. “What’s one of them?” asks Mr Essex. I explain. “It’s hurting. Do something,” he says. I tell him that I don’t really have much experience in dealing with the pain caused from ingrown hairs. Bloody hell.
“I need to go outside. I’m boiling.” Joey looks visibly flustered, he is beginning to sweat. “I can’t handle this, I’m hot,” he says. Then he gets up and I watch, incredulous as his little orange legs scuttle out of the door. I’m speechless: something which doesn’t happen very often let me tell you.
Tucking Concrete under my arm I go to follow. My path is blocked by Joey’s security guard. Even in my heels he is about a foot taller than me and about eight times as wide. I contemplate taking a run at the door but I decide against it. He could snap me like a Toblerone. “Joey’s not doing any more interviews tonight,” is all he says, his arms folded. Brilliant.