Virgins on MTV? Yes, that sounds like an oxymoron. Still, the people featured on "Virgin Territory" (debuting Wednesday, July 16) are fairly interesting; here's the story I sent to papers:
By MIKE HUGHES
LOS ANGELES -- In an MTV universe filled with high-octane
youth, these people seem unique. They are – openly and candidly – virgins; that
seems to surprise the people who know them.
“My family … honestly didn’t believe that I was still a
virgin, based upon my personality,” said Dominique Sullivan, 22. “I like to go
out and I like to do regular things.”
Now she’s in the opener of MTV reality show “Virgin
Territory,” flirting and dancing and then talking about her virginity. A
subsequent episode has Alec Melger, 21, who also surprised his parents.
“They assumed that I wasn’t a virgin …. I love talking about
sex, (but) I’m not having it,” he said.
By comparison, Lisa Youngerman, 23, (featured in the opener)
says her parents knew she was a virgin. “What father doesn’t love the idea that
his daughter is not having sex?”
They might seem misplaced in a network whose shows imply
that everyone’s having young sex. Sullivan was a “Jersey Shore” fan; Melger
recalls seeing a three-way on “The Gauntlet” when he was 9.
Even Susanne Daniels, MTV’s programming president, recalls
having doubts about some of the shows. “When I first heard about ‘Teen Mom,’ my
initial reaction was that it sounded exploitive,” she said.
Still, there might be a cautionary effect. Sarah Brown, head
of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, points to a
Brookings Institution study: “MTV programs focusing on pregnant teens and teen
moms could account for up to one-third of the decline in teen birth rate.”
Other shows have a different effect. “In our media,” Melger
said, “sex is everywhere …. It does put a lot of pressure on young people to
The “Virgin Territory” people resisted, for varying reasons:
For Youngerman, it was religious; she decided to
wait until her marriage (which is shown in the opener). “I was with Nick for
almost four years (before marriage), and so it was very (difficult) to abstain
from sex when you care so much about a person.”
For Melger, who is gay, it’s been inadvertent.
Sex simply hasn’t happened, he said, a fact that he’s not happy about.
“Abstinence is not for me.”
For Sullivan, it’s learning from others. “People
in my family started having sex at a very young age …. I didn’t want to
continue that pattern. I didn’t want to get pregnant at a young age.”
Often, Sullivan said, she skips serious relationships of any
kind. “It is hard dating someone for a while when you are a virgin …. It begins
to be an issue.”
So she prefers to put on a tight dress, dance zestfully,
flirt with the guys – and then go home alone. “We can still be sexy and we can
still be vibrant,” Sullivan said. “We just don’t have to ‘do it’ to be that.”
“Virgin Territory,” 11 p.m. Wednesdays, MTV.
Opener, July 16, reruns at 3 p.m. Saturday; 11
a.m. and 9 p.m. Sunday; 6 p.m. Monday; and 8 p.m. July 23.