After a season in Italy in which he had sex with Snooki, visited his ancestral homeland in Sicily and, for the most part, managed to steer clear of the Situation's bizarre antics, Vinny's now found himself back in the States trying to expand his reality fame into an acting career, all while dealing with the strange, relentless celebrity that swirls around the show.
AOL TV spoke with Vinny about the enduring appeal (so far, anyway) of the 'Jersey Shore' phenomenon, and he offered his thoughts on why America has yet to grow tired of the over-tanned gang. He also admits that they were treated like "gods" by nearly everyone they encountered upon arriving back in Seaside to shoot Season 5 ... except for New Jersey's governor Chris Christie.
Our discussion turned political from there, as Vinny revealed his support for the Occupy Wall Street protests and his disgust with Republicans who will stop at nothing to bring down President Obama. Check out more after the jump ...
One of my favorite moments from the season was when Snooki had to call Jionni twice to clarify that she had actually in fact had sex with you. Did you believe that she didn't remember?
[Laughs] That was one of my favorite moments, too. No, absolutely not. I think that for a girl not to remember something like that ... granted, it wasn't intense at all, it was a really quick two-second thing because it was so awkward ... me and Snooki don't feel it like that. Even still, you gotta be unconscious to not remember having sex with me -- even if it was only for two seconds.
Have you seen Jionni since?We saw him threaten you on the phone.
Yeah, well I'm alive, he didn't kill me. I was a little worried for a second ... you can put *sarcasm* there. I don't want to give too much away because we filmed another season, but she's still with him. You can imagine I did run into the kid once in a while and you can just wait and see what happens.
It seems like Mike came into this season with a weird kind of agenda. What do you think it was?
Right. I don't know. It's funny because if you look at it, a lot of that stuff happens secretively, under the table, like when he's outside on the balcony. We're never around when he does [that]. So I'm literally watching this with the rest of you, seeing what happened. I saw the aftereffects, when champagne bottles were getting thrown at his head and he was ramming his head into the wall. But other than that, I didn't really know what he was actually up to until I watched it on TV. And now that I watch it I'm like, that's interesting ...
Is he trying to turn himself into a reality TV villain?
That could be a theory. But at the same time, he's always done that. That's part of his character, is his ego ... that's just what he does. He stirs the pot, and trouble, and I bet he loves it. He likes standing alone and being that dude that everyone's up against. So if that's what he wants to do, maybe that could be a theory.
Do you ever get tired of dealing with the celebrity?
Nah, not really. It's my job. It's a tough job that has its ups and downs, because it's 24 hours a day, but a lot of good comes from it. It's a blessing. Financially, it's a blessing. It's afforded me opportunities for my future. Acting has been a dream of mine, and I'd be willing to do a lot to fulfill that dream. So if it means going through some of other stuff now, I'm willing to do that.
How is the acting going?
Well I just shot an episode of '90210' which is airing soon, and I'm in talks to do another episode. I also just took some classes at UCB in New York City. And I just feel like as these roles keep coming out, the same way 'RJ Berger' kinda got me '90210,' hopefully this will get me another role and it just continues like that.
How do people react when you walk into an audition?
I keep it real normal, like I don't try to act like a celebrity, or say that just because I'm on a TV show I can do other types of TV. I take it very seriously and I respect the art of acting. I'm just one amongst them.
Why do you think America isn't tired of you guys yet?
That's a good question. [Laughs] I don't know. We film so much, but I think it's the time that MTV takes off between seasons. First of all, the show itself, people relate to us, they like us, they feel we're just normal kids -- we're not doing this for fame and money. We didn't even know we were going to make any money off this in the beginning. We're the same kids that we were ... our lifestyle has changed, but we didn't even have time to change. It was only like a year and a half ago. Other than that, they change the dynamic up ... Miami, back to Jersey, then we went to Italy. It keeps it fresh. I don't know when they're gonna be sick of us.
Now that you're back in New Jersey, how have people been reacting to you?
Jersey was tough. It was the ultimate homecoming parade, a million people following us everywhere we went. It was crazy ... we just filmed around it. We just acted as normal as we could. The production team had to block out all the people trying to take pictures and wanting autographs.
What's the ratio of people who are negative vs. positive when they see you?
Honestly, at this point, 99.9% positive. Even if they're faking it, when they see us, in Jersey, we are like ... gods. 'Cuz we put that place on the map. Like it was nothing, it was dirty before [the show] happened. The first season, everybody hated on us. Everybody was yelling, trying to start fights with us, calling us names, but then once these people saw we were celebrities and everything, they changed their minds real quick, and the same people who were calling us toolbags are lovin' us.
Except the governor.
Laughs. Except the governor, that's true.
I read that you were a political science major. What do you think about his public comments speaking out against you guys?
Yeah, it's a shame too, 'cuz I don't mind him so much as a political figure, the things that he sides with. But for him to judge us based on what we do ... he's called us really bad names, like he's called me an idiot, stupid, like a little kid does. I wouldn't expect that from an American political figure. So I have mixed feelings about him. But obviously, we've turned that state upside down. Our taxes have generated school books for kids. It's so hard to get jobs in America, but in New Jersey, their job market is flourishing on that boardwalk because of us.
That's what the mayor of Seaside Heights said.
Yeah, I don't know how [Christie] can't appreciate that.
I guess being a bully is part of his persona.
Yeah, but then when people are bullying him about his weight, he didn't take it too kindly, so he should know how it feels now.
So he won't be getting your vote if he runs for president in 2016?
I don't know ... maybe we could come to some kind of compromise. I just want what's best for the country ... I would put myself aside for that. But probably not, I'm not really part of the Republican team anyway. I just think it's hilarious how one side is trying to break down the other side, even if it means bringing down the country at the same time. I think Al Sharpton said it: "You're trying to bring down the captain but you're sinking the ship." They'll pick up any dirt they could just to get rid of Obama.
Are you an Obama supporter?
I'm registered as an Independent. I did vote for Obama ... but now, I'm part of Occupy Wall Street, eff the government ... I'm part of the 99% right now.
So you're down with Occupy Wall Street?
I think it's amazing, I think it's awesome. Even if it does nothing, Americans are finally stepping up and talking about whatever issues they have. It started off talking about corporate greed, but ya know what it is ... it's more of like a brotherhood, it's more like going to Church. Even if you don't believe in the stuff, it's more about bringing people together and standing up for something. I think it's cool, because I'm from New York City, so I'm gonna go check it out actually.
Me too. But I just don't want to get arrested.
Laughs. Yeah, I don't want to get beaten up by any cops.
The season finale of 'Jersey Shore' airs Thurs., Oct. 20 at 10PM ET on MTV.
Check out a video of Vinny talking to Wendy Williams
about having sex with Snooki: