eve seen as a teen
Photos courtesy of Eve LaFountain
Entertainment

Eve from ‘Bug Juice’ Would Love It If You’d Stop Emailing Her

A mysterious star of the early reality TV era reflects on summer camp, the weird nature of viral fame, and the real reason she was kicked out of Brush Ranch.
March 29, 2021, 11:55am

This is part of a special series, The Future of Fame Is the Fan, which dissects how celebrity became so slippery. It’s also in the latest VICE magazine. Subscribe here

The summer after she turned 14, Eve LaFountain came home from summer camp early because she’d been kicked out. But this wasn’t your ordinary camp ejection. Her camp departure was filmed and broadcast for a Disney Channel reality show, Bug Juice, guaranteeing that one of the most traumatic moments of her young life—sobbing, climbing into her mom’s car holding her stuff—was memorialized more or less forever.

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You may already know about this: Bug Juice was an iconic show of its era, one of the earliest reality TV shows as well as the first aimed at younger viewers, focused on the adventures and inner lives of preteens at camp, and Eve’s abrupt disappearance from the show remains one of its most notorious moments. Many viewers became obsessed with Eve’s story line, and with knowing why she was kicked out, a question the show never answered. Twenty years later, some of them are still trying to find out. A search for “Eve from Bug Juice” on Twitter, Reddit, or any number of reality TV forums turns up legions of people hotly discussing what Eve “did” and where she is today.

The Influencer Next Door

Neither of those things was ever a mystery to me. Soon after her unceremonious final departure from Brush Ranch, a camp in northern New Mexico, Eve and I became close friends. But we barely ever discussed the incident; it was obviously too painful for her to talk about, and I was too young and callow to really know how to ask.

“Whenever I think about it, I feel shame,” she told me recently.

Eve is now an artist and filmmaker in her mid 30s, but her brief moment with reality TV infamy has lingered. She continues to receive messages from people wanting to know what happened to her, and, as she’s gotten older, has begun reflecting in a new way on being one of the earliest “stars” of reality TV, and somebody whose life was unquestionably deeply marked by the experience. We spoke recently about reality TV, viral fame, and becoming the adult you needed as a teenager.

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This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

VICE: So, how old were you when all this happened?
Eve LaFountain:
I had just turned 14. So it was the summer between eighth and ninth grade. Which I think is important, because it’s the worst year of anybody’s adolescence. [laughs]

Right around the time all this happened, you and I had also become friends. We both grew up in Santa Fe and went to Hebrew school together. And I would say that we remain friends.
[laughs] I guess. According to you.

This would be an incredibly funny moment to tell me we’re no longer friends. [laughs] Anyway, the point is that I’m not an objective interviewer, just so people are aware of that.

To cut to the chase: You became a main character on a reality show about preteens at camp, and you were kicked out, and the show never said why. And so it sparked this enduring mystery. A bunch of people have said on these message boards devoted to Bug Juice that your season never re-aired, and they’ve tried really hard to find it—there’s a lot of urban lore around it.
Wow. I actually didn’t know that. The episode where I got kicked off used to be on YouTube. It was one of the last ones left, unfortunately. But then when Disney+ was about to start, everything got scrubbed. Now it’s all gone.

How did that feel?
It felt terrifying. I was convinced that they were going to put it on Disney+. [laughs] They could’ve. They own it forever in perpetuity and don’t even have to tell me if anything is going to happen or if it’s going to go live somewhere else.

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Let’s go back a little bit. Brush Ranch was really important to you, as I remember.
I started going to Brush Ranch when I was nine or 10. It was the summer my parents got divorced and they basically sent me away to summer camp so that my dad could move out.

I’m guessing I started going there because it was the closest sleepaway camp to get me out of the house during an emotional, crazy time they didn’t want me to witness. I didn’t know they were getting divorced, but I certainly figured it out once I got home.

I always think of it as this weird transitional place where I left and everything was fine and I came home and everything was really different. I wanted to go every summer because it was almost like I could go back to normal. Where everything was OK and nothing was different. Every year at camp was the same. It’s an idyllic place.

At the time, I was one of those hard-core camp kids. I lived for camp.

So the summer before what we’re talking about, there were all these rumors that Bug Juice, which had been on TV already, was scouting Brush Ranch. From what I remember, they’d come out and scouted that year, but there wasn’t enough infrastructure with electricity and roads and stuff like that to support a full film crew. So they had to figure out how to do it. They went to some other camp for Season 2. Then in Season 3, my season, they figured out they could stay in Santa Fe and then come up for the day for productions. Santa Fe was far enough away that when the film crew was gone at night, they were an hour away. So we weren’t filmed overnight. This will become important. [laughs]

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It sounds like, in your memory, you had an option about whether you wanted to appear on camera?
Yes. Sometime in the winter, everybody who was coming to camp got a bunch of paperwork in the mail that included questionnaires, surveys, release forms. I’m sure there were a bunch of legal documents that our parents had to go through. That was the moment where we realized that this was going to happen and they were putting together the cabin they were going to focus on. Somewhere in the paperwork I remember that they said, basically, if you don’t want to be filmed, you won’t be in the cabin that’s on camera. Everybody was excited they were going to focus on our age group. We realized if we didn’t want to be on camera we’d be in some other age group and not have the same camp experience. If you weren’t in that cabin, you’d be in with the little kids. [Emails sent to Evolution Media, the company that produced Bug Juice, bounced back, and nobody answered several phone calls at their offices. A producer whom Eve remembers shadowing her did not respond to two messages requesting comment.]

Eve wearing JNCOs in middle school.

Eve wearing JNCOs in middle school.

Which for an eighth grader is a fate worse than death. Had you watched reality TV before? Was it a thing at that time?
No! There wasn’t even a name for it yet. We didn’t have a way to describe it to people when it was a huge part of our lives. We always said it was like The Real World but at summer camp.

Did you have a sense that people on the Real World were sort of made into characters, and sometimes were edited to appear a certain way?
I don’t think so. I wasn’t media savvy yet in any kind of way. I watched The Real World because my older sister watched MTV a lot and I’d watch with her. But I don’t remember having any sense of editing, or developing people into characters. We were just excited because we were like, “We can be on TV and that seems cool.” It wasn’t anything well thought-out.

Did you have a sense of how you wanted to come off or how you wanted people to see you?
Not at all. I was not self-aware like that. I don’t think any of us were. If people need a reminder, this was before cellphones that kids had, even flip phones. Social media didn’t exist yet. The closest we had was like AOL chat rooms.

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You were kind of a main character, right? It might sound like I’m trying to be cute here, but we should be clear, I have actually not seen the show.
So, what happened with the questionnaires and stuff is like, I was a little baby raver punk kid.

I remember. [laughs] You had so many little jelly bracelets.
And I was like, “Kill your TV,” kind of—it was the end of the 90s. It was filmed in the year 2000. And I remember filling out the forms and being like, “TV is evil.” Trying to be as punk as I could be in the forms. I sent pictures with jelly bracelets up to my elbows and the biggest possible JNCOs that I had and Sailor Moon T-shirts. I wanted to show them I was a weirdo. Not because it was how I wanted to appear on TV, it was just because I wanted to be cool and have people know I wasn’t a normie. [laughs]

I don’t know how they decided which group of people to focus on, but they picked three or four boys and girls to be the main people.

They came early and filmed us packing at home, but I can’t remember them saying “You’re going to be a main character.” I just thought that was part of the show: filming us at home and then arriving. But it turned out they only did that for a few people.

So, by the time camp started, I had a crew I knew and was comfortable with already. I realized when we got there most people were encountering the cameras for the first time. That was the first hint that I had that I was going to be a main character. It could’ve been as simple as choosing the people who were going to be there all summer. I don’t think it was that I was as cool as I thought I was. [laughs]

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Most kids only went for four weeks, but a few of us stayed for eight weeks. I was one of those people, because I loved camp, and so was Bryan, the love interest. The two of us were already flagged as being main characters to follow through the show.

What was Bryan’s deal?
I think it was his first year. I met him and we both knew we were going to be there the whole time. Everybody thought Bryan was the cutest one, so I pounced on him and teased him and punched him a lot, which was how I flirted. Clearly it worked. He became my camp boyfriend.

He was not exactly my type. He looked like a Backstreet Boy. He had frosted spiky-tipped hair and wore upside down white visors. [laughs] It could have been another decision as simple as, “We’re both going to be here all summer.” I don’t think our decision-making was any deeper than the camera crew’s had been.

There’s an interview with the Bug Juice co-creator in VICE from a few years ago, and he said the show didn’t show kissing, because it would’ve upset the parents. In some ways, it sounds like it doesn’t really depict what it’s like to be 14.
They probably should’ve just focused on younger campers. At Brush Ranch I had my first kiss my first year there.

Scandalous. What else happened in your story line?
It’s weird to think about it. They created some weird drama between me and this girl Amanda. It was her first year at camp, and new kids who came in slightly older always had a bit of a hard time getting to know everybody. I was supposedly being terrible to her. But I didn’t know her. I probably ignored her because I was saying hi to my friends who I hadn’t seen for a year. They cut to shots of her feeling bad and left out. They called me “The Princess.” I always thought they were setting me up to be the bitch or the mean girl of camp.

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So you feel like you were being created as a certain character?
Kind of like a spoiled, mean, bad girl rebel. There were parts on TV where I was showing people cool clothes that I’d brought. I think they used it as a way to make me seem spoiled.

You’ve always just been extremely into thrifting and costumes.
It was part of who I was. People were excited to see what I brought every year. I always brought weird stuff. But [taglines] calling me “The Princess” were all over all the ads, and Bryan was like “The Bad Boy” or something like that.

Something that was really important for me was that I was getting into photography. There were cool cameras everywhere. I was excited about it. I had my own little crew and a producer who was like my producer, a camera lady, which I thought was badass, and a sound guy.

Spoiler: Cameras became important to you as an adult.
Yeah. And I really think that’s why. I was so excited about the production and these cameras and how they worked. They gave me a little handycam to use when they weren’t around. That was a huge highlight for me. The production people were really cool. I got to know them really well. Every day we had to tape these confessionals, when everybody else was resting, or our dinner would get cut short. They’d take you away and talk to you about stuff. They’d have to get you going, so they’d talk as if they were your friends. I felt like they became people I could vent to about camp drama without it creating more drama.

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In retrospect, of course, they were literally creating the drama. [laughs] Which I didn’t know. But I really liked them and they liked me. And for me that was one of the most important things that happened that summer. It led me on the career path I went down and it sparked my interest in documentary filmmaking. In that way, it wasn’t an all-negative experience.

And then you were kicked out. So, what happened?
It was like eight or nine episodes in. I don’t exactly remember. The way it was on TV was there was this foreboding tone in the beginning and there’s a really funny little weird foreshadowing thing that happens: I’m in the art shack trying to get some pottery glaze and I knock it over and break it. I was like “Oops!” and look around to see if anybody notices, then say, “There’s no mistakes in life, only happy little booboos.” I think in retrospect that’s a Bob Ross quote. I really loved Bob Ross. That’s how he talks.

[laughs] That’s incredibly weird.
I clean up the glaze and go about my business in the art shack and then suddenly, the boys are off on a river rafting trip. They cut to Bryan having a great time with his guys and then cut to my cabin having a cabin meeting: “Eve and [another camper] broke a major camp rule and had to go home.” It’s very sudden. There’s no lead-up. They show Bryan crying.

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Do you want to tell people what happened? We’re going to tread a little carefully here to avoid identifying anyone who might not want to revisit their teenage controversies.
So, [another camper] had gotten in trouble and had to go talk to the camp directors. She said she had weed and asked if she could hide it in my suitcase. She was in the office all day long. There were all these rumors. Everybody was on edge.

Meanwhile, I wasn’t feeling very good, I think I was coming down with a cold. Everybody got sick at camp all the time. I was having all these stomach issues throughout camp. It was really bad. It may have been anxiety about being filmed all the time, in retrospect. I didn’t know what was up. So I went to bed early. I was already asleep and had been for a while and suddenly in the middle of the night, all the lights were out, and Scott, the director of the camp, came barging into the cabin. My counselor was like, “Eve, you need to get up.”

I was really drowsy and confused. I got out of bed and was trying to get a sweater on and my shoes, and before I could finish doing that, Scott grabbed my arm really hard and physically pulled me out of the cabin and started screaming at me. He was like, “You are in so much trouble.” [Scott Rice could not be located for comment. Kay Rice, the co-director of Brush Ranch, did not respond to a Facebook message requesting comment.]

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I was stunned and scared. Scott said, “You have a thing in that cabin that you are not supposed to have.” I was like “My mom sent me back with Sour Patch kids, I do have candy, I’m so sorry! Is that what you’re talking about?”

They kept screaming at me and I remember he grabbed and shook me and I had a bruise on my arm. I was so scared that I was crying. I think it was probably my very first panic attack, which I was then plagued with for years. I couldn’t breathe or think or move. I was hyperventilating and crying and had no idea what they were talking about. They just screamed at me that I knew, but I didn’t. They were like, “We’re going in there and searching your bags and if we find anything that shouldn’t be there, you’re out.”

I tried to go inside. They were tearing through my stuff. I could see them through the window. Everybody else was I guess pretending to be asleep. It was very loud and intense.

And of course it’s the middle of the night so this isn’t being filmed.
The cameras had left. I was so freaked out. I felt like my whole world was crashing down around me. I didn’t understand why. Nobody was talking to me. They didn’t even tell me what they found, they were just like, “We found a lot.” I was like, “A lot of what?”

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They dragged me out of the cabin. I didn’t have a jacket and it was cold. I barely had my shoes on. They threw me into the van and took me up to their house. They left my stuff everywhere around the cabin. I was horrified. It wasn’t until we got to their cabin that they were like, “You have drugs. We found a tin full of marijuana. This is really major.”

I want to note that I have heard bits and pieces of this story before, obviously well before I was a journalist or planning to write about this, and it hasn’t changed.
No. I told them, “I haven’t smoked any weed. Drug test me. Also, ask the camera crew, every single moment I’m awake is on camera. Ask them. I haven’t even had any privacy, how can you think I’m doing drugs?” I understood how drug tests worked, I knew weed stayed in your system a long time. At that point, I was pissed.

So they made me sleep on their couch, and in the morning they called my mom and told her. It must’ve been before dawn. And I didn’t sleep a wink, obviously. I heard them telling my mom I’d been having sex with my boyfriend, that I’d been selling drugs to other campers and that they had evidence for all this because they found weed in my bag, cash, which I wasn’t supposed to have, and they found condoms.

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The cash and the condoms were in my school backpack. It was probably like, from sex ed? And I probably forgot I had money. I think they found a $20 bill. They just assumed I was having sex and selling drugs. I remember them being like, “Eve is a terrible influence on the other campers and she has to go home.”

Honestly, even if you had been having sex or smoking weed, that wouldn’t have made you a “bad kid.” It would’ve required adult intervention, but—with the benefit of my own adult hindsight, of course—I’m not sure this was the right way.
It had been a hard year, and I’d been dealing with stuff, and I’d even been in trouble that year. But I hadn’t smoked weed during camp. To have the place that was supposed to be my sanctuary of being a kid and being free from all the other stuff that was happening and then to have them think of me as a totally different person that I was not, and that they had no problem creating this story that that’s who I was—I was heartbroken. It was less about having to leave camp, but that these adults who had been a huge part of my life, a huge positive thing in my life, turned their backs on me. The trust was shattered.

Eve at 10 years old.

Eve at 10 years old.

You’ve said to me that you had a clear dividing line between being a kid and not being a kid anymore, and this was it, this moment.
Yeah, and trusting that adults know what they’re doing, have the best intentions in mind, that people will make you safe.

I am not trying to make excuses, but I just wasn’t a rebellious bad kid, not in that setting anyway. I didn’t have to have that air about me there.

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In the morning the camera crews arrived and found the cabin destroyed and I was missing. They freaked out and called up to the house. I later learned another camper was also kicked out.

[The camp directors] made me wait until everybody was at breakfast and then drove me back to the cabin and told me I had exactly the breakfast hour to pack all my stuff and leave. My producer Tina was arguing with Kay while I was packing. My camerawoman and the sound guy were both crying. I was crying. I remember Tina saying, “You can’t do this, we’re with her all the time, we have footage, we know what happened. We have all of it on camera. Everything you’re talking about, everything that’s suspicious, we can show you the footage.” [Tina the producer did not respond to requests for comment from VICE.]

They were in a big fight about it. The person they’d filmed as a throughline for the show was going to be gone, which was bad for them I’m sure. Tina gave me a big hug, and said, “They’re not listening, there’s nothing we can do at this moment, but I’m going to fight for you because this is wrong.”

I hugged her and cried into her shoulder and thanked her. Finally somebody was on my side. But it was weird that it was this camera crew that I’d met a month ago instead of these people who’d known me for five years growing up.

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But I was so grateful that somebody believed me. I don’t put any anger or blame towards the people making the show. It was the camp’s fault, and the show had to figure out how to navigate it.

So you didn’t tell them someone else put weed in your bag? Did you even remember someone had asked to put it there?
No. None of that came up in my mind. I felt more like I was being framed. I had no idea why they searched my bags and what had prompted it. They wouldn’t tell me anything. I was just distraught. Also just straight-up in shock.

My mom came to get me. She was confused, I think, and hurt and worried. She didn’t yell at me. She gave me a hug and we got in the car. I’ve seen it edited on TV so my memory is weirdly mixed in with the edited version. I remember Kay hugged me on camera and whispered in my ear that hopefully I learned a lesson about what happens when you mess up big time. I remember thinking like, “I still don’t really know what I did. I see what you found, but I don’t know what I did to prompt any of that.” There wasn’t a straight line. I felt like I’d been completely violated. It was horrible. I just said nothing to her. I was frozen.

The last hugs that I had were with my crew. Tina once again was like, “We’re not going to let this go.” She was the only one who believed me or comforted me or told me it was going to be OK. Everybody else was suspicious of me. Even my mom didn’t really believe me.

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Soon after this happened, I remember you telling me that you’d started getting annual physicals at Indian Health Service, and they kept offering you birth control, even though none of us were sexually active at that age. You were getting all the assumptions from people, thinking you were faster, older, having sex, doing tons of drugs—again, being a quote-unquote bad kid.
I was like, how does everybody know these things about me that I don’t? [laughs] Those assumptions [at Indian Health] hurt even more because I’d had this experience.

I wasn’t allowed back on the premises. I couldn’t say goodbye to anyone.
It was very harsh. I got back from camp and my parents were sad. My mom cried. I still didn’t understand what was going on. Eventually one of my camp friends came home—there was less than a week left in the first term—and called me to tell me what had happened on the other side, at the cabin meeting. [Another camper] apparently claimed I had forced her to smoke weed with me, and said that if she smoked weed with me we’d be cool and I’d let the cameras film her too. Which is insane. I didn’t have control over that and also didn’t smoke weed.

Do you wish the show had specified what happened? That of course would’ve had its own consequences.
That’s an interesting question. I don’t know. For me, it wasn’t the show at all, because it didn’t air until a year later. It was the trauma of getting kicked out and physically how it happened.

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When I got home I didn’t want anyone to think I was a bad person. I felt like I needed to prove that to everybody. So I got rid of my raver clothes and stopped hanging out with those people and changed my friend group, the music I listened to. I distinctly remember I went to Old Navy and was like, I’m gonna be normal now. I was so traumatized. I got like, normal pants and sweaters.

Oh my God, you did? Did you ever wear any of it?
I hated all of it. [laughs] Everybody thought I was an easy target because of how I dressed or the music I listened to; whatever it was. I didn’t want people to see me like that anymore. It was a very specific choice.

Eve and the author at 18 years old, the night before they both left for college.

Eve and the author at 18 years old, the night before they both left for college.

That is also right when we became closer friends.
You were my nice friend at temple. I needed nice friends. [laughs] I didn’t want to be around my other friends who were part of the problem. I only knew kids in my Hebrew school.

And then we just really did not talk about it. Not for years, literally.
I don’t think I told anybody, from what I remember.

There was a year delay between my traumatic insane moment and reliving it on television. By then, I was in this emo punk scene and just a totally different human. My attempt at going to Old Navy and being normal failed.
All of a sudden there started to be commercials about the new season of Bug Juice that was going to premiere. During spring break, I went to visit a friend in Los Angeles. We were walking around in Santa Monica and I got stopped by two teenybopper girls who screamed when they saw me. They were like, “Oh my God, you’re Eve from Bug Juice?” I was like, “How do you know that?” They asked for my autograph.

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I was horrified and so uncomfortable. My friend was laughing so hard.

This is sort of a product of where we grew up, that you were so removed from how the show was being advertised.
[laughs] Santa Fe is a weird bubble. We didn’t know things. The same Santa Monica trip, I got a T-shirt and was like, “I went to this really cool store called Urban Outfitters!” I’d never heard of it. It wasn’t until I got to college that I knew it was a chain.

I think people tried to find you because it was a mystery, but they also seemed kind of invested in you as a character. You were very cool and self-possessed for a preteen, already very artistic. Someone online—I can’t find where—pointed out that you may have also been one of the very first biracial TV characters on reality TV. Your mom is white and Jewish and your dad is an enrolled tribal member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, as are you. You’re very much part of both your Native and Jewish worlds. A lot of people who contacted you thought you were cool, right?
Actually, I think that’s a newer phenomenon. At first it was scary. It wasn’t like, “Thanks for being you!” In the early days there was all this stuff that was kind of retraumatizing and freaking me out. All throughout sophomore year, people made AIM profiles pretending to be me. AIM was a big deal; we were all active on it, and it was the only social media we had.

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At some point I started getting messages from people with really similar screen names to mine. They started attacking me and being like, “Stop pretending to be me, you’re running around pretending to be Eve from Bug Juice.” I was like, “I’m just Eve. That’s not even how I identify myself!”

It was really uncanny—not that I knew that term yet. An uncanny experience of this machine telling me they were me and I wasn’t me. It was like a Black Mirror episode. And for a while I’d argue with people: “I’m the real Eve!” They’d be like, “Prove it.”

Finally, one of them was like, “I’m the real Eve,” and listed all these weird specific things about me that had nothing to do with the show that were correct, including my last name. I was terrified. I was like, “How does this person know? Who is this?” I was worried I was being stalked. I was really scared.

This is not something almost anyone had any experience with at this time, being doxxed, being harassed online, being impersonated digitally. It just wasn’t common.
If you were in a chat room, you’d pretend to be 23 and in LA or whatever; you weren’t pretending to be a real person. I remember seeing that and getting sweaty and anxious and looking out the window and worrying somebody was watching me. I had nightmares that people were watching me. I got so spooked by that one that I just said, “OK you got me, you’re the real Eve, and I’m signing off now!” And I never used AIM again.

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I was like, if this person wants to be me so bad, I’ll let them have it. I don’t need that in my life.

I never talked to anybody who messaged me, and I still don’t answer those messages. I never told anybody what happened other than therapists.

And people have not stopped contacting you. It’s been decades. I somewhat regularly see references to you on Twitter and other places, like someone I know in media made a joke like “Justice for Eve!” It’s wild.
It’s literally been 20 years. It’s on a weekly basis. It’s much more fangirling now, things like “So cool to see you’re doing so well. What ever happened to you? Why did you get kicked off?” Somebody last week asked to interview me on a podcast.

Very recently it’s been more these like, young women around our age who tend to be, from what I can tell, mostly women of color, who are reaching out and saying like, “You were my favorite TV character, what ever happened?” They seem genuinely concerned. It’s much less “I heard Eve had a threesome with two counselors, Eve brought a giant dildo to camp and shoved it in everybody’s face.”

[laughs] Was that one of the early rumors?
There were really violent theories out there like on Yahoo message boards and YouTube videos, gruesome stuff, claiming I had been raped and that’s why I was sent home.

You did do a good podcast almost a year ago called Wampum.Codes, where you mostly talked about being a Native artist, but you also discussed this stuff, camp, the messages. I think it’s very obvious they’re not welcome, even now. They don’t make you feel good.
Yeah. It’s not like I was a character, it’s just me. I always tell people, “Imagine if the most horrifyingly embarrassing traumatic moment of your middle school experience was televised for years throughout high school and if 20 years later everybody was still curious.”

You’ve said that you’ve had to carry around a traumatic childhood memory for a lot longer than most people, because it happened on TV.
Right.

In a way—not to be a hippie—you have been forced to keep your preteen self with you, and it almost seems like you have this little shade, this little spirit, of her following you around, and you’re sort of answerable to her, in a way? I’m sorry, am I being gross?
[laughs] That’s true. Don’t apologize. My inner child is angry and sad and was on TV and I can google her. I wish I could just move on and laugh about it. But whenever I think about it I feel shame. Which is what they wanted me to feel. They wouldn’t have been so mean about it if they didn’t want that.

When I look at those videos, I’m a child. I’m so clearly a little girl. In my memory I was so wrecked and sad that year. I’d gone through terrible things. But that little girl is so bubbly and happy and cute. Pigtails, rainbow T-shirts, everything glowy and bright. Until the last time I’m on camera. They interviewed me at home and my eyes are bright red. I can’t stop crying from telling the story. [laughs] It’s not a good look. People probably thought I was stoned. She looks broken, that girl. And when you google “Eve from Bug Juice,” that’s what comes up.

I knew the person you were then, and the person you are now, and your teenage self, I think she’d think you were very cool. You became this creative artistic adult, not unlike the film crew you idolized. You became the person that you needed with you then.
You’re gonna make me cry. Whether I like to admit it or not, I have dedicated myself since then to being a teacher, trying to be a good mentor to younger people, and to let them be themselves and encourage that. And I became a filmmaker who’s mostly interested in documentary work.

If we want to do a psychological assessment on that [laughs], it’s possible that it’s because those were the only people in the situation who trusted me and believed in me throughout the experience. I felt nothing but love for them.

How much do you want people to know about your current life?
[laughs] Um. It’s relevant that I’m a filmmaker and an artist. Those are fine.

You’re fine! You’re fine. So people can stop emailing you.
I’m fine! I’m not a stoner. [Eve’s partner] and I talk about this all the time. He thinks that smoking pot might help me with anxiety, but it makes me feel anxious and ashamed. It’s because of this experience.

I’m sure it affected my parents too, to have people think I was a bad kid.

I went through years of therapy, and realized it really sparked a lot of my anxious perfectionism, which I’m constantly trying to get away from. I felt like I needed to be good.

It was traumatic. It was formative. And not to inject my own opinion too much, but it’s part of the collateral damage of putting kids on a TV show that young. There can be all these other reverberations.
Right. And just so we’re clear: We never got paid for it. We never will. I don’t have any say in any of that.

But now, at least, you’re able to answer back. We can sit here and talk about it and you can say what you want to say, finally. And satiate people’s curiosity. [laughs]
Clearly there’s some weird region of people’s pop culture memory that is itching and needing to know. And it keeps coming up. So I don’t mind talking about it. It’s fascinating to me as somebody who’s interested in media. On Wampum.Codes, the podcast, we were talking about the early internet and how my experience is fundamentally different than almost anyone else’s, and I’ve come to understand it in a different way from being trained in media-making and theory.

Even now, I don’t use social media in the way other people do. I don’t want people to be able to interact with me who I don’t know. I’m cautious and private about those things. I guess if I was really savvy I’d use it to further my career. [laughs]

Is there anything else you want people to know about you?
I’m a very normal OK person who does not smoke weed. [laughs]

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