As a '90s kid, it was my dream to get slimed. I practically grew up watching my idols, favorite celebrities, and even kids just like me (only a lot luckier) getting covered in that iconic lime green goop on awards shows and TV shows. But for the thousands of times I've seen people get slimed, I never knew what it actually felt like. Was it really that shocking as everyone's faces made it seem? Was it fun? Was it gross? I was resigned to the fact that I'd never be famous enough to find out for myself.
Until Nickelodeon gave me the shot to live out my dream. That's right, at the ripe old age of 27, I have officially peaked. The network invited me down to the UCLA Pauley Pavilion early on Tuesday morning to test out one of the ways athletes would be getting slimed during the 2017 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Awards (taped live Thursday, July 13 and airing Sunday, July 16 at 8 p.m.). I could not have said yes fast enough.
That's when I ran into my first obstacle. I was warned by the Nickelodeon rep that invited me that the slime could stain my clothes, so I was supposed to wear something I didn't mind ruining. Um, hold up, record scratch: I care about literally everything I own. I am not lying when I say this was the scariest part of this whole ordeal. How do all those celebs get glam, knowing their looks will be ruined by a wave of slime just a few hours later?!
Finally, after a lot of hours agonizing over what I was going to wear, I hunted down an old white T-shirt that had a few holes in it and a pair of jeans I should have tossed a long time ago, along with some rubber flip flops that I could wash easily, and I was ready to go.
Armed with nothing but the knowledge that I was about to potentially ruin my clothes, I set off early in the morning for the experience of a lifetime. After a brief hiccup in which I got lost on the UCLA campus and had to get a Nickelodeon staffer to send someone to rescue me (thank you, Chris, you are my new BFF), I finally made it onto the set... only a little bit late.
The crew was working hard on setting up the massive stages, including a giant slime waterslide (which I hoped would be my slime test but nope, hopes dashed!), while I and the others getting to run the test got the rundown on what to expect from my new Nickelodeon friend.
The one thing that kept getting repeated over and over — from the Nickelodeon reps, to the crew manning the slime tests to the executive producer of the entire awards show — was that the slime was slippery. Super slippery. I had been warned to wear closed-toe shoes for this reason, but I wasn't about to ruin a pair of shoes, so I braved it with flip-flops. And then we were all offered rain ponchos to wear while we got slimed.
I was honestly shocked at how many people (other journalists and kids) said yes to that. We all came to get slimed, why would you wear a poncho?! That seemed like a waste of an opportunity. I got a lot of approving nods from the crew as I stepped up to my spot right in the middle of the stage sans poncho and knew I made the right choice in embracing the event to its full extent.
The test we were all running had three people on a bike above our heads, pedaling to fill balloons with slime until they popped, drenching all of us below. My biker lost the race, but let me tell you, the build up of hearing him pedal for so long before the balloon popped made the tension skyrocket. When it finally did pop, a giant wave of lime green slime slammed down on me. And I made the same shocked face that every celebrity and athlete and kid makes whenever they get slimes.
But now I understand why: you guys, the slime is so freezing! It's heavy, it's slippery, it's cold, it's goopy and thick. And yet, it still managed to seep into my clothes all the way to my skin like it was as thin as water. It is the craziest thing. Nickelodeon really mastered the slime recipe to make it as fun and gross as possible.
I felt like a kid again, gleefully wiping the slime dripping down my nose and wading through the literal pool of slime at my feet while the crew members squeegeed it away so we could walk away safely without slipping (did I mention this stuff was slippery?!).
The next 15 minutes were spent sliding across the floor, using approximately 20 white towels to wipe off as much slime as I could (before I realized just how much of it was determined to stay in my hair forever and I just threw it up in a ponytail). I ended up throwing my now lime green clothes away in the bathroom since I had the foresight to bring a change of clothes with me, and then I sat down with Jay Schmalholz, the SVP of Unscripted Development and Live Events for Nickelodeon, to get his expert take on getting slimed.
"People are most shocked by how wet it is," he tells me, confirming my own revelation just 20 minutes prior to our conversation. "It's wet, it's heavy, it's cold, it's messy, but it always results in a smile. It's like jumping into a pool. People love it. It's really like this right of passage, a celebration. We slime the winners, not the losers. It's never a penalty. It's a bucket list item, not a consolation prize."
But what shocks Schmalholz the most is how, "after all these years, the biggest stars and the biggest athletes in the world are calling us to be slimed."
"I still can't believe it," he says with a smile. "We've slimed every big name in the world and they all love it. It definitely requires some clean up and wardrobe changes but it always makes for a great moment. It's so amazing for the kids in our audience to see their role models and favorite celebrities be so playful and act like a kid and embrace this big mess."
And that's the key to getting slimed, from the slime master himself: you just have to embrace it.
"I always try to give people a Sliming 101, but the bottom line is don't hide from it. Don't be afraid of it," Schmalholz says. "Enjoy the moment. Don't try to protect yourself, there's no escaping the slime. You're not going to win."
You hear that, all you poncho-wearers?!