People will do anything for fame.
Take this weekend at Glen Burnie Mall. Adults urged children to "think slimy thoughts" while spectators screamed, "SLIME!" and hundreds of youngsters competed for the privilege of having green goo dumped on their heads.
But more was at stake than just the fun of getting good and messy. The children were auditioning to win a trip to the Florida studio of Nickelodeon, a children's TV network, and a tour of Universal Studios.
One thousand children auditioned Saturday and Sunday, and fourfinalists were picked to be "slimed" -- and win the trip and an appearance on a Nickelodeon cable show or on-air promo.
For the uninitiated, slime is an oozing green stuff that has become a trademark of the Nickelodeon programs, produced by the only TV network for children.
Terin Blanchard, 10, of Alexandria, Va., enjoyed a hefty dousing of slime that landed on his head, dripped down his face and arms and ran in bright green rivulets across his shirt and jeans.
"It's fun," he gasped, slightly out of breath with slime and excitement.
Winning was even more fun for the youngster and three other champs from the Baltimore-Washington area.
To get the chance to sit on a green chair, under a green contraption, while a green-spattered aide turned big green wheels that dumped sweet green slime over them, the children had to go through several auditions.
First, they yelled andperformed "physical challenges," in this case, a sack race with a sleeping bag. Then each took a screen test, wearing official backstage passes and eagerly answering questions.
The interviewer, who has asked the same questions to 34,000 children in the last few years, looks for children who are enthusiastic, unusual and have a certain charisma that makes them stick out in a crowd, said Jody Walker, auditions coordinator.
"Would you taste it if you got slimed?" interviewerBill Brown asked one 9-year-old.
"NO! I'd give it to my worst enemy," he hollered.
"Why do you want to be on a show?" he asked another child.
" 'Cause I am an ACTOR!"
One hundred children out ofthe 1,000 who auditioned were chosen to reaudition by performing group dances or raps.
"We were waiting at 7:15 a.m., and there was already a line," said Harvey Hyatt, of Reisterstown, who brought his two children to the 9 a.m. auditions yesterday. "But it's like an event. It's a good experience for them."
The day also gave special meaning to sibling bonding, as dozens of children announced that the person they most wished they could slime was a brother or sister.
WhenNicole Dula, of Glen Burnie, was picked for a call-back, she rejoiced: "I wanna get slimed and not wash my hair or nuthin' and put my hands on my brother!"
The slimy grand finale was a stage production in which finalists answered questions about videos and other TV programs in a game-show format.
Twelve semifinalists -- who had each answered three questions correctly -- faced a final challenge of acting out while responding to a video. The would-be stars tested their acting ability by pretending to run from boiling lava, dodge falling rocks and steer race cars around corners.
Michael O'Malley, host of Nickelodeon's show "Get the Picture?," took a big gulp of slime and urged parents in the audience to try a taste.
"Not bad," chuckled a fellow from Pasadena, as he tasted the thick, sweetish concoction. Nickelodeon officials declined to explain the secret of their special goo, saying only that it's made with "Frog Pate."
It could've been melted Martians for all the kids cared.
"This is FUN!" proclaimed Kate Christensen, 12. A semifinalist, the Catonsville resident didn't win a trip, but she left the big orange Nickelodeon Studios stage with a sleeping bag, a hat, a T-shirt, a Nintendo game, a water-bottle and sunscreen.
And Terin Blanchard, surrounded by mounds of damp paper towels, smiled as he continued to wipe gucky green slime out of his hair.