Snooki, aka Nicole Polizzi
Getting a member of "Jersey Shore" on the phone can be harder than Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino's abs.
But scoring some time on the line with Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi March 14 was worth the wait.
The fact that she had to double-check what city she was in with her manager - St. Louis to host "WWE Monday Night Raw" - was a testament to her crammed schedule.
Polizzi, who prefers her real name to Snooki, will greet local fans Tuesday at Penn State York's Pullo Family Performing Arts Center.
She perked up when she learned that nearby Dillsburg drops her favorite food - pickles - on New Year's Eve. (Polizzi herself was dropped on New Year's Eve in New Jersey.)
But the pint-sized phenom proved much more subdued than the party girl more than 8 million viewers tune into watch weekly. Her high-pitched voice was soft, if not raspy after hosting a spring break bash the previous night in Las Vegas.
Thanks to clever editing, viewers never really get to see Polizzi's quiet side.
"When people meet me and I'm in chill mode and I'm not partying, they think something's wrong," she said.
Partying, she found out, can lead to a large paycheck.
Polizzi, 23, who grew up near Poughkeepsie, N.Y., watched MTV series "The Real World" and "The Hills." She saw reality TV as a way to get famous. She didn't know what she was getting into until the first season of "Jersey Shore" started filming in 2009 at Seaside Heights, N.J.
Without cell phones and computers, Polizzi and her seven roommates lived in a bubble.
"I never knew that you were cut off from the world (while on the show),"she said.
The roommates had to adjust again when they were transplanted to Miami for the show's second season. And, suddenly, they were a sensation.
Polizzi's book "A Shore Thing" became a best-seller. She started her own line of slippers. She attended the Grammys.
Chris Beaverson, director of marketing at the Pullo center, said she commands about $15,000 for appearances - about half of what she makes for one episode of the "Jersey Shore."
He said that 360 VIP tickets for her Tuesday appearance sold out fast. At $55 a pop, they include a meet and greet.
Many are enamored with Polizzi's over-the-top hairstyle, tanning habits and vocabulary. Others scoff at the hype.
Penn State students receive discounted admission, which is covered by their student activity fee, but Beaverson said the Pullo center is a separate entity from the college. Polizzi's appearance drew so much interest that the Pullo center waived processing fees for York College students.
"We're not bringing (Polizzi) here to teach students or the public morals," Beaverson said. "She's on the cover of Rolling Stone. She's an entertainer."
Beaverson added that the Pullo center has booked other reality stars from shows including "Ghost Hunters" and "American Pickers."
Those who purchased tickets received an email request to send questions to Polizzi. Those queries will be filtered before Tuesday, Beaverson said. But Polizzi won't review them herself, he added, which will add some spontaneity to the night.
Beaverson expects Polizzi to keep things light, but added that she might address some serious issues, including her eating disorder and disorderly conduct arrest, which was captured on camera.
Polizzi said the cast's return to Seaside Heights for season three, which wraps tonight, actually signaled a return to some sort of normalcy, which, of course, includes fights, drama, partying and pranks.
But Polizzi said she finds solace during filming, since she doesn't have to worry about her businesses or the media.
"It's like a break from all the stress," she said.
Next season, the self-proclaimed guidettes and guidos are headed to the motherland - Italy.
Polizzi, who is Chilean and was adopted by Italian-American parents, said she is excited to visit the country for the first time. She doesn't expect to find many "gorillas" - her term for the type of muscle-bound men she prefers.
But that might not matter since she said she has a boyfriend at the moment. Unless she's out for an event or promotion, she'd rather stay in to snuggle and watch a movie.
And for a few minutes, Polizzi sounded unfiltered - like a girlfriend sharing some gossip rather than a reality star carving out an empire.
- Erin McCracken, FlipSide staff
If you go
WHAT: "Jersey Shore" star Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 29
WHERE: Penn State York's Pullo Family Performing Arts Center, 1031 Edgecomb Ave., Spring Garden Township
DETAILS: 505-8900; thepullocenter.com
Snooki's website: www.snookienicole.com
"Jersey Shore" website: www.mtv.com/shows/jersey_shore/season_2/series.jhtml
Other "Jersey Shore" cast members
Deena Nicole Cortese - deenanicole.com
Paul "DJ Pauly D" DelVecchio - www.djpaulyd.com
Jenni "JWOWW" Farley- www.jwoww.com
Samantha "Sammi Sweetheart" Giancola - sammi-sweetheart.com
Vinny Guadagnino - www.facebook.com/vincent.guadagnino