Think you've seen it all? There's a whole lot more going on behind those villa doors, than late-night kisses and lots of tears. From "Magic Cabinets" to "Voices of God" welcome to the juiciest secrets of Love Island: USA.
How Real Is The Show?
"People always ask me this," Season 1 islander, Emily Salch revealed of perhaps the most controversial question to plague the villa: Exactly how much of what we're seeing is actually real?
"The show is not scripted... it was 100% real," Salch revealed. What does that mean, exactly? "The only thing that [the producers] did was prompt certain conversations because they needed a storyline."
Eyes in All Places
Yes, our islanders signed up to be documented just about every waking (and sleeping) second of the day, but how exactly did producers manage to capture it all - every sneaky kiss, late-night chat, Casa Amor rendezvous? Let's just say, production has eyes everywhere.
"In the villa, there are literally hundreds of hidden cameras everywhere - hidden microphones," islander, Emily Salch revealed. That's right, "On a flower vase, in the bushes... mirrors, there are just cameras everywhere." If you thought you could sneak in a quick peck? Think again: "Producers... can hear us and see us at all times."
But when your entire love life is being broadcast on national television, it doesn't exactly leave that much room for imagination. In fact, it almost makes us wonder, is there anything we haven't seen? Well, thanks to "Ice Saturdays," the answer is, a whole lot...
"On Saturdays, we didn't film - it's what we called 'ice,'" former season 1 cast member, Emily Salch revealed. What does that mean? "Guys couldn't talk to girls, and we couldn't talk about anything show related because they weren't going to use any of the film." In other words, "They wanted us to save all of our juicy gossip and concerns."
The "Insane" Ban
Well, now that we know their film schedule - or lack thereof - what exactly did cast members' Saturdays call for, when they weren't busy gossiping away or 'putting all of their eggs into the latest islander's basket?' Believe it or not, the mics may have come off, but it was far from silent...
"Saturdays were just our day to kind of chillout," Emily Salch explained. But what exactly did that consist of? "We got to listen to music." You see, "Other than Saturdays, we had zero music in the villa - literally no music, so that drove us all insane," she revealed. "We couldn't even sing commercial music."
How Much Did They Party?
No, we're not talking about the water in their customized plastic bottles. After watching the islanders give Magic Mike a run for his money in that night activity (you know exactly which we're referring to), it probably left you with a lot of questions. You know, like just how many Chardonnays were involved in the making...
"We did have a drink limit, it was 2 drinks per person," season 2 star, Cely Vazquez revealed; And, "No, wine was not the only drink that we were offered." Islanders had their pick from either wine, beer, or, on special occasions, strong mixed drinks which "You'd really be feeling."
The Secret Smoking Areas
Of course, when it comes to smoking (anything), it probably goes without saying that there is, well, zero tolerance. But that doesn't mean islanders can't enjoy a quick Marlboro break to top off those 2 glasses. In fact, they do - we just don't know about it.
"I don't think a lot of people know this... [but] there is a designated smoking area," nestled inside the villa, as Alex Stewart revealed. In other words, "If you do smoke cigarettes, or Juul, or whatever, you can go out and you stand outside, and hang out with a producer."
Before we continue to air the villa's dirty laundry, what about the islanders' actual laundry? That's right, we know all about their expansive bikini collection, but what happens when they actually run out of clean clothing (and Hideaway lingerie, of course)?
"I was actually short on underwear," season 1 star, Zac Mirabelli revealed. Not that we can blame him: Despite getting laundry done once a week, "They didn't really give it back to you that fast." What'd he do? "There were multiple days where I just went with no underwear... it was just very awkward."
Their Meal Plan
Of course, you already know how Calvin measured up when it came to his famous grilled cheese, but what was he - and the other islanders - eating when he wasn't busy working the stove? Safe to say, "They were eating good, y'all," as Cely herself will happily tell you.
"Lunch and dinner were always provided to us by production," the star revealed. What was on the menu, exactly? Anything from Mediterranean food to Mexican, to burgers. As a matter of fact, "Whether you saw it or not, [the islanders] were eating," as she put it.
Their Cell Phones
"I got a text!" It almost feels like our islanders and their swanky little Samsung Galaxys go hand in hand at this point, but don't be fooled - there isn't much going on behind the screen. So, what exactly are the castmates up to, when they're not busy squeezing in another glammed-up selfie?
Well, that's about it. Sorry to disappoint. "We just had [our phones] for photos, that was literally it," as season 2 star, Laurel Goldman put it; And, of course, "They would send us texts," when they weren't sending Arielle in to do the dirty work, "But you could not do anything on [the phones]."
Impossible to Fake It
Of course, though, when a swanky $100,000 payout is at stake, you can't help but wonder which contestants are there for love, and which, simply for a convenient payday. But if you ask former season 1 contestant, Mallory Santic? The answer is, well, none.
"Before I went in, I was like, the key to making it in the villa is to find a guy in the very beginning, and just act like you really like him," she admitted. The reality? She'd soon learn, "I'm with this person 24 hours a day, sharing a bed with them. I can't fake this relationship and have to kiss him in bed. I could not do it."
The "Awkward" Dance Parties
As you already know, most of the action goes down when the sun goes down. But behind those bottles of fizzing champagne and glammed-up dance shots, nothing was actually as it seemed. In fact, if you ask Emily Salch, those late-night 'parties' were actually, well, very awkward.
"During all of our dance scenes where it looks like we're all having so much fun... dancing in slow motion? No," she revealed. "It was the most awkward s***." With music they'd never heard before blaring on the speakers, islanders would "Force themselves to dance," as they convinced us viewers we were watching a boozed-up rager.
Too Hot to Handle
Safe to say, those 8 weeks inside of the villa were perhaps the steamiest these islanders ever experienced (that we know about, at least). But we're not only talking about the, um, extracurricular activities that went down under the sheets. Brace yourself, because this next fact is about to get you all hot and bothered - literally.
"It was so hot out that all of the girls, we were dripping sweat," season 1 islander, Alex Stewart, revealed. "Our foreheads looked like rain falling down." That's right, thought filming under the tropical Fiji sun was dreamy? "Producers literally [had to come] out with rolls of paper towels to pat our faces down."
"The Voice of God"
Believe it or not, standing in front of a fire pit, while your fellow islanders sit and watch you bare your heart out, can get pretty uncomfortable. Luckily, castmates had the 'voice of God' to lend them a much-needed hand during those awkward recouplings. Yep, you read that right, and it's exactly what it sounds like.
"We all had no idea what we were getting into," Alex Stewart revealed of the cast's first brush with the fire-pit. Little did they know, "There was something everyone called 'the voice of God.'" What was it, exactly? "A producer coming over the loudspeaker - basically like God speaking to you... that's when we figured out [everything]."
"The Magic Cabinet"
"The 'magic cabinet' is something that I think a lot of people were so shocked by," Alex Stewart revealed. In a world ruled by 'the voice of God,' I guess it was only a matter of time before islanders were introduced to, yes, a magic cabinet; And, yes, it's where all of the magic happened.
No, there were no genies, but there were producers, on stand by to grant islanders whatever their heart desired: "It's basically a cabinet in the kitchen... when you needed anything you would ask for it... and it would pop up." Anything from eyelashes, to snacks, to candy, was fair game - and you can bet they made good use of it.
Forced to Sleep in Sunglasses
From Kierstan to Justine, by the time morning came rolling around, those villa beds were filled with sleepy islanders sporting oversized shades as if we'd just caught them after a wild night out. The reality? There was actually zero Advil or Gatorade involved in the confusing deed.
"You guys don't understand how bright that light was," season 2 winner, Justine Ndiba, revealed of the villa's morning 'alarm.' "Every time they came on, you'd feel like 'Oh my god, Jesus is that you?'" she joked. We don't know about you guys, but we'd probably be too distracted by Cely's drumming to care.
The Mysterious Bedtime
"We actually had no perception of time," Cely Vazquez explained. You see, while we watched the islanders get greeted each morning by fluorescent lights - and Cely's drumming skills - the truth is that the cast had no idea just how early it even was.
"We actually never even knew," Vazquez explained of their sleep schedule - or lack thereof. "There were sometimes where the producers let it slip and they'd be like 'You guys are such high energy for having 3 hours of sleep.'" Safe to say, Cely's "Sleep schedule know is screwed."
Time Moves Differently
In only a matter of weeks, we've watched islanders go from strangers to blissfully in love, tossing the L-word like we've just crashed their honeymoon. Of course, that also leaves us wondering, well, what love potion they're sipping on. The answer? It's actually quite simple: time moves very differently behind those villa doors.
Aside from the fact that contestants have no idea what time it is at any given moment, there is one thing they do know: "I was there for five days, which is a freaking hot second, but I felt like I was there for a month," former season 1 islander, Christen McAllister, told E!. "You meet these people, and you get so connected."
It's no secret: when you have 10+ very different, strangers, all living under one roof, things are bound to get messy. But just how messy - or should we say, dirty - was it really? Folks, if you happen to have a sensitive stomach, consider this your warning.
"There are only two toilets," season 1 castmember, Caro Viehweg, revealed. "One time it looked like a porta-potty when I walked in," fellow islander, Alana Morrison added. But if you thought sharing a toilet was bad, well, it gets worse: There was only one shower. Yep, and "At one point, we had 17 or 16 people in the house."
"Oh, This is a Scheme"
Whether it's the $100,000 payout or the free vacation in a swanky villa, let's be real, everything about Love Island almost seems too good to be true. Perhaps that's why one former contestant was worried when it came to the suspicious application process.
"I was like, 'Oh, this is a scheme. They're going to kidnap me,'" season 1 star, Alana Morrison told E! after producers slid into her DM's. "It's a pretty good scheme." Sure enough, after scouting Instagram for "Hot, outgoing singles," production managed to hail in Alana, as well as several other users, for the villa.
How to Get Onto the Show
As we already know, the thought of being whisked away to a remote island, all while producers introduce you to your perfect match, probably sounds like a dream come true. So, how exactly do prospects manage to make it onto the show? For starters, the process is not as easy as it seems.
"You go through a lot of examinations," season 1 star, Elizabeth Weber revealed; And, yes, they go way beyond how many Instagram followers you've managed to rack up over the years. From "Really long written tests, to meeting with a psychologist that has to clear you, to... a bikini shoot," islanders are put to the test - literally.
The Secret Car Rides
We've watched them play 'mom and dad' for the day, and undertake top-secret missions against the opposite sex, but what about the Challenges that went down beyond those villa walls? For starters, a whole lot went down in those undocumented car rides off-site.
"That was the only second - minute - that we even had [un-microphoned]," Cely Vazquez explained. Perhaps that's why "It was just the most fun... we would wild out... twerking in our seats." How did she explain it? "We did not know how to act anymore when we got a glimpse of the outside world."
The Hotel Room Lockup
From the minute the islanders step foot inside of that villa, we follow them along on their (only slightly rocky) road towards finding love. But did you know that the cast members' journeys actually start long before they step foot inside their new home?
"Before we go on the show, we're all sequestered for 2 weeks," Alex Stewart revealed. "Every single person. In a hotel room." Sounds fun, doesn't it? Well, try again. "You're not allowed to talk to your family, you don't have a phone, the only person you're allowed to talk to is your chaperone... your babysitter."
The Night Intruders
Granted, when you sign up to be on a reality tv show, all bets are off. But something tells us the poor islanders never expected to be woken up, in the middle of the night, by strange men wearing horrifying goggles. Unfortunately for them, though, that's exactly what happened... every night.
"In the middle of the night, we would get our mic packs changed out... and our phones... so we had them when we woke up," Alex Stewart revealed. Little did she know, that'd call for getting woken up by "People coming in [with] these huge headlights on their faces. For the first couple of nights, I was so freaked out."
The Unseen Challenges
From hailing random luggage to spitting food into their partners' mouths, we've watched the islanders tackle just about every bizarre (and only slightly gross) activity you could think of, on their days spent outside of the villa; Or at least we thought we did.
You see, producers "only showed like 20 seconds!" as former islander, Alana Morrison put it. The reality? "When we were doing [Challenges] like 'Baggage Claim,' those things take like two hours or so to record...We stood out there in the rain! My teeth were chattering."
The Packing List
If you were told your day to day life, for the next 8 (+/-) weeks, would be documented on national tv, well, where would you even start? A new wardrobe? Sponsored goods? According to season 1 islander, Caro Viehweg, preparing for the villa will cost ya: "Oh my God, I'm going to feel bad for my bank. [But] probably $1,000."
But that doesn't mean it was a free for all. In fact, islanders were actually very limited when it came to what was making it into their suitcase. "Packing was pretty difficult because you can't have any major brands or anything like that," season 1 star, Weston Richey told Refinery29.
"I Got A Text!"
Finally, the question that's been on all of our minds since we were first invited into that villa: "Did the producers make you say it like that every time - to scream it - or it just became a fun thing?" The Morning Toast asked about those infamous 4 words: "I got a text!" The answer? Well, it depends who you ask.
"The reactions were genuine because we had no clue what was going on all of the time," season 1 contestant, Dylan Curry, revealed. But for Love Island UK star, Jess Shears, she'll tell ya otherwise: "It looks like we get texts out of the blue, but we had to be reminded... producers would tell us... say, 'I've got a text.'"
Casa Amor Confessions
In a world where Carrington can be morphed into an affectionate, one-woman man, you've got to wonder, well, where in the world Laurel - and the other Casa Amor ladies - have been the entire time? I mean, it's almost like they've been right under our noses. Well, believe it or not, that's exactly where they were.
As Carrington's new beau, Laurel Goldman, revealed: "I did not know I was gonna be a Casa Amor girl." In other words, "I came into quarantine the same time that everyone who came [into the villa] first did," she revealed. "I think the day before is when I found out."
How Deep Are the Friendships?
Something tells us when you're living under the same roof, 24 hours a day, all while vying for the same islander, things are bound to get messy. After all, would Love Island be Love Island if there was no drama? But if you ask season 2 star, Moira Tumas, the friendships formed are actually 100% real.
"The friends you can create... it made it really easy to make you wanna stay," she explained. In fact, despite the emotional rollercoaster we watched these islanders navigate, it's the friendships that truly kept them going: "At some points when I wasn't coupled up, I wanted to stay for my friends - for the people around me."
The Third Wheel
From the glam-room mirrors to the bedroom headboards, to the not-so-subtle fake flowers outside, islanders have eyes on them at all times - they know that. But did you ever truly wonder how, exactly, it might be affecting their time in the villa - or under the sheets?
"It was a little bit hard," season 2 winner, Justine Ndiba, revealed to After the Island of having cameras third-wheeling her relationship throughout. "There were times when we wanted to say things to each other, but we couldn't really say on camera, so we had to wait." The sleeping part? "The hardest," she said.
As season 2's 'new girl', Lakeyn Call will tell ya, "Walking through that villa was the hardest, most nerve-wracking thing I've ever done." But that doesn't mean she - and the other islanders - didn't love every minute of it. In fact, if there's one thing they want you to know, it's this...
"I definitely learned a lot of self-love, that's the main thing I can take out of this," a newly reinvented Justine told After the Island. "I came in there looking for love, but it ended up being a personal journey," Moira Tumas, too, explained. Through all of the highs, the lows - heartbreak - "I learned who I was."