Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio knows how to stir up trouble. The Challenge vet, who got his start on The Real World: Key West in 2006, caused a great deal of drama during Vendettas by coming up with a plan before even going into the house. After mysterious notes started appearing in the beds of his female roommates, the fingers began to be pointed in every direction — every direction but his. However, he didn’t come up with the pot-stirring idea alone.
“Believe it or not, my conspirator — I would call him my chief strategist — was Mark Long, everyone’s favorite, the godfather of The Challenge. We hatched this harebrained scheme, I’d say, maybe a month before leaving for Vendettas,” Devenanzio tells Us Weekly exclusively. “At first, we were just going to do them on everyone — guys’ beds, girls’ beds, whatever. Then we’re like, ‘The girls on the show are just so much more just catty, obviously, than the guys are, so we’ll just write a bunch of phrases or just a bunch of scenarios.’”
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With that, Bananas, 35 and Long, 46, came up with ideas for around 50 notes — Bananas’ sister wrote them then he strategically placed them around the house. “The best touch, which at the time, I didn’t realize it would make it just that more convincing, was the pink paper because the pink paper really, I think, subconsciously made everyone think it was a girl,” he says. Everyone in the house assumed everyone was writing the notes in the house, so someone must have pink paper with them.
“I guess no one just was sick enough to think that someone would plot this outside of the show months ahead of time and then execute in the house,” he adds. “But I was. It ain’t my first rodeo.”
Read Us Weekly’s full interview, where Bananas touches on his defined role of “villain,” below, and hear more on our new TV podcast, Watch With Us!
Us: When the episode aired that you were behind the notes, was that the first time everyone found out?
Johnny Devenanzio: Yeah. It probably went on for three weeks and they did not show the extent of the absolute turmoil these notes caused in the house. We wanted to pit the two girl rooms against each other, so upstairs was the Vet girls. It was Jemmye, Cara Maria, Veronica and Britni. Then downstairs it was Kam, Kailah, Sylvia and Marie. So we wanted those two rooms to be at war with each other, so by putting the note in Britni’s bed first, saying “Hey, the rest of the girls in the room are talking s—t on you,” it basically then is like, “Well, it’s got to be a girl from the other room.”
They all immediately started accusing Marie. Eventually, everyone got in on it. At one point, the entire house was having this discussion, and everyone was floating out their theories. Devin even went as far as going through the girls’ personal belongings looking for pink paper … What made it the most brilliant is the fact that nobody knew.
Us: Only Leroy knew?
JD: Yeah just Leroy and the producers. The first interview that I did, I brought all the notes with me, and I’m like, “I’ve got this great idea.” I told the producer, and she looked at me like I was crazy. She’s like, “So, you think this is going to work? That there’s actually going to be a storyline?” Nobody believed it would work except me and Mark. We knew. I guess, we just had firsthand experience with how things are in the house, but the producers had no idea it was going to be as good of a story as it was. Then it went from that to them being like, “Holy s—t. Now, we’ve got to keep this a secret. We’ve got to be really secretive with all this. We won’t have an actual cameraman in the room when you’re planting them.” That’s why they only rolled surveillance because people got so suspicious that the girls would literally just sit outside of their room for hours and hours on end and make sure nobody walked into the room. These girls were losing their minds.
Us: Let’s talk about this role of villain that you’ve taken on. Is that intentional?
JD: No. Here’s the deal. I’m realistic about myself, and I’ve just had to come to terms with it. I could go on a Challenge and sit in the corner and read a Bible for eight weeks. I could pray and do yoga and feed the homeless the entire time I’m there, and I would still be edited in some way, shape or form as the villain. So at this point, if that’s what I’m going to be, I just might as well own it. It’s almost kind of nice to not have to go in pretend like you’re someone that you’re not. By nature, I’m necessarily a villain, but I’m a troublemaker, and I like being mischievous. I enjoy stirring the pot, and I’m good at it, so it’s like, “Why not?” At this point, you just have to own it. You can’t run away from who you are. Your destiny chooses you.
Us: And that continues on social media? You really come for some of the girls like Jemmye and Marie.
JD: In all honesty, and this is what I’ve said before, I rarely fire the first shot. Generally, what I say is in response to what other cast members have said about me, whether it’s on the show, in an interview, or if it’s on social media. And I have to because it’s like … nobody else is going to defend me.
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Us: So none of it is serious.
JB: No. Listen, I don’t know if you saw what I did with Jemmye. I literally drove a truck to her place with a photo of myself with the note on the side of it. Me and Jemmye, we’ve always gotten along. Me and Veronica. It’s like, you have your dust-ups here and there, and then things do get a little bit heated. Even if you leave on good terms with somebody, watching them insult you or talk s—t or make fun of you behind closed doors in their interviews, it fires you up a little bit. But it’s all in the nature of the game. I’m not a mean spirited person. Even the note prank, everything I did, I never did it to be malicious. I just did it to have a good time and to create some controversy. People want to say, “How can you say that so-and-so is picking on girls, when you call one a swamp creature on …” It’s a joke. I mean, that’s what we do. Everybody makes fun of everybody.
I don’t know if you saw what Shane said about Kyle a few weeks ago. I mean, he just went off about whatever procedures he’s done, and his personal appearance. Nobody said a word. Marie makes fun of Natalie’s procedures. Nobody says a word, so it’s like there’s a double standard.
The Challenge: Vendettas airs on MTV Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET.