"I just celebrated 20 years of my accident," announced Auti Angel at a luncheon at Robert for the reality show Push Girls. Premiering on the Sundance Channel, the show features four feisty and beautiful wheelchair-bound stars: three friends -- Tiphany Adams and Angela Rockwood as well as Auti -- who are car accident survivors, and Mia Schaikewitz, a champion swimmer who as a teen suffered a ruptured blood vessel in her spine, causing her paralysis. So, just what is making Auti, a dancer who cannot walk, so happy about a life change that many would consider tragic?
The reality show format has proven itself as a mesmerizing vehicle for examining life's vicissitudes. Perhaps this entertainment appeals to the voyeur in each of us. Push Girls offers a glimpse into a world that may have been eh, pushed aside.
What is life like? See the mundane: grocery shopping, makeup application, driving, working out in the gym, and even the intimacies of sex. See the triumph over adversity. Themes emerge: Auti, now 42, is considering having a child but wonders whether or not that will interfere with her dancing career. Mia wants to get back into the water, wondering will she be able to compete. Tiphany, a stunning blond, equally attuned to men and women, seeks her next moment. And Angela wants to get back into modeling. At a photo shoot, she insists the photographer make her wheelchair visible. What is the niche for models in wheelchairs?
At the luncheon, Alexandra Reeve Givens spoke about the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation in memory of her father, the Superman actor Christopher Reeves who, following a horseback-riding fall, was paralyzed, and her mother Dana who with saintly grace supported his disability. Together they made disability visible. And so will Push Girls. Jason R. Mischel of the NYC mayor's office for People with Disabilities said, when he introduced the program at a special screening last week, he hoped there would not be any children in the audience. Angela, it turns out, swears. Reality, he pointed out, is for grownups.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.