While most L.A. residents would enroll in Sorcery 101 if they thought it'd get them a Sci Fi Channel series, Fiona Horne turned down the network three times because she's a Wiccan. Then, finally, the telegenic Aussie relented and moved into Mad, Mad House (airing tonight at 9 pm/ET), the new reality program in which "normal" folks are challenged to bunk with "alts," among them a vampire and a voodoo priestess.
"I agreed to it when I realized there were no frauds or freaks," she tells TV Guide Online. "The other alts were all sincere people committed to their alternative-lifestyle choices." What's more, the powers that be let the alts do what came naturally. "They never tried to dictate what would happen [other than that] we had to have a trial every week" (to determine which contender was safe from elimination).
Convincing Horne of her fellow hosts' authenticity was one thing. But making believers of the guests was another matter altogether. "At first, they thought we were actors," she recalls. "However, as they learned we were the real deal, they opened up to us in a way that was quite amazing. As the days went on, the producers were coming to us and going, 'It's extraordinary what we've got on camera'."
"I think the show proves that what you think is strange is actually quite normal," she adds optimistically, "and what you think is normal can be really quite strange."
That said, Horne can't be positive how she will wind up being portrayed on screen. She's a witch, not a psychic, and she has elected to put off seeing the finished product until each episode airs. "Some ignorance is bliss," she acknowledges with a laugh. "But I have no regrets. This was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life."