From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
DRINKING BUDDIES

NICOLE 'SNOOKI' POLIZZI

Standing in the sunlit kitchen of her father's Marlboro, N.Y., house, Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi is uncharacteristically speechless. "You've never made a margarita before?" she asks her dad, Andy, as she picks up a bottle of tequila. "Do you want to get drunk-or wasted?" Welcome to the Polizzi home, where no topic is off-limits. "I tell my dad everything," says Snooki, 22. "He's so open. We're the same person." Andy, 52, says he is "very proud" of his daughter, but admits that watching some of her racier Shore scenes can be "a little trying." Still, "she always said, 'Dad, someday I'm going to be on TV,' " he says. "She's accomplished her lifelong dream."

TOMBOY TRANSFORMATION

JENNI 'J-WOWW' FARLEY

It's hard to believe, but Jenni "J-WOWW" Farley, the resident knockout with her own clothing line, Filthy Couture, was once a fearless tomboy who couldn't have cared less about her appearance. Growing up in East Greenbush, N.Y., she was raised by her dad "like a little boy: martial arts, go-carting, snowmobiling and four-wheeling," says Jenni, 25. "I wouldn't change that for the world." Neither would dad Terry, 48. "I see a lot of myself in her," he says. "We're very close." And while her busy Jersey Shore schedule has kept her on the road, her doting dad "buys every single newspaper or magazine she's in" and watches the show religiously. "I'm like, 'That's her, that's how she acts,' " he says. "She's still the same old Jenni."

ABS SOLUTION

MIKE 'THE SITUATION' SORRENTINO

Before he found fame exposing his abs, Mike Sorrentino was a buttoned-up mortgage broker. "I was in a suit and tie every day-with the house, the car, the dog," says Mike, 29. But when the market collapsed, mom Linda, 54, welcomed him back to the family home-and supported his dreams of becoming a fitness model. "I always tell my kids, you gotta do what makes you happy," says Linda. "But they have to be able to take care of themselves." Mike can: He trademarked his Shore catchphrase "GTL" (gym, tan, laundry) and his nickname, The Situation, and is the de facto Shore boss. "At the end of the day," he says, "somebody's got to be the leader."

THE RHODE TO JERSEY

PAUL 'DJ PAULY D' DELVECCHIO

He's now synonymous with New Jersey, but before last year Pauly DelVecchio, 30, admits, "I had never even been to Jersey!" The Johnson, R.I., native and self-proclaimed "Rhode Island Guido" had no trouble fitting in with his clubbing castmates, thanks to at-home training with mom Donna, 50. "Every Sunday my mom and I would clean the house while she'd blast Michael Jackson," he says. "It really sparked my interest in music." Now that he's booking gigs as DJ Pauly D, his mom says he's still there to help her vacuum: "He's always been a lovable, good kid."

NO PLACE LIKE HOME

VINNY GUADAGNINO

Vinny Guadagnino had been going "down the Shore" his entire life, but the Staten Island native never fit in with the other "tan juiceheads," he says. "He was always a sweet, sensitive kid," adds his uncle Nino of the "family-oriented" 22-year-old, who studied at CUNY-Staten Island to stay close to home. "He was more interested in studying for his LSAT than partying," adds mom Paola, 50. Vinny embraces his squeaky-clean Shore reputation. "When people watch me," he says, "no one is going to be saying, 'You're making Italians look bad.' "

BIG PRIMPING

SAMMI 'SWEETHEART' GIANCOLA

Growing up in Hazlet, N.J., as the middle child of three sisters with a single mom, Sammi "Sweetheart" Giancola always had fun playing dress-up. "She loved doing hair and makeup, and whenever she would dress up she always had to be perfect," says her mom, Angela, 52. Things haven't really changed since then for Sammi, 23. "I straighten my hair over and over. I spend hours on my hair," she says. "And I really like spray tanning; I don't want to get cancer or ruin my skin, so I steer clear of tanning beds." So is she trying to woo back her on-again, off-again Shore mate Ronnie? "I don't focus on that at all," she says. "If you think I'm cute, whatever. It's not a big deal to me."

BOY FROM THE BRONX

RONNIE ORTIZ-MAGRO

Before he started "creeping" on Jersey Shore, Ronnie Ortiz-Magro, 24, worked with his dad, Ronald Sr., and grandpa Robert in real estate. "They taught me to earn everything you have and appreciate it," says Ronnie, a Bronx native. Still, "I knew he wanted to do something else," says his dad, 47. "I'm proud." His mom, Constance, 44, loves seeing her son on TV-except for his on-camera arrest last season. "You never want to see your son get into trouble," she says. "But he was doing what he's gotta do." One thing Ronnie doesn't have to do: watch himself on Shore. "Whenever I come for Grandma's macaroni on Sunday, my grandfather has MTV on," he says. "I'm like, 'I lived it-I don't have to watch! Shut it off!' "

  • Contributors:
  • Additional reporting by Lauren Hockenson,
  • Victoria Venegas.