'The Real World' 's Original Cast Describes Their 'Trippy' Return to the Loft for the Reunion Show

The Real World Homecoming: New York premieres March 4 with the launch of Paramount+

They say you can never go home again, but the original cast of The Real World is doing exactly that.

On The Real World Homecoming: New York, which is part of the Paramount+ launch slate on March 4, Eric Nies, Julie (Oliver) Gentry, Heather B. Gardner, Kevin Powell, Norman Korpi, Andre Comeau and Rebecca Blasband return to the New York City loft to stop being polite once again for a six-episode reunion series.

"It was trippy, almost 30 years later, walking back into the same loft with these people," Jonathan Murray, who created The Real World with his late production partner Mary-Ellis Bunim, tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. "What's so cool is they all have their essential essence, the thing that made us choose them for this first social experiment."

"That totally freaked me out," admits Gardner, 50. "The last time we were back in the loft, all seven of us, obviously, was in 1992."

"I didn't know we were going to be in the loft," says Blasband, 53. "I just burst into tears as I saw it. And it still had the scaffolding!"

For much more on the Real World reunion, pick up this week's issue, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.

the real world new york (1992) reunion
Zach Dilgard/MTV

"I've described this as like walking into a school that you've graduated from," says Comeau, 50. "[It's] that same sort of feeling: It's very familiar, it's very nostalgic, so much has stayed the same, only you've changed."

"I still am in New York, so I have driven and walked past and even skateboarded and bicycled past 565 Broadway many times. And I always thought to myself, 'I'll never go in there again,'" reflects Powell, 54. "It was the same feeling I had when we got in the first time. Because when we came the first time, I remember walking in, and it was like I had won something, like Ellen [DeGeneres] had given me a prize. I had won something on The Price Is Right. That's what it felt like. And when it happened the second time, I was like, 'What luck this is?'"

the real world new york (1992) reunion
Chris Carroll

"We've all stayed in contact over the years. We just all haven't been in the same room at the same time," says Nies, 49. "We're all like, in our fifties, so I think the reaction is a little bit different at this age. But, yeah, it was really cool."

Korpi, 54, says the experience "was just stunning. I don't know how many people will ever get a chance like this in life."

"To get to go back 29 years later and be in your same space with your same people? That just really doesn't happen. It was crazy," says Gentry, 48. "I kept saying, 'This is a real brain f---.' And it really just was. Everyone looks older, but we're in that same room with the same kind of conversations happening."

Like any reunion, this one comes with a rehashing of some of the frank conversations — and arguments — about issues such as race that became a hallmark of the early days of the long-running series (33 seasons and counting).

"We are still talking about the same things," says Gardner. "While we were there, a Black Trans Lives Matter march went past the loft. To be next to Norman, who came out on television at a time when it was not cute, and Kevin, who had been about Black Lives Matter — it was powerful and crazy."

"Here we are, full circle again," adds Nies. "There's a bigger reason behind all of this, and it will unfold. And I have the same exact feeling that I did 29 years ago."

The Real World Homecoming: New York premieres March 4 on Paramount+, where fans can also stream season 1 of The Real World (along with many other seasons).

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