Gaywatch: Keepin’ It Real
By Tim Parks
When TV audiences were introduced to their first real live “gay in captivity,” Lance Loud, on the PBS documentary “An American Family” in 1971, it didn’t exactly open the floodgates to more of our kind being shown as they were, and not as they were written by sitcom and drama scribes of the day; it effectively began a trickle down theory that led to tidal waves pouring through our small screens during the subsequent years.
And, seeing as there is no escaping the omnipresent specter of reality TV, especially during the summer months when most scripted fare is on vacation until September, I am forced to watch countless hours of this televised genre.
Well, except the very staged antics of the gang on Style’s “Jerseylicious.” I somehow doubt that the orange-hued employees of The Gatsby Salon are that clever with their words, especially when they have to string more than two together at a time.
Anyhoo, I got to thinking (I know, crazy! It’s a madhouse, a madhouse!) as I was watching the latest installment of “Big Brother,” about how our kind keeps it real on their respective reality competition programs.
But, what I really began to ponder is if we get a fair shake (remember, shaking more than twice means you are playing with it) on these cash and prizes slices of the reality programming pie?
Let’s take a look at how the competition has stacked up over the years.
I always feel like somebody’s watchin’ me
As I mentioned, “Big Brother” is on its three-days-a-week trajectory to get me through the dog days of summer TV, and is about a month into its summer cycle with a mixture of veteran players and new faces entering the “Big Brother” house. Among the newbies vying for $500,000 is Lawon Exum, a 39-year-old file clerk who vows to win the prize to “show the entertainment world there are still normal human beings in Hollywood.” Yeah, they’re called the Kardashians, k? As a very flamboyant contestant, he hasn’t had a lot to do competition-wise, as the veterans of the game have ruled the roost up until late on the show.
But, the question has crossed my mind when he gets any face time, “Can he win it?” Unfortunately, the answer seems mired in the molasses of the words made famous by Whitney Houston, “Hell to the no!” Is it because of the fact that he comes off as a cross between a variation of Butterfly “I don’t know nuthin’ ’bout birthin’ no babies” McQueen from “Gone with the Wind” and embodying the spirit of Charles Nelson Reilly from “Match Game” with his style of dressing? Really, all that he’s missing is a kicky neckerchief and trading barbs with Brett Somers.
However, when the dust settles from the experienced players possibly getting evicted from the game (this was written prior to one of the dumbest moves in “BB” history,after he evicted himself during a week when someone could fight their way back into the house – too bad it wasn’t a slap fight, he could have redeemed himself!), and he is finally able to show what he’s worth, he may just end up getting left in the aforementioned dust. Is this his fault or the nature of the game? No, he is just being himself, and that’s a-ok in the USA. Let’s just say it just seems that every season producers throws us a bone (dinner and drinks not included) by including us in their reindeer games, but how do they expect us to do against those who seem to have more endurance? It’s almost like they set us up for failure on this particular show. I was shocked that Lawon wasn’t able to win the first competition by holding onto a huge inflatable banana the longest. Girl, you were robbed!
Ok, enough with the conspiracy theories, the last thing I want to do is sound like Mel Gibson around Chanukah, ok? Throughout the years, the show has featured the g and l letters of our community’s acronym, yet no one has won the coveted prize.
Can you hear me now?
Remember when Madonna lyrically told us not to “go for second best baby” in her 1989 song, “Express Yourself?” Well I do, because I’m what you call a seasoned gay man, but don’t put a fork in me, as I am not done.
Surprisingly, no one from our community has ever performed that particular ditty on any of the singing competition shows that populate the airwaves, as many a songbird of the pink persuasion usually places in the runner-up category.Everyone knows that “American Idol” Season 8 standout, Adam Lambert, most likely didn’t sashay away with the top prize that year, due in part to the fact that the show is broadcast in red states; and his onstage presence seemed to be outweighed by the life he lives offstage. Lambert did end up having the last laugh over that year’s winner, white bread singer Kris Allen, by snagging the cover of Rolling Stone proclaiming that he was in fact gay.
Shocking! What will be revealed next to an unsuspecting public? Perhaps that Amy Winehouse “may” have passed away from drug use, either that or she drank some water and her body couldn’t handle it. Oh, that’s terrible.
His post-“Idol” career has consisted of him releasing the 2009 effort, “For Your Entertainment,” which debuted at number three on the Billboard charts and he received a Grammy Award nomination for his hit single, “Whataya Want From Me.” Suck on that, Kris. Season 2 “Idol” contestant, Clay Aiken, also made the magazine announcement that he was he a gay homosexual on a 2008 cover of People, and also bested that year’s winner, Ruben Studdard. You go, girl!
Recent singing competition program, “The Voice,” was different than its predecessor in many respects by not focusing on the cookie cutter aspects of a singer’s appearance, but by how they sounded! Say what? Another notable difference is that unlike “Idol,” it was well known that four of its contestants were from our team, with Vicci Martinez, Nakia, Tyler Robinson, and Beverly McClellan filling those slots, and Martinez and McClellan made it into the final four, but, alas, they did not emerge triumphant.
Amazing Survivor Skills
However, all is not lost in the arena of competing and winning for the LGBT set. The new season of “The Amazing Race” is set to debut September 25 on CBS. As of yet their website has not posted any of the contestants, so it’s anyone’s guess as what faction of our community will be representing, and possibly going for glory (no, not glory holes).
In the past, “A-List: New York” cast member Reichen Lehmkuhl and his then-partner Chip Arndt won Season 4 of the show, while earlier this year, the duo of Jennifer Hoffman and her out-and-proud sister Kisha took home $1 million. Say, that’s a lotta clams.
During the inaugural season of “Survivor,” Richard Hatch proved a worthy opponent, if only for his uncanny ability to distract his fellow players with his constant nudity. Shudder. But, he could afford to buy some new duds, (really, any will do) when he was the first person to win the reality show.
Hopefully, he amassed a hardcore following with the jail bird set, as he is back in prison again (first time was in 2009) for still not paying taxes on the $1 million he won, but dropping the soap is priceless. He was joined on that very first season by not-so-openly lesbian Sonja Christopher, who set the precedent for there not being a wealth of lesbians until the 9th season with Scout Cloud Lee and Ami Cusack picking up that slack.
Cut. Print. That’s a Wrap!
What I am trying to get at is that reality competition shows, while a good place to view us, could use a shot in the arm by showcasing a regular Joe, um, Blow and or Jane Doe that could go onto victory and do us proud. So, if anyone’s panties got bunched up, go ahead and undo them, as opinions are like, well, you know. Until next time, that’s all of the news that’s fit to print.