The other day, I had the chance to talk to Louis, one of the first two people asked to "leave the ranch" on the new FOX show Playing It Straight. Louis' easy-going nature and laid-back attitude was very evident during the interview, and it was a pleasure to talk to him. Here's what he had to say:
So, Louis, how did you hear about the show?
That's actually a pretty interesting story. I was in Las Vegas last summer for a Pearl Jam show, and I was walking back towards my hotel on The Strip. It was about 2 in the morning, and I passed by two of the casting agents that were out there to try and find some guys. They approached me and asked me if I wanted to be on this reality show. The next day, I went to the Monte Carlo hotel for an hour-long interview. I went in with a "nothing to lose" type of attitude and answered all their questions and kinda played up to them. Two weeks later, they give me a call and fly me out to L.A., and I go through a round of interviews there. I just told them a bunch of stories about my life and sold 'em for the most part. Then, they called me July 3rd and told me, "You're on."
Since you weren't told about the twist until you got to the ranch, what were you lead to believe the show was about?
I had no idea it was going to be a "relationship show". The only thing I kinda heard was that there were some aspects that were similar to "The Mole"—you know, people keeping secrets and what-not. I had no idea what the show was about.
So, if they had told you the twist back when you were interviewing in Las Vegas, do you think you still would have gone through with it?
Yeah, definitely. I mean, the whole gay/straight thing doesn't bother me. And I think, you know, compared to the other shows that are out there, it's a pretty interesting concept.
So, what do you think the purpose of the show is, and do you think it accomplished that goal?
Well, I think the purpose of the show is just to take a look at stereotypes. Lately, with all the shows coming out, there's a whole lot of talk about "gay" and "straight". So, I think it wanted to show that you can't judge a book by its cover. Whether the show achieved that or not, I don't know. I haven't seen the finished product yet. But, from what I've seen…I mean, she eliminated to guys who…I mean, I'm as straight as can be. And Gust, I mean I love the guy to death and got to spend a good deal of time with him, and 95% of the country still thinks he's gay.
What do you think about the whole concept of gaydar? Do you think it's valid?
You know, I do. I think Jackie was at a disadvantage, at least initially, because I think she went there thinking she was going to find someone to be her mate—you know, looking for love—rather than picking apart these guys just trying to find a straight guy. As far as gaydar is concerned, I think that with the way men are today—being that they take care of themselves more—it's going to be harder and harder to tell.
Do you think the premise of the show was mean and hurtful to Jackie, or was she fair game since she put herself out there voluntarily?
You know, I only wish good things for her, and I hope that whatever she wants, she gets out of it. I think her situation's tough. I mean, like I said, I think she went there looking for love, and now she has to basically dissect everyone and figure out who's gay and who's straight. So, I don't think it's "mean" by any means. I mean, obviously, when you sign up to do a reality show, anything can happen. You've got to be prepared to handle that. There are no guarantees. And, chances are that since it's on FOX…(*laughter*)
Tell me about Jackie. What was your first impression of her when you saw her?
She's definitely an attractive woman, by all means. In the little time I spent with her, and from watching the show on Friday, she's very naïve. I think her whole small-town background is a huge disadvantage for her. You know, she's a younger girl and not as experienced, so I think she's got some definite strikes against her. That'll make it very difficult for her to pick a straight guy.
So the small-town, sweet, innocent Jackie that we see on TV…that's really her?
What was your reaction when you were told you had to wear those cheesy cowboy outfits?
(*laughter) Um, I didn't mind at all. The only thing I minded is…well, we flew in and they fitted us for these cowboy hats and shirts. I had this hat that I really liked and fit me a lot better, but one of the other guys took it, so I got a less-than-desirable hat. I thought it was kinda cool. I mean, we were riding horses and…you're not going to ride a horse in a tux. (*laughter*)
How have your family and friends reacted to your participation on the show?
That's actually pretty funny. My mom…I sent her an article about the show, literally one of the first ones to come out. I literally didn't tell anyone anything about the show. So I e-mailed her an article that was out there and told her, "Take a look at this." So she's at work, and she starts reading it. She only reads the first part of it—where it talks about how there's homosexuals on the show—and she begins to cry. Here's my mom breaking down because she thought the entire cast was homosexual, including me. So, she calls my dad up and…obviously my dad was more grounded than she was. As far as my friends, they've all enjoyed watching it and hearing the stories. They've all been good with it.
Do you find that people react differently to you now that you've been on the show and they know what the twist is?
No, not really. When people started hearing about the show, the people I work with and the people I hang out with…I don't think they ever questioned my sexuality. It was more like, "I can't believe you got yourself into this." (*laughter*)
So, what's more surprising to you: that some of the other guys thought you might be gay or that Jackie thought you might be gay?
Um…I think Jackie thinking I was gay. I mean, compared to the rest of the lineup she had to face. Some of those guys…they just came off…you know, their mannerisms and everything about them. You know, some of them were just giving her so much attention that it was like someone pretending to be something that they're not and overplaying their hand.
Has being on the show changed any stereotypes you may have had about homosexuals?
No. I think the only thing is…I haven't known a lot of homosexuals, and the guys that I met that are, I became friends with them. I got to see what their world was like and some of the things they face and deal with. So, from that, I was educated more than anything.
Of all the guys on the show, who would you say was the hardest to get to know? Who was the most easy-going?
Um, I think definitely the most easy-going would be Ryan. Our types of humor just clicked right away. As far as hard to know…you know, I think just from the time I was there, probably Eddie or Luciano.
Is Ryan as obnoxious and over-the-top as he seems to be on the show?
No. He's just a real funny guy. You know, obviously the show plays what the show plays. But, that's just the way he is. Our humor is very similar…he's not obnoxious. Eventually, I think he wants to get into acting, so he wants to make a mark and have people notice him.
If you had the chance, would you go back and do the show again?
Um…I think the experience is something that I'll have forever, and I do value it, but I don't think I'd necessarily want to do it again.
Well, Louis, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me. If you have the chance, we'd love to have you stop by the website and say hello.
OK, thanks. Take care.
My thanks to Louis for taking the time to talk to me and to the people at FOX for setting up the interview.