Playing It Straight: The FORT Interview With Ryan
Recently, I got the chance to talk to Ryan, one of the most recent contestants asked to "leave the ranch" on Playing It Straight. Whether you loved him or hated him, there's no denying that Ryan left his mark on the show. Here's what he had to say:
So, Ryan, how did you hear about the show?
That's a funny story. I actually had sent in a headshot to MTV for some show they were doing. I went in for my audition, and I bombed it. It was horrible. It was embarrassing. So I leave, and I get a phone call like a week later. It's the same casting director, but he has now gone to NBC. So, he calls me in to read something for NBC, but that didn't go so well, either. This same dude then went to FOX, and he's like "Would you mind coming in?" I was like, "Look, I don't know who you are, but thank you for calling me so many times. This is great." So, finally when I went to FOX, it was like the best audition I'd ever had, and the rest is history.
What were you led to believe the show was about?
Well, I knew that the premise was a dating show. I told the producers during my second round of interviews, "As long as I don't have to eat bugs or get married on TV, I'm in." (*laughter*) So, I knew it was some kind of dating show, but, other than that, I knew very little. They said it was kinda like The Bachelorette with elements of The Mole thrown in.
What do you think was the message of the show, and do you think it accomplished its goal?
Um…definitely to break stereotypes. Not just "who's gay", but I think the whole metrosexual thing, too. You know, it's not cool to be fat slobs walking around and drinking beer. That's not cool, ya know? I mean, people want to live longer and take care of themselves. That's like a new mindset that's evolving, and I think it's…I mean, I've…people have asked me, "Are you gay?" since high school because I take care of myself. You know, I care about fashion and these types of things. So, I think it was to break stereotypes, and…yeah, I think it totally did it because, you know, people are watching going, "There's no way that guy's straight" or "There's no way that guy's gay". It's definitely had an impact, for sure.
So you have been mistaken for gay in the past? How did you feel when people would think that about you?
In the beginning, it was really awkward. I live in Santa Monica, and I run every morning on the beach. It's warm here, so I run with my shirt off, whatever. I've had guys come up to me and give me their business card, saying, "I'm a manager" or "I'm an agent. Give me a call…I want to set you up with some modeling." You know, that type of thing. So, the first two or three times it happened, I would call them back, and they would take me out to dinner. Then, it ended up being just, like, a gay person hitting on me. So, I mean, it happens a lot to me. And even when I'm at a bar or a restaurant, and I start talking to a female, the first question is, "Are you gay?" I'm like, "No", and she's like, "Yes, you are." I'm like, "No, I'm not." I'm just outgoing, I smile…whatever.
How did your family and friends react to you being on the show?
Oh, Mom was a trip. Mom was the best. You know, it was tough having to keep my mouth shut for as long as I did. I mean, it was in the can for eight months, and I was dying to tell people. My mom is my best friend, and I tell her everything. Anyway, she sees like the, um, trailer to the next show, and I tell her, "Mom, I farted on this guy's head." (*laughter*) She's like, "Oh, well that's fine. At least it's not gonna be aired." I'm like, "Mom, it's gonna be on TV", and she's like, "Oh my God! What am I gonna tell everybody? What am I gonna tell all my friends?" Then, she says, "OK, I've got it. I'll just tell everyone that it was scripted and that FOX wanted you to do it." I'm like, "Mom, you don't get it. It's reality TV." (*laughter*) So, anyway, when it came out and she saw it, she laughed. I mean, I think it was as tastefully done as it could be for that type of thing. She was cool with it. And, then, my friends…the big part of acting classes for me—I've been in acting classes since college—is that when you're in a situation like that, you have to be 100% truthful. So, when I get calls from back home from my friends, they're like, "That was you." I'm not gonna hold anything back, and it was a good feeling to hear them say, "That was you."
So, now that you've seen the show and have seen how you were presented to us, do you think you were portrayed fairly?
Um…you know, it was competition. It was a game. I didn't go on the show to make friends. I went on the show to have this beautiful person pick me in the end. So, I come off a little…obviously, I was an instigator. I did mix things up. But, I'm not gonna go on a show and just…I think a lot of the guys tried to "out-nice" each other, and that doesn't make for good TV. And it doesn't make for a good time, and I wanted to have fun.
So, how much of that "instigator" was the "real Ryan" and how much of it was done for the show?
Well, you know, you want to be entertaining, and you want to have fun. That played a lot into it. Now, if I'm competing—and it was, in fact, a competition—then, yeah, my aggressive side is gonna come out, and I'm gonna try to, like, needle people and maybe cause more trouble for them. I mean, I do want to win. However, if you were to meet me, say, on the beach hanging out or at a restaurant, you'll see that I'm a really nice guy. I'm outgoing, I talk to everyone. And I do think they portrayed some of that in the show, maybe just not as much…
Let's talk about the incident with Banks. Have you talked to him since? Have you two made up?
Yeah, Banks…he and Bill came over to my place in Santa Monica about a week and a half ago. We hung out and talked and caught up. It was a heated moment, for sure, but I don't think either one of us had any intention of getting physical, even though we talked it up.
So it was just the heat of the moment between you two?
Oh, yeah. Of course.
What about the situation between you and Eddie in the hot tub? Do you think it was presented accurately? Do you think it was blown out of proportion?
(*laughter*) You know what? That was, um…that situation was perfectly portrayed. You could see Luciano getting uncomfortable when Eddie flopped in the tub. His commentary was great. He was like, "I don't know what's going on, but Ryan is pushing his buttons…" He didn't want to have anything to do with it. I mean, yeah, it was an uneasy feeling. But, I wanted to find out about Eddie, because she liked him a lot, and it was apparent. So, if I could find out something about him and then report back to her, well…I'm rockin' out.
So, were you surprised that she sent you home and not Eddie?
Um…I was…yeah. You could see it on my face. I was totally shocked. I mean, you know…I…I did feel this connection with her. But, I handled myself kinda…I didn't…I, um, wasn't on my game.
So, was there any sincere romantic interest in Jackie, or was the money the motivation?
Um, I think she was into me a little bit, yeah. When the cameras were rolling and we were all just waiting for the next thing that was planned, we'd flirt and go back and forth. So, yeah, I think it was sincere.
Do you think the show would have worked if it had been one guy and 14 women, some of whom were lesbians?
I think if you get the right guy, for sure. For sure.
Do you have any close friends that are gay? What did they think of your participation in the show?
The crazy thing about…I mean, I've been on the official website, and I hear things like, "Ryan is homophobic" and "I can't believe how rude Ryan is to gay people". The funny thing is…I have a gay brother in St. Louis. When I go see him and his friend, we have a great time. There are very few things in life that make me feel uncomfortable, and being around gay people just is not one of them.
You talked about sending in your headshot, etc. A lot of people use opportunities like this as a springboard to something further. Is that your intent as well?
Yeah. I mean, the reason I moved to L.A. a year and a half ago is for acting. I have a degree, and I had everything lined up back home. But, I just said, "No". I want to pursue my dream to do this. It's exciting. I mean, sitting behind a desk is just not what I'm made for. I've got a few…I'm meeting with people, and this experience was a great opportunity to help my career.
There's a fine line between cocky and confident. Which one are you?
(*laughter*) I try to walk the line between the two. When you're confident, that's fine. That's totally fine. But then when you're cocky or arrogant, it's a huge turn-off. I've seen people that are so full of themselves, and I'm like, "Dude, you're a total joke." I think it's not a bad thing to think well of yourself while you're learning to get better.
Looking back, do you regret anything you said or did while you were on the show…aside from the big fart, of course?
No, the fart was the most beautiful thing. (*laughter*) I thought it was a riot. I have it on TiVo. (*laughter*) Everybody was just dying, and if you notice, the bartender was just covering his face and…that's funny to me. But, anyway, the only thing I would have done differently is maybe tone it down just a little bit with Banks. You know, I probably would have just stayed in bed and dealt with it, but, you now, I don't like backstabbing. I'm not a big fan of it. So, I did have to kinda go down and confront him.
If you had the chance, would you do the show again?
Oh, without a doubt. It was getting paid to go on Spring Break! Of course I would.
Well, Ryan, that's all I've got, and I think we're just about out of time anyway. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me today.
Sure, no problem.
I don't know when you'd be able to, but if you get the chance, we'd love for you to drop by the website and say hello.
My thanks to Ryan for taking the time to talk to me and to FOX for setting up the interview.