my reality tv

From The Queerty Archives: “I Played The Effeminate Gay on Adam Carolla’s Reality Show”

Ed. Note: In light of the recent Adam Carolla scandal, we thought it’d be a good time to revisit Matt Siegel’s post from September 15, 2009.


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I’m just going to spit it out: I was on a reality show. I’d rather reveal the most intimate details of my sex life (I haven’t had any in 46 days) or that delightful feeling I get when taking a good shit (self-explanatory) than talk about this. The only saving grace is that it wasn’t one of those “I’m-not-here-to-make-friends / It-is-what-it-is” competition reality shows. As if that helps.

The Adam Carolla Project aired in 2005 on The Learning Channel. Not only was I Adam’s real-life assistant, but I played the role on the show, too. It’s not a closely guarded secret, like the time a man gave me 100 dollars to suck my dick in a deserted parking lot; it’s just information I typically choose not to divulge.

In the timeline of reality programming, Adam’s show came after Anna Nicole but before Kathy Griffin. It was a point in time when eyes didn’t automatically roll at the idea of another senseless reality show.

I used my middle name instead of my last name, as a fuck you to my biological father who I hadn’t seen or spoken to in 13 years. I had a romantic notion that he would see me on TV and come crawling back to me like some long-lost sixth cousin thrice removed to a lottery winner. I did feel like a lottery winner: I was Charlene and the Chocolate Factory. I had the golden ticket.

I wasn’t the kind of gay the producers expected: I was queer, a modern gay, and a revolutionary who honored my identity at all costs. They were expecting some non-threatening Queer Eye. I wasn’t there to help straight men be cute — my intention was just the opposite, actually.

Only five years ago, TLC was what Adam referred to as “deep cable,” way up high in the channel numbers. I referred to it as “The Ladies’ Channel.” It has since evolved into “The Leper’s Channel,” with its multitude of midgets, half-ton teens, and often violently deformed network stars. And those Jon and Kate persons.

Either way, it seemed unlikely that Adam would successfully elbow his way in among multiple babies and 160-pound tumors. If you want success on TLC you need a handicapped parking permit — at the least, you have to qualify for pre-boarding on planes. The show was doomed from the start; Adam was too able-bodied for TLC.

The premise of Project was simple: Adam was flipping his childhood home with his band of merry construction worker friends and upon completion, he would try to sell the house for a profit. Yes, Bravo’s Flipping Out completely ripped him off.

Every person on the show fulfilled an archetype. There was Ray, the man-child; Ozzie, the zany foreigner; and Gary, the quiet man missing a finger who lived in a trailer with his daughter and liked guns. I was just another colorful accessory there for B story; gay was my shtick as straight was Adam’s shtick. I wasn’t the kind of gay the producers expected: I was queer, a modern gay, and a revolutionary who honored my identity at all costs. They were expecting some non-threatening Queer Eye. I wasn’t there to help straight men be cute — my intention was just the opposite, actually.