Queerty Query: Santino Rice

photos by Adam David Cohen

Reality television shows usually have room for one or two big personalities in each series. This season’s Project Runway, which unbelievably we’re loving more than season one, is full of those personalities. However, Santino Rice definitely steals the show. The Los Angeles designer caught up with Bradford Shellhammer to discuss the show, his sexuality, and who really was the world’s first supermodel.

What are your New Year’s resolutions?
To live, to learn, to love, and to leave a legacy! Persevere, keep trying new things…to keep evolving. To change my world!

Some of the self-proclaimed “faggoty boys” from the show told us 
you’re this season’s Wendy Pepper. Why would they say such a thing?
My mom says they’re just jealous, but she’s been saying that to me since I came out the snatch! I think those guys were just being “cute,” they know damn well that I’ve got talent and I’m the real deal. I think it’s funny though, really man, nothing’s sacred, including me! I’ll take the piss out of myself before I let some bitter opinionated faggots try to read me!

Is Janice Dickinson really the world’s first Supermodel? Do you care?
I’d say what about Veruschka, Penelope Tree, and Twiggy! What about Lauren Hutton, Cheryl Tiegs, Jerry Hall…….Patti Hansen!!!!! I’d say and think of a lot of other names before her file came up in my brain! But god bless her. Shit. People gotta eat and as far as her 15-year-old audience is concerned, she could tell them she invented the “blow-job” and no one would really question that! And yeah, I guess I do care, I’m a caring kind of guy!

What designers do you consider inspirations?
Any designer who is creating their vision, creating a body of work, I find them hugely inspirational. Yohji Yamamoto is the shit! I love him, and I’ve seen many successful collections by many designers and you can’t help but store some of that in your memory bank.

Which do you absolutely hate?
Hate is a pretty strong word, especially directed toward someone who’s actually doing something with his or her life, I hate idleness, and I hate mediocrity! I can’t justify hating on another artist, regardless of what I think about their shit!

After the jump Santino tells us whether he’s into guys or girls.


What were you doing before Project Runway?
I moved to LA when i was 17 and i’ve been working in the fashion industry ever since. I’ve designed millions of dollars in clothes, at this point. Working behind the scenes for other designers. It paid the bills but I’ve never had enough money to make it happen for myself. I know the real amount of money you need to have to bankroll a fashion company. So, I just kept doing it for other people, with my sights on the horizon!

My last place of employment was a horrible experience. I was there for 2 1/2 years, and when the opportunity of being on project runway arose, I jumped on it! You can only be someone’s toilet for so long before you just gotta step. I definitely paid my dues!

Have you always wanted to design clothing?
My earliest memories involve fashion, style, and colors. At 5 years of age I was going shopping with my mom, giving her my opinion on what looked good or not. I remember the sales ladies making faces like, “what the fuck is this 5 year old boy doing here?” but I knew then, just like I know now.

Your designs thus far have been flirty and feminine. Is this your 
No, not necessarily. I like things that are ultra feminine and I like things that are rugged and masculine. I really don’t think anyone’s seen my whole repertoire at this point. It was hard enough trying to create just a clear thought within the time constraints on the show. In the real world I can create the mix of hard and soft that effectively gets my point across.

Do you do menswear?
Yes, I’ve done quite a bit of menswear, a lot of my clothes that I wear on the show are of my own design. I think great designers can create fashion and a lifestyle for women, men, children, Martians! I can tell you what the colors your living room walls should be, it’s all-inclusive when you have a vision!

Do you read blogs? And if so, which ones and why?
Oh do I read blogs? Yeah, I do, sometimes. They actually give me strength. When I know that there are people rooting against me, it empowers me to prove them otherwise. I’ve constantly dealt with adversity as a child, it built character and it taught me a lot about human nature. The haters and shit talkers on the blogs are the same type of people who told me I was a freak as a kid, who called me a nigger, a faggot, you name it! And at this point they’ve experienced me for a total of about 20 minutes within the 4 episodes! It’s pretty laughable, and I really don’t care what anyone thinks. What matters is what I think!

You have a blog. What made you start it?
A friend of mine acquired my santinorice.com and it just started slowly. It’s great because it gives people who like me a place to tell me so and in the process get to really know me. It’s odd to me that so many people can love me and hate me all at the same time. But then I remind myself, shit man, people hate Oprah? People hate the pope? What am I worrying about!

LA. Why do you love it?
There are so many things to love about Los Angeles. I won’t bore you with the usual “climate” and “palm trees” answer. But overall I love the opportunity I have here in LA. to do anything. It still seems like you can develop your own thing out here without bullshit red tape and labor union crap! it’s still the Wild West!

Michael Kors. Do we love him?
Yes, we love Michael Kors! When you’ve made it to the point where he has, you deserve only love. Michael is witty, funny, and creative. I respect Michael Kors a great deal. He’s doing a great job creating an American luxury brand! I definitely look at what his company is doing when thinking about my own future. Oh, and Michael’s a Leo (like myself) and I love all Leos in the world!


What can viewers expect in the upcoming episodes?
“Watch what happens!” I’m not going there! It’s a well edited, entertaining show, the season has just begun!!!

Any message for The Gays you’d like to send?
I love you, Gays!!!! You want to know something I find really fucking funny? For all the questions that I’ve answered, never have I been asked if I was gay, or given an answer, one way or the other about my sexuality. I guess I’m so fucking genius that people just assume I must be gay! I loved reading for the first time about how there was only one straight guy on Project Runway 2, and it’s Daniel Franco!!!! No shit he’s straight! So funny, you know, not to say I haven’t meet a ton of fags who want to inappropriately art direct some shit using lattice work and Christmas tree lights, but come on! You heard it first here “Santino likes pussy and dick,” I always have and I always will!

It’s who I am, so I don’t care to explain to The Advocate or Out Magazine or in any other publication, homo or hetero, what it is that makes me bust a nut! And once you start talking about it, you open up a whole bunch of other cans of worms that really don’t matter within the context of Project Runway. I can hear the bloggers now, I just gave them all another reason to hate me!!!!! “Hey, Santino’s not a fag!!!!!!! He’s only half a fag!!!!!” (hahahahahaha)

What’s next for Santino?
World domination! Urbi et orbi, “from the city to the world.” Just more, more, more, and more! I’ve got a lot to say, things to see, and people to do! This was a lot of fun, thanks for being patient with me. All the best to you all in 2006! Much love Bradford!