And, with a new book Man Up! Tales of My Delusional Self-Confidence (now on sale), a tour, and an interactive talk show Hello Ross coming to E! this fall, Mathews is out to prove he’s much more than just a caricature of a gay man. In the book, Mathews details his incredible journey from repressed farm-town gay to the Jay Leno intern that got noticed. Plus there’s a gratuitous foreword by his celebrity BFF Gwyneth Paltrow and an afterword by the lady who’s been championing him lately, Chelsea Handler.
Queerty chatted with Mathews about whether he’s an advocate for effeminate men, telling Gwyneth’s haters to “shut the fuck up” and if he’s the next Andy Cohen.
Ross, would you say you’re an advocate for gay men who are slightly more effeminate?
No. I don’t feel like an advocate for anything. Whatever you are, I just think you should be it 100 percent.
You have a chapter about your high-pitched voice. Have you come to embrace it?
There was a point where it was either like, get really mad that people were never gonna get there [or] love myself. I just chose to love myself. Now I really love my voice.
Do you think that, if you hadn’t had this voice, that you might not have been noticed by Jay Leno?
I know that the fact I was really comfortable in my skin, and just was who I was, made them notice me, yeah. I think there’s a lot more to what I do than flamboyancy and a high-pitched voice, but I think that definitely got their attention.
Since Chelsea Handler published this book, I expected her to be in it more. Is there a reason you left her out?
This book to me is about the little kid in a farm town who was gay and always dreamt of being in the big city, and what happened when that person got there, and how it happened. All the Chelsea stuff happened after, and she’s been so instrumental in my life and in my career and everything. But it all sort of kind of happened after this book ends. So she’ll definitely be in the next book.
You talked about pot in the book. But Chelsea is so much about alcohol. Do you and Chelsea drink together? What’s your relationship with alcohol?
I don’t really do the pot anymore because of that horrific story in the book. My most hardcore drug is like a pinot grigio. That’s how I roll.
Gwyneth Paltrow wrote the foreword to your book, and you dedicate a chapter of the book to your friendship with her. She was recently named People’s “Most Beautiful Woman in the World.” How did you feel about the somewhat negative reaction to that?
For some reason, people gotta hate. Listen, I know her first-hand, and the only thing more beautiful than her face and her body is her heart. I know that sounds so super-cheesy, but she is really just so good. She puts so much good out there. I love her, and I got her back. You wanna fuck with her, you fuck with me.
What are you going to tell her haters?
Shut the fuck up!
You say in the book that you always wanted to cover celebrity culture. Did you ever want to become a celebrity yourself?
Oh my gosh, you read the book. When I was eight years old, I knew I wanted to have a talk show. I wanted to talk with these people. I’m obsessed with pop culture, and I want to be a part of it. I want to be in it. I wanna to be up close. I always knew I’d be here, exactly where I am.
What’s Chelsea like off-screen? She can seem mean and acerbic. Is she different with her friends?
Chelsea is exactly as you see her on TV. But what you don’t get to see all the time, is how sweet and generous and kind she is. She really is like a big sister figure. She will tell you the truth. She will take care of you.
She has gotten into some feuds, and one of them is with Joan Rivers. Do you feel torn?
I don’t know Joan Rivers. I do know Chelsea. I have loved Joan Rivers for years, I think she’s an icon and so funny. I stay out of the fights.
Everyone asks, is it a book signing? Is it a standup thing? It’s a one man show. It’s Liza With a Z, Ross With an S. I talk pop culture at the beginning. I bring stories in the book to life. I tell stories that aren’t in the book. I do a game show with the audience. I’m in the audience, doing Q&A. Nothing is off limits. And afterwards I stay and sign everybody’s book.
Will your new interactive show Hello Ross have any celebrity guests?
Yes. Chelsea’s producing it. And it’s all about superfans. I’m a superfan of pop culture. And there are so many talk shows about people tearing down pop culture. And I just want to create a space where I love it, you love it, let’s talk about it. So when Gwyneth or whomever comes on the show, I’ll interview them and then the next thing is I’ll be in the audience and the audience will ask her questions. And then we’ll Skype people in to ask questions. If you’re in New York, if you’re in L.A., if you’re in some town in Nebraska, we can bring pop culture to you, and you to pop culture.
That sounds cool. Are you the next Andy Cohen?
No, I’m the next Ross Mathews.