[Originally published in July 2009 issue of Bent: http://mag.bent.com]
So it's here again. Big Brother 302. Or something like that. This year we have the usual smattering of homos, ethnics and fruitbats allegedly representative of the UK. No, actually, even Big Brother doesn't claim its contestants to be anything but the scum sieved off the local public swimming bath. But luckily, this year the contestants don't seem quite as vile and two-dimensional as last year. I even have the fortune of saying I met two of the contestants.
Yes, Rodrigo Lopez is a friend of mine from the Leeds gay scene, where he was often spotted in Queens Court and Mission, until he mysteriously vanished. Now, of course, we know he went into the BB house and had his Facebook profile deleted by mandate of the games rules.
Rodrigo was actually the last person from Leeds I'd have expected to see on BB. He's always been a laugh with his friends and quite a confident, bubbly person, but next to many of the bigger personalities on the scene he's positively . . . shy. He's well-behaved (for the most part), and doesn't even slag it about. Why he chose to enter the programme is a mystery to us all—but we hope he wins.
Charlie, on the other hand, I can understand. He too has been out in Leeds a few times, but I also met him when I was judging Mr Gay UK in 2007. He was Newcastle's heat winner and lost out to the lush Daniel Broughton. I remember the event well, with Andy Scott Lee, Michelle Heaton, James Sutton and The Sheilas all on hand to make it a successful night of oiled nipples and sock-stuffed swimwear.
Charlie was outgoing even then. You could tell he had bags of personality. He was good looking and he knew it, but he was no more arrogant than your average gay man. Indeed, it's no surprise to me at all that so many gay men enter the competition. So concerned with their image and their popularity, entering Big Brother seems almost a prerequisite to joining the club.
Charlie's sexy and feisty, flirty and cool; Rodrigo's handsome and cute, modest and fun. They couldn't be more different. And already our Rodrigo's firm favourite to win (at the time of writing, at least, so he could be out by the time you read this). Well I hate the show and doubt I'll be watching, but I'll dip in every now and again to see how he's doing. Maybe I'll even turn up at one of those godawful Big Brother's Big Mouth shows and worm my way into the audience with a band of scantily clad go-go boys and a drag queen or two. Then we can stand by the sidelines waving inappropriate placards and ignoring Davina when she asks us not to say fuck or bastard.
Maybe if I make enough of a scene they'll ask me to take part next year. No one quite makes a scene like Beyonce. I wouldn't accept their offer, of course, but it'd nice to be asked. Or maybe not.
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