George, Straight Up
In-demand stylist and fashion expert George Kotsiopoulos is as passionate about giving back to the LGBT community as he is about offering sartorial advice to Hollywood's elite on the red carpet. On February 19 the dapper Fashion Police commentator, who holds his own opposite Joan Rivers, Kelly Osbourne, and Giuliana Rancic on E!'s hit series, will serve as cohost (along with Lance Bass) of Hollywood Rush. The event is described as an exciting evening of live theater in which a series of one-act plays are written, rehearsed, and performed all within a single day. Some of Hollywood’s most talented actors, directors, and writers will participate in the benefit for the Baby Dragon Fund, which helps raise money for the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center's programs for youth, mental health, and crystal meth recovery and prevention. Kotsiopoulos tells The Advocate why this cause is important to him, what Joan Rivers is really like off camera, and why he doesn't want to be the next Brad Goreski.
The Advocate: This is your second time hosting Hollywood Rush. How would you describe the evening?
George Kotsiopoulos: It’s basically a bunch of creative folks getting together and putting on a show and they have 24 hours to do it. [Laughs] The writers are given ideas to work with and just so many hours to actually write the scene. Then the directors come in and have to translate them. Basically, everyone gets the information instantly and it’s all created within a 24-hour period. It’s insane.
It sounds chaotic in the best way. Are the plays polished, or do actors tend to improvise and get crazy?
I don’t think there’s a lot of improvising. Well, obviously with anything that happens live you’ve got to roll with it. It really is a rush of energy and adrenaline and creative spirit. I have ADD, so with everything changing so fast it’s perfect for me. [Laughs] I can follow the storylines. Also, it’s fun. It’s not a somber evening. It was very entertaining and interesting to see what people do with what they’re given. There are always really talented people involved. It’s fun to see the camaraderie and everyone having fun and it’s for a really good cause.
It's a fund-raiser for the Baby Dragon Fund, which helps young people recover from addiction. Why is this important to you?
I actually just learned this statistic. Forty percent of homeless youth is LGBT. That’s a huge percentage. That’s almost half of all homeless youth. It’s fucked up. I’m on board for anything that helps children. I’m also involved with P.S. Arts, which puts arts education in the public school system. Kids who are raised with open minds and open hearts don’t grow up to be assholes. [Laughs]
You've convinced me. It sounds like a fun evening.
And tickets aren’t that expensive, so if you’re single, just go. It’s a great place to meet a cute guy. If you want to meet a guy, get out of the clubs and go to charity events. Plus, the lighting is better. But, seriously, the event is a blast. It’s like Judy Garland getting the gang together to put on a show in the barn. I’m probably getting that adage wrong because I’m not a show tunes guy.
You don't know Judy Garland movies and you don't like show tunes? You’re a terrible gay.
[Laughs] I am! That’s just not my cup of tea. I just don’t think there’s anything sexy about show tunes. There’s nothing sexy about Glee. I just find it limp-dick making. Give me some Billie Holiday or Etta James or Donna Summer. I just like music that has more soul. OK, I’ll admit that Judy Garland had an incredible voice. I get why the gays are into her. There was just so much drama.
Last year Rose McGowan told The Advocate that you’re one of her best friends. What do you two do for fun together?
I love me some Rose McGowan. We've been friends for 12 or 13 years. We karaoke a lot, which she loves. You do crazy things with Rose. You go to gun ranges and shoot pistols. She’s a fun girl. She gets this rep that she’s a badass because she dated Marilyn Manson ages ago. She is a badass, but she’s a super-sweet girl with a good heart.
As a stylist, you probably make friends with celebrities, but then on Fashion Police you sometimes have to talk shit about their clothing. Has this ever come back to bite you on the ass?
Uh-huh. It bit me in the butt with Rose. I want to be genuine and honestly comment on fashion, but being friends with someone absolutely affects my decision. If I’m on the fence about something and they’re my friend, I will give them the benefit of a doubt. But if it’s really horrible, I’m not going to lie and say it’s great. For the most part I don’t say anything on the show that I wouldn’t say in real life. My role on the show is as a fashion expert so people can have fashion information.
Have you had any run-ins with celebrities you've criticized?
I was seated next to Mindy Kaling at a dinner for Elle magazine. We had talked shit about her so I was a little nervous. But she was like, “I loved that you talked about me on Fashion Police.” I love her. She was cool. She gets it. I did a shoot with the Glee girls for The Hollywood Reporter
and Amber Riley told me she was excited to meet me. Lea Michele said
she watches the show, though now she might not be pleased to see me now,
as we’re not as pleasant about her. It’s just funny. If I’m styling a
shoot, it never occurs to me that anyone will know who I am. I never
think about it. I’m just there to make people look good.
Do you plan what you’re going to say with Joan in advance?
We never have any idea what Joan is going to say and we don’t want to know in advance. It’s so much more fun that way. I’m not scripted at all. I go over things with the producer the night before, but what I say is coming out of my mouth fresh.
How do you account for the show's popularity?
First and foremost, Joan is hysterical. Even if I’m watching a rerun, I’ll laugh at her jokes. I hope that people watching get the sense that I am a fashion person. Sometimes a fashion guy is cast as the flamboyant gay. I mean, I can queen out with the best of them, but for the most part I’m not a stereotypical gay guy. There are all types of gay and I think it’s good to represent them all. I know super-butch guys who are into fashion. I just feel that it’s portrayed a certain way in the media with the sassy gay sidekick.
Why do so many gay men enjoy watching red carpet fashions?
just like pretty things and I want my world to be pretty 24/7. I’m
using “pretty” loosely. I just like nice things. I think everything
should be beautiful. Life is too short. Why should I wake up and look at
ugly things? But you know what? Straight guys love it too. Who doesn’t
want to look at beauty?
Joan's pretty unbridled with her comments. Does she ever say anything that’s too racy to make it on air?
of all, Joan is the nicest, sweetest woman. I’m trying to get that
message across because people might think she’s mean. My test for people
is if they’re nice to people around them, like waiters and assistants.
She is a dream. She knows when her jokes are too mean, but ultimately
it’s comedy. If it’s Jay Leno cracking these jokes, no one is going to
say, “He’s a bitch.” They’ll just think he’s funny. There’s a double
standard in comedy. If it’s a woman telling the jokes, she’s perceived
as being more mean than a man would be.
It’s been a tough
year for your cohosts. Kelly Osbourne's best friend, Amy, died and
Giuliana Rancic has battled breast cancer. Was it ever difficult to keep
Giuliana was so professional that we didn’t really
know what was going on. She’s a worker. Same with Kelly. We just have
fun. They’re all really great. We all love each other and have fun.
We’re kind of boring in that way. Maybe we need some on-set drama. I'm
not implying that our show isn't great already. I think another reason
that Fashion Police works is that it looks like a party that people would want to join.
You're very appealing on camera. Do you hope to eventually star in a spin-off reality series like Brad Goreski?
That’s never going
to happen. I don’t want to do that. I want to do a show where people
learn something and I give something back. I’m not interested in
displaying my personal life. I’d rather be able to share something with
the world besides drama. It makes for good television, but it’s just not
me. I hope that doesn’t make me sound like an asshole. [Laughs]