During the days of Aqua Net and Poison, Eric Lowell (pictured at right) was a flamboyant presence at Las Vegas’s Chaparral High School — not exactly out, but not quite bolted in the closet. Taking part in lip-synch contests and having a flair for hair, Lowell caught some unwanted attention from some of Chaparral’s bullies, including a mulleted guy named John. Now married to a man and living in Seattle, Lowell got to confront his teenage tormentor when members of Chaparral’s class of ’89 were brought together on this season’s High School Reunion, a reality show on the TV Land network. The highly charged confrontation between Eric and John takes place on Wednesday night’s episode at 10 p.m. Eastern/Pacific, and Lowell took some time to discuss with Advocate.com how it was to relive the ultimate adolescent fantasy.
Advocate.com: Why did you want to take part in the show?
Eric Lowell: I figured it would be a good time. I didn’t seek out to be on the show. I joined a Facebook group that someone set up for our graduating class, and someone said we should try to get on this show, and I thought that would be cool. But they never said when it was filmed or how long, so I didn’t apply. Then one of the casting producers contacted me through Facebook and gave me information on when it was filmed and for how long. So I found out I was able to get off work and applied.
How many people were there?
It started out with about 14 or 15 of us.
How long were you together?
About two weeks. Filming was a little less than two weeks [on Hawaii's Kauai island], but we were there for a little bit after.
What reaction did you expect from John?
The tension with John was kind of surreal. I can’t wait to watch it to see how it’s edited. I’m not a confrontational person, and if I had gone to my actual high school reunion, I wouldn’t have said anything to John. I appreciate having the opportunity to force myself to tell someone how I really feel. Beforehand, I kind of went through points I wanted to make and let him know how his words affected me. When I first heard him coming down the train tracks in his drunken stupor I knew it wasn’t going to go how I thought it would. But I kept my cool. I let him make an ass out of himself while still letting him know how I felt.
What was high school like with him?
He and I had a P.E. class
our sophomore year and it was a three-on-three basketball game, and like a lot of gay guys, I’m
not the most athletically agile person, so our team was losing. It was
me, John, and one of his buddies losing. His buddy was totally ragging
on me, and as we headed to the locker room John came up and apologized
for our friend’s behavior. But then in our senior year, he started
being a jerk to me. He was the last person I can remember picking on
me. I can remember this situation — we had a lip-synch contest and I
performed, and afterward I was talking with a couple friends and he
came by with a couple of his friends and made a really shitty comment,
and I flipped him off. My class has 625 people, so I didn’t have
classes with everyone. My interactions with him were very few. And my
first memory of him our sophomore year, I had a positive memory of him.
But because of how he treated me our senior year, I look at the
yearbook and think, Asshole.
He seemed to walk in with his dukes up. From your time with him on the show, is he a homophobic person or simply belligerent?
don’t know if they show it, but he kind of apologized to me — I don’t
know if it was the most heartfelt apology. It was weird — when we got
back to the house there was all this drama. Every day the cast would
make a list of what food and alcohol we wanted for the house, and I was
making the list. John came over and helped me with the list as if
nothing happened. We had some great times during the show — he’s funny;
he made me laugh. When he drank he could turn into an asshole. I also
learned that John is never going to really apologize. He has his
opinions and he thinks they’re right; he’s not going to apologize for
So was that initial reaction fueled by alcohol?
I could tell he was angry when he got there. I think he thought, It was
high school. It was a long time ago — get over it.
But it looked like you at least wanted him to hear you out.
not be so doubtful that this could have happened. I don’t know what
they showed, but he did say he was sorry if I felt that way and he
shook my hand.
Was the show a good experience?
I’d do it again in a heartbeat. It was kind of like one of those big high school parties I never went to.