Sean Patterson: Hollywood's Gay Best Friend

Sean Patterson, the Wilhelmina Models president now doling out his money to strangers on E!’s Bank of Hollywood, dishes on Ryan Seacrest, Candy Spelling, and his BFF Fergie.



SEAN PATTERSON 2 X390 (COURTESY E! NETWORKS) | ADVOCATE.COMWhat was it like to work with executive producer Ryan Seacrest? His banter with Simon Cowell on American Idol can come off as a bit homophobic, so I’m curious how he interacted with you.
I’d met him out before socially with Fergie at Chateau Marmont about a year ago, and he actually took some gay fashion tips from me. I had one of those scarf things wrapped around my neck over a sweater or something, and he was like, “How come straight men can’t wear a scarf like that and make it look good?” So I ended up giving him my scarf and showing him how to wear it. I know a lot of gays hope that he’s secretly gay, but he’s not. He’s totally straight, but he’s not a homophobe at all. He’s just a cool guy running an empire, and he’s one of the most hands-on producers in the world.

Speaking of Fergie, she told me that you sent her flowers after you read my interview with her in The Advocate.
Yes, I did, and I called her right after I read it online and said, “It’s so sweet that you told the world I was your gay BFF!”

How did your friendship blossom?
I started to represent Fergie a few years ago when her management team brought us on board to help build her brand and explore deals for her in the fashion industry. Dressing her for red carpet events and working with her to evolve her style was an amazing opportunity to spend time with one of the most generous artists that I’ve ever worked with. I’ve been around the world with her working on various projects, and it just makes life so much more enjoyable when you’re with someone you really care for. She’s fun and she’s real — as you already know from your interview — but she’s also so people-smart and gives the most amazing advice. She could be a shrink.

Gossip columnist Cindy Adams in the New York Post reported that you recently walked into a Broken Embraces screening with Fergie and announced, “Hi, I’m her gay BFF. And she’s not doing interviews.” Is that true?
Yes, that was our little inside joke because of your damn interview! [Laughs] Cindy asked Fergie, “Who’s this strange man? Why aren’t you with your husband?” And I’m like, “Cindy, come on. First of all, could I be any more gay?”

You worked your way up from a junior agent to president of Wilhelmina. Did your being gay hurt or help your career trajectory?
There’s obviously this really fun, gay component to the industry, but there are also some very straight, conservative banker and lawyer types you have to deal with. I felt early on that if I was going to be successful, I would need to be able to communicate with both worlds. Now I’m at a level in my career where I’m confident enough to know that discrimination can’t impact me, but it was a fear of mine coming up for sure. Ultimately, we want people to see our work and not whether we sleep with men or women. Honestly, not that people should ever be ashamed to be openly gay, but I don’t fault people who take into consideration who they’re dealing with in business and don’t play up being gay. Sometimes it’s better to take that off the table.

Tags: television