Meet the boys
BY Alonso Duralde
September 05 2003 12:00 AM ET
Going on those first few dates is hard enough, much less doing it in front of cameras for all of America to see. But that’s how James Getzlaff and Wes Culwell did it, on Bravo’s recently concluded reality series Boy Meets Boy. The show has faced an ongoing controversy among gays and lesbians over the fact that there were straight guys hidden among the 15 “mates” ostensibly vying for the affection of “leading man” James, who wasn’t informed of the ruse until the penultimate episode. Ultimately, James’s gaydar—and the help of his prone-to-tears best pal, Andra—helped him suss out finalist Franklin as a straight guy, and the affable Wes won that last glass of champagne, along with a trip to New Zealand with James.
In separate phone interviews, James and Wes talked about being on the show, the shock of the twist, and the bizarre dating mishaps that America didn’t see.JAMES GETZLAFF
You certainly held it together on camera when they told you about the twist. What was on your mind? Were you upset? I knew something big was going to happen, before we sat down, because they had sent me off to dinner alone—no cameras, no microphone—to get away from it all. And when I came back, my room had cameras and people in it, much more than I had ever seen previously. So I told myself, Something’s going to happen, they’re going to tell you something. No matter what it is, just act like it doesn’t bother you. And I thought I did a good job at doing that, but maybe not so much. [Laughs]
Given how most of us probably would have flipped out at that moment, you did fine.It wasn’t like I walked in my living room, sat down, and she said, “Guess what?” I had time to sit and wait and stand in the corner while they set up. And that’s why, at that moment, I just said, “Wow.” Because I wasn’t expecting that. I was trying to race through all the possible ideas of things they could possibly tell me. You know, I had no idea—they brought someone back from my past, one of the final three guys quit because he just hated my guts, I just did not know. And I thought, Do not give them the satisfaction of a reaction. That’s what my main goal was at that moment. They’re obviously going to tell me something that’s going to get a reaction, either good or bad, and I just figured it wasn’t gonna be good. [Laughs]
Did the twist make you regret having done the show in the first place?At that moment, I wasn’t even thinking about that; I was just thinking, I can’t believe what she said, I can’t believe what she just told me.
And since then? If I could go back? I wouldn’t do it again. It’s like anything that has bad memories—if we could take it away, would we? At the same time, I can’t take it away, but now I’m in a better place, I’ve moved past that. That’s not my focus, and it definitely won’t be a consumption. It happened, it’s over, I’m moving forward. I’m taking the friendships that I made, taking the experience, I’m taking Wes on a vacation, trying to move forward and enjoy the good stuff. ’Cause there were some good things on the show.
So the trip hasn’t happened yet, you guys haven’t gone to New Zealand yet? No, we go in March.
Have you guys been dating? Have you seen each other since the show ended? We try to see each other every week, if we can. He lives in San Diego, I live [in Los Angeles]. He’s moving next week to L.A., leaving the quiet town of San Diego and coming up to the big city. [Laughs]
Is he moving up for the relationship, or.…? No. He’s just moving for change. I’ve definitely not encouraged him to move up here because of me. That’s just not a smart thing. I wouldn’t tell anyone to do that. If we were an old married couple…
Moving in the first year is always a little dodgy. Moving for someone, period. Unless it’s something more serious and much more long-term. Much more stable. We’re just coming to the finish line of the show, and I’m sure this whole week will be crazy with interviews and people. And then, once it starts dying down, then it’s more normal. We can’t even go out in public…we could not, before, because people would recognize us. We’d go out in groups, we’d hang out in groups of friends, do things like that, but not a lot of just normal things. We haven’t gone to a movie. We haven’t done anything like that. Because when you can’t…
But now you can. Yeah. So it’s kinda weird. You know, when you train yourself not to do something for so long and then it changes? I’m having a hard time even talking about it. “Oh, yeah, I can say something about it.”
So you guys have come out, basically. Yeah, we’ve come out again! [Laughs]
It never ends. Yeah, no kidding!
Going back and watching the shows, seeing how they’ve been edited, what’s been the strangest thing for you? Oh, everything that happens at the [mates’] house—surprising. Because one thing the guys did not do…I read something in a magazine today—I think it was Entertainment Weekly—there was an article about summer television that asked, “What did we learn from summer shows?” It had all these different shows, and it put our show on there, and it said, “Boy Meets Boy: We learn that gay men are morons.” And I started laughing. But what they’re really quipping about our show is that there’s no backstabbing, there’s no conniving; the guys were really respectful of each other throughout the entire process. On the other shows, the girls go for the throat at all times, and when one girl goes for a date the rest of the girls just sit there and stab her. The guys were just really respectful of each other, really calm and nice.
How, if at all, did the show affect your relationship with Andra? It seems like the two of you went through quite a few roller coasters in the process. We did. [Laughs] Holy moley, that was crazy. It brought us to a new level, that’s for sure. If we ever thought our relationship was stagnant, it’s not now. We’ve crossed that threshold of intimacy—not physically, obviously, but a level that most people will never get to. We were tested to the limits of our friendship, and sometimes felt we were pitted against each other. But we made it through. That’s the one thing we said: No matter what happens, we’ll always be there. Andra and I are just as strong as ever.
Has she always been an emotional person? It seems like she wound up bursting into tears at one point during every episode.It was emotional for her. She was the only person in that show that was there for not a selfish reason. She had nothing to gain, there was no vacation for her to win, there was no secret money prize for her to win. And she got to be there for the entire process. She’d never seen me kiss someone before; she’d never been able to play a part in matchmaking for me. We’re really great friends, and I think she took it very seriously. To find out that the people she liked the most—because that was her job too, to find out about these guys on a social level—and then to find out that all the guys she wanted me to keep ended up being these straight guys, she felt really, really bad. And people ask, “Can you really find love in eight days?” Who knows? You can definitely find people who are interesting and fun to hang out with. If they grouped people in different ways, who’s to say who would have stayed and who would have gone, and in what order? I had very little time with each guy, so I was making very quick decisions, and she was saying, “I spent time with him and he was really nice and funny; you should give him another chance.” And I said, “OK, I trust you; let me get rid of somebody else, then.” So the person I got rid of could have very well turned out to be an amazing, amazing, amazing person. But they had to go, you know, because of someone else. And then if she finds out that someone else was just playing her, that’s really tough.
They did really stack the deck in terms of the way they set up the eliminations. It pretty much guaranteed there was no possible way you could have ditched all the straight guys early on. Right. Of course, we didn’t know that. We just thought, What strange groupings.
When it was all over, which of the straight guys were you most surprised to find out wasn’t gay? I think for a lot of viewers, it was probably Dan.Yeah…Dan and Michael. Because I didn’t find out until that final episode, that night, when they all came back and walked into the house and introduced themselves. It was like, wow. At that moment, I was so overwhelmed anyway. They told me there was one straight guy; when Dani [first] told me, it was one. But afterward, they actually told me there were seven. So I had a double whammy of, you know, I probably could have moved past the one, but then they told me there were more. Like, what the crap is going on?
Yeah, that’s a good half of the pool. So really it was just eight guys [competing for James’s affections].
There was a disclaimer that came on the screen at the end of every episode that a lot of us were baffled by. It said that you had consulted with the producers, but ultimately all decisions were yours. What exactly does that mean? Just that. The producers consulted with me in making my decisions… I don’t even know if I can talk about that.
Even now? Probably. I’m still under contract. I don’t want to get sued. [Laughs]
When you found out that one of the last three guys was straight, were you tempted at all to get more physical with them all to see if any of them broke down? You know, I was. But I really thought right away that it was Franklin and that I didn’t need to. That’s not my style anyway, and I didn’t know if I could pull that off. Even under the circumstances that I was in. I thought, I just don’t know if I could pull off being that physically aggressive under [the guise of] a game. I didn’t think it would be fair to the other guys, and I didn’t think I would be comfortable. Instead, I chose Franklin for the romantic date, the spa—we’d be in our swim trunks and in the water, getting massages. I figured of all the people, I’d put the straight one in the most romantic, intimate setting possible and that would bring out a lot of discomfort and make it a little nervous and awkward. And I think it did. I made the right choice.
So what, if anything, do you think you’ve learned from this experience? Don’t trust Hollywood. [Laughs] Read the fine print, that kind of thing. I think I just confirmed the things I was hoping to confirm when I did the show in the first place. Sometimes I wonder if I hold people to too high a standard—or too specific, not even too high, because I don’t think the things I look for are that ridiculous. I look for honesty, someone with a sense of humor, and someone who can be in a committed relationship—if it was a long-term situation, not if i’m just going out on a date with someone. I’m not looking for someone who just wants to make me a notch on a bedpost, and I think I did that. I definitely challenged myself emotionally and grew as a person that way. I definitely expanded my horizons when it comes to meeting people, being comfortable. I’m not super comfortable yet, but I’m definitely much more apt and inclined to go up and talk to people. And that’s a great skill, especially in the industry I work in [human resources]. I have to hire and fire people all day, and it’s really difficult sometimes.
You all seem to have bonded pretty quickly. Everyone’s departures seem to have been really traumatic, especially given that the whole show was shot over just eight days. It seems everybody got really close really fast. Right. You have to understand too, they cast us in probably that way. And half the guys were straight, so those guys were really hamming it up. If three or four of us bonded really really well right away, and I think everyone bonded to whatever extent those bonds are real, we all were just stuck in a house with nothing to do but just hang out with each other. So we made the best of it. And there’s cameras everywhere, it was just such a strange experience and such a different environment. All we had was each other, so we just really clung to each other and bonded fast. And regardless of the whole dating environment, just saying goodbye to people who were contributing such fun to the group, and knowing OK, that’s gone, that’s one less person to have fun with and one less dynamic we’re going to have in the group. It was just a strange thing to have these people leave. Even from a friendship level to say, “Goodbye, you’re gone.” And maybe that friendship was based on something not real, but at the time it was very real. It was kind of tough. All these fun, fun people; it would be so much fun to have these people as friends on a daily basis. Go here, go there, do this, do that, just have fun all the time, and then to have to say goodbye to these people. Especially Andra, she spent a lot of social time with them, just hanging out, and the guys spent all their time together.
People who have been on similar shows have tried to segue from reality TV into show business. Is this the end of TV for you, or do you have other ambitions? Well, I don’t know. I had a great time doing the show. But I don’t know. I suppose if someone came and said to me, “We want you to be on our show,” I’d think about it. We’ll have to see how it goes. But I have no idea how that works. It’s a foreign world to me, even though I jumped in it for 10 days.
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