Posted on 04 June 2013.
Berlin Sylvestre, Staff Writer
Ross Mathews is bringing the final leg of his “Man Up! Tour” to Atlanta this Thursday (June 6) at the Buckhead Theatre. If you haven’t already grabbed a copy of the book, I highly suggest you do. It’s a fun summer read and really gives you the insider look at Ross and his crazy life. In the meantime, peep the interview he gave FENUXE and be sure to reserve your (nearly sold out) tickets!
In your book, you go into length about how you went from riding around in a truck in Mt Vernon, WA to getting cozy with A-listers in Los Angeles. I’m gonna ask you something that’s kinda … soul-searchy. You ready?
Tell me about the time you farted on the slide in elementary school.
What?! *laughs* That’s funny. It was mortifying! I was going down the slide and everyone was at the bottom and when I farted, it was like, “Whoopsies! There it goes.” Everybody looked. Everybody knew. I don’t know if there’s anything worse than being in elementary school and getting caught farting.
You compare yourself to Beyonce becoming Sasha Fierce when you get in front the camera. Can you pinpoint the element that brings about that transformation or is it still a mystery to even you?
It’s just like this … auto-pilot that takes over. When I’m on the carpet and I’m interviewing someone, this energy just happens. It’s all authentically me and totally natural. I just trust it and go with it. I’m able to just say whatever comes into my head and it really is like handing over the wheel.
Does your Sasha Fierce have a name?
*gasp* I need a name, don’t I? That’s a great idea. If people wanna tweet me some names, that’s a good idea.
You’re in the hot seat for this next set I aptly call: “Saved by the Bell Trivia Time.” [Ross mentions in “Man Up!” that he was a “Saved by the Bell” junkie.]
Oh, wow. OK!
They’re not too hardcore. The first one is: What position did Slater play on the football team?
He was a quarterback.
Correct! What was the name of the much-younger aerobics instructor that Jessie Spano’s Dad marries?
Oh my God, that *is* hardcore! Was it Jamie? Something like Jamie?
It’s Leslie. Close enough. Zack, Screech, Kelly, and Slater end up going to what university?
Oh my God. Those were the college years. Was it … California University?
You got it!
It’s so pathetic that I know that.
What’s Mr. Belding’s first name?
Oh! Umm … his real name’s Dennis Haskins. *thinks* Oh, no. I’ll know if it you say it, but …
OK, I’ll give you a multiple choice. Thomas Belding, Richard Belding, or –
It’s Richard Belding. Ugh, I’ve been traveling between time zones. I apologize.
Last one: Who’s the crazy stalker guy who freaked Tiffani Amber Thiessen out in a Bon Marche in Seattle?
That is … hilarious! That would be me. Hilarious.
So have you made amends with the mascara glob? [Book reference. Must read!]
I saw her once after that and quickly told her the story and she was like, “OK.” But I’d love to have her on my show which premieres in the fall, or have her on “Chelsea Lately” so I can re-enact the moment.
You were so fun on “Celebrity Fit Club.” I hate to say this because it might’ve been all editing, but Dustin Diamond (Screech from “Saved by the Bell”) seemed like a real douchebag on “Celebrity Fit Club.” After having watched him all this time as the lovable goof, was it a shock to the system to see him act like such an ass?
Yeah. I’ll tell you: My [indiscernible] says I get too close to the sun, and what I mean by that is that I’ll love something, then get too close and realize it’s not as great as I thought. That was one of those times. That experience was weird. I was starving myself and competing, kayaking against Da Brat. I was meeting [Dustin] and he was so lame. Actually, he was more sad than lame.
When I think about it, if I had to live my life as Screech … *thinks* It’s not a decision he made at eight years old, to be that [character] forever. I feel for him, in a way.
I was transcribing an interview with Joan Rivers and she said that she’d never encourage people to get into this industry because it’s incredibly tough and incredibly unstable. If you had a child who wanted follow in Daddy’s footsteps, would you encourage him/her?
I plan on having children and if they wanted to do this, I’d tell them the same thing I tell people when I’m traveling the country: I never want to discourage anyone, but you need to know a couple things before you get into this business. One, the odds are not in your favor. Two, it’s going to be really hard. I can’t turn it off. That’s not a complaint, but I really can’t just turn it off. When I go to Starbucks, when I go to Home Depot, it’s “on.” Not that I’m complaining — I love it. But you also have to take the good with the bad. I get a lot of praise, but I also get a lot of negative stuff online and I have to accept them both, to a degree.
I’ve known forever that I wanted this, but that’s what I mean when I talked about Dustin Diamond. He was just a kid who didn’t really understand the decision he was making at eight or ten years old; that for the rest of his life, he’d would be identified as Screech. It’s just like when I became known as “Ross the Intern.” A year and a half later, I was like, “What is ‘Ross the Intern?’ What is that? I’m not that.” So for [Dustin] to have to embrace that, then separate himself from it had to be difficult. But I’m much more comfortable now and I think people can see it. I’m much more comfortable in my skin being Ross Mathews and not Ross the Intern.
And I think you’ve done a great job. I didn’t have to say “Ross the Intern” when I was telling people who my next interview was. I said “Ross Mathews” and everyone knew who I was referring to.
Do you still count Rosie O’Donnell as your mentor and if so, can you tell us why?
Well … I always felt a connection with her when I was watching her talk show. I always thought that if we ever met, we’d be friends. And we did, we met, and she was very kind to me and very supportive.
Allright, so back to the book. You are such a late ‘80s/’90s baby and it’s great. Your anecdotes (like sitting on the lanai with The Golden Girls or wanting to “BFF” with Delta Burke) really help paint the picture. Do you put a lot of cultural references in your show?
Yeah, the show that I do is more than just a one-man show. I bring stories from the book to life — even stories that aren’t in the book. I’m a culture junkie and that’s one thing you can rely on.
In the book, you talk about how you and a friend consumed too much pot-laced butter and were both rushed via ambulance to the hospital. What in the WORLD is up with that because I’ve never heard of someone having to hit the ER over weed? How much weed was it?
*laughs* Oh, dear. It was so mortifying. It was such a sad time and I just wanted to escape. It was horrifyingly scary, but so funny at the same time. It was really concentrated [pot butter] and totally unbelievable how high I was. My friend freaked out, and I think the ambulance freaked me out.
What did the doctors give you to calm you down? How do you reverse pot?
Oh my God, I have no idea, but it worked. There was no way I could’ve died, though. [The story] is supposed to be tongue-in-cheek funny, but it really happened.
Your Madonna story is incredible … the prayer circle experience … Britney Spears joining in … then getting a one-on-one with the Queen of Pop herself. You told her you were sent to cop a feel and she held out her hand. Was that the feel you copped or did you leave out details we’re dying to know?
I touched her hand — that’s it, and I was grateful. When it comes to Madonna, you’re grateful for what you can get.
People are going to be green with envy when they read that chapter … but the entire book itself is fun to read. It’s like a letter from a friend.
Thank you so much! I worked really hard on that and I wanted it to be sweet and to have a message. When people read a book like that, they think it’s really easy [to create], but personally it was difficult, so I really take that as a compliment. Thank you.
Of course. At the end, what does Chelsea [Handler] mean when she calls you the “gay man’s Popeye?”
I think she’s saying that I’m like … a strong gay man. I stand proudly, muscles flexed metaphorically. I’m a strong gay man with no apologies.
Chelsea’s a real ballbuster from what we can tell on the show, which is nice. Is getting her stink-eye for a stupid joke a compliment among friends?
*laughs* Yeah, but it’s great when you can make Chelsea laugh. She doesn’t just give that away. Our comedy couldn’t be any more different, Chelsea and I. I love her and she loves me, we’re both just different levels of ridiculous together. I could never have imagined her being this generous and wonderful. I’ve been so surprised along every step of the way how incredible she is and I’m not trying to be ass-kissy. I can’t even tell you … she’s so supportive of me. I can only aspire to treat everyone the way Chelsea treats me.
Aww, the softer side of Chelsea.
Oh, she has a soft underbelly, but don’t tell anyone I said that — she’ll kill me.
So here’s a sort of dark question for an upbeat guy: What anxieties have the most ability to keep you tossing and turning in the dead of night?
Things I can’t control. I’m really good at making things happen, but when decisions aren’t mine to make like health issues that affect people I love and there’s nothing I can do about it, that keeps me up at night.
How do you calm yourself?
There’s nothing you really can do. Usually I just fall asleep. And this doesn’t happen very often, I’m pretty good, pretty together.
So you’re coming to Atlanta. How long you stayin’?
You know I travel a lot. Unfortunately, I can’t stay very long, but Atlanta is the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m looking forward to Atlanta.
You planning on hittin’ up our Big Gay Midtown?
We might try and go out that night!
We? You traveling with an entourage?
*laughs* I travel with my best friend from high school who writes with me. She’s going to be one of the writers for my show.
You should come out to eat after the show! I’ll line up a couple hotties and we’ll rendezvous.
You have to come to the show! It’s so funny! But we might go out. Who knows?
What’s a question you’ve always wanted to be asked, but no one has?
No one’s ever called me and asked what I was wearing.
What’re you wearing?
A big, fuzzy costume.
It’s more interesting than a T-shirt and jeans.
Awesome, well thanks for the interview, Ross.
Thank you! Thanks for being so fun!
From you, that’s a great compliment.
So I’ll see you at the show, right?
You got it!
“Hello Ross,” his new talk show, premieres in the fall on E! Entertainment. The pop culture-heavy production will be an interactive experience and we look forward to even more of the sweet-hearted funnyman.