Ari Fitz keeps it 100 on “The Real World: Ex-Plosion”

AE: The Real World and all the spinoff challenges are like their own little universe. What were your thoughts about the show before going on and have they changed since?

AF: I remember I watched The Real World back in the day and I remember my first experience being Ruthie, and seeing her being out and open about her sexuality and thinking “Woah, that’s cool! It’s awesome that she can just say that stuff.” So my thought on The Real World is it’s the quintessential reality show. It’s what opened the door for everything else—every reality show on air right now has some kind of reference or root in The Real World and it’s just awesome to be a part of history. And add that to the fact that he last time Real World was in San Francisco it was Puck, Pedro. It’s almost a lot of pressure being the only queer person in the house, and is the true local as well. With my roommates it was almost up to me to open them to looking different ways at sexualities, to different ways of loving people. I mean we got some kinky shit, I gotta tell you. We have some kinky stuff on the show that I’m proud of. I think everyone left a little more open, just in general. Open to interacting people who are very very different from who they are.

AE: Did you have any racists or homophobes to deal with?

AF: One thing that you’ll know about me is I am pretty explicit about my identity—the things that I like, the things that I dislike. I’m very open. So I came into the house ready to defend everything. Like I was ready to be like “OK, there’s going to be that guy that’s like ‘F the gays!’” or whatever. And that actually, to me, I felt like, the reception was different. It was different than you’ll see on any other show. I won’t say it was negative or positive, I will just say it was different for me. And I’m really interested to see how more queer people on reality TV will go about existing, if that makes any sense at all. I came in with one expectation and left with another, given my identity in the house.

AE: Were the cameras allowed to follow you into any queer places?

AF: Oh my god, I mean, yes. We did everything. We did all of those. Because it was my home, I was going wherever I wanted to go. I can never escape! One of my favorite bars in San Francisco is Q Bar and we were there—I want to say almost every Tuesday night. We did a lot of stuff. We did Pride. A lot of really fun and queer things and some roommates were absolutely freakin’ down like holding it down, wearing whatever they needed to wear, super about it. And some were nervous and uncomfortable but I think all of them experienced it, whether they liked it or not.

AE: So you the only queer person in the house, besides your ex?

AF: I think a lot of people don’t feel comfortable being open. So I’d say I’m the only explicit person. I think the pressure was put on my by myself. I felt an obligation, once I found out the show was in San Francisco and me being from Oakland. I was born and raised here, I’m a Bay kid. I knew immediately that i would have to take on that role and have to be the person that kind of chaperoned my roommates and showed them different things because that’s how the Bay does it! That’s just how I feel like San Francisco is very warm and open and we just like to make sure people leave knowing there are different ways of living. I feel like the thing is I grew up as a person who had to take on a lot of responsibility and coming into the house, I wanted to make sure that my roommates felt comfortable, felt open being honest with me because I was very open with them and I think that naturally put me in this place so I just had a lot of responsibilities. So I think that pressure was kind of put on by myself.


AE: Are you prepared for people to want to know all the intimate details of your life?

AF: I think yes I am. Yes, it’s funny—I was hanging out with a friend and I got this text message from a girl I’d met a long time ago and she’s read all this stuff on some blog about me and told me what the world was saying about me. Just weird to know people would spend their Tuesday evening, instead of going out and getting a cocktail, are focused on me. It’s very kind of weird and jarring. I’m just focused on work right now. I want to make sure that I don’t kind of let what happened in the house stop me from doing what I was planning on doing, which was creating films. Everything needs to fall into that so regardless of stalkers or anything, it all needs to feed into what I need to do, which is filmmaking.

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