Saturday, July 26, 2008

Matt Locke Wants To Be Your Next Design Star

Matt Locke is many things: funny, smart, down-to-earth, and motivated (and YES, he's gay). He would also like to become the next DESIGN STAR.

As most of you know, Matt Locke, 38, and I did a telephone interview on Thursday - talking for almost an hour. Matt shared some background about his life, dished about Design Star, and displayed his friendly "Robot Happy Guy" qualities [a nickname I gave him in a recap]. It was almost like speaking to a friend, although most of my friends aren't nearly that nice.

Matt's journey to Design Stardom began when he was five years old. At that young age, he decided a glass-topped table would look nice in his bedroom. His architect father and artist mother (which explains the kiln in her basement) consented - and Matt's interest in design continued to grow.

In Junior High School, Matt began making his own furniture. In High School he completely re-did his bedroom, creating a temple of 80's "Glamtastic" fabulousness. And in the days before do-it-yourself reality television, Matt even staged a "reveal" for his parents - making them cover their eyes and counting down before letting them see his creation. Mom and Dad were impressed, and his mother suggested that Matt might possibly do this for a living.

Matt's college education began in art school before transferring to Princeton, where he earned a degree in History (he is one smart cookie, and has appeared on Jeopardy). He then earned a Masters degree in Industrial Design at Chicago's Institute of Design. After living the fast, fun, and out gay life in the big city of Chicago, Matt found himself broke and moved back to conservative Colorado Springs.

An avowed "fact and figures" guy, Matt worked in the Telecom industry as a technical writer. Locke thought he would continue to pay the bills with his day job, and eventually break into design. After years of living in Colorado and doing much more day job than design, he realized he needed to be back in a big city. So in 2005 he moved to Los Angeles, where he started his own design firm. Check out his website here.

One of the first questions I asked Matt was about his carpenter from last week's challenge - Damon. I wanted to know if we would be hearing about a "MattDamon" relationship (a la "Brangelina" or "TomCat")? He assured me that he is indeed happy at home with his man - "hunky, hunky" [that's TWO 'hunkys'!] Heath. Which explains the ring Matt wears on his wedding ring finger.

Matt describes himself as completely "out and proud". The reason he didn't fly the rainbow flag on Design Star was because the show had actually helped reconcile him with his conservative family. Sure enough, my assumption about his estrangement with his family was true - it had to do ultimately with his being gay. Matt didn't go into specifics, but says his parents "have come a long way". This is a very common occurrence in families with gay children - many eventually come to a point of acceptance (or even a full embrace), but some do not. Luckily for Matt, reality television helped get things moving in the right direction. Matt's mom is a big Design Star fan, and going on the show really helped them to bond again.

In addition, many of the people who attend the Locke family church watch Design Star, and Matt didn't want to rock the boat. Besides, the show already had Big Gay Michael Stribling [my words, not Matt's!], which is enough gay for seven Gay Pride Parades AND the Tony Awards [again - MY words].

Regarding Michael Stribling, Matt fondly recalls that on the first day of filming, when everyone got dropped off at the lake, Michael's immediately asked: "Are you gay or straight?". Matt answered, matter-of-factly, "gay". Michael turned to Mikey V and asked the same question. Mikey V declined to answer. [I can just imagine Gay Michael rolling his eyes and silently mouthing the word "gay!" to the other designers].

Speaking of Mikey V, Matt was extremely impressed by our tattooed hottie, and not for the reasons you're thinking. "He gets stuff done", Matt says, adding that if Mikey ever got tired or cranky, he never showed it. Mikey just worked like a "machine".

We touched on Mikey's recent troubles, and Matt said they exchanged emails after Mikey's suspension from his police job [why didn't I ask for Mikey V's email address, DAMN!?!]. However, Matt says of all of the designtestants, Mikey V is the most business savvy and is the smartest marketer of all of them. Besides, Matt reminds me, there are tons of rich gay men in South Florida who would dearly love to hire Mikey V for a home makeover [personally, I would include a "shirtlessness" clause in my Design Contract with Mikey]. Matt assures us that DavidDust favorite Michael Verdugo will undoubtedly go on to a very successful career in design.

I asked Matt if HGTV asked them specific questions about their past (arrests, porn, internet habits, crimes against fashion, etc.) when applying to be on the show. And, in fact, they absolutely DO. It's quite an extensive and intrusive questionnaire - inquiring whether or not they have done A,B, or C; where A, B, or C might have taken place; and how many times they did A, B, or C. Matt answered the questions honestly, but wanted me to tell my Dust Bunnies that contrary to his "good boy" image, he DID answer "yes"... to more than one question! 'Robot Happy Guy' knows how to get his freak on - within reason, of course.

In addition to Michael Stribling and Mikey V, Matt had fond memories of some of the others. After HGTV host Carter Oosterhouse left the room during a visit, Trish made a comment about the size of Carter's feet (apparently, QUITE large). And everyone really liked D Paul, who got absolutely no sleep while bunking with Matt, due to Matt's foghorn-caliber snoring. Matt told me his hubby Heath felt "vindicated" by seeing this on television. Heath HATES Matt's snoring, which Matt always brushed off as Heath overreacting. When his competitors on Design Star started complaining, Matt had to face the fact that Heath had been right all along.

I asked about Tracee, and of course he wouldn't say anything negative about her. But he DID say that after the first episode, in which they all worked together "like a family", they were truly shocked when Tracee started throwing people under the bus during the judging. Matt didn't have to work with her until the kitchen challenge, and by that time he knew what she was all about [STANK].

Finally, I wanted Matt to tell us about Sunday's show. For the final Design Star challenge, Matt and Jennifer head to New Orleans to help a Police Officer and a Fire Fighter who stayed and helped during (and after) Katrina hit. Both Matt and Jenn each do a living room, dining room AND kitchen in 36 hours, something that instills "abject terror" in them when told. They will have the assistance of a team of carpenters, and some surprise special guests will lend their support. It should be quite interesting, and they will be assisting two families who really deserve a helping hand.

At the end of the show (9:00 EST on HGTV), they will announce how you can vote for the winner [I believe it will be via text message and Internet]. I know I am abandoning the unbiased journalistic principles I learned in college, BUT I URGE YOU TO VOTE FOR MATT. Besides, I went to college 20 years ago, so I've forgotten most of my education anyway.

Watch Design Star tomorrow (Sunday) night on HGTV at 9:00 pm (EST). And after the show, I urge my Dust Bunnies to show their support for the person who consented to the VERY first interview on DavidDust - Matt Locke.


VickiD said...

I am absolutely voting MATT all the way!!! I'm sooo glad you are supporting Matt, because he is a class act and I just love him!!! And people, his website is very impressive!

mikeinbama said...

Great Interview. I posted a piece on my journal Friday for everyone to read your interview. I'm excited for Matt but I'm really happy for you.

Way To Go!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Howard said...

Nicely done. Matt sounds incredibly gracious as well as warm and wonderful.

I don't know if I can speak about what I believe to be a new pic for Mikeinbama. I am certainly distracted...

Beth said...

I really didn't even watch this show much, but I will SO vote for Matt, just cuz he knows how to get his freak on!...within reason, of course!

Great interview Tranny! Now I think you should do an interview with our idol, Christian "Mango" Seriano!!! How much FUN would that be???!!!

love you, love your hair!

a-nony-mouse said...

thank you! thank you!
I loves the behind the scenes stuff
about how these shows are put together. Wishing Matt lots of luck in whatever the future brings.

Renee said...

Great interview. I love Matt even more now. He is one smart guy. I'm happy that the show helped him to reconcile with his family. I hoping he wins the competition but if he doesn't he still won- a renewed relationship with his parents.

Now I have to win the lottery so I can have Matt design a house for me. I want the bacon and eggs door.

Chris said...

Great job David, that was a terrific read about Matt. Looking forward to the finals.

Howard said...

Matt Locke FTMFW!

Joy said...

Your journalism degree came through for you. Great job and interesting interview! Matt does sound like a nice guy.

Yea You!! xoxoxoxo

CondoBlogger said...

GREAT interview. Matt is always smiling and so very very cute! I'll be voting for him for sure.

CondoBlogger said...

Great Interview!

Hooked on Houses said...

What a fun and fabulous interview! I loved it. Thanks for sharing it with us. So good to get all the behind-the-scenes dirt. -Julia

Anonymous said...

After watching the finals, I have to say that Matt is one classy guy. He actually wanted to help his opponent by giving her Mikey V to help with the kitchen.

Mark in DE said...

Great interview! And I'm completely fine with the fact that you did not remain fair and unbiased. That's life, b*tches!

I'm happy you confimred for us that Matt is gay, although I knew all along. When I saw that scene of him waking up in the morning with his exposed chest and saw that his chest hair was trimmed, I KNEW.

You're so fabulous to be contacted by - not one, but - both Design Star finalists! Keep up the good work!

Mark :-)

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