One thing we did NOT talk about was the infamous “movie” situation – which has caused him to be suspended from his job as a police officer. Since there are legal proceedings pending, Mikey could not discuss the situation – even though I sensed he would have liked to clear the air.
My first impression of Mikey was of someone who is still learning how to handle his newly found celebrity. “It’s new to me”, Mikey said, sounding a tiny bit shy about it all. Unlike fellow contestant Matt Locke (who described himself to me as a “media whore”) – you get the sense that Mikey is a little more hesitant to jump into the spotlight. Especially since the trip so far has been a bit bumpy.
Mikey’s journey to becoming a cop-slash-interior-designer began at a very young age. As a boy growing up in South Florida, he identified with “Ponch” on the television show CHiPs – played by Erik Estrada. He would dress up like Ponch for Halloween, and from the earliest age wanted to become a police officer. I remember Ponch from my childhood also – but only because of his extremely tight pants. Just sayin’…
At the same time, Mikey also had an interest in design. His Mom would often come home from work to find Mikey’s entire room redesigned and rearranged. Verdugo’s interest in design increased when his mother remarried a carpenter – who specialized in installing kitchens. By helping his stepdad, Mikey learned the ins and outs of carpentry, building, and design. Verdugo says he was “constantly building something” during this time.
After becoming a police officer, he began “flipping” houses as a side job (think Flip This House). His flipping experience led him to create his own staging company (think Sell This House). And it was just a short jump from staging homes for selling, to designing homes for living (think every show on HGTV).
Although Mikey isn’t working as a police officer right now (according to media reports, he is on ‘administrative leave’), Mikey says he “loves” being a cop. He “wants to succeed” at everything he does – and I got the sense that this interruption in his policing career frustrates him somewhat. Verdugo has been a cop for ten years – including time as an undercover officer and a stint on the Beach Patrol. “Mikey V on Beach Patrol” – now THERE’S a visual I hope stays with me for a while…
But, as Mikey says, “Everything happens for a reason” – and he has been extremely busy juggling multiple design projects and clients. He has even gotten some interest from Los Angeles-based television producers – who recently flew to Florida to meet with him. And there is talk of a signature furniture line, among other things.
I told Mikey that when he first appeared on Design Star, myself and others had no idea he was gay. Mikey claims that he made no effort to hide his sexuality, he was just being himself. In real life, Michael has been with his boyfriend for four years, and they are registered as domestic partners. He said he’s been out to his friends and family “forever”, and during one of our preliminary phone calls he referred to his boyfriend/partner as “my better half”. Awwwww…
Mikey called his experience on Design Star “designer boot camp” because of the hectic schedule and lack of down time. It was also difficult living with roommates – which he had never done before. He was used to living with his boyfriend, but not with a bunch of crazy decorators. And Mikey confirmed that Matt Locke indeed snores like a foghorn.
Verdugo said his best friend on the show was Trish Beaudet – who he bonded with immediately. In fact, they would love to have their own television show – which I think would be fabulous. It would be like Will & Grace – only with REAL decorators. In fact, Mikey calls Trish “my Karen Walker”. Since the Finale aired, they talk on the phone all the time and he loves her “to death”. Mikey also confirms Trish’s observation (first told to me by Matt) that Carter Oosterhouse has enormous feet. “They are huge!”, Mikey laughingly told me.
Finally, I asked Mikey about his weakness on Design Star – the hosting segments. Mikey said that his media skills have improved greatly since his first appearance in front of the camera. Especially considering that the Design Star producers put them in front of the cameras with very little prep, just to see how they would handle it. With a little coaching, I bet Mikey would be phenomenal – after all, he is handsome, intelligent … and did I mention HANDSOME?!?
So, all you television producers out there – this is your one chance to scoop up a great looking, personable, charismatic and knowledgeable television interior designer. And he comes with his very own “Karen Walker”…
Thanks again to Mikey V for being so sweet and accommodating. And please keep us informed about any and all upcoming projects. And all of YOU should check out Mikey V’s fantastic new website – complete with blog, photos, etc.: