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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Deeper Dish with Sean Hetherington


Sean Hetherington has accomplished a helluva lot in his 30 years. At 24 he lost 100 pounds in 13 months, and since then he's written and performed stand-up comedy about his impressive weight loss all around the country. And last year Sean became the first openly gay contender on an extreme weight-loss edition of NBC's American Gladiators, in which amateur athletes competed against each other and the show's "gladiators" in contests of strength, agility and endurance. Even though he didn't win, this appearance gained him national media attention in the pages of Us Weekly and on MTV and E!--and now he's writing a memoir about his success story while helping others to lose weight as a personal trainer.

I'm very honored to have such an amazing young man as a Deeper Dish interviewee (i.e. a fabulous person who will answer pop culture questions along with giving us some insight into their life). So without further adieu, let's get deeper with Sean Hetherington:

Since you're now a fitness expert, do you have any slim-down tips you can share with us?

Slim-down tip 1: Binge.

Slim-down tip 2: Purge.

Just kidding. I think the biggest tip I have is for people who are friends and family of someone on a weight-loss journey. People were really generous with noticing my weight loss and how hard I was trying. Affirmations like "Hey, good job with the salad for dinner" went a long way. "I can finally see your cheekbones!" is addicting, and it made me want to lose more, faster.

What was your favorite food prior to your weight loss? And what is your favorite food now?

Moose Tracks ice cream prior, and Moose Tracks ice cream now. But I've developed a real love for unrefined bread. I like sprouted grains. The texture makes me feel like I'm being good, and the high fiber content keeps me full.

What's your favorite exercise?

Sex and running. In that order. I used to be too fat to do either for longer than a minute.

How did you become TV's first openly gay American Gladiator? And what was your best experience on the show?

I was a waiter at the California Pizza Kitchen, and my customer at lunch one day was one of the producers who thought I was funny. He asked me my back story, and when I told him about my weight loss, he placed me in their weight loss edition. It was a dream come true for me to be on the show I had watched since I was, like five. It was also horrifying. My favorite part was swimming under fire and Rocketball where I got to dunk baskets 20 feet in the air. I felt like Michael Vick or whatever that basketball player's name is.

Since you're a stand-up comic, what funny line or story usually gets the biggest laugh in your act?

My act is about 70% improvised because I'm much better once I meet the front row of the audience, so my biggest laugh changes from night to night.

How did you and your boyfriend, Aaron Hartzler, create last year's Day Without a Gay and this year's Same Sex Kiss Day? And do you have any plans for a new Day in the future?

Day Without a Gay was a volunteer effort to put a positive spin on what Fox News called "gay rage" where they were accusing LGBTs of everything from sending Anthrax to a Mormon Temple to death threats against Catholics. We thought if we could get gays to turn the other cheek, it would send a powerful message, and it did. Same Sex Kiss Day was sillier, and more about giving Starbucks a "high five" for always being a safe place for LGBTs. We thought, "What if we could give young gay people a tip on where there is a secure place to meet or work, and inspire other companies to be a welcoming ground for us? How about a national, Venti-sized kiss-in?" We don't have any plans for a future day, but current events sort of dictate these things, so who knows?



If I could be part of any TV family in history, I would choose:

The McMahons of World Wrestling Entertainment. I have a sick obsession with pro wrestling. If anyone knows how I could get front row at next year's WrestleMania in Phoenix, I'd probably have my first natural period right here on the floor.

The very first album, tape or CD that I purchased with my own money was:

Rumor Has It by Reba McEntire, and it was the tape, and I wore it out. So I bought a CD player and got it again, and now it's on my iPod and I still listen to the song "Fancy" almost every time I run, and in my mind I'm the quickest prostitute to ever wear Adidas.

In high school I was:

Openly fat, always funny, probably gay, and secretly really pissed about it all.

The last good book I read was:

It's a hilarious and gritty book I think everyone should read, but especially gay men and all women. I Am Not Myself These Days by Josh Kilmer-Purcell about a drag queen in love with a crack addict, and it all really happened.

My very first concert was:

Tanya Tucker, California State Fair, 1992. I tucked my jeans into my boots, and I was obese.

When I was growing up, I never missed a television episode of:

WWE Monday Night Raw and MTV's The Grind.

Today I never miss a television episode of:

Dexter, True Blood, 30 Rock, Weeds, Glee, HGTV's Bang For Your Buck and Real Estate Intervention.

If I could have dinner with anyone in the world--living or dead--I would choose:

My boyfriend.

Six movies that I think everyone should be required to watch are:

Food Inc., Harold and Maude, Up, Shut Up and Sing, Bruno, and Welcome to the Dollhouse.

If I was stranded on a desert island for a year, I would want to listen to:

Reba's Read My Mind, Dixie Chicks' Fly, Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life, Bill Hicks' Arizona Bay, and Margaret Cho's Notorious C.H.O.

If I could choose People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive of 2009, it would be:

Chas Bono. I love what he's doing.

My favorite song to dance to is:

"Bootylicious" by Destiny's Child in the club or the shower.



Who would you like to have lunch with: Oprah, Bill Maher, Anderson Cooper or Rachel Maddow?

HARD ONE! I love all of these people...like LOVE. But I think I'm gonna have to queen out and pick Oprah. I think I could help her with her food struggles. Bill Maher is my second pick though. I've seen almost every episode of Real Time, and he is a fierce LGBT rights activist.

Who's your favorite: Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Madonna, Reba McEntire or Beyoncé?

How dare you ask me to pick my favorite godparent. How. Dare. You. But I bet you can guess who the top two are.

Who's your favorite Dreamgirl: Deena, Effie or Lorrell?

I'm Effie, but I've always wanted to be Deena, which makes me even more Effie.

Who's your favorite Golden Girl: Dorothy, Rose, Blanche or Sophia?

I'm Dorosenchia--a real funny, naive, horny, old lady who loves cheesecake a little too much.



What's next for Sean Hetherington?

I'm going running after this, then dinner, then the publishing of a memoir, then a sequel and a young adult novel and more helping people shed their fatty sadness for a full, technicolor life like mine.

Thank you, Mr. Hetherington, for getting Deeper with us here on the Dish. To learn more about Sean, check out his blog, 100 Pounds, and his personal training business, the Hetherington Fitness Institute.

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