Drumroll, please… Here’s the interview you’ve been waiting for! I’ve truly heard your desperate cries to find out everything there is to know about reality star and Palm Springs personality, hunkalicious Scott Cullens. I just happen to have direct access to the man himself and in-between shooting his new reality program Grand Designs for A&E, I was able to get him to sit down and reflect on a wonderful life well lived. We know each other well enough to be aware of one another’s sick and twisted mindset and humor which I believe draws us together. I knew Master Cullens’ answers would be fierce. But of all the celebrity interviews I’ve done and there’s blessedly been a few from RuPaul Dolls and soap opera stars, Scott gave me more heart and soul than I had even imagined him offering.
I see Scott on a daily basis at World Gym Palm Springs pumping iron, cutting abs with his trainer Eddie and sweating the house down on our cardio playground. Cullens is religious about his workouts and worships the time he spends at the gym. His body is unbelievable. He is always in his look and I’ve never seen him look bad. From carrying a pink backpack over his bowling ball sized shoulders to overseeing his own company, Palm Pacific Construction, creating masterpieces in beautiful homes across the Valley, Scott Cullens is one of a kind. Unique, complex and a brilliant example of the way gay culture is often revered today, here’s Scott on striving for perfection as a Gym Barbarian, his time with Barbara Walters on The View and what type of man really turns him on.
Steven Michael – Let me start off by saying in my most reassuring Samantha Jones voice to Carrie Bradshaw before she became “runway roadkill” during Margaret Cho’s fashion show in Sex and the City, “You’re a model.” An inside joke, indeed. Can you give us a brief history of where you grew up and what your childhood was like?
Scott Cullens – “The best way for you to visualize my childhood in Kansas and Missouri is to think of Honey Boo Boo but with less class. My parents were in high school when they had me so we grew up together. I remember our airbrushed van – naked ladies with gigantic tits, shag carpeting on the floor, ceiling and walls with a wet bar and moon roof. We entered the van in car shows and I took the trophies to show and tell. I worked very hard pumping gas, mowing lawns, picking up aluminum cans so I could keep up with the kids at school with new Nikes and terry cloth shirts. It wasn’t a dream childhood, but I had parents that loved me.”
Wow, Scott. I had no idea you came with such vivid history. I grew up in the Bible Belt and definitely have those stories that would amaze. Were you big and strong as a teenager and when did your aspirations for the ultimate physical brawn come into play with your psyche?
“I did have the brawn as a teenager. I went to high school with Brad Pitt. Yes, he may have become an international mega super celebrity, however, I won ‘Best Body’ in high school. He might have the fame but I have the ‘Best Body’ award. Remind me to dig it out for you from Mom’s basement. I was a swimmer in high school and was well liked by the girls. However, you weren’t allowed to be popular unless you played football or were a cheerleader. Thank God for those girls liking me or I would have been an outcast.”
Ooh, child. I do not miss high school. I was very involved in clubs, band and even a cheerleader but knew there was a life outside of it waiting for me. What do you personally feel is the biggest misconception about you?
“The biggest misconception about me is that it’s easy for me to stay in this shape. There is a fat guy screaming to get out of me. I workout like a fiend every day, hour of cardio, hour and half of weights. I try to watch my diet but I’m drawn to junk food.”
Yes, I love to eat. And can bust up a Little Debbie something-something. What’s your new A&E show Grand Designs going to feature? That’s the title, right? Are you the main focus or are you part of an ensemble? When does it air?
“I would love to give you lots of information about my new television show on A&E but we are only in the 2nd week of filming and I’m contractually unable to discuss the details until we get closer to airing. I can tell you it is a home building and design show that is already popular in other countries. They are following me building a new luxury home in Palm Springs over the next several months from start to finish. I’m very excited and fortunate to be a part of this project. I will of course find it appropriate to take off my shirt at many inappropriate times during filming.”
Well naturally, Gypsy Rose Lee. Your fans would have it no other way. What do you find the most fascinating part of shooting reality TV? And the biggest misconception about filming?
“Reality TV is like porn, a lot of starting and stopping. It is not really flowing like you see it in the finished product. It’s always difficult to remember to repeat the question you are asked by the director in your responses or the viewer has no idea what you are talking about.”
I have always believed that reality stars are pawns for the editors. Bruce Villanch once said to do and re-do what the directors want in reality television or they’ll fuck you in editing. Which best describes your workout regime? Joan Crawford’s Mommie Dearest intensity or a Navy Seals hardcore beat down? Describe your workouts and do you eat exactly what you should for the perfect physique?
“My workouts are definitely Navy Seal hardcore beat down. To get ready for the camera, I prepare several weeks in advance with a daily routine of 1-2 hours of weight training, 1 hour of medium intensity cardio, and a couple of 1 hour abs-only trainer-guided sessions each week. My diet during prep consists of white fish, lemon, 1/2 cup of vegetables and 1/2 cup rice, water 5 x per day.”
That actually sounds good to me right now. The food not the regime. Well, whatever you do works really well. We’re friends naturally on Facebook and I see the comments people leave for you and your breathtaking images, basically paying homage for a job well done. Of course, I must bring you down to earth by witty quips of my humor and I see some of your other confidants do as well. It comes from a place of love. How does it make you feel when you read the comments of admiration? Because I’ll be first to say it, “Bitch you look good.”
“Everyone enjoys the good feeling of a compliment. The best compliment for myself is maintaining my body and health at my age. Yep, I’m 48 in March 2013.”
Just hit the 45-year-young mark myself. How do you deal with haters and do you find they are out there watching you waiting for you to have a bad hair day, so to speak?
“When I did my first television show, I was unprepared for the haters. The blogs and fan mail was 90% nice but the other 10% were not just mean, they were blood-thirsty, venomous, hateful messages. It really got to me for a bit. But then I realized that not a single one of those people know me or have even met me. That much energy put into hate must surely be about something wounded within them and I stopped taking it personally.”
Shady people love to hide behind their anonymous keyboards and spew their hatred. Plus, the way one person can read what someone else types can also get things very twisted regardless of the intent. It is really nice when someone surprises you with a compliment. Especially on a day when we’re possibly not loving ourselves. Can you recount your story of being on The View after your episode on Obsessed was first aired? You told me personally about Barbara Walters’ assertive ways backstage and how it all went down. Care to share?
“My interview on The View was a fantastic experience. I was afraid of Elizabeth Hasselbeck because of her conservative stance on everything. However, she called out my name when she saw me before the show and introduced herself. After a while, I realized I may not agree with a single word out of her mouth but she is a nice woman and I respect her. Whoopi was the nicest and gave me a bear hug and whispered in my ear that my bravery on coming out with severe OCD helped a lot of people and she was proud of me. Barbra Walters was asked specifically not to bring up a scene in the show involving a tampon. The producer said it was too much for morning audiences. I was sitting one foot from her as she agreed not to speak about it. Then WHAM! She side swipes me with a question about the tampon scene. I came back with the solid quip, “I understand how scaring the gay guy with a tampon is hilarious, I get it,” and that ended the entire segment.”
“She later tracked me down after the show and asked me a half dozen questions about my relationship and OCD. I called her Barbara and I think she wanted a Ms. Walters. Oooops. Two weeks later I was contacted by the Oprah show and booked for September 11th that year with Whitney Houston. You don’t think I was nervous? Well, a few days later, after I’m sure a thorough Google search involving naked pictures and my Big Muscle profile, I was uninvited. I told ABC and The View about the pictures online and they didn’t care. My story is still interesting and helpful whether you’ve seen my dick online or not. Whatevs.”
Whatevs, indeed. I remember you telling me the story after you had returned from New York and I was wanting to hear it again. Thanks for sharing. I had been in Nashville when it aired and I was packing to return home in the hotel room watching you thinking, Whoa! Speaking of Obsessed, were you happy with how you were portrayed overall? How does it feel seeing yourself on the television?
“When I was first contacted for the show Obsessed, I said, ‘Hell no!’ I carried around these crazy thoughts and behaviors in my head my entire life and I was not going to be ridiculed on national television by discussing them openly. But my therapist said that if I could help one kid that was afflicted like I was, would it be worth it? So I agreed. Overall, I was happy that the show reached millions of people and I received hundreds of emails and messages from people that went to seek help from a professional or the best letters were from teenagers who told their parents they suffered from the same thing that guy on television does. I was trapped in my room at age eight because I had so many rituals I had to perform to get out. It’s torture.”
“The show really focused in on my obsession with germs but that really was a masterful edit because my real affliction is counting and where I walk or don’t walk. What I touch or don’t touch. It’s really an inexplicable affliction but the best way to explain it is there are these strange thoughts that enter an OCD-afflicted person’s head which then causes anxiety. The anxiety seems to be temporarily abated by performing a senseless ritual. I have had many many years of therapy and lead a life that most would not even notice any of my rituals. I work hard to keep the anxiety low and not perform the rituals. Stress makes it worse. Being happy seems to be the best medicine for the affliction.”
Scott, your honestly astounds me. I could really go on more about what you’ve just said but you summed it up brilliantly. Sometimes I find myself getting slightly OCD on a situation but nothing like you described. Thanks for sharing that. I haven’t seen The Adonis Factor
but did catch a few clips. Was there any backlash from how open you and many of the subjects were about looking good being a key to happiness, popularity and success?
“I know several of the guys in The Adonis Factor received a lot of backlash after the movie aired. I was as honest as I could be about circuit parties, drug use, steroid use, Botox, and all of the things that are a part of being in the ‘gay scene.’ I think my total honest approach garnered me a lot of fans and support for my role in the movie. I really did not get a single mean or hateful message. They were all very positive.”
What do you do on your time off? How does Scott let his hair down?
“I love to travel when I have the time. I usually book my trips for the entire year ahead of time that way I can force myself to take a work break. I went to Buenos Aires, Puerto Vallarta and Belize last year.”
I love traveling, too. It’s difficult to find time to get away. Would you like to share you story of sobriety and when that began? Is it difficult going to the big circuit events and not partaking in the party favors like many are?
“I have been sober from drugs and alcohol for almost nine years now. I went to the Betty Ford Center after a single moment of clarity one summer day in 2004. I had just lost the last of the money I had at the casino. I was out of drugs and I started brushing my teeth and they just started falling out of my mouth in little pieces. I was unrecognizable in the mirror. I am one of the few people who have been fortunate enough to go to the darkest place broken in a million pieces and find a way to take the best pieces and create the man I had always hoped to be. Each morning and each night I recite, out loud, all the things I am grateful for. The list keeps growing even though I am am content with what God has given me so far. I am truly blessed to be able to say that I am impeccable with my word, respect others, and try to be the best guy I can be every day.”
“I still love to dance and go to the circuit parties. The obsession with drugs and alcohol was lifted and I am not affected by the presence of them at the parties. Many of my friends are partaking at these parties but they are not addicts like me and I am in no seat of judgment. I am just one of the few that are blessed enough that those environments do not entice me to use and I can still go and have more fun than I ever did high.”
What do you feel is the biggest challenge for today’s gay community and thoughts on how to combat it and survive through it?
“One of the biggest challenges for today’s gay community is drug abuse. The drugs have been there for those of us who could not handle the feelings of ‘less than’ or fear. Crystal Meth seems to be the worst culprit and I would encourage anyone who hasn’t tried it to just know that it is not worth the experience. I have no judgments about drug use, but I do have judgments about drug abuse when it has a negative impact on the individual and our community. I’m grateful I have the frame of reference I do. Sex and parties are so much more fun sober, for me.”
Are you doing now what you had set out to do when you were younger? If not, how have things changed from what you once wanted for yourself?
“I had intentions of being a doctor. I finished pre-medical training and did some externships after college. My life today may not have been exactly what the plan was when I was younger but I can honestly say its better than I had ever hoped.”
If you weren’t living here in Palm Springs, where would you be? If you didn’t have the successful construction business, what would you be doing?
“I cannot understand why everyone in the world doesn’t want to live in California. I’ve lived in San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles and Palm Springs. I could live anywhere as long as it is within the State of California. I used to own several private training gyms in Los Angeles. We had mostly a celebrity clientele like Herb Ritts, Brad Pitt, Rachel Hunter, K.D. Lang and Monica Lewinsky. I’ve changed my career several times in my life and always found success. If you love digging ditches and are passionate about digging ditches, then you will find a lot of success digging ditches. Find a passion and it always turns into success.”
What is you biggest passion?
What can people expect from you as a good friend and what do you expect from the people in your close circle?
“I expect loyalty, honesty and money from my friends. They can expect loyalty, honesty and that I’ll spend the money.”
As far as romance goes, what kind of man do you look for? And are you seeing anyone serious right now?
“I am a serial monogamous dater. I like pretty boys and I do not have the best track record as far as tenure but I do not regret any of my relationships. My first boyfriend 20 years ago is still my best friend today. I am currently seeing someone. We have only been dating for a couple months but maybe #14 is my lucky number!”
What do you want your legacy to be?
“I want my legacy to be that I was the most generous person everyone knew, with my time, my ear, my heart or my money.”
What/Who truly inspires you to be greater than you are?
“Anyone who speaks with passion and conviction in spite of public opinion will always get my attention whether I agree or not.”
Any advice for today’s LGBTQ youth?
“For today’s LGBTQ youth I would say to be authentic, dream big and take pride in the fact that you are perfect, whole and complete just the way God made you.”
I personally thanked Scott for joining in the conversation here on my website and he replied saying, “I loved your questions. It took me to a very insightful place last night.” I loved hearing that because I am honest in saying this has been not only one of the best interviews I’ve done here but also one of my all-time favorites! Once I find out more details about Scott’s new reality show, you’ll hear about it here! Thanks to the photographers for their amazing art.