Go Away With … Jai Rodriguez

By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Media Services
November 20, 2012

Jai Rodriguez became a household name as the culture vulture on “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” The 33-year-old entertainer, however, has gone back to his acting roots and is co-starring in the ABC sitcom “Malibu Country,” starring Reba McEntire. In the series, Rodriguez plays a record label employee who befriends McEntire’s character. Rodriguez is also the co-creator and co-executive producer of Logo’s reality series “Bad Sex,” which is currently in production for its second season.

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?

A. Cabo San Lucas, for someplace tropical. I’ve had a lot of fun there. And there’s the bonus of it being so close to Los Angeles, where I live, so it’s a really quick trip. I love everything about it — the location, the food, the people. … In the United States, I pick Miami for fun, fun, fun! I’ve had the privilege of working there several times and had such a great time each time.

Q. Where do you get recognized the most?

A. In the Spanish-speaking areas. Sometimes it can get a little crazy, but the fans are just amazing to me. When someone does like my work, it’s always flattering. Sometimes at hotels, they’ll leave an extra treat or a note for me because they recognized me, or the bar might take care of my drinks. When I was on “Queer Eye,” fans were a little more hands on, because it was reality TV and I think they felt like they knew me. When I went to Manila for “Queer Eye,” it was crazy because there were all these fans pulling and screaming. I never expected that. They were so excited.

Q. What untapped destination should people know about?

A. Spokane, Wash. It wasn’t a place that I felt I had to go to, but I had a great time there. I shot a movie with Lainie Kazan there and we all had so much fun.

Q. Where would you travel to for a really good meal?

A. I’m going with Miami on this one. I’m not Cuban, but I live for Cuban food. It’s not always the healthiest cuisine, but it’s so savory and delicious and close to my Puerto Rican heritage. I tend to favor Latin food. Oh, my Aunt Bunny makes the most amazing Italian food. So I’d head to her house!

Q. How lax are you about watching what you eat when you’re on the road?

A. I try to be good to myself, and I might have fun and eat what I’d like to for the first couple days of a trip. But if I’m working, I try hard to stay fit from the get-go. At that point, I’m not lax at all. I pretty much eat for nourishment then and not really for flavor, because I have to really work at staying fit. Otherwise I’ll have skinny appendages with a potbelly.

Q. What was the first trip you took as a child?

A. We went to Lake George in upstate New York. And then on my seventh birthday, we went to Disney World. I remember they had all these things there predicting what the world would be like in 2000. I’d like to go back to see what they’re predicting for the future! I actually go to Disneyland all the time and it’s awesome. I’m really just a big kid.

Q. Do you prefer road trips or flying?

A. I go back and forth. One of the nice things about living out West is I can get to Vegas or Palm Springs really quickly, whether by car or plane. Most of the time, though, I’m a big fan of just flying and getting to the destination quickly.

Q. What tips can you offer people who dread flying?

A. Be organized. Everyone knows that you have to take your shoes off at security and that you’re only allowed a quart-size bag of liquid items to bring in a carry-on, but so many people seem surprised when they get to security and are told to take their shoes off or that they can’t take that big full-size bottle of shampoo with them. Come on, people! I travel super light. I wear shoes that I can kick off and then put back on easily. I have my laptop out of the bag because they’re going to want to check it out. If you’re wearing layers of clothing, be sure you take the top layers off and put them on that conveyor belt. And don’t argue with them about having to throw out your drink. You can’t take it past security.

Q. What is your guilty pleasure when you’re on the road?

A. I haven’t told a lot of people this, but I never travel anywhere without the entire seven seasons of “The Golden Girls.” I am addicted to that show. I think that show has actually helped me develop my comedic chops.

Q. Pick a place that you’ve never been to before that you’d like to visit.

A. Australia! I have to get there one day soon!


© 2012 JAE-HA KIM


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