I had a quick chat with television personality Ross Mathews yesterday afternoon while he was in a car driving from New York City to the airport. He’s currently making the media rounds to chat about his involvement with Pennsylvania-based company OraQuick, the oral, in-home HIV-test that’s changed the way we know our status by giving results in 20 minutes—in the privacy of our homes.
I’ve always admired Mathews as an out-and-proud gay man who really seems to be living his dream—and he seems so grateful. As you probably know, he got his start as “Ross the Intern” on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. From there he moved on to become a regular correspondent on the show before getting in good with Chelsea Handler, who put him on Chelsea Lately as a regular—amazingly quick-witted—roundtable guest. Today he’s the host of his own talk show, Hello Ross, on E!, and the best-selling author of Man Up! Tales of My Delusional Self-Confidence.
G Philly: How are you, Ross?
Ross Mathews: I’m super-duper, thank you. I’m just heading to the airport here in New York.
GP: Where ya headed?
RM: I’m headed to San Francisco for Pride. I’m the grand marshall in the parade, so I get to go wave and all that fun stuff.
GP: So let’s talk about your involvement with OraQuick. You could attach your name to so many causes and organizations. I’m curious why you chose that one.
RM: You’re right; there are a lot that call me and want me to talk about different causes and products and what not. The reason I chose OraQuick is because I think it’s so important. It’s technology I didn’t know existed, and I asked my friends and they didn’t know it existed. In the cases of HIV you see numbers are going up instead of going down, which doesn’t make sense to me. The reason this is happening is because people are scared of being tested. When my partner Salvadore [Camarena] and I got together almost six years ago, we got tested the old-school way (having blood drawn, then waiting a week for the results). The waiting period was agonizing. I understand why people are afraid; that process sucks. But it doesn’t have to. With OraQuick you just swab your mouth and 20 minutes later you know your status. It’s the same test they give you at the doctor. It’s completely accurate. It takes every piece of fear away from it. You can lift the stigma off it. You can go out and have fun, have sex, go to happy hour, hook up later. That’s all fine, but you have to do it responsibly, and in 2014 you can know your status in 20 minutes.
GP: Funny you mention hooking up. I just posted about a study that says one-night stands are actually good for you.
RM: [laughs] I read that same study. They say sex is good for you—it gets the heart beating, it’s exercise … endorphins, all that. But having sex irresponsibly is not good for anybody.
GP: Magic Johnson is behind OraQuick, too, right? Have you met him?
RM: Yes, Magic Johnson is telling people about it. … I did meet Magic. He has quite a presence. He almost feels presidential. I had his son on my show talking about pop culture, so I like the family a lot.
GP: Speaking of your show: You just wrapped up your second season. Will there be a third?
RM: Honey, if you know you tell me. I am waiting to hear just like everybody else. They’re supposed to let us know soon. Our numbers are really good, the show is so funny, and I’m so proud of it. Chelsea Handler produces my show, and she’s leaving E!, so we’re just sitting here waiting to hear what’s next.
GP: Will you work with Chelsea on her new Netflix talk show?
RM: You know, that’s such a fresh deal. We haven’t even had a conversation about it yet. We’re all just focusing on the last few months of Chelsea Lately, tying a nice ribbon on what has been an amazing seven years. And then, who knows. I don’t even know what the format is on that show yet. But if Chelsea calls, honey, you know I’m showing up.
GP: Are there wedding bells in the air for you and Salvadore?
RM: What are you, my mother? [laughs] You know, we fought for the right for marriage equality, and we’re glad we finally have that option. But we both have so much going on; we’re in no rush. I don’t have time to go to the gym let alone plan a wedding. Give me a minute.
GP: I love watching you on the Red Carpet. Have a favorite celebrity moment?
RM: Definitely when I met Gwenyth Paltrow, when I asked her to be my best friend and she said “yes.” We have been friends for over 10 years.
GP: Has she got you hooked on all those crazy colonics and juice cleanses?
RM: No. She’s doing some Eastern European goat milk cleanse, and I’m eating Domino’s pizza.
GP: What was your worst celebrity moment on the Red Carpet?
RM: You’ve gotta take me to happy hour and I’ll tell you. I don’t kiss and tell the bad stuff. Get me drunk—give me two glasses of Pinot Grigio—and I’ll tell you everything.
GP: You’ve met so many celebrities—so many of your idols. Is there anyone that you haven’t met yet that you’re dying to know?
RM: Lady Gaga would be wonderful to meet. I’m such a fan of hers, but I also would like to crack that nut and find out who she really is.
GP: [laughs] What are you obsessed with right now?
RM: I’m obsessed with Orange is the New Black; I just finished season two. I’m obsessed with Beyoncé and her album Beyoncé. I know it came out a few months ago, but it’s my go-to. I’m obsessed with my second book, because I’m writing it right now.
GP: What would you say is your proudest accomplishment so far?
RM: I’m just proud that I’m doing everything I’ve dreamed of doing since I was eight years old—all the things I’ve checked off my list. I’m starting to have to add new things.
GP: What’s next for you?
RM: I’m going to be on Chelsea every week in July. I just co-hosted The View today, and I’m co-hosting two days next week.
GP: What’s it like being on The View?
RM: It’s so much fun. It’s live, and it’s exciting. You get to be funny and have an opinion all at the same time.
GP: What’s it like now that Barbara’s gone?
RM: Barbara’s not there anymore, but her presence looms large.
GP: Well I think that’s about all I have for you today.
RM: It’s perfect — I just pulled up to the airport. Thank you so much for chatting with me!