Jesse Brune: Interview

So, Doug's death happened in the middle of the season...

Yeah, Doug passed away on, I believe, January 22. Nobody knew what was happening. He just sort of disappeared. I honestly thought he was out of town filming a storyline, because I was fortunate enough to get out of town a couple of times and do different stories for myself. So, I thought he was out of town, or working on something really cool, or there was something going that they weren't letting us into so they could have really good, raw reactions. But it just turned out that, after his birthday party, he was pretty much rushed to the hospital. And it was within three weeks that he got sick, he declined, and passed away.

And, since you two had the conflict, were you two in a good place when that all happened?

Oh yeah, 100 percent. What's funny is that Doug and I... one thing is Doug is such an amazingly sweet and wonderful person. Like, you can't really stay mad at him? Even thought I really tried to. We literally didn't talk for eight months. And, it was like the first day of filming that we had that fight. After that fight, that was it. We were pretty much done with it. We let each other say what we had to say, even though I really felt like... I was much more poignant. I remember myself being much more poignant than what I saw on television. It sort of seemed a little nasty, but that bugs me. But again, that's that clever editing. We love it.

And do you have any romantic interest this season? Or do you keep that off-camera?

The producers are always asking 'are you dating anybody? Can you date someone? How is it to be single gay man in Los Angeles? How do you do it?' But no... I have to admit, I'm a bit of a serial dater. I met someone over Christmas and we dated over three months. But he lives in Seattle, which is where I'm from, and so if they're not on-camera, they pretty much don't exist, which is how it works in reality television. So, there was nothing to really document. No, I don't have any love interests, although I think it kind of seems that I'm a little bit in love with Jackie... (laughs) which is weird. But I'm not. Although we have spooned on a couple occasions, but that's as far as my romantic relationship with Jackie goes.

If she starts wanting you to bite her, step back.

Yeah, I know the signs.

Does it up your stock in the dating world in L.A., that you're on this show?

No, people are terrified to be on television.

In L.A.?! I thought that's why people go there?

Yeah, but here's what you've got to know about a very large percentage of gay men in L.A. is that they're all actors.

So, they don't want to be known as gay.

Yeah, they need to be in the closet. Which is funny, but the reason I stopped auditioning is, there was some really great potential for acting and I signed with a large management firm and they told me... I mean, it's like a really bad made-for-TV movie. They had me come into the office and close the door, and it was like 'We think you can be a star,' but you need to go in the closet. And I was like, 'Is this actually happening?' This just seems like really bad writing. So, I was like, 'Absolutely, oh absolutely. I totally understand. I'm on board,' and the next day I called and said, 'You know, I think you guys are the devil. I can't do it.'

And the next week, I was in culinary school. That was my other passion, so I got to do it. But what's funny is, as soon as I was just out of the closet and just me, you know, just being me, then I had so much more opportunity. I think they think that's refreshing. Granted, I accepted the gig to be on television, so I accepted the responsibility to be put under a microscope. But I think that's why Doug's interview initially hurt my feelings, because finally I was just out and me, and I was being criticized for being me. It's like, oh fuck, how can you win? But you get over it, live and learn.

And you said you came out in high school? Was that to the entire school?

Oh, yeah yeah yeah. I was 15 or 16 when I came out to everybody and, yeah, that was it. What's funny is my little sister, who's like my partner in crime, my soulmate, she was always with me. And she's three years younger than me, so both of us have been involved in the gay community for... oh my god, for over ten years now. She's a little bit of a local celebrity in the gay community in Seattle. Her biggest dream is to ride on Dykes on Bikes. She wants to be with the topless girl with the electrical tape on her nipples. (laughs) But it's funny because the gay community has always been a part of my life, it seems. It's an interesting community grow up in.

So, you didn't torture yourself too much over the whole being gay thing?

Oh... no (laughs). Pretty much, when I realized I was gay, it was like, 'Oh, that's what it is... gay,' and I fully, with open arms, embraced it.

And what kind of cooking do you do, any specialty?

What I get paid for mostly is healthy alternatives, organic cooking, and things like that. But I also get hired to do a lot of dinner parties, and every single party is different. But I grew up cooking soul food. My mom's from the south and she's an amazing cook. She makes the best fried chicken ever. And I also sell cakes on the side, and do a lot of pastries. I thought that's what I was going to do when I started culinary school, just be a pastry chef.

Forget Hollywood, I'm just going to open a little bakery. Just cook and make bread all day. That sounds like a nice life. And then, a week into it, I was like, I need a cooking show. (laughs) Which is what's funny about reality TV. I wanted to get on TV, and as soon as I gave up acting I got on TV. It's kind of interesting. That's life, when you're able to just let go of things, that's when you make room for lots of possibilities to enter into your life.

And, as a trainer, do you get some sort of buzz from seeing people transform their lives?

That's the most amazing part of my job. Am I extremely passionate about working in the gym and working with weights all day? No. I'll be honest. I'm not. Am I passionate about seeing people's spirits lift? Yes. I get off on seeing people fit into their skinny jeans again. The theory is, you need to have a good physical health, mental health, and spiritual health, right? Those are the three key elements to life. But they say not to attack all of them at once, because you'll overload yourself. So, I find a lot of people just go for the physical one first. They just want to feel better physically. But along with that comes the other elements. You can just see confidence arise. You can just see posture change. You see more smiles and a sparkle in the eyes. It's really phenomenal. That's why I love training. I get to be a catalyst for that, and that's pretty far out.

And do you have any advice for gay youth?

I don't know anymore. It seems people are coming out younger and younger and younger. I had two mentors growing up who were lesbians. And we would do brunch on Sundays with a big group of lesbians. It's funny, I'm sort of like the lesbian whisperer. That's why me and Jackie get along so well. When I was waiting tables, lesbians were always my best clients. Some clients now are lesbians. I have lesbians up to my ears. But I remember one woman telling me once that, she said, 'My advice to you to stay as straight as you can for as long as you can, because it's just going to be an easier life.' And I remember thinking about that and it just didn't settle right with me. So what it comes down to is just be true to yourself, whatever that means to you. And never be ashamed for that. I'm a prime example. I'm portrayed one way on television. Is that really the truth? No, not necessarily. But as long as you're true to yourself, and you know that your intentions are good, then I don't see a problem making any decision based off of that.