Interviews

Family Matters

Andrew & Dennis at Reality4Diabetes<br />
(Photo by Tribefan)
Andrew & Dennis at Reality4Diabetes
(Photo by Tribefan)
Dennis and Andrew (the father/son team from The Amazing Race 3) talk with us via e-mail about their experiences on the Race, the importance of family and respecting differences.

Important things first: Dennis, news of your heart attack earlier this year gave us quite a scare Ė how are you feeling now?

Dennis: I'm doing great. No damage and itís really motivated me to behave myself and do and eat the right things. I can proudly say I weigh less now than when I graduated high school. Not bad for an old guy.

When your bios first went up on the CBS site, many people feared your team would be confrontational and not get along well. Did you have similar fears going into the race?
I love my children no matter what. You raise a child the best you can and then let them make their own decisions as adults.
Dennis: I feel we have always gotten along well. I love my children no matter what. You raise a child the best you can and then let them make their own decisions as adults. I don't agree with some choices that all three of my children have made but nothing will ever stop me from loving them. The love far out weighs any differences. I don't know why people try to make it seem you hate or fear someone you may disagree with.

Andrew: We were terrified of how people would react to us. We nervous that they'd make Dad look like a hateful, controlling father or make me look like a wild, rebellious son...neither of which is us. We almost backed out last minute, but then realized they can't put anything on TV we don't say or do. But we feel CBS did a good job of portraying people true to character, with the good and the bad.

Do you think CBS played up your differences for pre-Race hype?

Dennis: Sure they played up the differences. I am convinced that is why we were selected. Both of us have very strong convictions that are opposing often times, and I'm sure most people thought there would be fireworks. I even thought strongly about not participating in the Race because I didn't want to "come out" to the world about my son, but his dream was more important than my embarrassment.

Andrew: They did. But we expected it by that point. I remember being in Seattle the night after filming the finish line. Aaron G. called up to our room and told us to check out TV Guide in the drawer or our hotel and there was the first article about the upcoming season 3, and it contained a quote from Bert V. about me and my dad only. Needless to say we got freakin' nervous. Then on the plane ride home we were with Ken and Gerard and the first Race commercial came on in the plane! I got sooo sick to my stomach, it was the realization that this was for real!

Do you think the Race changed your relationship? If so, how?

Dennis: The Race has to change you in some way. The intensity of those weeks and spending 24 hours a day with an individual has to have an effect. The Race rules even state you are to stay within a certain short distance of each other at all times. For good or bad, all Racers will have different feelings for each other after the Race. The good news is we ended the Race closer. It was great to be an equal of sorts with Andrew and that added a new dimension to our relationship.

Andrew: It really did, not to sound corny. But never before had we been forced to sit down together and discuss our differences. Man, what awesome therapy!

What things made you the most proud of each other during the Race?

Dennis: What made me proud was Andrew taking the initiative even when not asked. When a child is confident enough to make independent decisions, it makes you proud. Now if only those decisions would be the ones I'd make, life would be great (just kidding).
But just the fact that Dad let loose and had a great time with me and the "younger" racers was so cool. It was nice to see Dad as more of a friend that a parental figure.
Andrew: The fact that Dad didn't kill me. That took some restraint on his part. Go Dad! But just the fact that Dad let loose and had a great time with me and the "younger" racers was so cool. It was nice to see Dad as more of a friend that a parental figure.

If you couldn't have done the Race with each other, who would you have done it with and why?

Dennis: One of my other children or my father (then I could be the kid). God and family are the most important things to me and there is no one I'd rather spend time with than family. My Mom and Dad taught me the love of travel as a child. We traveled the country as long as I can remember.

Andrew: Probably my sister; it was originally her idea, but she was too young. But she'd be a tough competitor, I think.

How did your local community react to your appearance on the show?

Dennis: Very supportive. Being from a moderate-size community and doing something like this makes you a big fish in a small pond. We have been on local TV several times and have been asked to do a number of charitable and other events. Racers that we communicate with from large metropolitan areas didn't seem to get this type of attention.

Andrew: I was a lil' antsy coming from the Bible Belt, but I was blown away when everyone was so cool and into the show. I had the biggest redneck-looking people coming up to us saying that they loved the show and were rooting for us. In normal circumstances, I think these people would have beaten me up. Seems like the most criticism I got was from the actual gay community...what a shocker...jealousy is an evil
monster.

Was the race what you expected it to be?
I actually enjoyed the time spent in Sequester after elimination more than the Race itself. We had time to enjoy and explore an area of the world I had never been to before.
Dennis: It was more. I didn't expect to become a household name from the Race, I just love to travel. I've said many times even long before the Race that "I'll go anywhere anytime especially if someone else is paying," and the Race sure lived up to this expectation and then some. I actually enjoyed the time spent in Sequester after elimination more than the Race itself. We had time to enjoy and explore an area of the world I had never been to before.

Andrew: It was harder and more stressful than I ever imagined, but the challenge was so seductive for me. That adrenaline rush quickly became a drug I fiended for.

What was the most unexpected thing on the race?

Dennis: The most unexpected thing was the physical toughness of the Race. I had worked to get into shape before leaving for the Race but I wasn't prepared for the lack of sleep, lack of nourishment, and the mental stress 24 hours a day.

Andrew: The close friendships with other racers. You go through this crazy, life-altering experience and only a select few in the world know what it was like so you have this weird bond. Can't explain it really. Plus meeting all the fans of the show and sharing that excitement with them. Like my TARflies babes!!!! Luv yíall!!!!!

What is one of your fondest memories from the race?

Dennis: Fondest memory had to be driving the tank. We were really disheartened leaving Mexico and this small victory gave us some hope. Also getting to ride in a Rolls limo will always pick up your spirits, even if you stink, have only had about 3 hours sleep a night for the last 3 days in a row and you can't remember when you ate last.

Andrew: I would say, to no one's surprise I'm sure, the limo ride...for the first point of the race Dad and I had no worries for a while -- we just let loose, stopped stressing, I chugged my champagne, did my cheer, and relaxed!

What was the toughest task you did on the race?

Dennis: Toughest task was the one we still get kidded about and that was taking the donkey cart. We should have known better but the part of the clue you don't see on TV said you had to take a training course to skydive. We thought riding in the cart would take about an hour and a half and the skydiving, by the time you were trained, suited up, got airborne, and to the drop site should take longer than that. Boy, were we wrong.

Andrew: Swimming with the dolphins was actually really tough. I'm a great swimmer but I ran like half a mile into the park to catch up to Ian and Damon who were already in the water, so I was out of breath when I jumped in.

Which task was the most fun?

Dennis: Most fun task probably Andrew swimming with the dolphins in Cozumel, Mexico. My wife and I had been there on our honeymoon 28 years before and had wanted to go back and never did. So traveling there with Andrew was a fair compromise and the task was not too tough. (I took her back two months ago, so everybody's happy now.)
But the Pyramid of the Sun was the most breathtaking place Iíve ever been.
Andrew: The jet skis were freakiní awesome because they didnít require exhaustive energy. But the Pyramid of the Sun was the most breathtaking place Iíve ever been.

What destination/task shown on more recent seasons had you the most jealous?

Dennis: Has to be the Pyramids of Giza. There can't be a much more fascinating place than this except maybe Jerusalem, for me.

Andrew: The zip line in season 6! I was a stunt performer in Orlando for a year and in my show I did a zip line, sword fighting, high falls, swinging over the audience, etc. So I would have been back in my element.

Who are your favorite Racers of all time? (Well, besides yourselves.)

Dennis: Outside of the personal friends we made on our Race, I'd say Chip and Kim. They kept a very positive and grateful attitude throughout the Race. I am sometimes bothered by Racers who portray the "Ugly American" stereotype.

Andrew: Hm, Honestly l've loved tons of racers...picking favorites...oooo...thatís tough. I'm a cheerleader. I LOVE everyone...hm, okay...not everyone. Hoowah!

Which Racers do you remain close to?

Dennis: Since the Race I have visited with the Soccer Moms in their homes and they in mine and Talicia from our Race. Al, "The Clown" from Race 4 has visited my home. There are a number of others we have communicated with.

Andrew: All of them really. And I've made a lot of cool friends from all the other seasons and from Survivor and Big Brother through fundraisers and such. Itís little a dysfunction reality TV fraternity.

Andrew, did you see yourself as "representing gays" when you were on the show (the way that Reichen and Chip did)?
I wanted to show that even though weíre not the same, family is more important. That's real "family values."
Andrew: I wanted to represent a happy family despite the gay aspect. I wanted to show that even though weíre not the same, family is more important. That's real "family values."

Andrew, we've heard rumors that the Producers wanted you and Aaron Goldschmidt to hook up Ė care to comment?

Andrew: Ha ha, I don't think that directors pressure you into anything they just ask a lot of detailed questions that get you thinking, and yes, they asked me a lot about him and vice versa. However, we not each otherís types.

What have you guys been up to since the Race?

Dennis: Life as normal for me. I run a family entertainment center, which keeps me busy, and am active in my Church.

Andrew: Well I've been working as an AIDS Activist and Educator. I work primarily with the young gay/bisexual community. I've also spoken nationally at Rallies like New York City Pride, to many universities, gay youth groups, church rallies, and fundraisers. Mainly talking about maintaining a healthy family life while dealing with a family member being homosexual.

What do you think of this new crop of TAR racers?
My advice to would-be Racers: If you don't really enjoy spending time with the person you are going on the Race with, don't go!
Dennis: Too much bickering between partners for my likes. My advice to would-be Racers: If you don't really enjoy spending time with the person you are going on the Race with, don't go!

Andrew: Man, they are cut throat. But hey, competition is good. I know if I did it again I would be a lot more aggressive, no more Mister Nice Cheerleader!!!

Andrew, will you write a TARflies cheer?

Andrew: I'd love to! Let me think...

T to the A, A to the R, F-L-I-E-S
We're here, to race around the World
Phil K, on his World Tour
Go Chris and Amanda on Season Four!

There's models, wrestlers, and gays
and the big, big winners you know get paid
And Flo won 3 but donít feel bad for Drew cuz he got laid!

Soccer moms, Frats, and Cha Cha Cha
season 1 I never saw
But I hear Brennan was the bomb

After pulling the donkey I got sick
and Survivor can suck my ****
And we're up to season six

Virgins, bowlers, and cops
A cheerleader racing with his pops
and thank God we had pit stops

Break it down!
D-E-T-O-U-R what what R-OAD-B-LOCK! Don't stop, Don't Stop
You have been ELI-MIN-ATED!

Hahaha, okay, okay, that's the corniest, most cracked out thing I have ever
written! My apologies to those who wasted 2.3 minutes of their lives reading it.