The worldwide popularily of Most Extreme Elimination Challenge
, America's Funniest Home Videos
and competitive figure skating proves audiences love to watch people fall, slip and trip to a running commentary. Thanks to TVTropolis and the new installment of the Wipeout
franchise, Canadian audiences can bust a gut with the best in homegrown humiliation.
Ryan Duchak is one of many Toronto homosexuals who bounced off the big red balls and rolled with the sucker punches to compete for a $50,000 grand prize. But Duchak’s passion for extreme sports, paired with his gym-built body and exuberant confidence, was no match for the adult-sized stunt course. “I had a personal trainer who set up a mock course: that amounted to absolutely nothing when I got there. There is absolutely no way to prepare for the show,” he laughs.
Glimpses of Duchak’s audition are posted on the show’s website. In the video Duchak wears boxer briefs and a Lycra cape and emphasizes his noticeable bulge for the camera lens. “I’m the Blooper Hero,” he pitches to the interviewer. “No matter how many times I fall down I get right back up.” His ballsy gimmick caught the eyes of the producers, who sorted through 40,000 hopeful sumo wrestlers, cowboys and Spidermen before inviting Duchak on the show.
If a cash prize wasn’t incentive enough to audition, certainly a free trip to Argentina is worth a few faceplants into the mud. Each episode, 20 contestants were flown to Buenos Aires to film on the set. The city wasn't as queer-friendly as Duchak expected, but he was surprised by the openness of his straight counterparts. "It's weird: the straight guys really loved getting hit on by the gays," he says. "They were fishing for it."
Duchak gets ready to
"I've made amazing friends," says Greg Thiniet-Chow. A former professional dancer, Thinet-Chow scored a spot on the all-athletes episode. Wth his slender frame and impressive aerials he squared off against Olympic rowers, gymnasts and medal-winning female hockey players. "I did a little bit of cardio before, but then I hit the course and realized it wasn't going to help," he admits. "However my acro-dance training did help when I was bouncing off the red balls."
Thinet-Chow drew on his European heritage to inspire his on-set alter ego. Encouraged by the producers to develop his "character" further, he coined himself a "French Arrogant Bitch" and assembled a Pride-inspired costume. "I wore short shorts, knee socks, sequinned head band, a baton and gay wristbands," he says. Aware of the potential mockery he faces in the editing and packaging of the show, he is not concerned. He is even unfazed by what his mother in France will think. “Sure, she’s going to be ashamed, but she knows who I am,” he laughs. “She loves me and loves that I did it.”
Andrew Blair brought his self-proclaimed “mommy boy” tendencies to the table when auditioning. “The producers wanted to focus on my weight-loss story, but the commentators needed something ridiculous to make fun of,” says Blair. “They couldn’t really make fun of my weight loss.” Upon being accepted, Blair started a campaign to promote and document his Wipeout
experience; he created a fan page and secured a clothing sponsorship. “I am an ambassador for Lululemon,” he crows. “They supplied me with clothes that were fast-drying and athletic.”
Blair wipes out.
Probably the most devout competitor, Blair began training immediately with a rigorous exercise program. His weekly regime included spinning, yoga, running and swimming with a life jacket on. “I just wanted to know that if I went and lost, it was not because of the physical element.” Blair admits he is motivated to leverage his reality fame into other projects, like writing a book. “I know who I am, what I have to offer and what I want to achieve. I would love to go back for the fan-favourite episode if there is a Season 3.”
“Nothing is funnier than a drag queen falling in the mud,” says sure-to-be-a-fan-favourite Miss Conception. Toronto’s premier drag entertainer welcomes the exposure and the attention created by a Wipeout
appearance. “I’m a total media whore,” she confesses. At her early-morning audition, Miss C wowed the producers with her Lady Gaga outfit and trademark cheerleader flair. “The producers asked, ‘If you were to win the money, what would your victory dance be?’ And I did cartwheels in heels around the room, shouting and screaming, ‘Drag queens rule!’”
Media whore Miss C does a victory dance.
“All the people on my episode were straight, and they were the most wonderful people, who accepted me as me,” says Miss C. When she appeared in costume for the first time, her fellow competitors were extremely supportive, many asking for photos. But while running the course Miss C couldn’t help but recognize the absurdity of her situation. “I kept thinking, ‘This is so unreal that I’m here doing this in drag. Please don’t lose an eyelash,’” she remembers. “I lost both.”
“I walked away with new amazing friends and the confidence that I can do anything I want to do if I just put my mind to it,” says Miss C. Along with her fellow Canucks, she took in many of the tourist attractions offered by the city, from Evita’s grave to unlicenced and unregulated go-carting. “I miss them all so much. You have no idea — one week with these people changed my life,” she reminisces.
The zealous retelling makes the Wipeout
experience sound like yearbook or band camp. Cherished memories aside, audiences will find non-stop schadenfreude-ian moments to ridicule. Gay viewers will certainly love the show; as Duchak summarizes, “Gays love big balls, and they love hot men. Fortunately, Wipeout Canada
Wipeout Canada airs Sunday nights at 8pm on TVtropolis. tvtropolis.com/wipeout
Shawn Hitchins is a writer and performer — and he’s pretty ballsy himself. He can be found at shawnhitchins.com and followed on Twitter @shawnhitchins.