Dustin Zito explains why he lied about gay sex, Fratpad explains why images disappeared

Dustin Zito’s work having gay sex on Fratpad and Fratmen was exposed on The Real World last night, leading his housemates to freak out. They found out thanks to people outside the house–Adam, and Heather’s mother–apparently searching online for information about the show and coming across stories like this one that were published while the show was in production.

I talked to Dustin, and to a producer of the show, about the episode, and in my Daily Beast story, Dustin explains why he lied and also explains his homophobic comments, more of which aired last night. The lying was born of his fear of discovery, even though he admits that backfired on him.

He also explains that his comments about fearing a new gay roommate stemmed from the reaction he got after having sex on camera. In public, some people would act “aggressively” toward him, even grabbing his crotch, and he feared Bunim-Murray would cast someone like that who would not only recognize him, but would act inappropriately. It is, of course, possible to read that response as homophobic, but after talking to Dustin, I’m pretty convinced he’s not, but that between the judgement he gets when people learn he had gay sex and bad experiences with some gay people, he has a bad sample set from which to draw conclusions.

Also in The Daily Beast story, Fratpad and Fratmen’s producer, John Marsh, explains why he tried to get images of Dustin’s anal sex scene removed from web sites. The short answer is that 1) the scene was from a live show that wasn’t officially recorded and that both performers and members expected would remain that way (although he admits that’s a “naive” assumption, since obviously one or more people recorded it), and 2) the other performers didn’t want the attention the scene is now getting. Marsh also confirms that when he was joking when told me one of the performers in the video might be underage.

I also talked to Joe Johnston, one of the show’s executive producers, and he said that while Dustin is an interesting character without the porn, Dustin’s work on Fratpad actually made the show less likely to cast him. “We like our people to come not knowledgeable about a production team works. We want them to ignore it,” he said.

What I found most interesting about the episode was the reaction of Dustin’s castmates. As Dustin says in our conversation, he was surprised that no one just said that it wasn’t a big deal. And it isn’t. But after having their predictable, immature, self-centered and gossip-fueled reactions, acting as if they were entitled to know every single thing about a relative stranger’s past, the cast seemed to be hiding their homophobia by objecting to both Dustin’s lying and to his previous homophobic comments.

All together, it was an interesting and perhaps complex reaction from everyone, and that might open up discussion about a number of topics: whether someone can be straight and still have gay sex, how entrenched homophobia can be, and how not all 20-somethings are as progressive and accepting as we would imagine they would be, having been raised on shows like The Real World that, if anything, have exposed their audience to a more diverse group of people than they otherwise would have encountered.

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.


A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.