Lance Bass wouldn’t mind dancing with a man on a reality competition show, but he doesn’t think ABC’s Dancing With the Stars is the right place for fancy same-sex footwork.
“I think it would be so silly that it would just overshadow everything else going on,” Bass tells me. “It would just be like making fun of something. But if it was another show with all guys dancing and all girls dancing, that’s a different story. I think that’s sexy.”
He adds with a laugh, “I should pitch that.”
I caught up with Bass just before his practice earlier today at a West Hollywood dance studio with his DWTS partner Lacey Schwimmer.
Hard to believe, but Bass is the first openly gay dancer–professional or celebrity–to appear on DWTS. “I think it’s so important for me to do this,” he says. “But my biggest concern is I just hope it doesn’t hurt the gay community in any way because, you know, we definitely can be scrutinized and picked apart. I definitely feel a responsibility of making sure I represent well.”
But he has other reasons for doing the show. During ‘N Sync’s reign as one of music’s top boy bands, Bass says he was ridiculed by his bandmates for being the group’s worst dancer. “The guys always told me how terrible of a dancer I am, so I kind of just wanted to prove to myself that I could learn something crazy,” he say. “Also my grandmother and mother love the show, so I wanted to do something for them.”
With countless hours now spent rehearsing–DWTS has a three-night premiere starting Sept. 22–the 29-year-old Bass is one tired puppy. His boyfriend Sebastian Leal isn’t too happy about it, because “he really wants to learn” the dances, Bass says. “But we haven’t had time. When I go home, all I wanna do is just sleep and eat.”
Bass did, however, make sure to find the time (and the energy, for that matter) to appear on Saturday night at event producer Tom Whitman’s West Hollywood fundraiser for No on 8, a campaign to fight a November ballot that would ban same-sex marriage in California. “I’m definitely not political,” Bass explains. “But I know what’s right and wrong, and I know that’s wrong. So I’m going to speak up about it. It’s just common sense.”
He imagines he’ll marry and have kids some day. “I think everyone dreams of that nice romantic wedding,” he says. “And I love kids. I want to adopt and I want to have my own.”
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“If Justin ever calms down and doesn’t not work, then he’ll definitely be here,” Bass says.
With or without friends in the audience, Bass is, surprisingly quite nervous about DWTS. Never mind the complicated footwork–he’s got those seriously tight and more-often-than-not revealing costumes to worry about.
“I probably won’t be doing it with my shirt off,” Bass, 29, says. “I’m going to be very skeptical even to just do an open shirt!”
His dance partner chimes in, “You need a lot of hair for that. We’re going to have to put some extensions on your chest.”
Bass peeks into his T-shirt at his manscaped torso and laughs, “My hair’s growing back!”
His chest isn’t his only concern. At 5’10” and 180 pounds, Bass is hoping to shed more than just the five pounds he’s already lost since he began working with Schwimmer five weeks ago. “I just wanna be a little bit lighter,” he explains. “I think I’m a good ten pounds overweight.” (That’s certainly debatable because, truth be told, he looks darn fit to me.)
Bass knows the competition is going to be tough. “I haven’t seen them all dance yet, but if I were psychic, I would say that Toni Braxton will be really good,” he says. “I think Maurice Green will be great and I think Kim Kardashian could be a really big threat. Oh, and Misty May-Treanor! Those athletes are really good.”
Schwimmer, who makes her DWTS debut this season after a stint with So You Think You Can Dance, insists Bass is right up there with the best of them. “He’s doing great,” she says. “He picks up really, really, really fast. He’s really insecure about himself in a lot more ways than he should be.”
Talk turns more serious when Bass and I start chatting tabloid press. He says he can’t imagine what it’s like for today’s new crop of young stars. “The rules have definitely changed since we were at the top of our game,” Bass says. “I’m pretty sure we were scandalous–just no one ever caught us.”
There’s at least one trio of young men whom Bass thinks won’t self-destruct under the pressure that remind him of ‘N Sync. “The Jonas Brothers are going to be fine because they’re brothers and that’s what we were,” he says before walking into a dance studio with Schwimmer for about three hours of rehearsal. “We were like brothers. We kept each other grounded.”