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Mike Ruiz: On his 'A' game
by Andrew Davis
2011-01-01

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Mike Ruiz has done everything from photography ( for which he's known worldwide ) to being a movie star. Now he's trying his hand at being on the reality-TV circuit as one of the stars of the very gay show The A-List. Before coming to Chicago this weekend, the very hot Ruiz talked about several topics ranging from the show to bullying to his workout regimen.

Windy City Times: Do you feel that everyone in the series was portrayed or edited fairly?

Mike Ruiz: I know I was, so that can only lead me to believe that everyone else was. Honestly, I wasn't around a lot of the time because I was so busy over the summer; they knew my contribution would be limited. So I didn't get to see a lot of the stuff that went on with the guys first-hand. But based on the time I spent with the guys [after the show], I'd have to say that it's pretty fairly edited.

People are people. If you don't conduct yourself a certain way, then you can't be edited a certain way—you know what I mean? You really can't [ edit ] somebody to be somebody they're not.

WCT: That wouldn't seem to speak well of Austin [ who some viewed as the villain of the show ] .

Mike Ruiz: That's my conclusion. Austin—I have to give it to him. Austin doesn't give a crap. He just wanted to do this show and have a good time while doing it. Kudos to him for putting himself out there and rolling with it. He's being villified in the press a little bit, but he chuckles at it. I'm sensitive; I'd be like, "Oh, my God; they don't like me!"

He's only 22, for God's sake. I was all over the place when I was 22. That was one of the reasons I wanted to do this show—I wanted to help show a range of what gay men can be. Everyone was Austin at some point; anyone who says he wasn't is lying. Everyone's had an Austin moment. What he's doing is holding up a mirror to people.

At my ripe old age, I'm conducting myself in a different way than I did when I was 22. So, as a result, I have better balance and am more introspective. I knew that this show would be a big dramafest—but I wanted to show that people can evolve and have a balanced life. All of these guys are at different stages, and will end up where I am now.

WCT: Yes. You're quite different than some men in their 40s who think they're in their 20s.

Mike Ruiz: Thanks. I have overcome a lot of things, like negative perceptions of myself, and I've come out the other side. But, yes, I'll look at [ a piece of clothing ] and say, "Yeah, that's a little too age-inappropriate for me." Honestly, I'm just trying to be the best human being I can be and be a role model.

One of the main reasons I came to L.A. was to speak to the students at the Art Center College of Design, and I see their eyes light up when I tell them my story. I bridge the gap between their generation and my generation in a practical way. It inspires them to achieve.

I never graduated from college, but I've made a life for myself that I'm proud of—just [ regarding ] the person I am. At the end of the day, no one's going to care how much money I have; the legacy is about what kind of difference I made.

WCT: A few months ago I spoke with [ TV talk-show host ] Wendy Williams, and she raved about her photo shoot with you. What was it like working with her?

Mike Ruiz: Awww, that's so nice. Working with her was great. She has a very pronounced presence, but yet there's something very comforting about her. She was wonderful. Everything about her just resonates with me. Just being in the room with her was inspiring.

WCT: I have to ask this: What is your workout regimen?

Mike Ruiz: You know, it's kind of dwindling; I don't know how much longer I can keep this up because of a lot of injuries.

WCT: Really?

Mike Ruiz: Oh, yeah. I've shattered a couple of discs and I have Achilles tendonitis. A few months ago I broke a toe. So it's increasingly difficult to feel comfortable at the gym.

I used to work out twice a day. Now, about three days a week, I'll do 20 minutes of cardio and then some weights, and then call it a day. I don't have the time anymore. I just eat really well—a lot of kale and broccoli and tofu. I don't eat wheat, which has really helped my metabolism; I found out that I'm really sensitive to gluten.

WCT: Switching subjects, what would you tell today's LGBT youth, especially in the wake of all the suicides that have been reported recently?

Mike Ruiz: I speak on behalf of the Trevor Project as much as I can, and I do put out the message that things always get better. I was a 15-year-old who grew up in a blue-collar suburb of Montreal; I was ostracized and had the crap kicked out of me for being gay—and I was ethnic and overweight. It was difficult and there were times when I thought I wouldn't make it through. But there was something in the back of my mind telling me that there's was a whole world waiting for me—a wonderful world. I was no different than a kid in Iowa who's being laughed at. The time they're going through now is just a blip in their lives. Love yourself enough to nurture yourself.


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