Ron Matthew Inawat is president of the GoPride Network and contributes to ChicagoPride.com, PrideLA.com and other sites within the GoPride Network.
Jeff Timmons, former member of the multi-platinum selling group 98 DEGREES, joins Vegas' all-male stripping dance troupe, the Chippendales, for a limited engagement this season.
Starting tomorrow, Timmons will be performing as guest emcee and vocalist for the Chippendales show at the Rio Hotel and Casino through June 5th.
The straight, yet gay-friendly, Timmons said his gay fans were "just as awesome and respectful as my straight fans" during an interview in 2003 with GoPride.com.
GoPride.com recently spoke with the former teen idol about his journey from boy band superstar to "Las Vegas Strip" sensation:
RM: (Ron Matthew Inawat) What has your fan reaction been like since the news came out that you were joining the Chippendales?
JT: (Jeff Timmons) Surprisingly everything has been great! I thought I'd get killed with people saying it's cheesy, but the Chippendales brand is so well known, that it's been well received.
RM: When our readers go to see a Chippendales show, what type of performance should they expect to experience?
JT: Well, obviously I don't look like those guys. They're shredded hulks. But - I will be emceeing, singing, and who knows? Maybe I will flash a little skinnie skin.
RM: Yes, I heard through the grapevine that there may be collars and cuffs in store during the show! Can you tell us the titles of a few song favorites we'll hear during the show?
JT: I will be performing a few 98 Degrees hits and a new song. Can't spoil the surprise!
RM: You've accomplished so much as an artist in the music industry. Is there a larger dream you have yet to accomplish?
JT: Wow, thank you. I have a lot of major goals and aspirations. I would love to win a Grammy. Write and produce for major artists. Work with Christina Aguilerra.
RM: Where do you get your musical inspiration from? And which of your tracks to date is the most "special" to you?
JT: I love Michael Jackson, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Boyz II Men, Brian McKnight, Joe, The Eagles, Journey, and many more. All of them inspire me. I love one of my new tunes called "It Factor." Folks can get it free at http://sharefuze.com/jefftimmons-itfactor
RM: What advice would you give for younger entertainers heading into the entertainment industry? What life lessons in entertainment would be worth sharing to those just starting out?
JT: Learn as much as you can about the BUSINESS side. It is the Music BUSINESS for a reason. Surround yourself with folks you trust. Believe in yourself 100% and ignore the haters.
RM: In an interview with celebuzz.com, you welcomed your gay following. You said that sexual orientation has never been something that intimidated you and that you were raised never to discriminate against people: "I'm just happy to have people liking music. If I have a huge gay following I'm totally cool with that. 98 Degrees had a big gay following. We would go overseas to places like Germany and go to a club that was an exclusively gay club. It's all about getting in front of your fan base and performing. I've never had a problem with it. I've embraced it. I grew up in a small town. Not everyone has an open mind about things like that. I was raised a certain way, and if I behaved any differently my parents would kick my butt."
Your parents were obviously a great influence on how you've turned out. (Thank you Jeff Timmons' parents!) In a time where bullying and teen suicide hits the media waves frequently, it's more important than ever to have straight allies like you - especially those who are idolized by many teens and young people.
What positive message would you give to young people who are going through those trials and unsure about whether things will get better?
JT: Again, thank you!
I would say keep your "faith." I am not advocating a specific faith or religion, just your own faith. Believe that GOD or the universe will make things better, and if you do, it will.
RM: So, tell us a secret that you've never ever shared in a previous interview.
JT: There was a very dark time in my life where I lost my faith. The second I got it back everything turned around for me. Life has not been roses for me because I am a celebrity. It has been a test, but ultimately I've been blessed.
RM: We just have to ask: If you were born a gay man, who would be your first man date? and why?
JT: Strangely, no one comes to mind.....
RM: Everyone on the net has seen your shirtless photos and it's evident you do some working out - so what's the most important aspect to your workout regimen?
JT: I've stepped it up for the Chipps. It's P90X, Atkins diet, and heavy free weights. I still fucking can't hang with these cats!
RM: So, If we were to see your life on the big screen, which actor would you like to play the part of Jeff Timmons in a biographical movie?
JT: It would have to be someone neurotic. I don't really know.
RM: Is there a special cause or charity you'd like to mention that's close to your heart?
JT: I have several, but my new favorite is Camp Kessem, a charity for kids with terminally ill parents.
RM: Is there an upcoming album we can expect to see? What do fans have to look forward to on the album?
JT: I am releasing my whole album for free with videos for each song. We are releasing the song in magazines and websites. You will be able to scan a QR code with you phone's camera and download the music right off of the page. Cool stuff!
RM: Thanks for taking the time to chat with GoPride.com, Jeff. Have a great time with the Chippendales!