Out TV personality Ross Matthews has been a fixture on TV screens, appearing on shows ranging from “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “Celebrity Big Brother” to “Chelsea Lately” and “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” As a result, he’s rubbed elbows with all manner of celebrities.
Matthews takes readers and his fans on a trip through his adventures in and around Hollywood with his new book “Name Drop,” the follow-up to his first book “Man Up!: Tales of My Delusional Self-Confidence.”
Matthews is coming to Philadelphia Feb. 8 for a live speaking event at World Café Live, so PGN talked to Matthews about the A-List stars with whom he mingles.
What can people expect from your live appearance that they can’t get from reading your book?
People say that I’m doing a book tour, but I’m really doing a 90-minute standup show. I do 30 minutes of standup at the top, then I take a different chapter each show and bring it to life, and then we play a game with the audience and give out prizes. Then I go out into the audience, and they can ask me anything. So the show is about shutting the door on the outside world and LOLing for an hour and a half.
How does “Name Drop” differ from your previous book, “Man Up”?
I feel like “Man Up” was about me growing up in a small town as a young gay cartoon. “Name Drop” is about what happened when I moved to Hollywood and matured into an older gay cartoon.
When you meet and interact with celebrities, do they automatically know that you are going to write about them sometime down the road?
I’m a fan of pop culture. I feel like I’m the one who won the golden ticket and gets to meet them. So I say no celebrities were harmed in the making of this book. There are times when they have disappointed me and broke my heart, but I make peace with all of them. Nobody is going to read this book and be mad at me. At least, I hope not.
Do you still get star-struck around celebrities?
Oh my god, totally! I’ve met just about every star you can imagine, but there are still so many stars that I want to meet. Elton John, I’ve never met. But the Barefoot Contessa is at the top of my list. I watch her every day.
Do you have enough celebrity juice to meet those people on your list?
Totally. It’s going to happen. I’ve known since I was a kid that I would be friends with Rosie O’Donnell. I’ve known since I was in college that I would be friends with Gwyneth Paltrow. I know I’m going to meet these people. It’s just a matter of time. And trust me, when I do, maybe they’ll make it into “Name Drop 2.”
So there are more books for you to write in the future?
Yes. After “Man Up,” I kind of thought, OK, I’d done it. I’ll never write a book again. And people asked me to. It occurred to me one day when I was naked in the shower and loofah-ing — I want to make sure everyone gets the mental image for a second — I just realized I am so lucky to be where I am. I won the lottery. I have an obligation to tell people who always dreamt of being there what it’s really like. So who knows? I’ll always tell stories, no matter what. And you know what’s great about this book too? I cook every day, and this book is like you and me hanging out at happy hour. So I included cocktails and original recipes in each chapter.
You have a very approachable and friendly persona on screen. Is there another side to your personality that people don’t see?
It’s all authentic. Who I am on TV is who I am in real life. There are things that are important to me that I don’t talk about on the show — things like politics, my family and animal adoptions. It’s like when you are at work, you talk about what is happening at work. My job is making people laugh, so when I go on stage, people don’t want to hear me talking about politics. They want me to make them laugh, and that’s what I’m good at.
Many celebrities and public figures have the luxury of being able to be front and center with their politics. Do you feel like you can’t do that?
I do it in my own way. My politics are in my message of trying to love everybody. Indirectly, of course, I’m putting what I would like to see into the world. But I don’t want to force it. I grew up in a farm town with a lot of people who I disagreed with politically. But the universal language is laughter. So if people vote differently than me, it doesn’t mean I don’t want them at my show. We shut the door to the outside world and agree to disagree for a little bit and just laugh. I don’t think it’s a simple-minded way of approaching the world. It’s just what I do best.
Are celebrities ever as excited to meet you as you are to meet them?
Yes. When I met Gwyneth Paltrow — I’ve always loved her and wanted to be her best friend — when I met her, she was so excited. I gave her my email address. This was back in 2002, and we’ve been best friends ever since. It’s so crazy to think that we live in the same world as them. I write about meeting Lady Gaga, and she cornered me and confronted me about something I said about her on television. Luckily it was something good, and she told me how much it meant to her. I was shocked that I live in a world where people like her hear what I have to say. I realized at that moment that I have to be careful with my platform because even they are listening.
Ross Matthews performs 9 p.m. Feb. 8 at World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St. For more information or tickets, call 215-222-1400 or visit www.helloross.com.