Though The A-List: New York was essentially a slow-motion, more obviously manipulated version of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, it’s not the most unbearable show to think about in retrospect. I even have a fondness for the petty theatrics of Reichen Lehmkuhl, Mike Ruiz, Rod-i-ney, and the gamely naked Austin Armacost. Yes, it was sleaze, but it was harmless sleaze.
Since Logo’s series went off the air in 2011, Armacost — billed on the show as Lehmkuhl’s ex-boyfriend — has apparently been keeping up the body that earned him so much attention over two seasons. We caught up with him on a photo shoot in the Hollywood hills for DNA Magazine featuring some skimpy Andrew Christian skivvies (as well as aussieBum, 2xist, & Body Tech), and we thought we’d see how much he still enjoys the attention. Newsflash: He does. And he’s pretty upfront — and, honestly, really nice — about it!
Austin Armacost photographed by Clinton Gaughran for AfterElton
AfterElton: You’re wearing assless underwear in front of a patio full of people. Are you a true exhibitionist who embraces this kind of thing?
Austin Armacost: I mean, look around. I’m in a jock strap right now surrounded by 20 people. “Exhibitionist” is a great word for me. I like it in a professional setting though. I don’t like to be running around my hotel naked, but when I’m in a professional setting where I can be naked, it’s completely applicable.
AE: I think your co-workers agree.
Austin: [Motioning to his fellow models] These people are beautiful, and that’s what L.A. is about! Beautiful people! We love it. We’re in the hills, and it’s fabulous. At the same token, underneath the muscles and abs on everyone here, they’re beautiful people. Yes, L.A. is fake and phony and all about the body, but the people I surround myself with are fantastic underneath it all, and that’s what’s very important to me. So beauty’s not everything. You don’t have to be sexy to hang out with me. But they’re great people. You can find people who are beautiful on the inside or on the exterior!
AE: What would you say is your all-time favorite moment of exhibitionism?
Austin: Every time my mom walks in on me naked in the shower. This might sound crazy, but I like when my family sees me naked. Now, it’s not incestuous, but we’re very free. We’re all very free. At any one time in my living room, my dad might be in the jacuzzi naked out back, my mom might be powdering her tits, and I might be shitting with the door open. So we’re all very free, open people. Very exhibitionist in my home. Now, I don’t know what constitutes a “nudist,” but we probably fit that to a T. Though we’re not a cult or anything.
AE: What fond memories do you have from The A-List: New York? Was there a best moment?
Austin: Oh, Maine. The Maine trip in season one was phenomenal. We had a wonderful time, and a lot of people don’t know this, but that wasn’t Reichen’s house. The producers played it up like it was, but what happened was that Reichen’s mom and dad pulled out at the last minute and said, “You can’t shoot here anymore.” So the producers spent thousand of dollars to find a house for us to play at. But Reichen told us it was his house! We figured out that it wasn’t his house, but he didn’t know we knew. We’re like, “Reichen, where’s your memorabilia? Where’s the high school yearbook?” We read that bitch. “How do you play this game here?” And he’d say, “Oh, uh, that’s my mom’s!” My favorite scene is still when Derek is dancing on the back of T.J. on the jetski while smoking a cigarette. I literally have that four-second moment on my phone. Ryan’s doing pirouettes on the jetski. I mean, it couldn’t get gayer! And in the middle of Maine. That was my favorite moment, hands down.
AE: Do you have a least favorite moment from the show?
Austin: Being confronted about something I was told to say by producers and then having to backpedal my own way out of it.
AE: What was that?
Austin: Various things. I mean, there were several comments. The producers will create what they need to create, and it was our responsibility to backpedal our way out of it. We all knew that, so we didn’t push too hard on each other.
AE: Which of your fellow cast members is the easiest to be friends with? Who’s the most difficult?
Austin: The easiest would definitely be Ryan. He’s one of the most chill, cool guys. He and his husband are loaded, and they’re still very down to Earth. The toughest to be friends with is Reichen. He’s a great guy, but every word you say he takes to heart. He is a dear friend of mine, but he takes every word to heart, which gets annoying.
AE: Any lingering thoughts on Reichen’s ballad “Up to the Sky”?
Austin: If you’re cracked out on a Sunday morning, you might put that on. Beyond that, it’s a big mistake. But hey, I mean — not any thanks to the song — but “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed! It did draw interest to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
AE: Last question, in five years…
Austin: Please don’t say “What’s next?”!
AE: Ha! Well, right now you’re modeling assless underwear in the hills. In five years, what would you prefer to be doing?
Austin: In five years? Doing the same thing! I’m advocating for the Defense of Marriage Act to be repealed. I’m working with a lot of groups, like the ACLU, the HRC, to get it changed. In five years, I don’t think we’ll even be talking about gay rights. So I’ll have to find a new direction in five years, because that’s my life right now! Philanthropy and advocating for the repeal of DOMA. I’m working with legislators, attorneys, congressman, and doing my part to get in changed. With my profile from The A-List: New York, I can call a lot of people very easily, so it’s fantastic.
Next page! More photos of Austin.