Jaymes Vaughan (l) and James Davis celebrate 2nd place on this season’s The Amazing Race.
The finale of CBS’s The Amazing Race aired last Sunday night, and we now know that the million dollar prize went to The Beekman Boys, Josh Kilmer-Purcell and his partner, Brent Ridge.
But making the competition hotter – in more ways than one – were Jaymes Vaughan and James Davis, the two Chippendales dancers who proved that not only are they are great to look at but that they also have big hearts.
In fact, one of the more touching points of the show is when Jaymes (the blonde, openly gay one) talked about doing the race for his father, who is currently fighting cancer. The obvious friendship between Jaymes and James (who is straight) was also abundantly clear throughout the race as the guys consistently showed their upbeat, always cheery demeanors as often as their impressive pecs and abs!
I caught up with the guys in Las Vegas late last week before their nightly Chippendales show– which I thankfully was invited to attend! And then, we talked again on Monday morning by phone to discuss details of the finale.
AfterElton: I’m sure you had some expectations going in, but did the show meet them?
Jaymes: I think every reservation we had actually got shattered once we got to the actual Race.
James: No kidding. It’s one thing to watch it, but once you’re actually there experiencing it, you’re like, this is really, really insane, but insanely fun in such a positive way. It blew away our expectations. It’s definitely way, way more than we thought it was going to be in the best way possible.
Yeah, there were a lot of reasons why this was MY fave challenge, too!
AE: What was your favorite task out of everything you did?
Jaymes: Why is it weird that our favorite thing was the synchronized swimming? I can’t even swim. So cool.
James: As awful as we were at synchronized swimming, I have to say, I had the most fun swimming with those ladies, half-drowning in that pool. It was incredible.
Jaymes: They saved our lives. At about attempt number seven, we were in this position clutching to their legs. These poor little 100 pound Russian girls holding us up.
James: They were the only things keeping us afloat!
AE: The worst one…?
James: The worst one for me was the bondo. I was so frustrated and infuriated doing that bondo challenge…once I accomplished it, I got through it. I got through the frustration, it was a blast. I still enjoyed it. Even the worst moment was still, in retrospect, like, wow, it was so cool I got to be able to do that.
Jaymes: And I will say it to the end of the day, I’m sure she’s a lovely, pleasant woman, but damn that abacus lady. I mean, really? That was the worst damn task, right there.
James: I mean, she was using that abacus like it was her new iPad, just like…
Jaymes: She was just hovered over it!
If putting on their Chippendales collar and cuffs helped in the Race, so be it!
AE: What did you guys learn about each other that you didn’t know before, if anything?
Jaymes: I don’t think we learned a single thing about each other that we didn’t already know.
James: As soon as I sighed in frustration, he knew it was coming. He knew what was coming with that bondo challenge. There were no surprises.
Jaymes: We couldn’t understand why people would go on such an amazing adventure and want to fight. Even if you went with somebody you didn’t get along with, squash that right away.
James: It’s what we always say to viewers, like get past it and just finish. You have to take a moment to stop and really look at where you’re at and what you’re actually doing. Because it’s really phenomenal. You can get so caught up in the competition of it all, you kind of forget the amazing thing that you’re really doing. And you’re like, wow, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
AE: How did you guys feel once the episodes started airing? Did you like watching yourselves? Did you not like the way the show was edited?
James: We love making fun of ourselves.
Jaymes: We’re glad they chose to make fun of us.
James: They caught us in that goofy light. They caught me doing some funny stuff, making funny faces. That’s kind of who I am. I thought they were pretty true to who we were as far as the moments that happened.
Jaymes: They can’t edit you doing anything you didn’t actually do.
James: I think honestly, they were very nice to all eleven teams in the editing. In a great way, I think. In a true to life way.
If Jaymes and James proved one thing it was how to have fun on The Amazing Race!
AE: I was reading your bios that they have on the CBS site. You [James] said [Jaymes] was Paul Walker and Martha Stewart.
James: Looks-wise, obviously, blond hair, blue-eyed, kind of looks like Paul Walker. Martha Stewart, because this guy is Suzy Homemaker, man! [Jaymes laughs, nodding] You go to his house, everything is coordinated. He has seasonal motif candles out and stuff.
Jaymes: It’s very obvious which one is the gay one.
James: Yes. So, he’s always ready to give me some advice to make my house more of a home.
AE: Unless I missed it, it never really came up on the show that one of you is straight and one is gay. Was that something you guys didn’t want in the show or is that more just the show deciding not to put it in?
Jaymes: No. There was never a gay club task [or] kiss this man challenge. It’s not like we hid it. We didn’t. We actually were very open about it. We talked about it to everybody. Everybody knew. It did come up, it just hasn’t come up on the show. That’s why I’ve made a conscious effort to do as much as I can like the cover of Instinct [and] all these other publications.
And as people started watching the show, seeing our camaraderie, seeing how we are back and forth with each other, seeing that we can be best buddies and it’s cool. And, I guess, also seeing in us something that maybe they thought wasn’t a stereotype. I guess they don’t think there are gay rednecks. And so it’s nice that we’ve gotten to do that. And I’m just trying to make sure that it does get out there. It didn’t make sense much. Josh and Brent are an amazing, wonderful couple who are so in love with each other and they didn’t really show that a lot either, because the race doesn’t have a lot to do with your sexuality. It really doesn’t.
AE: So [speaking post-finale] what was your reaction to the outcome of the race?
James: You saw the final challenge with the flags. It was incredibly, incredibly difficult. Honestly, all the teams were really struggling with it. I don’t think anyone paid attention at the pit stops to the greetings.
Jaymes: We had a notebook full of notes…but when they said hello and goodbye we thought ‘Oh, they’re so friendly. We appreciate that, too.
James: We both felt good leaving the flags. We felt that we finished it in a pretty respectable amount of time given the difficulty of it but the biggest difficult was just good old navigation. We didn’t know our way around New York and finding taxis and getting directions to find Gotham Hall.
Jaymes: We thought it was Batman! We didn’t know what Gotham Hall was!
Post-Race, the guys are committed to helping Jaymes father beat cancer.
AE: But at least you still were able to give your Mom a new car, James!
James: Honestly, I’m still so exhilarated from winning that last leg and winning that car. That was such a huge thing. I was so happy to do that for her. This is the first new vehicle she’s had in her own life. It will be the first new car she’s ever owned.
AE: What are your plans beyond Chippendales?
Jaymes: The number one most important goal for us right now is, it’s the main reason we’re running this race, to take care of our families and we set up this website ForgetCancerNow.com. We did this whole campaign that’s actually F*** Cancer, but we want to keep it appealing to everyone. But we do this whole body paint thing over our bodies and all these other crazy things as well, stuff we haven’t released yet. So we put up this website to take donations and also to promote events that we have coming up.
Literally, if we had every Twitter follower give a dollar. That’s it. Every Facebook fan give a dollar. It would be amazing. If every Amazing Race fan on Facebook gave a dollar, it would be 1.5 million dollars. People say, aww, but seriously go do it.
James: It’s really opened our eyes, it’s amazing how many people are affected by cancer now. You really realize how it affects you and so, after all this, I really, really, really want to create a charity that does what I want to do for my family, which is when someone is going through an incurable cancer, you give them the means to stop working and enjoy their time with their family. And I want to try and create something like that.
AE: How is your Dad doing, Jaymes?
Jaymes: Dad’s a fighter. Dad’s fighting. Dad’s hanging on. He’s having fun watching me every week. Dad’s hanging on. He’s going to kick some ass. He’s going to be the first one to make incurable cancer curable.
AE: Between The Amazing Race exposure and the success of Magic Mike, male dancers have gotten a lot of exposure this year.
James: Magic Mike definitely portrays one aspect of male review. It’s not necessarily what we do here. It’s very old school, very back in the 1980’s with the leather and the thongs and stuff like that. I’m happy to report there’s no leather, there’s no thong in Chippendales but don’t get me wrong you’ll still see some skin but just over the years it’s evolved into more of a production show. The guys are up on stage as opposed to solo numbers [and] doing full-choreographed numbers. We’re in a 10 million dollar theater. I actually play guitar. Jaymes is a vocalist. But I’m still super grateful for Magic Mike for bringing male review back into the mainstream again.
Follow Jaymes and James on their Facebook page. Jaymes Vaughan’s music and James Davis’s Band, My Name Engraved, can be found on Itunes. For more info on Chippendales at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, visit the website.