Interview with Dustin Erikstrup of “Big Brother 8”

In what will likely go down as one of the bigger blunders on CBS' reality hit Big Brother, last week out houseguest Dustin Erikstrup allowed himself to be put up for eviction while mistakenly believing he was safe. Instead, Dustin was shocked to find himself voted out of the house rather than Evil Dick by a 4-2 vote.

Dustin, a 22-year-old shoe salesman and resident of Chicago, might be out of the game, but he at least made it to the jury that will ultimately choose this season's winner of $500,000. Unfortunately, that also means that he is sequestered until the final vote and unable to do phone interviews. Instead, emailed Dustin our questions to the secret location where he is being kept for the next four weeks. Dustin couldn't answer all of our questions, as houseguests on the jury are only allowed to know information about things they witnessed or were told by other houseguests during the game.

A few weeks ago, we did an interview with the first of Big Brother 8's two gay men to be evicted, Joe Barber. Joe and Dustin are actually former boyfriends and were part of the show's “Enemies” twist where several houseguests – including Joe – were surprised to find their least favorite person in the world was also playing the game. This was also the first time the U.S. version of Big Brother had two gay houseguests at the same time. Joe's over-the-top personality may have gotten him evicted quickly – he was the second to be eliminated — but Dustin's more laidback style got him considerably further. At least until he grew overconfident.

So how did Dustin feel about being in the house with Joe, the man who first trashed his life, then on national television accused him of passing on an STD? “I felt like it was a challenge for him. You know, I can't say enough. I left him a year ago and with more than good reason. I tried not to let his slander and defamation bog down my game in the house.”

Upon learning Dustin was in the house with him, Joe immediately attacked Dustin by informing the other houseguests that his ex had supposedly cheated on him and given him gonorrhea. What was Dustin's reaction as he watched Joe's opening salvo against him? “I thought my grandparents are going to love hearing this. But in all actuality, it didn't faze me because the truth behind the story was that it was a lie. He jumped on the defensive immediately and that's usually a good indication that someone is trying to cover their own tracks. For the record, I've never had an STD.”

In our interview with Joe, he expressed regret over the way he'd attacked Dustin after their break-up, having badmouthed him to all of their friends among other things. Said Joe, “After he cheated on me and we broke up, I went through his life and just decimated it. I took his friends, I destroyed his life, I destroyed his credibility, I did all these malicious things.” Joe even apologized to Dustin before he was evicted, but when asked if he believed Joe's apology was sincere, Dustin offered a very succinct, “No.”

Before Joe's eviction, the former boyfriends spent a great deal of time talking about their past in front of a national audience. Joe told that for his part, their discussions were fifty percent real, fifty percent strategy. So did Dustin see through that or did he really think they were working out their issues? “The conversations between Joe and I about our past were both strategy and real. If there was ever an inclination that I was warming up to Joe, it was all for show. There were a few regrets that I did have about our time together. For instance, I took Joe's family for granted. Joe's family is amazing, and I never took the time to appreciate them fully and I regret that. Joe makes a lot of claims to be this great person who took me by storm, when in actuality, I was fine without him. He pampered me, and that was something I wasn't used to, nor did I appreciate.”

Did Dustin think Joe's presence in the house particularly affected his strategy in playing the game? “Not necessarily. You know, I feel my mere presence in the house made Joe work in overdrive and that led to his eviction without much work on my behalf. It was my intention to feel everyone else's playing style in the first few weeks before I jumped in and got my hands dirty, so having him in the house didn't affect that strategy at all.”

As to whether Dustin would do anything different if he could play the game again, he answered, “I wouldn't have gone up as pawn. I wish I would have leveled my head in the game once it got going. I got quite a bit overconfident there for a while.”

Is Dustin happy with how did on Big Brother, a show of which he was never a big fan in the first place? “It was my goal to make it to the show, and I made it that far, [and to] the jury. So I'm pleased to say the least.”

Gay viewers were especially intrigued by this season which not only had two gay houseguests, but Nick, a straight guy who flirted and cuddled with Joe and who shared his list of the five hottest male stars. Part of the strategy of the game has always been the possibility of a “showmance” between two houseguests, so with two out men plus Nick, anything seemed possible. But what did Dustin think of Nick's gay-acting antics? “Nick is a great guy. He's straight. His flirtation strategy worked with Joe though.”

But Joe also realized Nick was straight, having told us, “I think Nick's sexuality is that he's very comfortable with his own sexuality. He's not worried about how he's perceived. He's an example for what all straight men should be — willing to flirt, willing to do that, because at the end of the day, you know if you're straight or not. His ability to accept me, his ability to smile and wink at me just as he would anybody else, really shows that he's got a lot of integrity.”

When asked if Joe felt he was in any way representing the gay community, he flatly rejected the idea saying, “You know, I think it's ridiculous if people want to try to use me as an example of a homosexual. I'm not a representation of all men. I'm not a representation of all homosexuals.”

So does Dustin feel any responsibility in representing gay men on a nationally broadcast program? “Yes and no. I feel that Joe did a wonderful job of representing a stereotype and playing that role does him well. For me, I try to be just me. If I come across as a gay man, I hope I did the community justice. I represent me in life and in this game. It's not in my nature to hold back my opinions and feelings and I'm sure I offended the community as well. It wasn't until I was in the house did I think, ’Oh God, the gays are watching me.’”

One of our questions that Dustin couldn't answer dealt with homophobic comments made on the live feed by some of the other houseguests including Kail, Zach, and Dick. But Dustin told Entertainment Weekly that when Dick referred to him as “princess” he shrugged it off saying, “Honestly, he was calling Carol a princess and Jessica a princess in Weeks One and Two for the way that they didn't do anything around the house. And he just decided to attack my sexuality in a low blow, and you know, I didn't really take it offensively. Him calling me a princess, I could have really cared less. Him attacking Jameka's religious beliefs and Amber's motherhood — those are the attacks that I took personally.”

Dustin wasn't without his controversial comments as well. Many viewers were shocked by his conversation with Amber when they discussed Dustin's dog which he referred to as a “n***er bitch” because she's black and female.

Dustin's comments have been called offensive for being sexist and racist. When offered the chance to address the issue, Dustin said, “A female dog is a bitch. I'm not a racist and my actions speak louder than words. I've had just as many African- American friends and roommates as I have white. I apologize if I offended anyone. My words are not intended to hurt anyone and I think that was clear within the context of my conversation. How can a gay man be racist? Isn't that that most contradictory thing on the planet or what?”

As for who Dustin most trusts, he answered, ‘Amber and Jameka, hands down.’” But as to who has the best chance to win, Dustin is far less certain. “It's a toss up at this point. I have no idea where loyalties lie anymore.”