There are two very good reasons not to watch the revamped Million Dollar Listing, Bravo’s latest
real estate reality show, and their names are Chad and Josh. The two Los Angeles real estate
agents are as pompous, egotistical and annoying as anything to come down the
reality highway in quite some time. And that is saying something
However, there is a third agent on the show and watching him
doesn’t leave most viewers despairing over the fate of humanity. His
name is Madison Hildebrand and not only does he come across as decent and
self-aware, he is, if not actually humble, at least not gratingly arrogant. He
also is that rarity on television – an American male who defines himself not as
gay or straight, but bisexual (or as he puts it “polyamorous”).
AfterElton.com recently had the chance to catch up with the
man who is one of the most successful real estate agents in Southern
AfterElton.com: Tell us something about yourself, Madison. Where
are you from? How big is your family? How old were you when you came out?
Madison Hildebrand: Well, I have lived all over the United States, coast to coast, including a
little bit in the south of Texas
and I have two brothers. I’m the middle child. Currently, my parents live back
in Texas. My
older brother lives here in Malibu
with me, next door to me. And my little brother lives in Arizona. I came out not very long ago at
all. I think it will be two years – holy cow! As of yesterday.
AE: Congratulations. I read that you don’t define yourself
as a gay man, so I wanted to give you a chance to say how you would define your
MH: On the preview [for Million Dollar Listing], the word I
have chosen to use as far as sexuality goes is polyamorous, and I am really
trying to stay away from being in one particular category one way or the other.
I’m very open. I’m open-minded. I really connect to energies. I still have encounters
with women and I’m interested in dating men and/or a woman. It doesn’t really
matter to me. If the energy feels right and it’s safe and it’s comfortable, I’m
open to that.
AE: Have you dated any men up to this point?
AE: At what age did you start to realize that your sexuality
didn’t fall in line with what most other people experience?
MH: Well, there’s a lot of other personal parts that play a role in my past in
discovering who I am all together, but also who I am sexually, so that question
is a bit hard for me to answer, but I guess I started to understand that I had
multi-feelings for both sexes in my teens, in my early teens.
AE: What prompted you to decide to come out as “polyamorous”?
I have a friend who is polyamorous who describes it as not having one
relationship with one person at a time, but having relationships with one, two
or more people. Almost like a group relationship. Is that how you define it?
MH: No. That’s not how I define it. The reason why I don’t
like the word bisexual is because most of the people who define that word have
a derogatory definition that means the relationship is based strictly on sex.
For whatever reason, that’s the mainstream definition or the energy behind the
word. So for me polyamorous is just – yeah, poly is multi and amorous is love,
but I’m not having love relationships with multiple partners at one time. It’s
more being open to multiple situations and different touches and energies and
being able to fall in love with that rather than having multiple relationships.
AE: I personally don’t see anything wrong with either one,
but I just don’t want to put that word out there and then having people coming
up to you and saying, wait a minute – you said this –
MH: Thank you.
AE: So for other people, maybe bisexual without the negative
connotations might describe you?
AE: So what prompted you to decide to be out about your
sexuality? Did you feel that you had to come out to your parents or to your
friends and family?
MH: For me it is being able to wake up every morning and
just be who I was. I was struggling with a lot of other conflicts and I didn’t
know if they were playing a role or not and finally I just realized this is the
last thing I have not accepted and the last thing I have not shared with people
and that has to be what is the dead weight in the morning when I wake up.
Whether you want to call it depression or not, I was never
depressed, but it felt I was getting there because I don’t think I was living
what I was feeling. And that’s a problem.
AE: I went through a period before I came out where I was so
depressed I could hardly get out of bed at times because I knew I wasn’t being
honest about who I was, so I think I understand what you’re talking about.
MH: That’s unfair to live that way and I owe it to myself
and anyone owes it to themselves to respect themselves enough to just live and
be comfortable in their own skin, because you only live one time and that’s all
AE: So being on the show, do you see yourself as a role
MH: It was a big decision for me to talk about my sexuality
on television. Obviously I did not have to go into that stage or category and I
didn’t have to bring any of that up, but I really looked at it as an
opportunity, especially being a feature on Bravo – it’s a very open network – I
just looked at it as an opportunity to, you know, keep pushing society to
accept and to be comfortable with sexuality.
I think we’ve made huge progress as a country and in the
world, but we I think still have a ways to go. So if I had the opportunity to
send the message out to a huge audience, then I felt like it was worth opening
up and being vulnerable to the public in order to be a positive role model.
AE: It’s obviously a show about real estate, but in the
first episode we did see you talking about your sexuality and talking with your
very attractive personal trainer. Are we going to see more of your journey and
your exploration during the season, or is that going to be it?
MH: No, I think the arc of my role on the show is primarily [my] sexuality.
Madison (right) with personal trainer in episode one
AE: So without giving anything away or getting you in
trouble with Bravo, do you have anything you can talk about that would interest
MH: I think I can mention that you will see someone who I
had a prior relationship with and I was trying to figure things out and just
basically talking about sexuality and figuring out that we’re on different
paths. It’s a road to discovery and there is definitely a very intimate
relationship that plays out on this episode.
AE: What was the reaction of your friends and family when
you came out?
MH: You only get to go through it once, but I think it was a pretty difficult
reaction. My mother and my father had a really strong reaction, but immediately
expressed that the love doesn’t change. My older brother was immediately
accepting and did not care one way or the other and it was great in that
regard. My little brother also had mixed feelings, but our relationship now is
AE: You mentioned in regards to your posing for Playgirl
that your family is Mormon, correct?
MH: I was baptized Mormon and my mother was raised Mormon. I
think they’ve all . . . I’m certainly not affiliated with any church anymore,
but I would say my family, you know – I don’t want to speak for the rest of
them, but . . . raised Mormon, yes.
AE: If you were baptized Mormon, I assume you were raised
Mormon. Did that cause you conflict when you were younger? Did that raise
issues that you had to sort through?
MH: Not really. No, I mean I think I’ve always been more of a free spirit
spiritually rather than religiously, and so I don’t know if that had a
subconscious impact on my coming out, but that’s not what I’m referring to now.
AE: How does your family feel about you suddenly being so
high profile on a successful Bravo show? Is that something they’re excited
about or is it intimidating?
MH: It’s not – we had a small warm up with season one and
this season obviously has a lot more energy behind it. My Dad is just excited
because there are a lot of opportunities to be – he sees it as a great
opportunity. My mom is a little bit tense about so much being exposed on TV.
She’s very private.
AE: I’m curious, were you surprised when Bravo revamped the
show from season one to season two and you were the only agent kept on? Was
that a surprise to you?
MH: I was excited. I don’t want to say I was surprised that
nobody else came back. I was just excited I was coming back to the show.
AE: I have to say, to be perfectly frank, I’m incredibly put
off by Josh and Chad, at least in that first episode. We don’t see you interact
with them a lot in the first part. Do we get to see you interact with them more
as the season continues? What do you think of the two of them?
MH: It’s set here in Malibu and LA so we do cross paths and
I think that we’ll be on TV [together] more. I think both of them are just
trying to do what they do in the fashion that they do it and whether I agree
with their style of business or their personalities, I don’t really want to
From left to right: Madison Hildebrand, Josh Flagg, Chad Rogers
AE: Will we learn more about how you feel about them as the
season goes on?
MH: Maybe, yeah. I think so.
AE: It’s funny, you come across as a very reasonable and
normal person and they just don’t. Are you concerned about being lumped
together with them or do you just feel the show will stand on its own merits
and you’re going to stand on your own merits?
MH: Yeah. I don’t have a lot of energy or time to worry. I’m
going to be in the show with some other strong personalities and I may or may
not get tarnished or looked at differently, but I’ve done it. I went with my
instincts from the beginning and it obviously is going to off-put some people
and it’s also going to attract some people and that’s exactly the way it’s
supposed to happen and I am along for the ride.
Photo credit: Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images
AE: Given that you didn’t grow up in Southern California or
Malibu, do you ever have trouble with what some people perceive as the
superficiality of the business and what I would describe as – Chad is so
image-obsessed and talking about his trophy girlfriend and his car. Do you have
a hard time dealing with that kind of mindset in Los Angeles or are you
comfortable with that?
MH: I think when I first got our here, it was tiring – nine
years ago, but now there’re such awesome people in this city also and I really
found a great group and great clients. Yes, it comes out at times here and
there, but for the most part I’m really surrounded by grounded people that are
completely comfortable with their image and have other things to talk about
than the shallow seasonal themes of looks and life.
AE: Would you like to do more television?
MH: Well, I don’t know. Whether it’s television or whether it’s just more
investing or starting another company. I have another company that I haven’t
put out at all yet. My book just came out. So I’m always doing something. I
don’t keep [still] very long. I have a problem doing that.
AE: Anything else you’d like people to know?
MH: I get a lot of emails and inquiries from my page on
Facebook and from my business email and they’re pretty much the same questions.
How did you do it? Can you give me advice? Etc. etc. And I wrote a book so that
that person who needs to reach out, can reach out. It’s called Activate YOUR
Passion, Create YOUR Career.
MH cont.: You can buy it online at Amazon or on my website,
TheMalibuLife.com. And I wrote that after the first season because I was
inundated with emails from young people, and it’s all really positive and I’m
really excited about it and I love that people contact me, but it is so
overwhelming that I want to answer each and every person, but I’d rather direct
them somewhere else if you can with me in the interview rather than having them
reach out to me. My information is all over the Internet because I’m a real
estate agent, and I guess that goes with the territory, but it’s a little bit