Meet Tim & Te Jay from “The Amazing Race”

tim-tejay4“It’s time to introduce the world to Tim + Te Jay, the fabulous couple (hair flip).” Or so says Tim Tsao in his online bio.

Tim (pictured far left) and partner Te Jay McGrath are college sweethearts competing on the current season of The Amazing Race (which, make note, now airs on Fridays at 8/7c). I’ll be honest, when I first read about these two I wasn’t enthusiastic. Here were two slim and fashionable young men — one a flight attendant, the other a female impersonator — describing themselves with words like “sassy.” It’s probably a generational thing, but I wasn’t sure I could relate.

But if you happened to watch the first episode of The Amazing Race last Friday, like me you would have quickly been won over by this — yes, sassy and fabulous — pair. Not only are Tim & Te Jay witty, endearing and supportive of one another, they also happen to be intense competitors, leading the pack for most of the episode. They might have stumbled a bit on a difficult roadblock, but you get the sense that Tim & Te Jay could go very far on The Amazing Race.

We caught up with the young couple, now back home in Pasadena, California, to find out a little more about that roadblock that had everyone stymied last week, Te Jay’s propensity for “blonde moments,” how their families are responding to their new found fame and most importantly, we learned more about Te Jay’s drag queen alter ego, Tia Wanna!

Te Jay (left) & Tim dressed as Queen’s guards in Episode 2 of The Amazing Race
Photo: Heather Wines/CBS

It’s hard getting Tim & Te Jay to talk about upcoming episodes of The Amazing Race (all they would volunteer about tonight’s show and destination was that the preview ads “show the lumberjack flag.”). But the couple was more than happy to talk about last Friday’s episode and that frustrating roadblock.

“We got to the island and it was our first chance to do a road block.” Tim explained. “And you could see that the challenge involved the beach and digging and was something more physical, so we chose me.”

The competitors had to use directions and a compass to navigate to buried treasure, but it was a nautical compass, which reads backwards. “So for the longest time me and the other teams were heading onto the beach rather than the interior of the island.” Says Tim. Even once the compass was figured out, the directions were still a challenge. “Eventually we were all digging in the right general area, but we just couldn’t pinpoint it down.”

Tim eventually did find his treasure and #teamcollegesweetheart was second to the pit stop, which really was impressive given a field of 11 teams.  Tim thinks his flight attendant experience might give them an advantage in the race:

“We’re not allowed to use any of our benefits [like free flights] so it’s a level playing field. But knowledge wise and experience and just the lifestyle that I live– traveling through time zones and sleeping at odd hours whenever I can. And Te Jay kind of lives that lifestyle as well. Like sometimes I fly all night and then spend the day sleeping. So he kind of has to adjust to that schedule too.”

Tim seems to do most of the talking for the couple, and I asked about his pet peeve with Te Jay’s “blonde moments”– something he mentioned in his Amazing Race profile:

“Not everybody has common sense all the time, and I guess Te Jay doesn’t use common sense more than others. He tends to be a little more airy and forgetful. But he is super book smart and really intelligent when it comes to facts and knowledge. But from day to day activities– or sometimes just in conversation– he’s daydreaming about how great his life could be and not paying attention to what I’m talking about.”

I asked if we’ll see the couple get into any major blow ups on The Amazing Race. Says Tim, “If we do have a blow up it will probably last like ten seconds and then we’ll sort of snap back into it. That’s just how we work.”

So far in the interview Te Jay has been relatively quiet, but he opens up when the subject turns to family.

“First of all, my dad is a country man from Tennessee and he is like our biggest fan,” says Te Jay. “He loves the race and he actually came to our premiere party and saw me in drag and saw the way that we live, and he’s so for it and very supportive.”

In last week’s episode Te Jay confided he was “waiting for his mother to accept the whole gay relationship.” I asked how things stood with her now that The Amazing Race had begun airing.

“She still hasn’t even watched the show. I don’t know if it’s just the fact that she doesn’t want to see it because of that – because she knows now, she obviously knows. We talk on the phone with no problem, but I don’t know. She just hasn’t watched it yet.”

As for Tim’s relationship with his family, “I’m lucky, my Mom and Dad have been supportive from day one. My mom said she always knew but she was just waiting for me to tell her—so that happened probably sophomore year of college. Since then she’s been a big supporter of me and Te Jay and considers Te Jay like her own son.”

Tim and Tia Wanna attend the The Amazing Race Season 25 Premiere party in West Hollywood
Photo: Getty

Te Jay made quite a splash when he attended The Amazing Race premiere in drag as his alter ego, the lovely Tia Wanna. But if you were hoping to see Tia pop up on an episode of The Amazing Race, unfortunately that’s not in the cards (or luggage). Tia is high maintenance and doesn’t exactly travel light.

“It wouldn’t have been smart to carry all that extra wardrobe and heels and makeup.” Te Jay explains. “The twins [Lisa & Michele, who were eliminated last week] made a funny comment that they brought twelve pounds of makeup. I would seriously have to bring thirty just for Tia Wanna to make an appearance.”

Obviously, we wanted to know if Te Jay had any interest in competing on RuPaul’s Drag Race.

“Yes!” says Te Jay. “Every drag queen who takes drag seriously and wants a full time career, of course their next goal in life is to be on RuPaul’s Drag Race! I did The Amazing Race with my boyfriend as an experience we could do together. And then Drag Race would be something I would love to do to jump start my own career. I haven’t applied yet because I didn’t feel quite ready in past seasons. But look out for Tia Wanna in maybe Season 8, Season 9. I’m definitely ready!”


The Amazing Race now airs on Friday nights at 8/7c on CBS. New episode tonight!

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