Listen: Adam Rippon Chats On His New Memoir ‘Beautiful On The Outside’

Adam Rippon (photo credit: Peter Yang)

By now, we all know Olympic bronze medalist Adam Rippon is witty, smart, inspirational, and utterly sassy.

As the oldest rookie to qualify for the Olympics at 28-years-old, and the first openly gay American figure skater to compete at the Olympics, his path to success has been groundbreaking, although it hasn’t been without setbacks.

In his new memoir, Beautiful On The Outside, Rippon hilariously reveals what it’s like to be an elite figure skater – from the glitz of sequined costumes to the unglamorous act of cleaning bugs off the ice at a competition, and all the failure and quad lutz practice (the hardest quad jump to land in competition) that led him to a spot on the Olympic team in Pyeongchang.

Your mom probably told you it’s what on the inside that counts. Well, then she was never a competitive figure skater.

Rippon has been making it pretty for the judges even when, just below the surface, everything was an absolute mess. Traveling to practices on a Greyhound bus next to ex-convicts, being so poor he could only afford to eat the free apples at his gym, Rippon got through the toughest times with a smile on his face, a glint in his eye, and quip ready for anyone listening.

Beautiful On The Outside looks at his journey from a homeschooled kid in Scranton, Pennsylvania, to a self-professed American sweetheart on the world stage and all the disasters and self-delusions it took to get him there.

Sure, it may be what’s on the inside that counts, but life is so much better when it’s beautiful on the outside.

I  recently chatted one-on-one with the Dancing with the Stars champion about his new memoir, the journey taken and what’s next for the sassy world-class athlete.

You can listen to the full chat with Adam below:

Here’s some highlights from my chat with Adam:

The Randy Report: First of all, congratulations on the memoir. It reads just like the Adam Rippon America has grown to love.

Adam Rippon: Thank you. It was so important to me that it felt more like a conversation I would have with someone rather than at someone.

TRR: When I first started reading I was not prepared for how much of your humor would be in this. Every page…good for you for capturing that aspect of you.

AR: Honestly, it’s still surreal to speak to people who have read the book because it’s been this project I’ve been working on for a long time. It was important to me that it was something funny. I feel this book has been an opportunity for me to speak about a chapter of my life as I move into the next chapter.

TRR: Early in the book you write that you loved looking back at crushes on girls when you were young, and you saw it as an early form of ‘diva worship,’ which I totally get as a gay man because I loved girls too. What a great way to put that.

AR: I think that like when you don’t know what’s going on in your body and how you actually feel that when I look back, the girls that I honestly felt like I was really attracted to, it was they had these really, these personalities that I admired, and these are the attributes that I thought were so great. I so badly did not want to be gay, but I tried so hard to associate these feelings of admiration with love. And looking back, I truly did have feelings for the girls that I was with. But – like the first time I was ever with a boy, I was like…”Oh.”

TRR: Yeah…

AR: It felt so different that I was like, “Oh no, I’m done.” Like I figured it out. What was I thinking before?

TRR: Later, you write that you didn’t have sex with girls sometimes because you thought you were being the ‘good guy. I think there are a lot of gay men who will read that, and feel they did the exact same thing.

AR: I just remember that feeling of not doing anything because, like, ‘I’m one of the good guys,’ you know? Then you learn. You’re like, ‘Oh no…’

TRR: And nature kicks in…

AR: It’s like this isn’t for you, and you’ll figure out why in a little bit. And then, it hits you over the head like a bag of rocks.

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It slipped 👕

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TRR: Let’s talk about skating because the chapter chronicling the 2015 Nationals beautifully captures you finding and bringing your A-game.

AR: Thank you. To be honest, I had such a great team help me write this book because I would describe myself more as a storyteller than a writer. And so, a lot of people worked with me to put it together.

It was important for me to share that story in particular because, at 2015 nationals, I skated these two great programs. In the first one, there was this sort of feeling that I was a little bit shafted.

And the next one was the long program where I get this amazing score and I felt like everything was coming together. I had just left this boyfriend that was a nightmare, and it was like, “Oh my God, in this moment, everything’s coming together.”

And then the last skater goes out – they win, I’m second. And I’m like come on really?

But then I realized that was such a non-issue because I was so proud and happy about everything I had done. And then, when I could take a step back, I was actually really excited and proud of the boy that had won because he had a lot of pressure on him to skate well, and I realized that the placement really had nothing to do with it, or like the award had nothing to do with your self-worth.

And once I was able to like disassociate the two, I felt that it was such a life-defining moment because I was able to focus more on myself than I was on anything else going on.

 

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😈 On to the long program tomorrow! #uschamps18

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TRR: And then you get to the Olympics. Finally. And you share that you wanted to show the world you had more than ‘sass’ to offer. You had overcome a LOT, and you’re in such a good headspace at that point. As the reader, I feel like we’re really there with you.

AR: It was like this hyper-focused period of my life where I was so in control of what I was doing, and I was so in the present moment. That was really a culmination of everything I had gone through, and how I had learned to be there, I’d learned to separate the media aspect of a competition from the competition part.

And it was like I was giving myself this masterclass of mastering how to juggle two things at once. I was so in the moment, and I felt so how powerful. Looking back, I’m like, “Holy shit, I don’t really know how I did that!” But I think all of the ups and downs I went through prepared me for it.

TRR: You also share a bit on how you and fellow out Olympian Gus Kenworthy came to be virtual friends prior to the Games, and then you met at the opening ceremonies and entered together.

AR: It felt like a moment that was not just for me; it felt like a moment that was for my younger self and for other people to see who might be gay but think that they would never share it with someone else. And here I am standing with someone from a different sport, from a different part of the U.S., different corners of the sporting world. So different. And here we are walking in as like friends, and we’re representing the (LGBTQ) community as we’ve gone through these different journeys at the same time.

I can look at him and he can look at me and we were like, “I get it.” And that’s why it was so powerful. I walked away from the Games with Gus being somebody who, in that moment, our whole lives kind of changed together. I really feel we are linked together because of a moment like that.

TRR: Speaking of post-Olympics, there’s a great quote from you near the end of the book as you’re performing in Stars On Ice and competing at the same time on Dancing with the Stars (which you won, btw). And you’re exhausted. But you stop and get down to the realness telling yourself, “I earned being this tired, I did not earn getting bitter.” What a great moment of self-awareness.

AR: I was doing all of those interviews, a lot of press, I was touring, doing Dancing with the Stars, and I was sleeping two or three hours a night. And working to be ‘on’ so that I could give everybody my best self, and be physically and mentally there. And it was really, really challenging.

I remember thinking to myself, there is probably not going to be another time in your life where you have two huge projects going on at the same time and they’re organized down to the minute so that you can get a nap every night.

You’re allowed to, you know, have those ups and downs emotionally, and it’s emotional what you’re doing. But – be really grateful. Because think of where you were a year ago; think of where you were five years ago. You would have killed to be in the shoes of the person you are right now.

I reminded myself that the way that you feel this exhaustion is what you would have done anything to feel. You can’t look at it and be in this moment now and think, “But I didn’t know any better!” You knew this is what it is, this is what comes with it. Accept it and enjoy it.

TRR: Thank you for the chat, Adam. You are truly America’s sweetheart.

AR: Thank you so much. You have a great day. Thank you.

In addition to releasing Beautiful On The Outside (available now online and at book stores), Rippon shares that he will be hosting a new daily show on Quibi,  the upcoming short-form mobile TV streaming service set to launch in the spring of 2020.

On This Day In Useless Celebrity History, Rippon will take viewers on a ride down memory lane, revisiting the wildest and most outrageous events in celebrity history that might have been forgotten, but shouldn’t have.

Make sure to catch up with Adam on his book tour beginning today in New York City and heading out across the country from there.

 

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❤️❤️❤️

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Trump Mocks Paralympians At White House Reception

During a ceremony meant to honor U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes on Friday, Trump awkwardly told the press that he found the Paralympics “a little tough to watch” but he watched “as much as I could.”

The Paralympics organization took the high road reminding the president that billions of people, including myself, enjoy watching the games.

“Record numbers around the world are not finding @Paralympics tough to watch. Billions of viewers now take in the Paralympics in hundreds of countries around the world. We hope the US President continues to watch and be inspired by the Paralympics,” the organizers tweeted.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’m a big supporter and fan of the Paralympic Games.

I’m horrified that Trump could sink this low.

It seems I’m not alone.

Olympians Adam Rippon & Gus Kenworthy: Coming Out Made Us Better Athletes

U.S. Olympians Adam Rippon (L) and Gus Kenworthy (R)

In an interview with The Washington Post, freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy and figure skater Adam Rippon shared their thoughts on being the first two out male Winter Olympians and how it affected not only themselves but other athletes.

Both acknowledged that one byproduct of their openness about being gay was the encounters with closeted athletes and coaches who thanked them for the representation.

Kenworthy said two athletes and a coach approached him while Rippon spoke of a coach did the same.

The duo, who became friends thanks to their shared status as “America’s gay Olympians,” also noted the enormous fear and energy that being closeted took from each of their lives.

Said Rippon, “I think you spend so much time worrying about what other people think about, that you realize that you had all of this extra energy that you didn’t need to be using. And, you know, I think straight people never have this experience of coming out. And it’s such a life-changing moment that you become so strong. I gained so much power and strength from that moment.”

“And I agree with what he said about it being effortless,” Kenworthy added, “because when I was in the closet, it was so [pause] much [pause] effort to stay in the closet and constantly worrying, and fearing I was going to fall asleep before the other guys on my team and say something in my sleep, or anything. I was just, all the time, always nervous that I was going to out myself, that someone was going to find out, and it was this horrible, horrible thing. And now that I’m out, and I realize how great it is, and I’m just getting to enjoy my life, I feel like I just feel free and liberated and I’m competing better, interviews, anything, I just get to be myself, and it’s a strange thing to be thanked for that, but it’s also amazing.”

The two athletes also agreed that they felt the need to be at the top of their respective sports before they could come out in that being “the best” meant haters couldn’t throw shade.

“For myself,” Kenworthy said, “when I came out [in 2015], I felt like I needed to be the best, because that was what I thought it would take to be accepted. No one can talk s— on you if you’re the No. 1 ranked in the world, and so that’s what my whole thing was, and so I made sure that the season before I came out, I was the No. 1-ranked guy in the world, and that was how I wanted to come out. Because I felt like, ‘You can’t argue with that.’ But in the end, no one was trying to argue with it anyway.”

“I actually feel exactly the same,” Rippon said, “where I made sure that when I came out, I was skating very well, so that I would be taken seriously. And after I came out, I won my national title.”

Truly, Rippon and Kenworthy were taken very seriously in their sports.

And regarding the “gay Olympian” label? Rippon summed it all up thusly:

“I think, at the end of the day, that we’re just Olympians. And I think we’re ‘gay Olympians,’ and the next gay Olympians will just be called Olympians, and I think that’s what we really hope, that it won’t be a story.”

Tongan Olympian Pita Taufatofua Goes Shirtless For PyeongChang Closing Ceremonies

Summer & Winter Olympian Pita Taufatofua

Ah, yeah.

I knew everyone’s favorite Olympian from Tonga – Pita Taufatofua – wouldn’t let us down for the closing ceremonies of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The unlikely Winter Olympian, Tonga’s second ever, oiled up once again for the closing ceremonies in PyeongChang today.

After capturing the world’s attention in the 2016 Rio Summer Games, Pita decided he wouldn’t wait four more years to compete at the Olympics again. Instead, he learned to cross-country ski from scratch in the course of a year and qualified for these Winter Games.

Check my full report on his incredible, inspiring story here.

Did he think he’d medal? No.

But watch this interview below as he explains that, for him, the journey was about getting out of comfort zones and inspiring others to do the same.

This is Olympic spirit.

You go, Pita. I’m still cheering for you.

Gus Kenworthy’s Sassy Sunday Twitter Feed

2018 Winter Olympians Adam Rippon (L) and Gus Kenworthy (R)

Out Olympic freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy is having a sassy time on the Twitter today as he enjoys the closing ceremonies in PyeongChang.

From sharing the news of Team Russia’s gold medal win in men’s hockey (“Russia’s biggest win since the 2016 Presidential election!”) to questioning Ivanka Trump’s “hard work” to get to the Olympics to teasing his new bestie Adam Rippon (“Please stop calling me. You’re honestly starting to get v clingy and I can’t anymore”).

More please.

Podcast: Celebrating The 2018 Out Winter Olympians

Out U.S. Olympians (L-R) Adam Rippon, Brittany Bowe and Gus Kenworthy

As the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang come to a close, join me as I celebrate the awesome accomplishments of the openly gay, lesbian and bisexual Olympians at these games.

Of a record 15 out LGBTQ athletes (including out men for the first time at a Winter Olympics), four athletes won a combined seven medals.

The number of out Olympians at these Games is more than double the seven from the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. In contrast, there were 56 out Olympians at the much larger Summer Olympics in 2016.

Listen as I recap the fantastic achievements of U.S. Olympians Adam Rippon, Gus Kenworthy and Brittany Bowe as well as Canada’s Eric Radford, the Netherlands’ Ireen Wust, Belgium’s Jorik Hendrickx, Belle Brockhoff and Barbara Jezeršek of Australia, Swiss snowboarder Simona Meiler and more.

Hit the play button below.

Gus Kenworthy & Adam Rippon Reflect On Their Experiences As Out Olympians

Adam Rippon (L) and Gus Kenworthy (R)

As the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang are coming to a close, The Today Show sat down with American Olympians Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy to reflect on their journey through these Games as the first ever openly gay U.S. Winter Olympians.

Freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy, who came out in 2015 after he won a silver medal in Sochi, admitted that he didn’t know if the support he’d enjoyed would continue as an out athlete.

“I was very much in the closet and very much ashamed of who I was, and I actually didn’t get to appreciate the medal that I won because of that,” he said. “I didn’t know if the gay skier would be an image anyone wanted to get behind or support.”

In reality, Gus has enjoyed more endorsements than just about any other U.S. Olympian.

Figure skater Adam Rippon, who earned a bronze medal at these Games, said it was important to him to show up and be exactly who he is.

“I came here being authentically myself and sharing my story, and being gay is part of that,” Rippon told NBC’s Craig Melvin. “But I came here as an American athlete and I came here to help my team get a medal in that team event, and that was what I focused on.”

Adam found himself at the center of a political firestorm before the Games began with a comment about Vice President Mike Pence’s history of anti-LGBT policies. He also turned down an opportunity to speak with the Vice President.

But Adam handled the issue with aplomb: “I didn’t take the phone call [with Pence] because I needed to focus on the competition.”

Rippon says he would “totally” be open to chatting with the veep after the closing ceremonies in PyeongChang.

If that video disappears, watch the full interview here.

News Round-Up: February 22, 2018

Joe Manganiello (via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

• Talk about #ThrowbackThursday – how about 18-year-old Joe Manganiello’s first professional headshot (above)? #Woof #Handsome

• The acclaimed revival of Angels In America starring Nathan Lane and Andrew Garfield begins performances at Broadway’s Neil Simon Theater tomorrow night. This groundbreaking LGBT-centric play is a “must-see.” Use code “World” to get a discount and see this deeply moving theatrical experience.

• Broadway luminaries Norm Lewis and Brandon Victor Dixon will join John Legend and Sara Bareilles for the upcoming TV presentation of Jesus Christ Superstar on Easter Sunday.

• Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir will share hosting duties with NBC sportscaster Terry Gannon for NBC’s coverage of the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics on Sunday.

• The Kansas Republican Party has endorsed a resolution that opposes any recognition of the transgender community, while still claiming to respect the “dignity” of LGBT people.

• Platinum selling recording artist BØRNS recently released the new video for “I Don’t Want You Back” from his latest album Blue Madonna.

I recently shared his collaboration with Lana Del Rey, “God Save Our Young Blood” here. I like the moody, atmospheric quality he brings to his sonic landscape.

Listen below and let me know what you think.

Out Olympic Speed Skater Brittany Bowe & US Speed Skating Women Win Bronze Medal In Team Event

Out U.S. Olympian Brittany Bowe, our top female speed skater at the PyeongChang Olympics, had had enough with the close calls.

Two fifth place finishes and one fourth place showing that was only 2 hundredths of a second from podium position was not going to be the end of Bowe’s Olympic journey.

But – Bowe and her teammates Heather Bergsma, Mia Manganello and Carlijn Schoutens from the United States showed up at their final race determined to beat Canada for the bronze medal

And that’s just what they did edging out the Canadians by 0.45 of a second.

The team had lost to the Netherlands in the semifinal earlier in the day.

The final standings for the event:

Japan – Gold medal
Netherlands – Silver medal
United States – Bronze medal

Congrats ladies!

Adam Rippon & Leslie Jones Win Gold For Figure Skating Commentary

Leslie Jones and Adam Rippon

Olympic bronze medalist Adam Rippon and Saturday Night Live‘s Leslie Jones dropped by the NBC Olympic studio last night to help out with some additional commentary alongside Scott Hamilton on gold medalist Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir’s free dance.

You may recall NBC Sports flew Jones to Rio in the middle of the 2016 Summer Olympics when her Twitter commentary took over the Twitterverse.

And, of course, we know NBC Sports had hoped Rippon would join their team for the remainder of the PyeongChang games as a correspondent, but the charming Rippon decided against taking the offer choosing to remain an Olympian and marching in the closing ceremonies.

Via Twitter, Rippon shared: “I am flattered that NBC wanted me to work as a correspondent for them here in PyeongChang. Doing this would require me to leave Team USA and move out of the Olympic Village. I don’t want to do that so I had to declined the opportunity.”

He added, “I love being on Team USA and representing our country. My teammates were there for me during my events, and now I NEED to be there for them. I look forward to being with them, and I’m very excited for the rest of the competition. Go Team USA!!!”

But at least we got a taste of what could have been 🙂

Watch Jones and Rippon in action with Scott Hamilton below.