If you were vacationing at Campit Resort in Saugatuck two summers ago, you might remember a pink trailer. With flamingos. And a film crew? The gay getaway hot-spot was the site for the reality show “Chris & John Go to Camp!,” which airs Wednesdays through the summer on Logo, beginning with the July 7 episode (installments are also viewable online at www.logotv.com). We caught up with BFFs John Simpson and Chris Carter to chat about the series: memories of shooting in Michigan, withstanding the wild and how cool they think we are.
Why should people watch?
John: “Chris & John Go to Camp!” is a total romp and takes the best and worst of reality TV and makes it total camp. And every now and then there’s a hot shirtless man, which certainly doesn’t hurt!
Chris: On one hand its a wild pop-corn ride about two gay best friends who try to “rescue” people, and on the other hand it’s got some self-referential and subversive elements to it.
It’s been a while since you shot this in Michigan. Looking back, what were the highlights for you?
John: Definitely the people – everyone from Campit Resort, The Dunes and surrounding businesses were so excited to have us there. But my favorite part of the whole experience was putting together this insane, western-themed wedding for a very cute gay couple from Chicago.
Chris: My summer romance. You’ll have to watch the show to see what I’m talking about! But things definitely got a little steamy between myself and another camper.
Why was Michigan a good place to shoot?
John: Michigan was a great place to shoot because it was home to Saugatuck/Douglas – this great little gay-friendly bubble. We’ve shot other shows in various gay meccas – New York, Toronto, Provincetown – but it was really important for us to shine the spotlight on other smaller, lesser-known places, too.
Chris: We love Midwestern accents, so Michigan was a perfect fit for us.
What would you compare the series to?
Chris: “Chris & John Go to Camp!” can’t be compared to just one reality show; it really has to be compared to all of them, because that’s what we did – we played up on outrageous moments from our favorite reality shows.
John: People have often compared our show to “The Simple Life” because of it’s comedic elements, but with the misguidance of “Queer Eye.” Also, in each episode we wanted to have a distinctly different reality TV show feel to it, so one episode you’re thinking “this is just like ‘The Bachelor'” and the next you’re all “Omigawd, this is like ‘Paranormal State’ with that dreamboat Ryan!”
What did you learn about camping?
John: Surviving in the wild has its challenges and it was even more difficult because we were on camera pretty much 24/7 – sooo difficult to get prepared for that sort of thing in a tiny silver trailer! But we definitely learned how to make the best out of camp cuisine. Let’s just say I ate a lot of veggie burgers that summer.
Chris: We loved joining with the LGBT community and interacting with all types of people, and campgrounds like Campit are a great place to do that – you can find people there from all different walks of life, all different backgrounds, ethnicities, jobs, but they all come together there and unite. It was really like one big family there, and we were welcomed with open arms.