As a member of the New Kids On The Block, Jonathan Knight has always been known as the shy one who never sought much attention. The openly gay singer is still shy, but now he’s under a new kind of spotlight, competing — along with his partner Harley Rodriguez — on CBS’s The Amazing Race. Daily Xtra caught up with the very candid Knight who talks about the reality show, having a panic attack on Oprah and his dream wedding.
Daily Xtra: You have so much going on in your career right now. The Amazing Race, the New Kids On The Block reality show — Rock This Boat — just finished its first season, and there is a summer/fall tour . . .
Jonathan Knight: I never would have thought that at 46 we would still be doing the New Kids and everything that has been going on. I just think that it’s amazing that the New Kids reunion in 2008 was only supposed to be a 28-35 dates, one-time thing. The demand was so great for us to keep going — so we just kept going. And we added dates onto the end. When it was over people still wanted more, so every year since then we keep touring.
H0w did you and your partner Harley get involved with The Amazing Race?
I have been a huge fan of The Amazing Race for years and for the last four years I have been calling the casting director and asking him about auditioning to be on the show. Every season it conflicted with our New Kids On The Block tour. I got a phone call this year and they were like, “Can you audition this year, which is all couples?” I didn’t even think twice and jumped on a plane with Harley and auditioned.
Was it a fun experience?
That whole television show and that process is a well-oiled machine. It was really fun and very stressful. You see the condensed version on TV — you don’t see the 18 hours that we stood on the airplane getting from country to country.
Did you think twice about doing the show because you would be letting viewers into your personal life?
No. We were just racing around and doing our thing and it wasn’t a reality show based on our lives. There wasn’t that much of our lives that people would find out that they don’t already know and we’re pretty much open books anyways.
Someone tweeted you and said, “I like this new John talking.” Why have you always been the quiet one?
I have never been talkative. It’s so different when you’re in a group with five people and you have three guys who love to talk, and you get used to not having to speak up. The New Kids call me, “The reluctant rock star,” because I’m not trying to seek attention so it was weird going to The Amazing Race because it was just me and Harley and we basically had to carry ourselves and be in front of the cameras. And now just promoting the new season — it’s been pretty cool, me and him, doing this together. It’s a whole different aspect to my show business career by having my partner involved in it.
You have suffered from panic disorder for a long time now. Is it something that you deal with today?
It’s still there. I think people’s think it’s a lot worse than it is. When I was on The Oprah Winfrey Show (in 2001), that was the worst and a bad point in my life. That was the one and only time that I had a panic attack. Mine is just generalized anxiety — it’s just nerves. That’s why I think a lot of fans were shocked that I was doing The Amazing Race, because I’m shy and reserved. A big part of me wanting to do the show was to be outside of my comfort zone and the more you go outside your comfort zone and do things that scare you, the less scary they become.
Lance Bass got married last year and it was filmed for an E! special. When you get married, would you want something as public?
No way! When we get married, we’ll be at city hall and we’ll send out letters afterwards saying, “We got married last week.” I think people spend so much money on weddings and people go just because they feel like they have to, not really because they want to. If we do a wedding, I would maybe just have our parents and our brothers and sisters and our closest friends and maybe about 50 people.