Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey may not be household names, but these media pioneers have created some of TV’s most memorable shows. From their humble start in the world of cable access TV in New York, they are responsible for some of reality TV’s most unforgettable series, most notably the fabulous and always fierce RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Their production company, World of Wonder, is also responsible for shows including Million Dollar Listing and Tori and Dean: Inn Love, the critically-acclaimed documentary The Eyes of Tammy Faye as well as films such as Party Monster starring Macaulay Culkin and Seth Green. The history of World of Wonder was recently chronicled in a gorgeous coffee table book, The World According to Wonder, which is packed with photos of some of your favorite Drag Race queen-testants as well as other pop culture fixtures, including Elvira, Chloe Sevigny and more. Randy and Fenton took a few minutes out of their extremely hectic day to chat with us about their greatest achievements, their future plans and why you may not want to RSVP in the affirmative to an invitation from RuPaul!
Socialite Life: Did you ever think that starting out producing local cable access shows would get you this far?
Randy and Fenton: We’ve hardly made it around the block!
More from Randy and Fenton below!
SL: Out of everything you’ve done, what do you feel proudest of?
Randy and Fenton: (That’s a) “Sophie’s Choice” question…we have to pass! (Although..drag has always been so near and dear to our hearts. Can we get an amen?
SL: You were instrumental in bringing the lives and stories of the LBGTQ community into the country’s homes. That being said, do you feel like gays and lesbians are still being represented in a positive light and have the visibility they should have in the media? (If no, what would you want to do to change this?)
Randy and Fenton: We think there is always more room for diversity on TV! We can never get enough, because we relate to diversity, we relate to outsiders (because) that’s who we are! The more diverse the better! The reality is that we are all – gay or straight – unique and different and queer! It’s the human condition.
SL: What other non-WOW projects do you feel are helping change the perception of the LBGTQ community?
Randy and Fenton: Hello Honey Boo Boo!
SL: Some have said that Logo, which introduced audiences to shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race – in addition to showcasing films and television series aimed at a gay and lesbian audience has kind of “lost its way” and become a more homogenized network. Do you think this is a valid argument? And, if it is, do you feel that it’s essential for the LBGTQ community to have it’s own “place” on the television dial?
Randy and Fenton: We love Logo because that’t where RuPaul’s Drag Race Lives! We think the LBGTQ community should be able to call every network its home.
SL: What projects (if there are any you can discuss) are in the pipeline for World of Wonder – or any other future endeavors for you both?
Randy and Fenton: Keep on the lookout for Life with Latoya on OWN! You are going to gag! It’s a series that’s been show-run by Jeremy Simmons, a longtime collaborator who we did Transgeneration and One Punk Under God with.
SL: Who do you feel are following yourselves as media innovators?
Randy and Fenton: We are hardly media innovators! We just do what we love and we don’t go away! We are more like “media fungi”!
SL: What do you feel will be the “next big thing” in media?
Randy and Fenton: The end of network TV!
SL: What advice do you have for people looking to live a more “Wonder”-ful life?
Randy and Fenton: Just do it! (And make sure it’s in front of a camera!
SL: One last question (which just has to be asked) – is RuPaul as fabulous in person as he is on television?
Randy and Fenton: More so! And we’re not just saying that, he’s been a dear friend for over 20 years! He’s part of the family! Just one warning…if he invites you to party night, think twice! The bitch doesn’t like to lose!
If you want to discover even more about Randy and Fenton, pick up your own copy of The World According to Wonder at your local bookstore or through Amazon.com! And make sure to tune into season 5 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Mondays at 9pm on Logo!