We caught up with Jonathan Lovitz, the "accidental advocate" and Logo's new dating expert, to get his take on all things gay—from Grindr and shouting over Gaga to being a second-class citizen. The southern gentlemen talks to Instinct about what makes him tick, how his boyfriend landed him three years ago and how you can land a man of your own. And if his advice can't get you a date, it can probably get you out of a date with jury duty. Check out what this setup stud has to say below, and be sure to catch his new show, Setup Squad, Monday's at 10 p.m. on Logo.
You’ve had quite a year already, beginning with the jury duty incident. By now most people have heard the story, but would you mind recapping it for us?
Sure. I was watching the video in the lobby [at jury duty] about how it is honorable and one should feel so proud to be apart of the jury. And it hit me that in this justice system I cannot make impartial judgments of my peers because I am not their equal in the eyes of the law. And it started with me posting that on my Facebook, and a friend with a blog posted it and all of a sudden it got to the Village Voice and Perez Hilton and the Chicago Tribune. And then all these media outlets are covering the story and a couple days later I’m on MSNBC covering human rights. All these outlets are calling me an “accidental advocate,” and that can happen to anybody at anytime.
You’ve mentiond that it was a gut response that you had which convinced you to speak up. Would you advise other gays to do the same thing in hopes of starting a movement of sorts, even if it means they were an intentional advocate not an accidental advocate?
Absolutely. I’ve said from the first minute that this happened that we have our civic responsibilities, but it’s up to us and we don’t have to do it quietly. Hopefully, I was able to get one person in the courtroom to think differently.
That’s fantastic. But this isn’t the only thing in your life that’s making headlines. Tell us a bit about Logo’s Setup Squad!
Setup Squad is going to be the most exciting thing people get to watch on TV this spring! [Laughs] Setup Squad is a series that follows an incredible dating agency in New York City called Wings Inc. And our boss, Rene, is the Charlie to four very fierce angels who get sent out to fix New York’s very undatable. [Laughs] And what’s great about our show versus a lot of other shows out there that are the makeover/dating/fixer-upper shows, we don’t just give you the new outfit and say, “Look, you’re pretty! Go date now.” We actually get to the root of your issues. Plus you get to watch the drama unfold between four fierce ladies and one tough gay man.
The show is full of awkward moments as you coach your clients out of their comfort zones, so what would it take for you to feel out of your comfort zone, even as the expert wingman?
Oh man, I mean, let’s just be honest, dating sucks. It is such an exercise in the survival of the fittest and hottest and the seemingly most put together, and some people just don’t know how to play the game. I’m pretty hard to crack. It takes a lot to get me to a breaking point, but it happens when I am in a room full of people that are just trying too hard.
Would you take one of your clients out of a venue like that if you got that vibe?
We do a lot of first interactions with our clients at bars so we can see them at the most basic social interaction level to see how they strike out. But we realize that a bar or a typical pick-up spot isn’t right for everybody. For example, I met my boyfriend sitting in a park reading, and I look back and I am much happier that I met him there instead of meeting him at 4 a.m. at last call. [Laughs] I get less socially anxious when I am by myself in a comfortable scenario. I know personally that I wouldn’t do so well picking up someone in a bar.
With options like Grindr growing more and more popular, how would someone, especially at a bar, give out a vibe that they are looking to meet guys for more than just a hook-up?
I say we go old school and stick a handkerchief in our pockets. I say color-coding makes it easy, and since Homeland Security doesn’t do it anymore, we should pick up the slack. [Laughs] I get asked this often, though, and I always say be yourself, be upfront and honest, it is the easiest way. It’s great and fun and sexy to flirt, but at some point it’s important to be vocal about what it is that you are actually looking for. And a big problem for a lot of guys out there is they aren’t honest with themselves about what they want. If a relationship is not what you’re looking for, it’s okay to be honest with yourself. Otherwise, just enjoy playing the game. [Laughs]
You coach people on how to approach others, but how would you coach someone on approaching you?
Oooo, ya know, I think the direct approach is under appreciated. There is no need for games or coy lines. All of that is over and done with, especially because we live in the Grindr age, so chances are, prior to someone approaching you, they have probably already Facebook stalked you. They already know what you studied at which college and from what hometown you're from, so there is no need to go into that. So I say get to the point. If you think someone is attractive say, “I find you very attractive, let’s either go this far or this far.” I am more turned on by the honesty than having to sit through 20 minutes of banter. Don’t get me wrong, I do love a good flirt, but how awkward is the shouting over the Gaga remix while you are trying to get to know someone? Save your first getting-to-know-eachother for somewhere quiet like Starbucks the next day.
Catch Jonathan and the other angels on the Setup Squad, Monday nights on Logo!