Derek Chavez was not only The Real World: Cancun‘s sole gay cast member; he was that season’s most even-tempered, relatable cast member. Viewers needed that in a year when Bronne hurled a fire extinguisher off a roof and Ayiiia terrorized the house with crocodile tears and frighteningly genuine meltdowns. It’s always refreshing to see Chavez pop up on The Real World challenges, and the newest edition — Rivals II — marks his third appearance on the series. He’s paired up with his “rival” Robb Schreiber, who brawled with him on The Battle of the Seasons. Ahead of tonight’s third episode of Rivals II, we caught up with Chavez to discuss the camaraderie among Real World veterans, crushes, and being attracted to one of the show’s most famous hotheads.
TheBacklot: Derek, this is your third challenge. Is it intimidating to go up against people who are on — let me check to make sure this is right — their eighth, ninth, or tenth challenge?
Derek Chavez: Well, I love competitions so I don’t really care how long they’ve been on the show. It’s kind of exciting to go up against people who know the game so well and see if I can outdo them at their own game. The political game can be tough, though, because one minute you can be on top of the game’s political system and be a part of the alliances that are safe, and the next minute you’re on the bottom and sent right in [to The Jungle] just like I was!
TB: Who do you admire most among your competitors?
DC: I would probably have to say that I like Aneesa, because even though she’s not always the one who runs everything, people are scared to throw her in because she has a mouth on her, so I like that she can stick up for herself no matter what. She’s actually done really well on this last one; she lost a lot of weight and gotten into shape. She’s a force to be reckoned with this time. I look up to her because she doesn’t take anything from anyone. These guys who’ve done this show for so long, they think they can walk in and run this game — she’s one of these people who steps up, knows what to say, and goes for it.
TB: Describe your exact reaction, if you could, when you found you’d be paired with Robb.
DC: Well, when we got there and they said it was Rivals II, I obviously knew I was paired with Robb because he’s the only person I’ve gotten into a huge fight with. When we were at [Battle of the] Seasons we still weren’t as good as friends as we were at the beginning of it. I wasn’t going to say goodbye to [Robb and his teammate Marie]. When they left, I was glad they left. But he came up and apologized, and I can respect someone who can admit he’s wrong. We worked on the relationship. So it wasn’t as bad a rivalry as most people’s, but I just know that the way he worked with his teammate, there was no communication whereas with my teammates, we talked openly. I had just thought, “I don’t know how I’m going to get through to this kid. How will he listen to someone he hates?” He couldn’t even get along with his teammates in St. Thomas. That was my main focus, as well as the fact that he still smoked a lot. I had that issue with my teammates last season too. 95% of these challenges have to do with endurance and water. That was my biggest concern.
TB: And yet, on the first elimination, you and Robb beat Tyrie and Dunbar, two huge competitors. Pretty impressive.
DC: It’d been months since I’d seen Robb, so when I saw that he’d gained so much muscle, I was like, “Wow, he’s like the biggest guy on this show. He could be a big threat if it comes to anything physical.” We didn’t want anything physical because Tyrie and Dunbar are really big guys, and I’m not the biggest person there. I thought, “How would we work together to win this?” Funny thing is we didn’t even have any strategy or anything. I just knew Robb could push Tyrie to the side while I ran through. No one can match my speed in this game, and so I knew we had it then. It was awesome because it was my first elimination win! To me, to win the first elimination — my very first — when someone sent me in there, it was so awesome to go back to the house and laugh in people’s faces.
TB: These challenges are so sexually charged for the straight cast members. Do you put your gayness on ice when you sign on to these shows?
DC: Well, like, with Cancun, obviously we were in another country, and there the gay alliance was nice, but it’s not something everything knows about. Coming into the house, my roommates were like, “Oh my God, who’s the gay roommate? We can’t wait to have one.” I was like, “Me!” Everybody was very welcoming, and I was very comfortable. They asked about it all the time. When you live with somebody, they get to know you and they ended up knowing everything about that. I also dated someone from my show and my roommates got to meet him. When it came to Rivals, you know everybody’s stories and backgrounds, who’s gay and who’s not gay. You can talk about it, but that’s not your main concern. You’re not trying to get to know these people. You’re trying to send them home and get money. Unless there’s somebody you’re attracted to, it’s not a sexual game for the LGBT community.
TB: If you could be from any other season of The Real World, which would you pick?
DC: I think I would want to do like Vegas, New Orleans, or San Diego. Don’t get me wrong; I loved my location. We had one of the best locations and one of the biggest, nicest houses. But it was a completely different environment because we were outside of the country, so we had totally different restrictions, more restrictions on what we could do and where we could go. We had to work that one job whereas on other seasons they could pick what job they want. It’s easy for people to call Mom for money or their friends or whatever, but we had these calling cards that would work only sometimes. It was a pain in the butt to try to even communicate with people outside of the house. So I’d pick New Orleans because I’ve never been there, or Las Vegas because who doesn’t love that, and San Diego because it’s one of my favorite cities in the whole country.