Danny Prikazsky, OC ’14, “Are You the One?” Cast Member

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Danny Prikazsky, OC ’14, “Are You the One?” Cast Member

Danny Prikazsky, OC '14.

Danny Prikazsky, OC '14.

Courtesy of Danny Prikazsky

Danny Prikazsky, OC '14.

Courtesy of Danny Prikazsky

Courtesy of Danny Prikazsky

Danny Prikazsky, OC '14.

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Danny Prikazsky, OC ’14, was a cast member on the most recent season of Are You the One?, a reality dating show in which 16 cast members attempt to find their “perfect match.” In Prikazsky’s season, which was filmed in Hawaii, the show broke tradition by featuring 16 sexually-fluid cast members and matching many of them with same-sex partners. Since the show’s conclusion, Prikazsky has started a YouTube channel, and he has a platform on the gaming network Twitch.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

What was your major at Oberlin, and what were your plans post-graduation?

I studied Theater and Creative Writing. Leaving Oberlin, my plan was to pursue a career in theater. I moved to Chicago with my ex-fiancé, who was also an Oberlin graduate, and a bunch of friends, a number of whom still live out there now. We did some theater together and I was like, “Nope, I don’t want to do this anymore.” It’s not my favorite thing. And Chicago was way too cold.

My ex-fiancé and I moved to Portland. I started working with adults with developmental disabilities and she was working at a preschool. We were both pretty close to minimum wage, and so I went to this boot camp in San Francisco to learn how to be a data scientist. When I got back from that, my ex and I broke up. And so I moved to Los Angeles because I still wanted to act but in film or television instead of theater. I started working as a software developer just to pay the bills.

So how did you get the opportunity to be on Are You the One?

So the journey there was I was hanging out outside of a club in Hollywood, which is not something I do a lot of, but it was a big day. And these two women came up to me and they said, “Hey, have you ever considered being on a show like The Bachelor?” and I was like, “Oh, stop it!” But they were casting producers for The Bachelorette and they took my information and sent me an application. I filled it out and applied, went through a few rounds of interviews, but they eventually passed on me.

After things didn’t work out with The Bachelorette, I was like, “Okay, I’ll give this a shot.” I applied for a different reality show called Relationships. And again, I went through a couple rounds of interviews. They passed, but they gave my information to Are You the One? — I think because they knew I was bi — and then I got cast on Are You the One?.

What did you think about the premise of Are You the One before you got cast on the show? Especially the idea of finding a perfect match?

I thought it was pretty silly. I mean, I don’t know if I believe in the idea of a perfect match to begin with. And beyond that I don’t know how much faith I have that someone else can find that person for you. So that part of the concept I don’t buy into completely. But on the other hand, I really do like the format of the show better than other reality dating shows that I’ve heard of– Particularly like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette because, first of all, it’s pretty hetero. I guess [a recent contestant Demi Burnett] was bisexual, and they had a big moment about that. So that’s pretty cool. But it’s like they pick one person of one gender and a bunch of people of the other gender. And then they say, “Hey, your goal for this show is to have that person fall in love with you.” And if you don’t accomplish that, you’re kicked off. So it has this weird incentive structure where it’s like you have to immediately fall head over heels in love for someone that you’ve never met, or just be dramatic enough that the producers won’t let you get kicked off the show. It’s competitive; there’s elimination. Actually, I love board games and I’ve designed board games, so I think a lot about the structure of games. I love that Are You the One? is cooperative. 

What was your experience on the show like?

It was a good time. I didn’t think that I was definitely going to find the perfect person for me. And so my goal was to work on being a better person for the next person I am in a relationship with whether or not I find that person in Hawaii. I thought a lot about who I’ve been in relationships in the past. I thought a lot about what I believed led to the downfall of my previous relationships. And I came up with a few areas where I wanted to grow and work on being a better partner. Every day presented an awesome challenge to continue working on that.

Do you feel like that’s something you accomplished through the filming of this show?

I mean, I cried so much while I was there. They didn’t even show the first session with [relationship coach and dating expert Dr. Frankie Bashan]. We were talking about open relationships and then I went out to the confessional trailer and cried a bunch. I feel like I was really vulnerable there. On the one hand, it was cool. It’s like a relationship boot camp; you are put in a very high-stress situation and so you get opportunities every day to work on all of these things. Every day, I had a chance to tell people how I felt because I was feeling a lot every day. I had the chance to ask for what I needed because I wasn’t getting it. And now that I’m back in the real world, my life isn’t as dramatic as what was going on in the Are You the One? house. So I feel like I did a really good job working on those goals there and I’ve been trying my best to bring it back to my real life. 

What was the reaction to the queer relationships and queer identities in this season? What kind of comments have you gotten about it?

Pretty much all of the comments that I’ve gotten have been 100 percent positive. There have been bigots, too, and there have been people who are like, “I’m not a homophobe, but I just don’t want to see this on my TV.” There were a lot of the comments on Instagram when the show’s official Instagram account would post pictures before the season even premiered. There were a lot of negative comments on Instagram when they posted pictures of Basit [a nonbinary cast member] or when they posted a picture of Max wearing rainbow socks. But they posted a video of me playing the ukulele and singing a little song and there were no negative comments. That really pissed me off because I know that I’m somebody who passes, but I am bi. 

I am not very outwardly femme when I don’t choose to be. And so I feel like these people were seeing me and being like, “Oh, that dude looks like a straight dude. He’s cool.” And then the same viewers were seeing these other people who wear their sexual identity much more on their sleeves and they caught all of the flack for it. And my castmates were like, “Yeah, Danny, that’s how homophobia usually works.” 

It really sucked to see these people who didn’t want to watch the show just because it would mean watching love between same-sex couples. I just really want to challenge those people to grow the f**k up and realize that there might be more for them to relate to within same-sex couples than they thought.

Definitely. I know you said you’re not usually very femme, but there were moments on the show where you wore skirts or other traditionally-feminine clothing. Is that something you usually do? Was that an intentional choice?

I went to Oberlin, baby! It’s not something that I used to do much of, but starting the year that my ex-fiancé and I broke up, it was something that I started doing more. Ever since Drag Ball at Oberlin, I realized I really like this. The dress that I wore to queer prom on Are You the One? was the dress that I bought for my first Drag Ball. I went out and bought the dress with a friend from high school while I was home. I felt so deeply uncomfortable going into Torrid and buying a dress because I was really feeling it. I was so into it and I was so uncomfortable with anybody seeing me being so into it.

Even going forward, I didn’t do it much because I’m a people-pleaser and I want to give people what they want and what they’re expecting. Once I’ve made friends and they know me a certain way and expect me to be a certain way, I have a hard time breaking out of that. So with all of my friends from college and with my ex, they knew me as this masculine presenting guy. 

And then after we broke up, going into 2017 there had been the whole Trump election and everyone I knew was terrified and felt really awful. There was this meme going around of “me at the beginning of 2016, me at the end of 2016, me in 2017.” It was starting from innocence going to being horrified, then, in 2017, going to be the biggest, baddest bad bitch version of yourself, and I was like, “I want that to be the theme of my New Year’s Eve.” So I went out and I bought a skirt and a leather jacket and a camo bandana to tie around my head to look like a femme commando. And I wore that out New Year’s Eve and since then it’s been like a treat. It’s a fun night out for me to pick out my femme clothes that I like and feel comfortable in and wear those.

That’s great! I’m happy to hear that a Drag Ball dress made it on to Are You the One. 

I also did a fundraiser for Trans Lifeline and for anybody who donated over $5 got a chance to win one of the pieces of femme clothing that I wore on the show, which included the dress from Drag Ball.

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