Househusbands of Hollywood interview. Babble.com's Five Minute Time Out.Brett Singer
The “Real Housewives” have taken over the airwaves, so it was only a matter of time before the male equivalent made their debut. Househusbands of Hollywood is a new series on the Fox Reality Channel focusing on the lives of five guys who raise the kids and keep the household humming. Former Major League Baseball player Billy Ashley (married to makeup designer and entrepreneur Lisa Ashley, two kids), aspiring actor Danny Barclay (married to Katherine, an attorney at a large L.A. law firm), actor and screenwriter Charlie Mattera (married to a psychologist who does not appear on the show, one kid), ex-Marine Corps sniper Grant Reynolds (married to TV personality Jillian Barberie Reynolds of “Good Day L.A.”, one kid and one on the way), and actor Darryl M. Bell, best known for his role in the long-running series “A Different World” (his partner of 16 years is Tempestt Bledsoe, who played Vanessa on “The Cosby Show”). We talked to four of the five guys about the show, how it affected their lives in a good way, and how long they plan on staying home with the kids. – Brett Singer
None of you started out as househusbands. With each of your wives, was there a conversation: you’re going to stay home and I’m going to go to work?
Charlie: My wife, she’s a psychologist, she has to see patients. Being that I’m a writer and an actor, and work [is] few and far between, it was a no brainer.
Grant: You sit there and look at your spouse and you’re like, shit, you’ve got the great gig right now. I mean, of course I could go out, be the man, and go out and get the job, you know, like The Beavers did, and everybody else from that stereotypical atomic family age. Or you could sit there and be real and go, man, she’s got a great job, she’s got great benefits, we’d be a fool to get rid of that gig and not have that carry us through, you know what I mean? If that’s what I’ve got to do to take care of my family, hey, I’m on board. Go to work, baby. I’ll hold the fort down until you get home.
Charlie: That’s part of being a guy, that’s part of being a man.
Billy: On our front, there hasn’t been any animosity towards the situation. I’ve done my thing. I played baseball. If I was still playing baseball right now, I’m sure her hours would be limited. And I’d still be the breadwinner.
Charlie: The worst part would be, Billy, you’d have some stranger in your house raising your kid.
Billy: Yeah, worst case scenario. But my wife loves her job. She loves being a makeup artist. So I would never ask her, ‘You know what honey? I’m gonna go out and find a job that probably wouldn’t even come close to what you’re making on your job. But you stay home with the kids.’ I would never do that.
Do any of you have help with the kids?
Charlie: I have my in-laws. On the weekends, my wife sometimes goes out there, and I’ll get a day off, which is really cool. And thank God for them, they’re great people. They make my life a lot easier.
Billy: And I don’t have any help at my house.
Charlie: Billy doesn’t need help.
Grant: We just hired help not too long ago. It just got to a point where I was like, you know, I think i’ve run the full course. It’s not full time help, it’s part time help. Jesus, it’s very helpful. But I think we just came to a point where I kind of wanted to get back to my wife a little bit. I felt like we totally neglected working on us, our relationship. I think some of the strains of that were starting to show. We didn’t want that kind of energy in the house around the baby. We don’t have family in town so we hired help. It has been the biggest pressure release on our relationship. We’ve been able to get back to enjoying one another, enjoying our little girl a lot more.
Billy: I don’t want to sound like I’m some kind of superdad, that I handle this all on my own. I get a six hour break during the school year. My kids are both in school.
Grant: Oh, I can’t wait for that day.
Billy: That’s built-in help right there. So you get that opportunity to go ahead and do the work around the house, do the work on the business, or do your own thing, whatever you need to do. Maybe Grant or Charlie or Danny, you can go hit an audition real quick.
Charlie: I take the baby with me to auditions.
Grant: I haven’t had to do that yet.
Charlie: I do it. I walk right in there, and I look at them like the most honest person, I go over to them and I say gimme your ID. The guy’s like what? I say gimme your ID. And I look at it and I go, I know who you are. Now watch the kid, I’ll be out in a minute. (Laughs) No, you know what, I’ve gone a couple of times, and usually I’ll bring a friend with me, and I’ll run in and do the audition, leave the baby with a buddy of mine, you know, for like five, ten minutes. It’s not like I’m goin’ up for Hamlet, so I’m only gonna be in there for about five minutes.
Do people give you a hard time about being househusbands?
Grant: I’m 6’6″. Nobody gives me a hard time about anything.
Charlie: Hard time about what? Taking care of my kids? Anybody who says that is pretty much brainless. And they don’t have children…
Grant: I think that’s the show. You’ve got all these guys, all of us have these weird back stories, and everybody’s got this built in machismo, or gangster background story, where it’s just… it’s like we’ve already been there and we’re doing the antithesis of what we did in a past life, almost.
Charlie: I’m paying penance for all the bad things I’ve done in life. This is my sentence. To be a good guy for the rest of my life. (Laughs) No, I’m in a great spot. A lot of people would say, oh wow, Charlie, you’re being tortured. But I’m like, you have no idea, man. I’m having a great time. I get to see my kid get bigger like, every day. I put him to bed, I wake up the next morning, I’m like, he looks bigger. My God, look at the size of the head on that kid. I can’t believe it. I looked at him today and he just looks huge. I got to see my kid walk before my wife did.
Grant: Same here, man.
Something I’ve noticed is that when a guy stays home and takes care of the kids, it’s special, it’s unique. Whereas when a woman does it, some people think that’s a cop out. What do you think about that?
Grant: That’s a great question. Now that I’ve done it, it’s probably one of the tougher gigs you’re ever gonna have to do in your lifetime. There’s no way around it. It tests every ounce of your patience, your ego, your id, everything about you is put on the plate. At the same time you’re trying to teach these kids. You’re really trying to get a routine down, like Billy was talking about. You’re trying to help these little flowers blossom without getting in the way. It’s pretty damn tough. All of that [cop out] stuff is said by people who have never done this gig.
“I used to be what they would call a heist guy.”Charlie: I don’t know very many men who could put up with it, I’ll tell you that much. Good luck if you have to try. It’s not easy. It’s a very very difficult job. Probably one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever done. And I’ve had some out there jobs.
Charlie, you’re an actor, but you mentioned a criminal past in your bio.
Charlie: Oh jeez, yeah. Yes. It was thirty years ago. Yeah, I had my problems. But I think what’s important is what you do after, you know what I mean? Look. A lot of people get in trouble, a lot of people cry about it for the rest of their lives, and very few turn their lives around and become productive members of society. So I’d like to think that I’m part of that group. Does that answer it? Did I dodge that good enough?
I’d press you for more, but I don’t know what you were accused of.
Charlie: I used to be what they would call a heist guy. You know, you had money and I’d come get it. I was a young kid, I was stupid. I thought the world owed me a living, and I just went out there and tried to take everything I possibly could. And I ended up paying for it with a lot of years of my life. But I thank God for it, best thing that ever happened to me. Straightened me out. If it wouldnt’ve happened, I probably never would’ve made it this far.
Grant, you’re also an actor and you’re raising a little girl – how did that happen?
Grant: It happened really fast – all the yesses turned into nos. Like Charlie, like Danny, I’m an actor as well. I consider myself a real lucky guy. My wife has the all-time best gig to raise a girl, she’s working three hours a day. I kind of have the morning shift. I just thought it would be weird if I was sitting around and someone else was taking care of my kid when I could totally do it myself.
Billy: Amen, brother.
Grant: And I wanted to participate as well. I wanted to be an integral part of the blueprinting years, if you will. Just to kind of get her up and running, make sure she’s eating high octane food, putting sunblock on, all the stuff you’d want to be a part of.
Your afternoons are free because Jillian comes home and she takes over some of the parenting duties?
Grant: Well, it’s not like we’re tag teaming. “Okay, see ya. I’m gonna go…” It’s just…We’ve worked out a really neat little program that so far has worked for us. But we got another one in the oven right now. She’s four and a half months pregnant. I’ve gotta go right back into the fuckin’ hole again here. Know what I mean? I’m just coming out, and going like, “Oh wow. We’re really starting to get along now, starting to communicate, starting to get the routine down.” And I gotta go do it again.
Billy: It’s the second tour of duty.
Grant: Totally, man. And it’s a boy. And I know, because it’s been so easy with my little girl Ruby, she’s been such a sweetheart, I know that Beelzebub is gonna show up at my door. (Laughs)
Grant, you were a Marine?
Grant: Yeah. I was in the Marine Corps for six years. I was in the whole sniper program.
Billy, you were a professional athlete. Did you ever think that you’d be taking care of kids full time and selling your wife’s cosmetics?
“For the time being, this is our life.”Billy: Well, no. I mean, I was a major league baseball player. The thing that people don’t really understand is that I was thrown into this early on in my baseball career. When my daughters were born, when the offseason came, it was a handoff, like a football – [my wife would say] you run with it now, I have a show to do. So I got groomed early on to the whole Mr. Mom aspect of my life now. It just became more of a full time job in the last few years.
Do you all see yourselves doing this a few years down the road?
Grant: I see myself doing it for a few years here and then getting back on my feet, getting out there and busting ass again.
Billy: We all have different plans for our future. And right now this is our day to day job. And we have to, you know, for our family’s sake, put forth 100% effort and make it work. Until that next big opportunity comes around, then the discussions come back into play, we say, all right, how are we going to work this one out? For the time being, this is our life. And we have to do what we have to do for our families and make it work. There are no choices. I mean, this is the way it is.
Reality shows thrive on conflict and controversy. Jon and Kate, that didn’t end well. Was anybody nervous about doing this show and what it might do to your relationships by putting your lives on television?
Charlie: We told Jon and Kate they couldn’t be on our show.
Grant: Marriage is tough to begin with. My wife said it best at one point – you kind of have to have problems going into it for this show to really exacerbate them.But I don’t really think anybody’s relationship is on the rocks from it. At least I hope not.
Billy: During the shooting of the show, my wife made a statement to the cameras and the producers, because I was talking and opening up a little bit. She said this is like therapy for him, because he doesn’t talk a lot. She really doesn’t know what I do at home every day, she’s working. A lot of stuff came out where we made the relationship a little bit better than where it was. So I could say that this television show kind of helped out.