In between all the fights and hookups (and fights) (and even more fights), Ex on the Beach is doing something important this season.
MTV’s dating series, in which celebrity “singles” living together in a mansion are ambushed by their exes (and their exes are then ambushed by their own exes, making for a very complicated web of drama), is usually satisfied with being self-aware lowbrow entertainment. The narrator is in on the joke, making fun of the cast members (and even himself) at every opportunity. In a world where other dating shows still purport to be about finding “true love,” Ex on the Beach is the first to admit that all it’s trying to do is see if you can get back together with an ex (even for a short period of time) or find something new with your “next.” But season 4, titled “Peak of Love,” relocates from sunny Malibu to a snowy cabin in New Zealand with some exciting updates to the cast list.
Following the network’s critically-touted sexually fluid season of Are You the One, this season of Ex on the Beach continues to push boundaries by casting non-binary RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Adore Delano, as well as trans Glam Masters star La Demi Martinez, adding much-needed LGBTQ representation to a mainstream dating show. No stranger to reality TV, Delano got her start by sassing Simon Cowell on American Idol season 7 (as Danny Norriega) but was eliminated after making the Top 16. But Delano is best known for finishing second on RuPaul’s Drag Race season 6 and appearing on the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race: All-Stars.
Below, EW speaks with Delano about the importance of joining Ex on the Beach, what she hopes viewers learn from seeing her on a dating show, and more. And yes, she promises that this season “is going to be nuts.” It’s still Ex on the Beach, people!
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: In the first two seasons of Ex on the Beach, the singles had no idea their exes were coming, but last season the singles were told in advance. How did you get cast on this season and were you aware of what this show was going to be?
They reached out to me and said I was going to be on a winter dating show. [Laughs] I was just like, “Oh God, this can go so many different ways.” I am so private with my dating life that I didn’t know if I really wanted to do it. I didn’t know exactly what it was going to be, but I’m no stranger to this, so I had an idea. A celebrity winter dating show? I was like, “Hmmm. There’s no way that there’s no twist to this! There’s definitely a cinnamon twist up in this bitch.” So I was like, “Whatever. Even if it happens, I get along with all my exes!” Or so I thought… [Laughs].
That sounds… ominous.
It’s very that, girl. Just wait until you see.
Once you were cast, did you watch any previous seasons to get a better idea of what you were getting yourself into?
I’m the type of person that will study everything about a show that I get involved in. With all the shows I’ve done, I would even rent other shows that were similar to it just in case there was a twist. So I definitely bought every single one on iTunes and I even watched the UK version! I was like guiding some of the people in the house, like, “No, this is what happens in the Shack of Secrets!” [Laughs] I was letting them all know because I was so hip to it because I was just so nervous. You have to, you know? You have to know what you’re walking into — so you can start swinging before they do.
Did you know which of your exes was going to show up?
I did not know who was going to show up. They do ask about your dating history and stuff but you don’t know who is going to be walking through those doors. You have an idea because… I’ve been around the world but not like that, you know what I mean? But there were a couple people I was afraid would come. [Laughs] Yeah. But the twists were very twisty!
What kind of drama did you get into in the house?
My drama — I grew up in the hood, girl, so let me just start there. [Laughs] I ain’t afraid of nobody, big, small, I don’t give a f—. If you come at me, it’s going to be pretty crazy. But I was trying to keep my anger at a pace because when I get a little wine in me, I start turning into Amy — that’s my alter ego. I have a problem when people try to assert their dominance so you’ll definitely see that for sure. I stand my ground and I throw my extensions up in a bun real quick. A few times. [Laughs] This bunch in the house were so wild. I didn’t really expect as many big personalities. I just thought maybe I would probably be the most obnoxious one there, like they’d hate me or something. But I fit right in, girl! It was real cute.
What was your ultimate goal in joining the show this season?
I really wanted to come out with a best friend. Every show that I do, I always have a lifelong friend or three that I still talk to that I consider family. I wanted to get along with someone. And I don’t know, be a ho! Do whatever I do in WeHo. I wanted to have fun. This is my last year of being in my ‘20s so I wanted to go out with a bang. Now I’m so mature.
What do you hope viewers take away from watching you on the show?
I hope that viewers take away that no matter what gender you identify as or what sexuality you are that you can join a dating show. I remember being a little kid and never seeing someone like Demi or myself on a show like this — and with such confidence. Even when I was insecure [on the show], I would go in the bathroom and be like, there are kids watching this. Even though we’re being crazy, I want them to know, “You’re a part of society too! And your gender is valid. You can go on a show with all these buff gorgeous men that probably are intimidated by your confidence and you can play spin the bottle with them and just say f— it!” It’s going to be cool for our community as well. I think we have every spectrum of sexuality on our show and it’s very interesting. It’s very, very, very inclusive and I was surprised at how they didn’t really care if you don’t care. It’s all about chameleon energy and everyone had it. We just had fun — and some fights.
How is this season going to surprise viewers?
There’s a conversation that Demi and I have that goes really, really deep. I really hope it makes it to air because you’ll understand why we act the way we act. I’ve never seen something like that on any of the Ex on the Beaches that have come before. It shows a more human side of us. I want people to see the reasons why we are the way we are and why we act the way we act. Girls like her and I, we have to work harder. I’ve never seen something like this season before.
How did your experience on Ex on the Beach compare to being on Drag Race?
It’s totally different. We weren’t living with each other on Drag Race. This season, we’re literally sleeping in each other’s beds. It felt like we were family by like the fifth day. We were spending every second with each other. Drag Race, you go back to your hotel, you come in and work, and then you do the challenge, blah blah. This is more like a living situation and it’s harder on the psyche because I’m not used to sharing my emotions when it comes to love except if it’s in a song. But this is showing how I date and some of the faults I have. It shook me. It was like, “Girl, you really need to grow up, real quick. These are your problems laid out in front of the world.”
So what did this show teach you about yourself?
I learned I have a bad drinking problem, a bad anger problem. I really start to focus on the areas that were exposed on the show. I learn that I do have a reactionary personality that I try to own now and chill. And the way I treat people that I date, if you do something wrong then I kind of throw you away, so I’m working on a bunch of shit. I didn’t know it was going to be so therapeutic. We all thought we were just going there to party. You’re going to see some really deep shit with a really stunning outcome. We’re still messes but we get it now.
You’re more mature messes now.
We’re mature messes, running into doors and everything!
Ex on the Beach: Peak of Love premieres Thursday, Dec. 5 at 9 p.m. on MTV, but check out an exclusive sneak peek at Delano on the show above now.