The world is very familiar with Jonathan Knight from his New Kids on the Block fame, but they’re about to get to know his partner of seven years, fitness coach Harley Rodriguez, as the pair travel the world together on this season of The Amazing Race. ETonline recently sat down with the couple to talk about their experience on the hit CBS reality competition show.
ETonline: How did you decide to join the cast?
Jonathan: I've been a fan of the show forever. Actually, I was trying to get on the show for the past four seasons, and it just didn't work out until this year. They called and said we're doing couples this year, and we got to do it so I was pretty excited.
This season some of the cast are couples and some just met. Do you feel like you had an advantage because you've been together for so long?
J: Yes! We went into it knowing what our strength and weaknesses are. We sat at home and we watched a lot of episodes and we would just decide on the fly who would do [each challenge].
You've said that your biggest weakness as a couple is being indecisive. Were you able to overcome that on the Race?
Harley: Yeah because you're making the decisions immediately. There's no time to say, 'Hey are we going to do it, or not? Who's going to do it?' You just do it. So that was one of the things we loved about it too. Right in the moment – choose it, do it, and just get on with it. So, it helped.
And so did you carry that over to your relationship at home?
J: (Laughing) No, we went to dinner last night and it took us a good hour to decide.
H: We're back in our old habits.
Going into it, what kinds of challenges were you both most afraid of?
J: Before I agreed to do the show, I asked Harley if he was comfortable jumping out of an airplane, because I would never [do that]. I hate heights, that's the most terrifying thing for me. So he had to be able to do the heights for me to agree to do the show.
And what about you Harley?
H: Mine was only maybe eating something that was totally disgusting and then just throwing up all over the place. That was the only thing.
Jonathan, you've been pretty quiet about your sexuality in public, how does it feel to be going very public at this point with the show?
J: It's funny, because I feel like I have been public. It's weird. The New Kids fans have always known about my sexuality, they've always known about Harley. I never really kept it a secret and then in '09 a whole thing started in the media that I should make a public statement. I kind of live my life as an example and I just never felt like I had to be on the cover of a magazine announcing that I was gay, it just who I am. I just live my life and I never really thought about it. But I guess, back to the root of that, it feels good. I hope that I can be an inspiration to kids that are young and may feel different or may feel like they don't belong.
H: There's a new generation of young kids who don't know who the New Kids are, or there are people who were never into [the group], who don't know Jon's story and it's new to them. There's so many people out there that don't know, so I think it's a really good thing.
Come back tomorrow for part two of our interview, in which Jonathan reveals how his experience on The Amazing Race helped him overcome his long struggle with anxiety. The Amazing Race premieres Wednesday night on CBS at 9:30/8:30c, with the second episode airing this Friday at 8/7c.
Want a blast from the past? Check out our interview with Jonathan and the rest of the New Kids in 1989: