Ready for a new take on reality TV? Check out #THEDISH, streaming now on Tubi. The five-episode series is a hilarious parody of reality TV starring “Mama June” Shannon and Adam Barta.
When rich widow Cynthia Beaumont gives Adam Barta a blank check to create a new type of reality show unlike any the world has seen before, he enlists his celebrity friends, “Mama June” Shannon and the infamous Tan Mom, as well as eighties pop sensation Debbie Gibson, media personality David Pakman and a slew of drag queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race including Detox, Daya Betty, Tammie Brown, Pandora Boxx and Honey Davenport and more.
The show was inspired by Adam’s own botched pursuit of reality stardom. He’s been trying to land a show for ten years – getting plastic surgery on Dr. Miami, and dancing drunk with Teresa Giudice on The Real Housewives of New Jersey.
Hailing from New York, Adam began his career performing in off-Broadway shows. He has had four charting singles on the Billboard Dance chart and is known for his duets and viral videos with Alana Thompson (a/k/a Honey Boo Boo), Farrah Abraham, Margaret Cho, Nadya Suleman (a/k/a Octomom) Patricia Krentcil (a/k/a Tan Mom) Eureka O’Hara and more. In 2013 he released a parody of the George Michael and Aretha Franklin duet “I Knew You Were Waiting for Me,” called “You Seemed Shady to Me” with Pandora Boxx.
We had the chance to chat with Adam about #THEDISH and got to know more about this talented performer as we put him in the hot seat to answer the Socialite Seven – all in our exclusive interview.
The show’s really great. How did you come up with the idea?
So basically, I had been trying to land on a reality show for like 10 years and you know, it was this thing where I was doing everything and anything like, “notice me, here I am, here’s me, I’m jumping up and down, I’m doing a song, I’m doing whatever.” And it just became really frustrating because I wasn’t getting where I wanted to go.
And I took a step back and I thought, what are you doing? Are you trying to become famous? Are you trying to be on a reality show? Do you have a talent? And I really did a lot of self-reflection and I realized that my talent really lies in making people laugh and telling stories and telling almost like long jokes.
And that’s kind of what #THEDISH is. It’s one big, long joke about reality TV and that was when the light bulb went off and I’m like, oh my gosh, this is how I’m meant to be in reality. Not as one of these crazy characters, but as one of these storytellers. It’s making people laugh with these stories and that’s kind of how it was born.
What is so appealing to you about the reality genre?
I think it has to do, honestly, with me being a little kid. I remember watching shows like The Real World when they first came out, and I was so obsessed with the fact that there were these fabulous people and they had cameras following them, and they made it look so much fun and glamorous.
And this was like the early 1990s reality TV. So, from that, I think it just stuck with me and I just really always found people fascinating; and telling stories about people fascinating. So, naturally, I thought telling stories about myself would be fascinating. It was kind of just something that I found at an early age that just stuck with me and it kind of like was in the background there and then it kind of took over in a way that I never expected it to later in my life, where it became sort of an obsession.
Is the show autobiographical? How did you come up with the characters?
Yeah, so it’s all backwards. That’s the big answer. It was all backwards and I fell into it because what happened was Mama June came down to film some stuff for YouTube, or she was down staying with me for a couple of weeks and we were filming skits for YouTube and I actually had approached a network, a very small network, and I had said, “Hey, I’m doing some stuff, would you guys be interested?” And they were like, “Sure, send us the episodes.” So, that was like, oh my gosh, a network actually wants to see something I created.
And that kind of lit the fire under me and I was just like, you know what? The network ultimately, we wound up not even going with them and we went with Tubi in this round and, you know, it was kind of a thing where it just kind of fell into our laps and we’re like, this actually is working. Let’s keep going forward with this. So, it was kind of just almost backwards, like the way it was all created. It was shot for YouTube and shot for the web, and then I had to take that and create a story out of it and create a whole reality show, which was a whole feat in itself.
How did you get connected with June and Tan Mom?
We had a manager – we all had managers back in the day when we started out. So, this one particular manager used to manage all of us and then we all became friends. And then with Mama June, she, just by way of her staying in Florida when she was in rehab, we became really close because she was close to my house and I was taking care of her.
And, with Tan Mom, it was almost the same thing. We started when she was in New Jersey, and I used to live in the Bronx. We would go do a lot of projects together and we just developed this really strong friendship. It was just lots of years of doing random little projects and press and stuff in here and there.
What’s the experience like working with June?
June is just hysterical. You never know what she’s going to do. She’s literally what you see on TV. The funny stuff is really what she is and that’s why she’s brilliant reality TV. She will just take her top off or she’ll just change – because we’re all gay so, she’ll just change in front of all the gay men. Or she’ll just jump in the pool and pee. It’s just the stuff that you see of Mama June on TV is what you get in real life a lot of times.
But she’s very sweet and she’s very professional. I think that’s what a lot of people don’t realize about her. She is so smart when it comes to reality TV because she’s absorbed all that knowledge like a sponge. So, when it came time to producing, it was really beneficial to extract that from her.
You’ve gotten some iconic queens to participate in the show, and I know you’ve worked with Pandora before. How did you get them all to take part?
It was a lot of, you know, begging, borrowing, stealing – literally. It was just basically calling in the people. Well, I kind of knew that I wanted to have funny queens. That was the first criteria. So, I said, who are the funniest queens that I know in my purview? And then from there, I just reached out and there were lots of queens…I shouldn’t say lots…there were a few queens that we reached out to who didn’t respond or weren’t into it, but the majority of these people, they did it for a lot less than they should have – because they all deserve so much money because they’re so funny. It was really a labor of love, I think, for the show, for me and for themselves to do this, you know, versus them being in the next Star Wars franchise.
Why Port St. Lucie? Why the Treasure Coast? Why did you use that as the setting?
Well, it’s actually where we live. I found the Treasure Coast. I was looking for houses in Florida years ago with my Mom, and we found a beautiful home on the Treasure Coast, in Port St. Lucie, and I developed a lot of friendships here. So, when it came time to actually produce this show, I said, why don’t we just do it here? Nobody’s tapped this area of Florida. We have Siesta Key, we have Miami, we have Sarasota, we have Tampa, we have Jacksonville. We’ve never had a show really set on the Treasure Coast. I think the name sounds pretty alluring, so it seemed like a perfect entry point for people.
So what was the production process like putting these shows together?
You know, it was, again, I have to use the word backwards, because what we did with season one was…we never really knew we were shooting a TV show. We were shooting these clips and if you saw the original footage of what we shot and what it wound up to be…my friends and people that have seen it are so amazed because really, I took it all, ran it through my own brain and filters and filters and filters, and created this story out of nothing really. Because if you watch a lot of the scenes, they’re just very random, like Cynthia cooking in the kitchen and Mama June giving her advice. These things happen so separately from each other, but I strung them together in a way that created a narrative.
If the show becomes super famous, maybe I’ll release the original footage one day because people, I think, would be shocked to see how it came together because there was no story producer. There was no, “let’s do this, this, and this”. It was literally like, “What do we make out of this 20 hours of footage we have to create a show?” Going forward next season and everything else we do now is always going to be story produced and kind of planned out, but this was not.
What are you hoping audiences will take away from this season?
I want them to really have an outlet…a show where…you know, there’s so many times when I watch reality TV and I’m screaming at the television. I’ll give you a perfect example – because I like to give examples. I was watching Real Housewives of New Jersey last night and we’re watching a scene where all of the women are together at this event that they all hate each other at, but they’re only there because of the show. But they don’t want to say that on the show. And it’s like you’re only together in this room because you all hate each other. You’d never be together.
It’s kind of stuff like that where the audience is like, “Of course they’re not supposed to be there.” You know? And that’s what I want them to take away with #THEDISH. I want them to have a show where they say, “Yes, I knew it.” Like, “Yes, that’s fake” – like all the things that we tip into. For example, like with Cynthia’s crown, you know it’s fake. It’s so ridiculously overproduced. And that’s kind of what #THEDISH is. It’s like the audiences are able to say, “You know, I love it when they…”, or “I hate it when…” That’s something they always do, and they can connect with. I think it’s their outlet to make fun of reality TV. That’s really what #THEDISH is.
Are you planning on a second season of #THEDISH?
We’re in pre-production now, so we’re filming Tan Talk that’s going to take us through the summer. And then we’re looking to get the budgets together because it really comes down to…something I think that people don’t realize with streaming is, smaller studios like us get. money when the streams come in. It’s not like we get a huge advance. So, it really is dependent on the audiences to really support us, which they have been.
We’re so thankful because every stream gives us another dollar to make more. And that’s really what it’s about for me – not becoming a millionaire but doing more. Because I love doing this and making people fun content. So, we’re going to do more, I guess it’s going to be up to the audiences, the guys and gals to watch it and give us the likes and spread it. But we definitely are planning to do more.
In addition to more of #THEDISH, do you have any other projects in the works?
We’re actually in the middle of production on season two of another show called Tan Talk with Tan Mom. And on this season, she’s getting an extreme makeover like Mama June. We’re going to be filming with Dr. Miami this weekend, so she’s going to have like a whole big reveal. Tammie Brown and Rebecca Glasscock are going to be part of her makeover team. So, she’s going to be doing that and that’s going to be filmed and, and, and it’s going to be a big whole thing. And she’s going to be doing some more music.
Adam Barta Answers the Socialite Seven
Who has been the biggest influence on you in your career so far?
That’s a hundred percent my Mom. She passed away in 2016 and it’s interesting because there’s actually a scene that we shot for YouTube. It was for a sizzle, and we actually used it in the show. So, you know, that was really special. Having her gone for seven years and seeing her on stream with me is something that I could never have asked for as a better gift and she’s the one that always kept me going.
What talent or superpower would you like to wake up with tomorrow?
Oh my gosh. I really feel like I would like to fly because I feel like if you could fly, you could just go anywhere. I would like to travel and just be able to go all over whenever I want. So, I think flying.
What are three things that you can’t live without?
Oh, gosh. Let’s say RuPaul’s Drag Race. Let’s say avocado toast. And let’s say my Botox.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
I just actually said this today, so I kind of remember…it’s when people ignore me, when people do not respond to me or do not get back to me, or they just intentionally kind of brush me off. Like, at least say you don’t like me or give me the tea, but just don’t leave me hanging.
If they made a movie of your life story, who would you want to portray you on the big screen? Oh my gosh. Who would I want to play me on screen? Trixie Mattel. Okay. I don’t know why that just popped in head.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
I mean, it sounds trite, but just to really, to never give up because…well, actually I’m going to scratch that. Aubrey Plaza had a quote and that stuck with me. And the quote was, you have to be a little bit delusional to be in this business. And I think that is an amazing piece of advice because you get told no so much in this world. You have to just have in your head that you’re great, even if it’s delusional because you’ll want to give up.
What do you feel has been your greatest accomplishment so far?
I feel the greatest thing…I really think it’s #THEDISH. I’m going to be honest; I feel like that’s really just me. All these years I did these songs, these viral songs with Tan Mom and Octomom, and they were all fun, but there was no substance to them. There was nothing there to be proud of. And with #THEDISH, I feel like it’s, it’s something I created with my own blood, sweat, and tears.