We’ve already met his two First Dates suitors Daniel and Mario, but now it’s time to meet the man himself, supersexy Paolo Delogu, who chats to GuysLikeU about his love of heels and what he really thinks about Daniel’s shocking comments about camp men!
You may have noticed that we’ve gone kind of First Dates crazy on GuysLikeU this week. First, we chatted to controversial and opinionated Daniel May, the guy who wickedly upset adorable Italian bear cub Paolo Delogu with his catty comments about camp men. Then we met Paolo’s supercute follow up date Mario Picariello, who heartwarmingly opened up about how hard it was for him to come out having been brought up as an Italian Catholic. Which leaves, just Paolo to talk to now. And so your wish is our command.
Ah yes Paolo. A pint-sized, bundle of fun who lit up our screen with his sparkly eyes, dazzling teeth and exuberant personality. When Daniel dissed him, th nation fell even more in love with him and when he met Mario a week later, we were pleased he had found someone who was as adorable as he.
We hooked up with the heel-wearing darling to chat about that date and why he believes none should tell anyone how to live their life.
Paolo, we simply adored you on the show – how come you decided to go on First Dates?
To be honest, I thought it would have been interesting to see who they’d match me with. I love the show anyway and I thought it’d be fun to take part in it.
But you’re a handsome guy, you must be confident with men.
No, I am not actually. It’s been a very long journey to get where I am now and it was not easy to achieve this self-acceptance. I now know what I want, but mostly I know what I don’t need. It took a lot of bad dates to become Paolobulous. Ha!
So you’re not the type to make the first move?
Not generally, but ask me again after three shots of tequila. Ha!
What’s your usual type?
Someone confident, independent,open minded, and with a spiritual approach to life.
You said from the start that you enjoyed wearing heels – where did that interest come from?
I can tell you that I’ve been wearing heels since I was able to walk. I used to wear my grandma’s and my mum’s heels all the time as a child. I used to do it at home in my bedroom mostly as a child. But later I did dress up as a woman at carnival in Italy, which is when it was acceptable to do it.
Did your family and friends ever find out? Did they understand?
Well, you see, I’ve always been a creative and eccentric person. Friends and family would always put it down to my eccentricity and creativity, I thought. Although now, I realise I was too scared myself to say how I truly felt about it as when I expressed my feelings about being gay, they were all absolutly fine with it. So basically, I was stressing out about something that wasn’t really there, which is one of the most common mistakes we all make in life: to assume.
Amen! For those who don’t get it, do you like to dress up in dresses too? Or is it just the feel of the shoes you like?
I do find dressing up as a woman a lot of fun; makeup, sparkles, dresses and wigs (I have loads at home!) I did go out a few times dressed up for different occasions but for me it’s not the same as wearing just stilettos. I’m comfortable wearing heels on a Saturday night, just as I am wearing trainers at the gym. There is no difference to me. So the answer is no, I don’t generally go out dressed up as a woman (nothing wrong with that though) I live in Brighton, and we are all Paolobulous down here!
When you’ve been out wearing heels, what kind of reactions do you normally get?
All sorts, mostly compliments to be honest, things like ‘oh my good you look amazing’, ‘wow you can walk in heels better than my girlfriend’, ‘I wish I could wear those heels withought falling face flat on the pavement’. Then sometimes I get the confused stare or the giggle, which is funny. ‘I just wink and blow a kiss to them.
So no negative reactions?
No I haven’t, apart from some giggly reaction which mostly came from tourists. I live in Brighton and what somewhere else is called weird in here is called creative. I know I’d probably get a different reaction in other cities.
Going back to First Dates. When you clapped eyes on Daniel were you attracted to him?
I thought he was a good looking man and I truly loved his jacket. And to start with I thought the date was going pretty well. There was good banter and we had a good laugh …until, of course, he revealed himself as being closed minded and extremely judgmental!
When he said guys wearing heels wasn’t normal, were you furious?
I wasn’t at all furious. I just knew Daniel wasn’t the kind of guy that I would date or be friends with. What I thought in that specific moment was ‘here we are again (big sigh)’. I’m just tired of having to explain to be honest. It’s just a pair of shoes for goodness sake! It makes me feel good, just like a new suit or a new sparkly evening dress would do to others. I knew ‘the heels talk’ was going to happen as unfortunately being ‘camp’ and not ‘straight acting’ is still considered as a turn off for a lot of gay men. I mean, that’s sort of fine, I get it, but we do need to stop placing everything and everyone in boxes and decide for others what’s right or wrong.
You’re so right, Paolo.
I have overcome that internalised homophobia I grew up with. I can lift weights at the gym like a cave man and strut around in heels like a princess or do both together, but don’t do it boys, it’s not good health and safety! Why do I have to fit in a box? Well, I could actually without the stilettos ha!
Did Daniel’s comments hurt you?
They didn’t, he just made me even more Paolobulous.
The charmer also went onto say that camp men make him feel embarrassed to be a gay man and that they make the cause for gay men harder? What do you say to that charge?
I found what Daniel said in his GuysLikeU interview was continuous contradiction. It didn’t make any sense whatsoever. Every word oozed insecurity and an excessive desire to be noticed. He seems very confused, bless him, and I believe it must be very hard to be him. It’s like there’s someone behind that sequinsy mask screaming for help. I truly hope for him he gets back to reality soon or he’ll go mad if he keeps living in delusion-land. I respect that people are sexually attracted to different people, it’s just being so judgmental that is unnecessary. Define normal Daniel! We are all different and that’s what makes us beautiful.
Oh Paolo, you are the voice of the people! Do you consider yourself as camp?
Of course I am camp! Camp as Christmas. I strut around Brighton wearing 6.3 inches stilettos, what do you think?
Do you believe in there different kind of gay identities?
I believe there are infinite kind of gay identities and I respect them all. Like I said before, that is what makes us beautiful and interesting. What I want to make clear though, is that there is this tendency that these identities are defined by sexual preferences rather than personality. There is no better or worse, just be the best you can be as human being and what you are sexually attracted to shouldn’t really be an element of judgment. Nothing should.
Could you be friends with people who had views like Daniel’s?
How can I be? I love my friends for who they are and not for who I want them to be and so do they. So no.
When you watched back the episode – how did you feel?
I was happy I stayed true to myself and what I believe in and I thought that message came across pretty clear. I had an amazing evening, we organised a ‘mac & cheese’ night with all my friends and watched the episode together. I loved how the show was edited. It was pretty fair and true to what happened. The First Dates team works extremely hard on that show. Such a bunch of lovely and talented people they are. Anyway, my friends were so supportive. It was like at a football match, so much cheering and at the end of it they were so proud!! I love them all so much! Paolobulous wouldn’t have come out easily without them.
You went back for more and met gorgeous Mario – he was super cute. Did you fancy him straight away?
Awww Mario, as soon as I saw him walking into the restaurant I thought he was super cute I could have cuddled him forever!
Awww! Us too. You must have been thrilled that he was more open minded than Daniel.
It was so liberating to see him so open about everything; the heels, my alter ego Rebecca Reynolds, the campness …everything… we had a fab time that night.
Did you see each other again after the show?
We did, we met very recently and we speak pretty much every day, he’s too lovely.
You’re both Italian. He said due to having a Catholic upbringing, he never felt comfortable talking about being gay. When did you first realise?
I always new I was attracted to boys but there wasn’t a role model or someone to relate to as the very few people that were gay in my town were considered ‘freaks’ (I hate that word) and I didn’t want to be one, I was terrified to be one because I knew I was one of them. It felt wrong, I felt wrong and I wanted to change it in order to fit in. I now know I didn’t need fit in. I just need to be myself.
Were your family approving of gay people
They were, but I was still scared of their reactions anyway.
Were you bullied at school?
Yup, never physically, but always mocked for being camp, short and hairy, which is now what I love the most about myself!
Indeed. So how did you burst out of the closet?
I never really come out to my friends as I let them know by just living my life as gay! When I was 16, I was seeing someone who they knew was gay so I just let them do the maths. But year after year, it was pretty obvious. I mean it always was but I never wanted to make a proper coming out as I was afraid to lose them and I haven’t, I’m still really good friends with some of them.
Was it different with you family?
With my family I had to though. When I was 21 I was seeing a guy and the relationship was not going well at all. I was always crying and often locked in my room for days without even joining my family for lunch or dinner. I saw my mum getting really worried so I thought she needed to know. I said to her: ‘the reason why I’m like this at the moment is because I have a boyfriend and it’s not going so well. So yes, I guess I’m gay! And she said: ‘I know, I was just waiting for you to tell me, I love you! I mean, what on earth was I thinking? Of course she knew, I started using her concealer and foundation when I was 14! Ha!
First Dates on Channel 4 on Thursdays at 10pm!
Read Mario’s interview here
Read Daniel’s interview here