It wasn’t a direct path that Jaymes Vaughan and James Davis took to “Amazing Race” success to into the hearts of fans.
In the first Leg, the two Chippendales performers seemed to embody every himbo stereotype we wanted to pre-judge them with. Mental gaffes caused them to very nearly get eliminated in that initial episode, as they survived only by virtue of being marginally faster than a middle-aged couple.
But then, a funny thing happened. Jaymes & James began to grow on viewers. Their high spirits were infectious and Jaymes was good for two or three quotable lines per week, sometimes more. And as we got to know them, it became even easier to like them. Jaymes was competing to assist his father, currently battling cancer — head over to ForgetCancerNow.com — while James just wanted to win a car for his mother. All together now: Awww.
By the time James overcame a seemingly excruciating ankle injury to limp through a Russian dancing challenge, the Chippendales were the team most fans seemed to be rooting for.
Jaymes & James came up just short on their “Amazing Race” journey, finishing second, but I’m assuming we haven’t seen the last of them and I’m guessing we probably haven’t seen the last of them on “The Amazing Race.”
In their exit interview, Jaymes & James talked about changing viewer attitudes towards their current profession, how nearly leaving after one Leg reshaped their attitudes and their goals going forward. Oh and Jaymes says his new single, not a direct follow-up to “Vampire,” is coming out before the end of the year.
Click through for the full interview.
HitFix: [Patched through as they’re mid-laughter.] How are you guys doing today?
Jaymes Vaughan: We’re just laughing our tails off at how stupid we are. How ’bout you?
HitFix: Probably the same about myself.
Jaymes: Awesome! Then you can get right in on this conversation.
HitFix: So on Sunday’s show, Jaymes-with-Y, you said that that after your performance, “maybe the world will have a different view of Chippendales.” What do you think that audiences expected you guys to be like?
Jaymes: Listen, we’ve been dealing with this since we started Chippendales. I mean, James and I are not what I think people stereotypically thought Chippendales is. We were both really dorky kids who accidentally fell into Chippendales, because we dared each other to go do it, because we wanted to see the world on their world tour. I think a lot of people in the world, what we’ve already encountered with Chippendales, is that people expect just the whole 1980s thing, like Channing Tatum showed in “Magic Mike,” like a strip club with stripper poles and dollar bills down your pants and that’s not what we do! We’re in a production show that’s in a multi-million dollar theater in Las Vegas that just happens to have the name “Chippendales” on it. It’s sorta like the male Pussycat Dolls. I sing. James plays guitar. There’s rappers and there’s dancers and there’s Chippendales and it’s a full production show. And I think people just thought we were guys who would go out and get dollar bills and hang a thong or something and that’s what we do, so I think people obviously thought that someone who does that may not be of the highest calibre of brain capacity. And then you throw in my stupid-ass accent and I think it makes us sound even worse and I think that people really expected us to be those guys that were so stupid they couldn’t [muffled]… And we were happy to show them that. And then we were happy to show them different.
So hopefully we did change a little bit of that, No.1, and then, No. 2, we have all these kids who are sending us fan-mail, eight, nine or 10-year-olds drawing us pictures. We have parents tweeting us, Facebooking us, coming by to say, “Thank you for showing my kids that you can be polite and you can be respectful and you can do well.” I think people didn’t expect that from the Chippendales and I’m happy that we were able to get out there and show them that’s what you can expect from James & Jaymes.
James Davis: Yes! I never really kinda pictured myself as being a role-model.
Jaymes: Oh, come on! I look up to you.
James: But like Jaymes said, just seeing the pictures and the overwhelming support and the kind words of encouragement from kids who nine or 10 or 11, who are watching the show and that say, “Hey, we really look up to you” and it’s really an incredible feeling to have that.
Jaymes: You should see some of the artwork we get. Look at my Twitter. It’s so cool.
James: It’s so hilarious. One of them is the one of me doing my awful dive into the pool…
Jaymes: And it says, “I like when your friend fell in the pool.”
James: So all that kinda stuff, it’s just really cool. It’s a great feeling to have people look up to you and respect you in that way.
HitFix: You talk about the negative pre-conceptions, but it seemed to me like there were a bunch of tasks out there in which it seemed like your Chippendales backgrounds might almost be positives or given you advantages. Did it feel like that?
Jaymes: Absolutely! Windmill repair. Serving dishes. Finding a lady with an abacus. Synchronized swimming.
James: We practically do that stuff on a nightly basis.
Jaymes: We don’t do any of that at Chippendales!
James: That’s one thing about “The Amazing Race.” There’s no way to prepare yourself for it. They’re gonna throw stuff at you that you’ve never experienced before. It’s “The Amazing Race” for a reason. There’s no real way to study for it. All you can do is just jump in with both feet and just do the best you can, because honestly you don’t know what they’re going to throw at you.
Jaymes: Yeah, the one thing where it really did help us… It did help us in Amsterdam. I will say it helped us. When you throw on that bow-tie… That’s why we brought it, because we’re like, “You know what? As douche-baggy as we’re gonna look right now, this is about winning a million dollars for our families. Let’s just be douche-bags for it. Let’s make fun of ourselves and make it happen.” We knew once the bow-ties came out that people would instantly see that and you create a spectacle. These streets weren’t crowded for the organ grinder challenge. They weren’t crowded, so we needed to do something that would make people leave there and go tell their friends to come back. Well, by throwing on that outfit, it definitely did help. People said, “Hey, the Chippendales are over there” and people came back and that’s how we were able to wrack up the money so fast. So that’s where Chippendales did definitely come in handy. Thank you, Chippendales, for giving us those bowties to take with us, because that blasted us right on through that organ grinder challenge.
HitFix: Well, you joke, but there was that task and there were multiple challenges that required some amount of synchronized choreography. There were several tasks that involved entertaining or salesmanship or being pitchmen. It seems like all of those things could fit with your skillset.
Jaymes: Well, Chippendales isn’t really a pitchman thing. We’re not out there bumping and grinding for chips. We’re on the stage doing a production show. But definitely as far as the choreography goes, yeah, you’re totally right. Yeah, any time we had to learn something… Thank God we did Chippendales! James and I were friends before Chippendales and before Chippendales, this mofo had never danced a moment in his life.
James: Not a lick of dancing skill in my repertoire.
Jaymes: I’ve been performing my whole life, so I’ve had to do stuff, but thank God that James had done some stuff with learning choreography, because it did make it a lot easier than it would have been had we gone on the show eight years ago.
James: Oh yeah. I think I would have really had some trouble with that. I had trouble anyway, but I think I would have had even more trouble with learning choreography and performing, especially with the synchronized swimming.
Jaymes: Which was so incredibly cool, by the way. Don’t let our horrible performance of eight times trying it fool you. That was amazing.
James: The synchronized swimming was one of my favorites. The attitudes of all of the ladies who were there? I mean, we got to swim with the Olympic Russian team. To be able to say that…
Jaymes: They held us up. We were half-drowing, these four 100-pound ladies and we’re hanging onto their foots trying to stay alive.
James: Except for the moments when we were half-drowning, it was awesome. It was a great time.
Jaymes: Everything on the Race was about amazing experiences for us. Even the things we thought were the curious things, we look back on with fond memories. Even that daggone abacus lady. Love her. Whoever she is, God bless her.
HitFix: Many viewers were surprised by the amount of teamwork that took place on “The Amazing Race” this season. Were you guys surprised by how close you got to other teams out there?
Jaymes: We went in there and we said we wanted to make good memories with good people and luckily we got on a Race that had some wonderful people on it and we got to really, not only race alongside these people, but we got to make friends with these people. We made life-long friendships with some amazing people. I think to get together and say, “Let’s help each other out so that we know there’s great people at the end racing together,” why not do it? Why not?
HitFix: Then there was the downside, though, where you got close to teams and then sometimes had to make choices. Like I know Abbie & Ryan felt hurt by the U-Turn situation…
Jaymes: We went on the Race to have a wonderful time and meet amazing people and I think at the end of it, there’s 11 teams that were on this thing, 10 other teams besides us that we all consider our “Amazing Race” family. All 22 people that were on this Race are part of our “Amazing Race” Family. We love each and every one of them.
James: They’re the only other people on this planet that shared that unique experience with us, so you always have that special bond with those people in particular.
Jaymes: And we’ll always have that bond.
HitFix: The very first Leg of the season, you guys came really, really, really close to being eliminated. Was that close shave important in terms of locking you guys in and setting you up for the rest of the competition?
Jaymes: We went on this Race saying, “Live each moment to its fullest, enjoy every second that you get on it, because you may not get to the end, so just enjoy it.” And to actually almost be eliminated on the first Leg, just really reiterated that for us to remember, “Hey each Leg of this Race is a gift. Each experience on this Race is a gift. Enjoy it and make the most out of it.” I think that really helped us. There were multiple times that we thought we got eliminated. What you didn’t see in Bangladesh was that besides the bamboo, we had a horrible taxi situation that took us to the other side of the capital and we thought we were eliminated. These moments teach you to make the most of each moment. We were on that boat ride waving and having a good time with the kids, because that could have been our last Leg of the Race and you don’t want to leave there thinking you didn’t make the most of every moment of the Race. So almost getting cut definitely reminded us that that is what’s most important about this Race: Besides winning, it’s about making sure that this experience is something that you leave and you look at positively and you feel like you made the most out of it. I feel like we did, thankfully, because of that terrible first Leg when we went from first to last and thank you, Trey and Lexi for saving us.
HitFix: What do you think it reflects about the nature of “The Amazing Race” that this season had a team that won the season without winning a Leg until the end?
Jaymes: It says that anybody can win “Amazing Race.” Don’t count anybody out ever.
James: That’s it. Honestly, you see the variety of tasks that they have you do and then there’s the luck factor with the taxis and the travel. You never know what could happen. You can never count anybody out of the Race until it hits that mat and Phil dismisses you from the Race. Only at that moment can you count someone out. It is ultimately anybody’s Race up until that moment.
Jaymes: Look at Dan and Amy. They are a team that could have won this season easily. They were amazing competitors and wonderful people, super-smart. And they were eliminated on the second Leg of the Race, just because of bad luck. So it really is a testament that anybody can win or lose “The Amazing Race” and never count anyone out. And that’s a good life lesson, too. Don’t count nobody out. You never know.
HitFix: You didn’t win the million, but you certainly got a ton of exposure and most of it was extremely positive. Do you have a sense of what doors this might potentially open for you?
Jaymes: The one door we’re concerned about opening right now is the door to help raise money for my dad. My dad needs to stop working. It’s ridiculous that he’s still trying to work. He goes to work, leaves, goes to chemo, goes back to work, goes to radiation, goes back. It’s ridiculous. I don’t know how he’s doing it and I need to help him and so the one door we want to open is raising money for him. That was our goal. We came and we said, “Hey. We want to take care of our familes” and we made a promise to them. We got James’ mom a car and now we’re gonna take care of my dad. So we set up a website. It’s www.forgetcancernow.com. If you could share that, I would love you. I would fly out there and give you a hug. Anything we can do to help raise money for him, would be amazing. And that’s the real door that we’re worried about opening right now. What ever comes after that? We’ve been been approached for stuff. We’ve been approached for television shows. We’ve been approached for other opportunities. But that’s our goal right now. Our goal is not about us right now. Our goal is to help my dad. Once we get that taken care of, then we’ll worry about what else comes next.
HitFix: I can absolutely get that URL out there. And Other James, has your mom gotten the car yet?
James: How does this all work?
Jaymes: We don’t feel like it’s real yet.
James: Do we actually get these prizes?
Jaymes: They’re coming. They’re coming.
James: I want to be there went they give her the keys.
Jaymes: It’s amazing for us. I’m so excited to see James’ momma’s face when she gets her car. I want to be there to hand her the keys. She doesn’t have a car. She’s never owned a new vehicle in her entire life. So this going to be a real-life momentous occasion for her, so I can’t wait to be the one to give it to her.
James: I’m giving my car to my parents, as well, so they can sell it to help pay for a lot of the expenses. We still got something great out of it. I feel like we still won. Everywhere else in the world, you’d celebrate a silver medal. The Olympics? You celebrate a silver medal. We got the silver medal at “The Amazing Race,” which is like a world competition. And I feel great. We feel great about. We are celebrating the fact that we got second place. That’s amazing. We made it all the way to the end and we got on the podium. If this were the Olympics, we’d be on a Wheaties box right now.
HitFix: And Jaymes, is there any chance that we’re going to get a sequel to “Vampire”?
Jaymes: You are getting a sequel to “Vampire.” It’s not exactly in the same genre, but my new single, “Tonight,” is coming out at the very end of the year.