When first we first met Rachel Robinson, she was an 18-year-old queer competitor on MTV's Road Rules. Now, at 22, she's competed on numerous Real World/Road Rules challenges (winning once so far), and she can currently be seen as a 'Bad Ass' team member on the latest challenge: 'The Inferno 2.' But outside of nonstop competitions, Robinson and fellow teammate Veronica Portillo have started a T-shirt business called College Drop Out. The name is fitting as neither finished college, but they can still kick your butt'and they make cool shirts, too!
What made you want to get into the T-shirt business?
After Battle of the Sexes 2, I was wearing a lot of shirts with political messages. Shane [Landrum, her also-queer Road Rules teammate] and I have been communicating with each other through shirts for a long time''Where's Rachel?' or 'Where's Shane?' People would stop me on the street and ask me where they could find the shirts I wore on the shows. I realized there was a market for this. Veronica and I had a passion and wanted to go into the T-shirt company. So that's how it started.
After all those challenges, shouldn't you maybe be raking it in as a trainer?
[Laughs] I've actually thought about it. I always get girls coming up to me asking how I stay in shape. But to tell you the truth, the T-shirt business is so much fun. It's really rewarding to come up with an idea, bring it to life, and see it on someone. It's cool. Stressful, I will admit. But definitely rewarding.
How many challenges have you done at this point?
I've done four. 'Battle of the Sexes,' 'The Gauntlet''where I was a winner, 'Battle of the Sexes 2,' and 'The Inferno 2.'
You know what? I started so young. I'm still so young'I'm 22 now. I started it when I was 18. If you're 19, 20, 21, and they call you to compete on a TV show for thousands of dollars and a vacation in Jamaica, you don't turn it down. And I'm the kind of person who loves competition.
What was your favorite moment of this challenge?
Competitively, it was when I got the bullseye on the 'X Marks the Spot' challenge. I won $10,000 for my team on my own. But Tonya throwing Beth's clothes in the pool was definitely a night I'll never forget.
What's been your favorite moment of any challenge?
My first challenge'it was still such a new thing, all the cast members had come together. It wasn't what it is today. It's become a calculated market where everyone comes on with an agenda. On my first challenge, it was really relaxed for the most part and everyone was really genuine. When I got voted off, I got a lot of love by the cast. I think getting voted off on Battle of the Sexes was my favorite moment ever. I got to see how much people really liked me. So it worked in my favor.
The challenges always seem to have a high queer quotient. Inferno 2 has you, Karamo, Dan'anyone I'm forgetting?
Well, you're forgetting all the closeted people. I think we have a 50/50 ratio! Our show [Real World, Road Rules, etc.] is one of the first ones to have gay people and they don't care. Being out and being on television has become very normal to me. It's not something I think of as out of the ordinary. It was funny all the gay people on The Inferno 2 were on the Bad Ass team. We're really not all that bad. I was a little upset with production. I thought they should have used someone on the Good Guys team, too.
Why are you a Bad Ass?
I don't bite my tongue. I'm very opinionated even if it means I'm going to see a consequence.
Are people wearing yours shirts on the show?
Yeah. We were just starting to launch the T-shirt business when we both got called for the show. Since we have so many friends in the cast who we knew would love the shirts, we showed up and passed them out to whoever we wanted to have them. Notice Julie and Beth don't have them. People wore them every day. It got to the point where we'd wake up every morning and two-thirds of the cast were in our shirts by their own will.
It always seems like many people leave the challenges wanting to kill each other. You and Veronica are actually working together.
We became friends a few years ago. To tell you the truth, we go on that show and I don't think there are two people who are quite like the way we are on the show. We're there for each other. If Veronica needs me for anything on the show, I would go out of my way for her. And she for me as well. I don't think there's anyone else who can say that. They're all in it for themselves.
Any other Real World or Road Rules folk you're friendly with?
I'm still extremely close to Shane. We see each other weekly. I think he's moving to L.A. soon. I'm close with Darrell. I really bonded with people from my show. I'm friends with Coral and the Miz [Mike].
Any shirts for gays?
We have a shirt now for women, which says 'lesbian' in the corner in cursive and on the back are two mud flap girls back-to-back. My favorite shirt for girls, which always gets attention wherever you go, that says: 'Ditch him for her.' And we have a shirt coming out for gay guys, which says 'I want to sleep with him' and it has arrows pointing in all different directions. It's really cute.
What's up next?
There's always the [challenges]. We'll see what happens. Honestly, the T-shirt business is keeping me really busy. I'm still touring the country doing appearances. I think I did over 100 schools in the last year. It's been crazy. And the show is just getting so much bigger.
So you'd do another?
I don't know. I can't say. It would have to add up for me. Certain people would need to be there. Certain people would need to be working on it. You're putting your neck out there every time you do it. It's not worth it if you don't win. Not for me, at least. [Laughs]