By John Hobbs
Entrepreneur/bar owner Tyler Robuck is baring it all this fall for a new Logo show beginning August 22. Well, maybe not all'not that we would object'but he is opening his life up to the unforgiving camera lens for a reality show called Open Bar. The show, Mondays at 10 p.m., chronicles Robuck's journey from a closeted former football-playing frat boy to the hottie owner of the lavish West Hollywood gay club, i candy. The cute up-and-comer discusses coming out to his friends and family, living his life as an open book, and even what the future has in store for him.
Obviously the reality show is a great way to get exposure for the club. Whose idea was it?
The idea was a collaboration between me and one of my fraternity brothers, who was an investor, and happened to be a producer. I asked him to be an investor in the club and he said, 'I have a better idea. Let's make it a show.' We shot a promo, a teaser, and shopped it around. Logo seemed like the best fit, so we went with them.
What was your original vision for the bar?
Besides the Abbey, which is great, there was a huge gap in the market of West Hollywood. We needed a more upscale restaurant/lounge, something New York or European. I thought the community could really use something like that and, luckily, so far I've been right.
In the show, we see some particularly difficult times. Was there ever a moment when you wondered what you had gotten yourself into?
Several times. I'm a pretty confident guy, but I have to admit there were times when I thought What I am doing? You know, it's a scary thing to have that much money on the line, not only my own, but my friends' and investors'. Because of that, I had no choice but to continue on.
Did the camera crew that followed you around cause you a lot of stress or did it help you to focus more?
I got used to it after a while. I got to know the crews and they were really good to me. Now, I miss them.
What was the most embarrassing thing you did or that happened to you that the cameras caught?
Well, one night we went to a bar in Laguna Beach and got lap dances from some go-go boys. I'm not really even ashamed of that, though. I'm a pretty open guy. I went into the show without anything to hide. It would've been different if I were hiding something.
You came out just a couple of years ago. How did your friends and family take it?
They took it better than I had expected. I blew it out of proportion in my head, but they were great. They said to me, 'Of course, we still love you. Of course we support you.' I am one of the really lucky ones. I am very blessed. I have heard some horror stories about people's families not accepting them.
Why do you think it took you so long to come out?
I lived in such a straight world and I had such fear in my head. I hadn't had a lot of exposure to the gay community and I guess I had some of the same stereotypes that others have. I think also I had a fear of rejection, which is just a self-confidence thing.
Do you have a boyfriend?
I do not, but I am currently looking. I don't think I even had time to have a boyfriend during the club's opening and the filming of the show. I literally didn't have a second to take a breath let alone have a boyfriend.
Does the show accurately reflect your life through the opening of i candy?
It was extremely accurate. We were pretty adamant going into it that we didn't want to make things up. We weren't going to fabricate anything.
If the closeted you could've seen where you are today, what do you think he would say?
I wouldn't believe it. It would have been impossible for me to imagine. I couldn't have written a better script for myself. I am very blessed. Not only was I able to come out, but to spin it into such a positive thing by opening this club, rallying support, and hopefully helping others too.
How old are you?
34, and I'll be 34 for the next 10 years. I'm not looking forward to turning 35.
Any future projects already in the plans?
We're already looking at i candy 2, maybe in Laguna or in San Diego. It seems like San Diego would be the perfect place to get our feet wet, still have a hand in it, and make sure a second bar is viable. I would love to eventually take it to New York City or Miami. I already have some networks calling and asking me to host various things. People are e-mailing me from middle school'people I haven't seen for 20 years or so, and the show hasn't even come out yet. I'm preparing myself for the media blitz.