(*homocinematically inclined)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Reverend's Interview: OC Floral Artist Meets TV Reality

I'm no fan of reality television, although I watched Boy Meets Boy religiously back in the day and I've more recently gotten semi-hooked on Hair Battle Spectacular. After speaking recently with one of the contestants on Logo's new series The Arrangement, though, I'll definitely be watching when it debuts tomorrow.

Anil (pronounced "A-neel") Pacheco is one of ten talented florists who will be competing on the show for $25,000 cash, a new Smart car and, of course, national exposure and potential notoriety. The 26-year old Pacheco was born in Orange County and still resides here, and — contrary to what the show's publicist initially told me — he's one of us.

"Gay and loving life" is how Pacheco described himself when he spoke with me in early September. He is also described in his bio for The Arrangement as "promiscuous, egotistical, talented and handsome," adjectives that Pacheco was only too happy to claim. "I think sexuality is a beautiful thing and I'm not conservative," Pacheco said regarding the "promiscuous" label. "I believe in exploring all my options." Needless to say, Pacheco is currently single.

During the course of The Arrangement, Pacheco and his fellow designers will be taking the art of floral design to the extreme. According to a press release: "The show pits ten talented designers against each other in a series of over-the-top challenges that demand using flowers in entirely unexpected ways; contestants are much more likely to be asked to clothe a nude body in flowers than to create the perfect wedding bouquet."

"It's been amazing," Pacheco said of his experience on the show. "I didn't even have an idea about what to expect." When he was 19, Pacheco took a part-time job in a florist shop while attending college in Anaheim. His current passion for floral design bloomed from there. Pacheco was working with a florist in Tustin earlier this year when, according to him, "She received an e-mail about casting a reality show." He sent his picture in and got an audition the next day.

"For the longest time, people have been telling me 'You need to be on TV' because of my big personality," Pacheco said. He continues to do freelance floral art for weddings and other events throughout Orange County. Information about his services is available at his website, Floral Artistry by Anil.

The Arrangement is backed by the producers of RuPaul's Drag Race. According to Pacheco, "This show is exciting and full of surprises, full of tears. It's an emotional roller coaster for all of us designers. The show is crazy; crazy fun and just crazy."

I asked Pacheco, who is the son of a Mexican-Spanish father and a Colombian mother, about the good, the bad and the ugly of the floral trade. In discussing what he likes or enjoys most about his business, Pacheco responded positively "Having someone tell me what they want and having me re-create their vision or image; I love being able to fulfill someone's vision." He mentioned a limited budget as chief among the negative aspects of floral design. "Sometimes people don't have as much money as I wish they did," Pacheco said.

"I've had customers come into the shop, usually older women," he continued, "who see that I'm tall and assume that I'm straight and can't do a good job for them." Pacheco says he usually tells them: "Men don't know how to decorate, but I took over my Mom's Christmas years ago!"

Pacheco and I also discussed his "Do's" and "Dont's" regarding the growing market of same-sex weddings. "Don't toss a bouquet at a gay male wedding," he states emphatically. "Maybe toss a decorated shoe instead." Generally, though, Pacheco believes the same rules apply to same-sex nuptials as they do to those of the opposite-sex.

The floral artist and likely reality TV star is looking toward his future. "I just want to be able to work for myself full-time, be financially stable and not work for 'The Man'," Pacheco says. "I would like to possibly do a book; I really want to change the perception of flowers and have floral design used in everything."

According to Pacheco's hyperbolic press bio for The Arrangement, the young man has "a big mouth and big balls (metaphorically speaking)." We'll all have to tune in to Logo beginning tomorrow to determine just how accurate that statement is.

Interview by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.

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