Seventeen minutes into the first episode of I Kissed a Boy, host slash “Cupid” Dannii Minogue makes her fierce entrance to the beat of her iconic dance smasher I Begin to Wonder. “Camp, camp, and more camp!” she tells GAY TIMES. “Just when you thought it wasn’t camp enough, in comes a Minogue!” Her exhilarating arrival comes moments after the cast of singletons (check ’em out here) are paired up and, upon meeting for the first time, share a smooch. It’s everything you could possibly want from the UK’s first-ever same-sex dating show. “I am so proud of it,” Dannii says. “I am so proud of BBC Three for finally putting this on because it’s time.”
As per the official synopsis, the eight-episode series is “packed with explosive drama, gripping cliffhangers and powerful untold stories – from coming out in a strict religious family, to the pressures of body image in the gay dating scene, to navigating self-acceptance, sex and first same-sex relationships.” Narrated by Bad Education and Everybody’s Talking About Jamie alum Layton Williams, the first two episodes I Kissed a Boy will premiere on BBC iPlayer from 6am on Saturday 13 May, before the series launches on BBC Three on Sunday 14 May at 9pm.
Ahead of its premiere, we spoke with Dannii about the origins of the historic BBC series, her return to the music with I Kissed a Boy’s official theme tune We Could Be The One and why it was crucial for the series to depict different ‘body types, backgrounds, religions, attitudes and personalities’ of the LGBTQ+ community. Dick pics come up too.
Dannii, you look stunning.
Thank you, I’m wearing a little Barbie dress. Isn’t it the best pink ever? It’s yum, like ice cream.
I was toying with whether to wear a pink shirt for this interview. Lemme go change real quick…
Exactly! You’ll have to do the Wonder Woman and just spin around.
Dannii, I have to say, you and your sister looked transcendent at Sydney WorldPride. Transcendent!
Thank you! Dion Lee did the outfits and he made us feel like a princess. It was everything. The fact that these dresses matched… I was thinking the whole time, ‘Please do not fall over.’ We had stiletto heels on and a lace dress with a train at the back. Heels going through lace dress? I wouldn’t advise that combination! But, it would look good.
So, we’re here to chat about I Kissed a Boy, the UK’s first-ever same-sex dating series. Within 20 minutes, boys are smooching and you make a camp entrance to the beat of I Begin to Wonder, which is everything I needed from this show?!
Camp, camp, and more camp! Just when you thought it wasn’t camp enough, in comes a Minogue! It’s such a great show. I am so proud of it. I am so proud of BBC Three for finally putting this on because it’s time. I can’t believe it’s taken this long, from everybody wanting a gay dating show to there actually being one. It still blows my mind. And there’s so many other dating shows. [I Kissed a Boy] is definitely where we want people to match and for love to blossom. There’s a lot of work that goes into the process of casting. These are people looking for love. These are people that have given very detailed descriptions about themselves and who they’re looking for and what they’re not looking for, in order for us to help match them up and get away from the tiring job of swiping and meeting people through apps. It was incredible to see how much they were thriving, not having their phones and looking people in the eyes and speaking to them! They loved it.
Can you take me back to when BBC Three approached you to be their Cupid? Again, camp as tits.
I was excited and terrified! Nervous… I had a lot of questions that had to be answered before it was something I was gonna sign up to do. Everything in me wants a gay dating show, but I wanna work on one that has certain ethics and the right intentions behind it. So for me, it was important how it was cast, whether the cast were looked after, what the crew were going to look like. The majority of the crew are from the community. Our psych was in the interview process and on set with us the whole way, and is accessible to the guys afterwards. He specialises in the LGBTQ+ community. All of the producers, everyone, will tell you that I was very concerned if it would be the right thing. If I’m going to put my heart and soul into this, it has to be something that I’m aligned with.
I have to say, I was relieved to see that I Kissed a Boy didn’t take the Love Island approach with a swarm of Instagram-ready models.
I think it’s so important. The community isn’t one type of person and I think there needs to be visibility of different people. Not just body types, but background and religions and attitudes and personalities. It’s an eye-opener. To watch them learn from each other throughout the process was incredible. Some were more new to the scene. Others have been on the scene or only knew a pocket of it and were like, ‘There’s this whole other world out there.’ I know they’ve been hanging out since the series. There’s a lot of stories to tell!
So, tell me about your role as Cupid…
Any of my friends will tell you that I love getting people together. Whether it’s as a friend or in business and, of course, in love, I try to match people up. Ian Masterson, who’s done the theme tune for the show, I’ve written songs with him and he’s produced for me. I actually recorded the song that is the theme tune and that will be coming out! So, he met his husband on tour with me. I said, ‘I can’t take credit for that’ because I didn’t introduce them. But he said, ‘I would not have met him, had you not asked me to come on that tour. This wouldn’t have happened.’ And they’ve been together since then. For me, that’s incredible for Ian to be now doing the theme tune for the show. It’s magic. It really does run deep for us. This is our story. This is our history. Gosh, I have to find out if love even blossomed within the crew!
No disrespect to you, Dannii Minogue, but the main thing I heard was “new music”.
[Laughs] Oh, is that what you heard? Yeah, a song. It’s called We Could Be The One and it’s a joy. It sounds like ice cream and sunsets and it’s heaven. When Ian played me the demo, there was something magical about it. It wasn’t going to be me recording it, originally. As my friends know, don’t pressure me into doing music stuff! Ian put it there and I kept hearing it with the demo vocal and I’m like, ‘No. I have to record this. I want it to be the fabric of the show.’
Thank the gay gods!
You’ve got eight episodes and you’ve got a song, so…
What kind of quintessential aspects of gay culture can we expect from I Kissed a Boy? Besides men kissing and getting frisky with each other?
I think it’s learning about the different kinds of people on the show, their personalities and what their world is like at home. It’s gorgeous, the stuff that has come out so far in the promo. They’re all very different. My question in the beginning was, ‘You want to show a cross-section of the community, but how?’ There were a lot of conversations about that. It’s not to say that you’re attracted to someone who looks like you and is like you… People have their fetishes and their things that they like and as I said to you, they were very clear about that in all of their initial conversations.
After working on this series, is there anything you learned about gay culture that you didn’t know before?
I think the main thing was how gay guys speak when it’s just them. I had lunch last weekend with Ian, his husband and a couple that are friends of theirs, and I was saying how much I learned on set. ‘Do you guys speak so differently when I’m not around?’ and they were like, ‘Yeah, of course we do!’ It’s an eye-opening experience and I think that will help fans, family and allies understand the conversations that take place. Also, how people can be when they’re not having to defend themselves and trying to fit into another space. Just to be, I think that’s what everyone wants in life.
Were you aware of the gay sub-sections, such as twink, jock and bear?
Those I was! Absolutely.
What would you say I am?
Ooh, you’re very groomed, very smart. You’d probably go between two different…
[Simon Jones, PR, shouts: OTTER!]
Simon got me. I was waiting for that. What other gay lingo did you learn?
I’m trying to think now because I feel like I’ve had a whole education. When I watch back the episodes I’m like, ‘That was a day of questions.’ What lingo? It was more about, not words, but how conversations take place. Body count was a big conversation and how quickly a dick pic comes up. I was shocked!
Dannii, the Grindr alum won’t even say hello or ask you about your day, it’s just a motherfucking dick.
But sending that as your first bloody message?! Jesus.
You’re an LGBTQ+ icon, can you recall a moment in your career when you realised the queers were on your side?
I’ve always had friends in the community. It really started meshing in with work for me, through music. It was strong in my mind when Jeremy Joseph asked me to perform at G.A.Y. and I was the first artist to perform there. That was a moment. Going back for so many other performances, with queues around the block and spending so many birthdays there… It was the best. It was not a question anymore. Absolutely, from that first performance.
What do you want viewers at home to take away from I Kissed a Boy?
It’s upbeat. It’s fun. It’s based around finding love. Come into it open minded. My dream would be if people had a party and had their friends around to watch it. It’s going to be incredible to see what the response is after it lands on iPlayer. I said to the guys, ‘This’ll be your life before the show airs and after! Nothing will be the same again.’ To be the original cast of any show is something, but to be the first cast of this show, where it’s the first [same-sex dating show in the UK]… You are now part of history because you are advertising this and making this happen. All of my friends are like, ‘I never had a show like this growing up, how different would things have been?’ There needs to be a time where seeing guys kissing on a TV show isn’t a wild thing. It’s guys kissing. How lucky we are to be in a country where we can launch a show like this. I’m sure there will be a lot of people watching the show that have said bad things about the community and not been supportive, and hopefully this shows them that not everyone is the same.
I Kissed a Boy launches Saturday 13 May on BBC iPlayer.