Miami Circa 1996 and Beyond: A Portrait of Dan Renzi

In Being Gay, Dating, Gay Celebrity, Gay Weddings, Night Out, Relationships, television on February 19, 2009 at 11:56 pm



When we last saw this Real Worlder (The Real World: Miami, 1996), he got offered a modeling job in fabu Italy and had to leave his then love behind. We remember this guy doing everything from going on photo shoots to starring in cat-fights with his then roommates – yes, we’re talking about openly gay Dan Renzi. Since the show aired in the mid-90s, Mr. Renzi has grown-up quite a bit – he’s hosted house tours of upcoming Real World humble abodes, participated in numerous MTV challenges, and has made quite a name for himself in the world of journalism – just to name a few things. Mr. Renzi is quite an inspiration … but don’t take our word for it…


.Dan, it seems like eons ago, but how did it feel leaving your new boyfriend at the time behind and trekking off to another country to pursue your modeling career?


DR: It was very sad, mainly because I didn’t want to go to Milan. The whole scenario of jetting off to Italy to become a fashion model – blah blah blah … my agent set it up and I really wasn’t asked. But if had I backed out, I would’ve looked like a wimp with the TV cameras filming everything, so I got on the plane. I was only there for about a month and I barely got any work.


That being said, I am VERY glad I went. It was a great learning experience … and while I was there, I signed up with a U.S. agent who was in Milan scouting, and I ended up going to New York and booking shows for Fashion Week (Hugo Boss, Donna Karan, Tommy Hilfiger). From there I went to Paris, and things worked out well. I worked off-and-on for several years, during breaks in school, or whatever.




.Give us some dirt on one of your former Real World cast-mates:


DR: I don’t have any.  Joe (Patane) is my Facebook friend; the rest of them, I have no idea.  I didn’t go to the last reunion, as they wanted everyone to do the show for no pay.  (?!?) But I heard through the grapevine that everyone is doing well, which is nice.


.On the contrary, who was the absolute yin to your yang in the Miami house?


DR: I got along with the crew better than my roommates, but that was largely my own doing, I was obnoxious. I wouldn’t have talked to me either.


.We’ve been following your career since the mid-90s; how did you get interested in pursuing such endeavors like working for South Florida Blade?


DR: I was always interested in writing – even on The Real World, I worked for Ocean Drive Magazine – a fact that true reality-TV aficionados may remember. Most notably, I wrote for the New York Post, but their politics bothered me so I quit.


When I moved to Miami Beach again in 2005, I was picked up by the New Times (weekly paper) as a nightlife writer.  From there, I started doing odd jobs for the Blade, and now … here I am.


.Can you give us a glimpse as to what a typical day is in the life of Dan Renzi:


DR: Wake-up; trip over the cat; feed cat; skip breakfast; drive to work; sit with tense shoulders for 8-10 hours while performing top-secret journalism-type duties; drive home; go for a slow but determined jog on the beach while watching the cruise ships head out to sea; go to a restaurant/club/store opening somewhere because free champagne and hors d’oeuvres is cheaper than buying dinner; then go home; sleep; repeat…


.We also hear that you’re a public speaker- what’s that like? What is the most important speech you have given throughout the years?


DR: I work with an agency called Wolfman Productions, which specializes in lectures for the college/university market. I have tried to add up my past speaking jobs – I’d say I’ve done about 100? The two programs I present are about “coming out issues,” and HIV education (I was an HIV counselor). I’ve been doing it for about 10 years now, and I still get a kick out of flying to some remote college town and meeting the people. You’d be surprised at who you meet out there.


.What’s your take on gay marriage? How has Prop 8 affected you? Is marriage in your future?


DR: Well … it’s a tough call. Some people say “civil unions” on a national level would be exactly the same as a marriage, just called something different on paper to appease people uncomfortable with the idea. I tend to agree with that line of thinking; unfortunately, we have proven that the U.S. is not good with “separate but equal” policies, and the “separate” group usually ends up getting screwed. So legal recognition needs to be all the way.


But settling for civil unions first could be a great step in the right direction, and I say we take it and be happy for now. It’s not set in stone; we can always make changes again in the future, and go to calling it “marriage” if necessary. Baby steps- take baby steps and ease into it.

This policy worked well in Connecticut, where marriage is fully legalized – stepping up from civil unions. But California? They went all the way from the start; people freaked out, and now they have a mess called Proposition 8 on their hands. I am unnerved by the idea that it is now in the hands of a mere seven people on the California Supreme Court.


As for me, yes I want to get married. I want kids very badly – I want a huge brood of adopted kids. But it is tough – my boyfriend is from another country and his visa will soon expire. We have tried every other option for him to get residency in the U.S., to no avail. Our time is running out. Ironically, because gay marriage is not legal, his only option at this point would be to enter a sham marriage with a woman (who he would have to pay about $10,000). Gay people do it in Miami ALL THE TIME. So much for the sanctity of marriage! This is why I think people who are against gay marriage are just utterly ignorant; they have no idea of the ramifications of what they are talking about.


.What can we expect from you in the future?


DR: I never settle on future plans. All my greatest successes have been spontaneously generated.


.Please give advice to someone who may be struggling with who they truly are:


DR: Keep your mouth shut until you leave your parent’s house, and you can, if necessary, survive on your own. But other than that, you would be shocked if you found out just how little people actually care about you, gay or straight or whatever. Go ahead and just be gay and get over it, and move on. Almost no one is paying attention to you either way. There are 6 billion people on the planet, why worry about the ones who don’t like you?


Quick, on your toes…


Blue or red?




The ocean or a lake?


I live mere blocks from the ocean, but I definitely prefer swimming in lakes – in the forest if possible. I guess it’s a product of my childhood in Colorado.


Cook or take-out?


Take-out. Although I come from a long line of cooks (mom is a pro) and I am pretty good, I prefer baking. But the gas for my stove/oven is not turned on, mainly because I never ever use it. Everything I cook is accomplished with a pancake griddle. I want to write a “single guy’s” cookbook, all about how much you can accomplish with a cheap electric griddle and a little ingenuity. But yeah, take-out is so much easier.


Blonds or brunettes?


Beauty comes from within.


What kind of car do you drive?


The 2000 Toyota Celica I won on the Real World/Road Rules Extreme Challenge.  Amazing car.  Please buy one for yourself.


Favorite candy bar?


Do Reese’s peanut butter cups count?  They’re not a “bar.”


Favorite website?




If you would like to follow Mr. Renzi’s personal blog, please click here. If you would like to follow Mr. Renzi’s writing at the South Florida Blade, click here.


Interview conducted and written by J. Federico

Please click here for an interview with Ryan Kehoe – OR click here for an interview with Norm Korpi.

  1. Very telling and insightful. I used to watch him on the challenges, but I never knew anything of his personal life. It’s nice to learn about a reality star’s life, even after they’ve left the show. Just because the cameras stop rolling, doesn’t mean they stop being real people.

  2. I totally agree. Its so interesting to see how people on TV, especially reality shows, end up in life.

  3. […] get enough of the “Real World”? No problem! Check out Dan Renzi’s, Norman Korpi’s, or Ryan Kehoe’s […]

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