What does an America’s Got Talent contestant do when he’s sent home packing? Pitch a reality show, of course.
That’s exactly what Kevin Platte is doing. He’s the founder and executive and artistic director of the gay, all-volunteer dance company DC Cowboys, which recently returned from ten days in Hollywood competing on the glitzy NBC talent show. Their jazz-meets-country-western dance style earned them a seat among the top 40 contenders, out of thousands who auditioned.
The process started in April with an audition in New York City. The Cowboys were the first act to perform on the second day of auditions.
“I kept telling the guys we wouldn’t make it, but told them to have fun,” says Platte, whose biggest hope in auditioning for the show was to expose his group to a national audience.
He succeeded. Asked by judge Sharon Osbourne to describe their group, Platte replied, now infamously among AGT fans, “Think Brokeback meets Broadway.” The crowd went wild. The judges laughed, and none objected to putting them through to the next round of auditions in Las Vegas. After making the cut there, they went on to Hollywood.
Their live broadcast performance in Hollywood aired on August 26, which was also Platte’s birthday. The DC Cowboys had been out West for ten days by then—many of the members taking unpaid leave from their jobs in Washington to take the trip—and they were exhausted, but exhilarated. Their dance to Footloose earned them accolades from judges Osbourne and David Hasselhoff, but an X from British judge Piers Morgan. His critique: the group didn’t show enough technical skill.
Platte was surprised by Morgan’s reaction. “It sort of came out of nowhere,” he says. “In all the rounds of judging, he’d never given us a negative comment.”
In the end, the viewing audience, who voted via phone and online for two hours after the show, seemed to side with Morgan; the DC Cowboys were booted.
Platte says he was relieved to leave: “The process was exciting, but it was time consuming and a roller-coaster for our emotions.”
Now back in DC, Platte is focusing on the reality show. He has teamed up with friend and neighbor William Knight, a TV producer who won an Emmy in 2004 for his MTV production “Britney Spears Out All Night.” The Cowboys’ show will follow the group during performances and tours and document the drama that unfolds. The pair plans to pursue major networks, including Bravo and Logo, MTV’s lesbian and gay network.
“William thinks the show would be great fun,” says Platte. “I mean, what’s more drama than 20 gay men?”