Bravo has a brand-new show this year called 100 Days of Summer and it's set in Chicago. The storyline follows Windy City locals on their quest to make the most of the warm weather. One of the six professionals, Jay Michael, plays on our team and runs Flats Chicago as a lifestyle architect. We caught up with the 32-year-old Uptown resident to discuss his new life on Bravo television.
Windy City Times: Hi, Jay. Talk about your journey to 100 Days of Summer.
Jay Michael: Initially, a friend of mine called me and told me a network wanted to talk to me about a show. I did a Skype call to them and that was really the end of it. It is not a very juicy story. I joined the show much later than the rest of the crowd. I knew the people but I wasn't a part of the show until later in the game.
WCT: So you knew some of the cast before?
Jay Michael: I did. Tara is my dog's vet. I knew Vince from around Chicago but wouldn't say we were close friends. I did know everybody but I have become much closer with some. I got to know Ray and Pascale better. We ran in similar circles. We are all pretty close now to be honest.
WCT: What has been the reaction after the first episode debuting?
Jay Michael: I think everyone has an opinion. Everyone has wanted a Bravo show to come to Chicago, whether a Housewives one, this show or any other docuseries. I will say that I think we have a lot to offer. People see Chicago as a snow globe and in constant winter here. I love that we did the show in the summer. It shows a part of the city that people who don't live here don't know. People didn't know we have a lake and thought it was an ocean. People don't know that we have a beach culture and all these things that come to life in the summer.
I didn't really watch Bravo prior now I totally do. I think our show is really great. I don't know what to expect half the time but I am cracking up when I watch it.
WCT: Your storyline features work uniforms currently.
Jay Michael: We all have several story arches. I like how everyone has a social story arc.
WCT: Where did your penis painting come from?
Jay Michael: True story I was having lunch in Andersonville and saw in the window this work of art. I thought they were doves. Do you remember Michelle Albandoz's gallery Las Manos? It closed because they moved it south but I went in before that and said how I loved that piece. She explained that they are penises and from a young local artist. I bought all of it to make one installation over my fireplace.
WCT: On the first episode you introduce that art piece to your maid who gets lots of screen time.
Jay Michael: She certainly has an opinion.
WCT: What is your dog's name?
Jay Michael: Louise and she is quite young. When the show was filmed she was only seven months old.
WCT: Did you grow up in Chicago?
Jay Michael: I was born and raised in Skokie. I was schooled in London.
WCT: What did you study in school?
Jay Michael: I studied communications. I minored in photography. I wound up not doing it because it was too complex for me. It was more of a hobby then became more serious. I am still tied in with the university and London.
WCT: I had a feeling you were talking about Skokie on the show when you referenced it as a Jewish suburb of Chicago.
Jay Michael: When I grew up there it was diverse but it was the tail end of it being mainly a Jewish community. There were KKK rallies there. I am sure you know that.
WCT: Is the dimple in your chin hereditary?
Jay Michael: My dad has something a little bit like it, but not as pronounced as mine. I don't love it. It is one of those things that a person doesn't love themselves but others might like. My nephew calls it, "My uncle's second butt or tush."
WCT: Do you think the show will bring more attention to your business?
Jay Michael: I think it will. Bravo is totally a guilty pleasure. I felt like I was under a rock for awhile but now I realize everyone secretly loves Bravo but were just afraid to say it.
It is a group that I am totally proud to be in front of now. I can bring attention to Flats and the buildings that we build. Now I understand why it is a guilty pleasure. I think it is a great network. I can tell you several characters that I am obsessed with at the moment. I plan my runs around shows because it is a guaranteed hour to run.
WCT: Who are you into on Bravo?
Jay Michael: I like Lisa Vanderpump. I think the Shahs of Sunset are great. I was watching a show called Below Deck, the show about a private yacht. Are you familiar with the show?
WCT: Yes, and I did an interview with gay crew member Dave Bradberry from the show. I've tried to get Reza from Shahs to come to Chicago because he has never been before.
Jay Michael: Really? Well get him to visit. I'm half-Persian. My chin definitely came from the Persian side.
WCT: We could do a gay Bravo night out on the town.
Jay Michael: Sign me up. We can circle John Dalton and the minibar guys.
WCT: Do you have plans to be more involved in the gay community in Chicago?
Jay Michael: My involvement is different. I think there are other pieces of the puzzle. I feel there are some other places that we are discriminated against. I am passionate in making sure we are treated like everyone else. I don't know what organization that I want to work with to do it yet. I have to do my homework about some of the things I have seen in the past few years. We are gay friendly to a degree but there are a lot of big steps to take. Marriage is one of them but there are more. If I continue to have a platform then I intend to advance the Illinois gay agenda.
WCT: Do you go out to local gay bars often?
Jay Michael: I don't not go out to the gay bars but I am pretty mixed in terms of what I do. Last night I went to Vincent in Andersonville. I stretch to all the areas of the city. At some point in the show you will see some Boystown love!
The show 100 Days of Summer airs every Tuesday on Bravo. For more of Michael, visit www.jaymichael.co .