Wayne Brady didn’t hesitate when he was asked to host this year’s American Music Awards. “That’s kind of a no-brainer,” he tells me just days before the big show, airing live on ABC on Sunday, Nov. 20. “When they ask you if you want to host, you don’t doddle, you don’t fiddle-faddle. You don’t take time and you don’t scratch your head. You say, ‘Yes, thank you, when is it, where’s my tux?’”
What will you be wearing?
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I don’t know yet but I want to make a statement. I don’t know if I’m going to get my Björk on and wear a swan outfit, but whatever it is I think I’m going to rock it and rise to the occasion.
There’s always Lady Gaga’s meat dress.
Yes, but I’m going to flip it. It’ll be barbeque and it will be cooked.
Big nominees this year include Bad Bunny, Beyoncé, Drake, Taylor Swift, Adele, Harry Styles and The Weeknd. If you could have dinner with one of them tonight, who would it be?
Beyoncé. Is Jay going to be there? Where’s Blue Ivy? Put them in the other room because I have to just concentrate on being with Beyoncé. If not her, then Drake.
If you could open the AMAs with a performance with Beyoncé, what song would it be?
I would want to do a cover of her cover of Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind.”
How would your pitch to her go?
Hey, Beyoncé, it’s Wayne. I met you many years ago when you were on my talk show, and I know your mama — she had a great jeans line. I love your rendition of ‘I’d Rather Go Blind,’ and I’m about ready to go onstage in about 10 minutes. I think you, myself and [bandleader] Adam Blackstone, we should work up a version of the song. You take the first verse, of course, and then I’ll come in on the hook. We will sing a great two-part harmony… but then we’ll freak it. I’ll start to beatbox.
Are you a Swiftie?
I’m not a Swiftie but I am a fan. To be a Swiftie would mean that I would die-hard rock with her, but I don’t have time to listen to everything. I’ve heard the bulk of her music that’s been on the radio, and I have to say Taylor Swift will go down on the books as one of the greats.
Lionel Richie is getting the Icon Award this year. I’m going to get very personal here. I’m gay but when I lost my straight virginity, we were listening to “Ballerina Girl.”
[Laughs]. There are so many things in that sentence. I love that! But it’s about time for Lionel. He should have gotten the Icon Award years ago. He’s a global superstar.
What was the first concert you ever went to?
I was 19 and working at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. I was working as Dracula in the “Beetlejuice” show. So they were doing a summer concert program there and C&C Music Factory, Crystal Waters and one other act of that ilk who I forget now, they came to play Universal. I’m dressed in my full Dracula garb sitting in the back. I hit the dance floor dressed as Dracula. They might have just thought I was this crazy club kid.
When you host a show like the AMAs, are you thinking this is your path to hosting the Oscars?
I suppose that could be there but that’s not an intention that I set for myself. This wasn’t even in my sight. I’m just going to go and knock this out of the park. Have some fun with it and you know what, if by some chance someone thinks, “Wayne Brady is my guy,” then I’m ready. Like James Brown said, “If you stay ready then you ain’t got to get ready.” I can host the Oscars tomorrow and that’s a fact. They just don’t know it.
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