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Spin cities.

Michael Hauser is out on the town as one of the hip hosts of Intersection, the Real World of travel shows

What happens when you take four very different people--including a young gay man--and unleash them in a city? If your mind conjures up images of preening 20-somethings and funky furniture, you might be watching too much MTV.

Or you're watching the Travel Channel's Intersection, a hip weekly travel show that debuted October 3 and is destined to be dubbed The Real Real World. The concept: Viewers watch as each host pursues an itinerary catering to his or her individual sensibilities. Michael Hauser, a 34-year-old TV first timer, is the one who offers the gay spin on the American city du jour. So far he's consumed ten towns in about six weeks, and he's having a blast. "I've been eating, drinking, and frolicking in the sun," says the wry, mellow Hauser. Doing the show has made him "more humble" as well as making him "appreciate other people," he adds. But there is a drawback: "I've gained 12 pounds."

Although he had an in because he was a segment producer for the show's production company, Hauser still faced more than 100 other hopefuls in his bid to cohost the show. "He has ease and authenticity," says Michael Lennon, vice president of programming and business development at the Travel Channel. "And because he is gay he can enter the scene with some insight."

A self-proclaimed "culture vulture" who was born and raised in Cranston, R.I., Hauser says he began his travels as a child via "really long bike rides." From there he would eventually head to Boston, where he majored in television production at Emerson College before landing in Los Angeles. Today, he practices yoga and dabbles in photography when he isn't whipping out maps. Part of the city's allure? "It's a safe place to be gay," he admits. But he says he doesn't feel any pressure as the show's gay emissary to cater to a gay audience: "I choose what interests me, and often that coincides with the gay angle."

So far Hauser has outrig-canoed in Honolulu, strolled through Hollywood's the Village--the nation's only gay-focused cultural complex, created by the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center--and donned full costume for a Nordic dancing event in Chicago (his favorite city because "the people are happy"). He also made a point of hitting the Windy City's Halsted Street, where he joined the freshly minted Mr. Chicago Leather for a tour of local gay hot spots. "I played Goldilocks," says Hauser. "We did a flash-cut tour where I'd come out of each bar saying something like `Too hot,' `too loud,' `too nasty.'"

"Too off" is how he might describe the gaydar of some of the people he encounters in his trips. "If I'm not doing a gay piece, everyone assumes I'm straight and women flirt with me," he says with a giggle. On a visit to a Honolulu restaurant, a hammy bartender "served me a drink he called an aphrodisiac," recalls Hauser. "He said, `Watch out for all the women.' I told him, `Oh, no worries there.'"

Does the single Hauser have a man in every port thanks to the show? "I'm not a sailor," says the quipster, who hopes to one day host a sketch comedy show a la Carol Burnett. He does confess to having an interest in a potential soul mate he met while investigating Minneapolis. "I thought we connected, so I invited him to Nashville to sing country songs," says Hauser. "We were out shooting one day, and he came walking in with a date. That wasn't on-camera, fortunately. Needless to say, he left the next morning." He pauses. "Now there's a little Real World for ya."

Capaldo has written for the San Francisco culture quarterly Out/Look.

Find more on the Travel Channel and its show Intersection at www.advocate.com
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Michael Hauser - Travel Channel's "Intersection" host
Author:Capaldo, Matthew
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Dec 7, 1999
Words:653
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