Reality TV king Mark Burnett, the man behind, most notably, Survivor, which kicked the reality-show competition format into high gear 11 years ago, is at it again. This summer, Burnett is producing a new series for ABC called Expedition Impossible, a 10-leg competition in which teams race across the rugged Kingdom of Morocco.
Expedition Impossible airs locally at 8 p.m. Thursdays on KMBC (Channel 9) throughout the summer.
Among the 13 three-member teams competing for cash and other prizes is a trio that includes a pair of (now former) gay lovers, Ryan Allen Carrillo and A.J. Gibson, as well as A.J.’s sister, Kari. Recently, Camp caught up with Carrillo and A.J. Gibson—who nicknamed their team “Fab 3”—for a phone interview from their homes in Los Angeles.
Carrillo is a former inline roller skater from San Diego who’s done world tours and worked with Madonna and Beyoncé, among others. He has since moved into food and beverage management, even helping to open the Saddle Ranch Chop House locally at The Legends a few years ago.
Now well-rooted in food and beverage, he’s consulting on a restaurant concept for Universal Studios City Walk. “I’ve always had a huge passion for the food and beverage industry,” he said. He also runs an event company with Gibson, who has worked extensively in the field himself.
A.J. Gibson, along with his teammate sister, hails from Ohio. He says about the race: “It was the most unbelievable experience of my life. I think I speak for all of us when I say that we were challenged in ways never thought possible.”
Carrillo adds, “The Kingdom of Morocco is such a rich, diverse, gorgeous country. You know, A.J. and I have done a lot of traveling…but the scenery, the people — it was just the most beautiful place to be doing it.”
“We had all been looking to do something in television, something to challenge ourselves,” says Carrillo, who became involved in Expedition Impossible via an email he received from a casting director. The three would-be contestants quickly arranged for interviews and soon found themselves cast in the show.
“I’m a die-hard reality junkie,” admits Gibson, who dabbled in soap opera speaking parts while living in New York several years ago. “I’m a huge fan of Mark Burnett…and when Ryan sent me the email, it just made sense to ask my sister.”
During the process of becoming the one openly gay team competing in the show, Gibson says, “Everyone at ABC and Mark Burnett Productions made us feel so comfortable and allowed us to be exactly who we are. And that says a lot about them, and also about a lot about…how times have changed.”
One aspect of Expedition Impossible worth mentioning is the total absence of the civilized niceties present in other reality television races. Jet travel, taxicabs, hotels and restaurants were not options during the race, where teams hiked hundreds of miles on foot through Morocco’s deserts and mountains, or rode on the backs of unruly horses and camels.
“It takes reality television to a level that’s never been done before,” Gibson says. “It literally looks like a $100 million budget for a major blockbuster film. And we got to be part of Season One, and that’s pretty incredible.”
Gibson mentioned a personal aspect of the show toward the end of the interview. “I think that the most important things for Ryan and I, what kept us motivated on the show…we wanted to portray ourselves in a way that makes our community proud. We were the only two gay guys on the show and we know that there’s a lot of responsibility with that.
“And with all the things going on with gay youth and the suicides and the bullying…we wanted to make sure that we showed, especially with young gay kids…that you can do anything if you want it bad enough, if you set your mind to it. …And if this show airing helps one kid out there believe in himself, then it’s all worth it. That’s something that’s really important to both of us.”

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