Into the limelight: Interior designer Dann Foley shines on Showtime

August 20, 2010

Originally Posted on San Diego Gay and Lesbian News

By PJ Maytag

Dann FoleyIt’s the shorts. It’s gotta be the bicycle shorts Dann Foley is running around in on the episode of Showtime’s “The Real L Word” that made me laugh the hardest and say to the television screen, ‘That’s so Dann!’

But I’m getting ahead of myself here — let me backtrack.

This is the tale of “a local boy does well.” He’s a man really, but Dann Foley has such a mischievous boyish grin I can’t help it. He makes me laugh, and everyone who has ever had the pleasure of spending time with him — whether through his interior design business or at some chic soiree — knows Dann’s rapier wit, impish sense of humor and radiant smile.

It’s probably what got him cast as the sole representative of the male gender on any of the episodes of “The Real L Word,” the hit reality show spin off from their groundbreaking series, “The Real L Word,” that debuted in June and concluded its first season on Sunday.

Well that, and the fact he’s been a friend with cast member Nikki Weiss for 16 years and she asked him to revamp a room in the house she shares with fiancé Jill Goldstein. So of course there was a lot of local buzz when it was disclosed that Dann was set to appear on an episode, as the exclusive interior designer for the show.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, here’s the introductory blurb about the “The Real L Word,” straight from Showtime’s website (sho.com) just to bring you quickly up to speed.

“THE REAL L WORD gives viewers a chance to watch six successful, attractive Los Angeles lesbians as their lives unfold on screen in a way only premium television can offer — uncut and uncensored. Meet Mikey, a tough and prominent fashion producer; Rose, the hard-partying real estate advisor; Tracy, a film and TV development executive; Whitney, the tattooed special effects artist; and Nikki, a talent rep and producer who’s engaged to Jill, a writer. Follow a group of six lesbians in their daily lives at work and play in Los Angeles, and you’ll quickly learn that real life is even more compelling than fiction.”

Oh boy is it ever.

Especially when a gay interior designer appears on Episode 7 — more commonly known now as the “Strap Ons” episode. Seriously, it’s a delicious juxtaposition of two worlds you normally don’t associate with one another — sex toys (and the girls strapping them on) and redecorating. TV Mature for sure!

But actually the good looks and charm in Dann’s case that won over the Showtime producers take a backseat, believe it or not, to his design genius. If ever there was a man born with decorator DNA, Dann has it.

That’s why his interior design firm, Dann Inc-Lifestyle Interiors, is a resounding success story despite a hamstringed economy. He’s good. He has a passion for design unparalleled by his peers. Dann also has excellent right hand men who have his back: Beau Stinette and Josh O’Malley, who collectively complete Team Foley, if you will.

I had an odd sense of Déjà vu when I sat down with him at his headquarters on South Palm Canyon.

I call it Dann’s headquarters because all the binders of design samples: fabric swatches, color palettes and other innumerable design element essentials, too many to list really, reminded me of a command center at the Pentagon — if it was in charge of interior design. Dann noticed my eyes wandering the walls trying to soak it all in. “It’s changed a bit since you were here last,” he said smiling.

Last time I sat down to chat with Dann for The BottomLine it was 2006 — for the grand opening of Dann Foley California. Ever evolving, as any creative talent is apt to do, Dann has shifted his focus from retail more towards interior installations. And he’s gained quite a phenomenal reputation across the country for his work, not just in little ol’ Palm Springs.

His portfolio stretches from Manhattan to Pacific Palisades and all points between. Take a gander at his website (danninc.com) to get a true sense of the interior design magic Dann can create.

But I just couldn’t help myself now that I was face to face with him again. I had to pull a gotcha. He laughed so spontaneously when I sideswiped him with my first question of the session: What was with those shorts!

“Well you have to understand,” he began, still laughing, “that Jill and I had just come back from working out. So …”

A certain fact, which was edited out by the show — so his shorts were taken completely out of context.

“Yes, so it looked like I was running around in my bike shorts, on Seder, just for show. I will tell you I have gotten more e-mails just about my ass then anything,” he added, giggling.

“So I get these comments, ‘Gorgeous room. BTW what a hot ass!’ I would like to say my room got the most response [from the episode] but — it was my ass,” he says, wearing his impish grin, “I’m flattered, but just a tad disappointed.”

Only Dann can parlay showing off his ass on national TV into a springboard for bigger and better things — and I mean that as a true compliment!

“You know what you saw in those, however many minutes total of the show, it was actually three and a half days of filming. I think they edited the whole piece beautifully. I’m very happy with the way I look. I’m proud of the way it came out.”

In fact Dann is ecstatic with the way his experience on the show turned out. “Well it’s not my first opportunity,” he discloses, “or my first experience I should say. I’ll tell you what, here’s the big news! I’m giving it to The BottomLine first. We are now, I can’t tell you who with, but I have been made [TV show] offers because of my appearance — more than one. We are just beginning negotiations for my own program.

“What I have learned from this and what I have taken to those meetings were have already had is I’m not really interested in doing a straight, reality-traditional reality show. I’m not interested in being America’s next train wreck — reality performe r— reality celebrity, whatever you want to call it.

“I feel and the producers I have already met with feel, I have a lot more to offer. My work covers the gambit of all styles. I’m a professional. I do everything everyday from ultra contemporary to ultra traditional and everything in between. Where as the shows on today are very narrow. The designers on TV create the same room every week with slight variations. It’s all of them — everybody does a variation on a theme.”

In fact, Dann boils down the problem with all the design shows — HGTV, DIY Network, Bravo, et al to this: if you watch just two episodes of a show, you pretty much can tell what they are going to do for the entire series.

That’s so not Dann.

He is anything but predictable or routine in his design ideas. That’s what makes him one of the most sought after interior designers working today. He’s the perfect remedy for the decorator doldrums, firsthand professionally or on TV.

“I want more than that,” Dann finishes. “I do more than that. My clients get more from me. I also make sure it is a hell of a lot of fun. I like to have fun at work, my clients are spending a lot of money so I want to make sure they have fun. We can show that on our show. I mean there’s always drama — we all have drama every day. But really what I do is more fun than anything and I’m probably ridiculously passionate about my work and it shows.”

His passion is the key — lock, stock and barrel. We know here at The BottomLine that he’s going to be fun to watch when he gets his own show. Cause if it’s Dann, you know “he’s going to go big or go home,” as Nikki so succinctly put it on The Real L Word episode. We couldn’t agree more.

Dann Inc Lifestyle Interiors • Dann Foley • 1580 South Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs • 760.322.2268 • danninc.com

Nikki Weiss Dishes on Dann

What do you think makes Dann such a special designer?

Beyond the fact that he is so talented and has great taste, he really designs homes based on the client’s personality, likes and dislikes. He’s not one of those designers with a the same “signature look” for every house in which he’s hired.

If Dann wasn’t a designer, what do you picture him doing instead?

If he wasn’t an interior designer, maybe he’d be a women’s clothing designer. I can totally see that now that I’ve said it. Once again, he has amazing taste. He’s my dream man. He cooks, he’s neat and clean, he has impeccable taste in all things, he always smells good, and neither of us wants to sleep with each other! Truly MY perfect man!

What’s a juicy tidbit you know about Dann that you can dish with our readers?

He falls asleep at 9 p.m.! He’s a total cheap date.

What was the best part about having Dann appear in the episode?

I mean really, Dann brings the comedy. There was so much shot that ended up on the cutting room floor but I heard that my producers and the editors were in tears, he was so funny.

If Dann was a woman, who would he most remind you of?

Betty Davis in “Beyond The Forest” with her famous line, “What a dump!” I swear he reminds me of her every time I ask him to decorate for me.

Have you accepted the chandelier defeat with Jill, or is it just a matter put on the backburner for a later day?

Oh, there’s no chandelier. I don’t want a divorce before we’re actually married.

How stressful was it to have a video crew invade your life for the taping of The Real L Word —did it ever put a strain on you and Jill’s relationship?

Actually the crew was great. They were so respectful. Honestly, you get used to having them around. They truly were flies on the wall in our life. There was never any strain on our relationship… well except for maybe me wanting the chandelier and Jill being adamantly opposed… 😉

Finally, what’s next for you and Jill?

We have so much going on right now both in our careers and in our personal life. But what’s most important to us is our work with GLAAD, HRC, Prop. 8 and LGBT organizations, giving back to the community and educating our youth. We’re going to be teaming up with country singer Chely Wright and “The Real L Word” cast members Tracy Ryerson and Stamie Karakasidis to challenge stereotypes and help those who may be struggling with their sexuality and/or their family and friends accepting their sexuality.

– See more at: http://www.sdgln.com/bottomline/2010/08/16/limelight-interior-designer-dann-foley-shines-showtime#sthash.9v3D4Q9N.dpuf

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