Wayne Brady didn’t hesitate when he was asked to host this year’s American Music Awards. “It’s like a no-brainer,” he told me, just days before the big event, airing live on ABC on Sunday, Nov. 20. Don’t fiddle you don’t take time and don’t scratch your head. You say, ‘Yes, thanks, when, where’s my tux?’
What will you be wearing?
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 dress, but whatever I think I’m going to rock it and rise to the occasion.
There’s always Lady Gaga’s meat outfit.
Yes, but I’m going to reverse it. It will be barbecued and it will be cooked.
This year’s big nominees 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?
Beyonce. Is Jay going to be there? Where is Blue Ivy? Put them in another room because I just have to focus on being with Beyonce. Drake if not him.
If you could open the AMAs with a performance with Beyoncé, what song would it be?
I want her to do a cover of It’s James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind.”
How will his pitch go to you?
Hey, Beyonce, it’s Wayne. I met you years ago when you were on my talk show, and I know your mom — she had a great jeans line. I love your song ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ and I’m ready to go on stage in about 10 minutes. I think you, myself and [bandleader] Adam Blackstone, we should do a version of the song. You must take the first verse and then I’ll come on the hook. We’ll sing a great two-part harmony… but then we’ll screw it up. I’ll start Beatbox.
Are you Swifty?
I’m not Swifty but I’m a fan. Being Swifty means I’ll die with her, but I don’t have time to listen to everything. I’ve heard most of her music on the radio, and I have to say Taylor Swift will go down as one of the best in the books.
Lionel Richie is receiving 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 is so much in this sentence. I love it! But the time has come for Lionel. He should have got the icon award years ago. He is a global superstar.
Did you go to the first concert?
I was 19 years old and working at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. I was acting as Dracula in the show “Beetlejuice”. So they were doing a summer concert show there and C&C Music Factory, Crystal Waters and another act by that guy that I’ve forgotten now, they came to play Universal. I’m sitting back in my full Dracula costume. I dressed as Dracula and hit the dance floor. They probably thought I was this crazy club kid.
When you host a show like the AMAs, do you think it’s your way to host the Oscars?
I think there might be, but it’s not an objective I’ve set for myself. It 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 any chance someone thinks, “Wayne Brady’s my guy,” then I’m ready. As James Brown said, “If you’re ready, you don’t have to be ready.” I could host the Oscars tomorrow and that’s a fact. They just don’t know it.