People might know Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell through their television show The Fabulous Beekman Boys on the Cooking Channel, but with their come-from-way-behind victory on last season’s The Amazing Race, the couple is now twofers when it comes to TV fame, winning a race around the world.

“They actually recruited us,” Ridge says. “We knew as middle-aged contestants — even if we trained hardcore — we weren’t going to be the fastest or the youngest.” So the couple 12 years strong focused on their secret weapon: trust in each other.

“When a team fails or gets eliminated, it usually stems from a team defeating itself. So we focused on how to communicate or motivate each other,” Ridge says.

But why run the race at all? In addition to TV fame, they already enjoy a trendy business run out of their farm; Ridge is also a physician and Kilmer-Purcell a novelist. Was mere vanity driving them?

“There is this notion that because we’re on TV, we’re millionaires already, but you don’t make very much money on reality TV — certainly not enough to get Josh here at the farm full time,” Ridge says.

“The last five years Josh has been at the farm only on weekends. Now, with the winnings, he can be here all the time.”

It was the infamously aggressive Sri Lankan sister team — The Twinnies — who many considered the boys’ closest rivals. Likeably brash and never afraid to refer to the team as “the gays” or make catty remarks about them, they ended up being key factors in the boys’ victory. “They really riled up our spirit and we got sassy back,” Ridge says. “When we crossed the finish line, the twins were one of the first we thanked for lighting a fire under our asses.”

Their run through Gotham Hall was one of last year’s unforgettable TV moments, especially for gay viewers who have waited nearly a decade since Reichen and Chip won to see a queer team take it.

“Having us as underdogs, which we were, and people plotting against us I think brought up that alienation gay people have growing up,” he says. “Many times, people were counting us out or never thought we had a chance. But we did it and perhaps viewers triumphed with us.”

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 11, 2013.