Controversial, caustic, Aussie Jason Gardiner is the acid tongued fashionista we hate to love. He’s the gay man who tells it straight to contestants on ‘Dancing on Ice’ and now you can be the judge of him.
Jason’s mother was 14 when she gave birth to him. He was born on 11 June 1971 in Melbourne, Australia, and was given up for adoption just six months later. He was taken in by a fireman and his wife who believed they couldn’t conceive. Three years later, however, they did, and Jason was joined by a brother.
At just five, Jason was already entertaining his family with homemade shows. Aged 12, his musical submission to The Workshop in Sydney was accepted, making him their youngest ever applicant. For Jason it meant that ‘no longer was I the only freak in the village’. His feelings of being an outsider were partly due to his growing realisation that he was probably gay, and also from an obsession with cleanliness. “I used to vacuum my bed every single morning. I still hate shaking hands.” He has also struggled with anorexia and his weight once hit just six-and-a-half stone.
At 16, he got his first professional gig and over the next 17 years, he performed on three continents and fulfilled his dream of playing on the West End. He’s created his own company in Hong Kong but has made London his home for over 15 years. He has since met with his biological mother and found out that he has one half-brother and two half-sisters. But he has never found out who is his biological father.
In 2004, exhaustion, caused by trying to perform and present, forced him to leave theatre and concentrate on his TV career. The series that first put him onto our TV screens was ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’ in which he performed as a culture vulture advising desperately drab heterosexuals how to lose the mediocrity and at least appear meterosexual. His performance brought him to the attention of both US and UK broadcasters becoming a ‘Dancing on Ice’ judge and stylist to ‘This Morning’ and securing red carpet film interviews for the E! Entertainment channel.
But in January 2010 his mouth nearly cost him his ITV career. His comparison of a contestant’s outfit to ‘faecal matter’ lead to calls for his sacking from ‘Dancing on Ice’. But despite 1,500 complaints to ITV and calls from viewers and the press for him to be given the boot, the broadcast regulator Ofcom cleared him. They said that he “seems quite content to play up to his ‘pantomime villain’ image within the format of the show’, noting that the show isn’t aimed primarily at children.
Whatever the public and press think, bosses must have liked him because when the panel of judges was cut from five to three, Jason was still sitting there for the sixth series. He was joined by Emma Bunton, who he’s danced for, and Robin Cousins the skating legend.
The acidic Aussie also turns his tongue to other talents and is the spokesperson for the Prostate Cancer Charity (after his grandfather survived it) and is an ambassador for the children’s charity, Barnardo’s. And the adopted boy who made good by being bad has expressed a desire to adopt himself.
But the big question for Jason remains, however. What’s he like on skates?