Adam Barta cooks up an unreal reality show with “Mama June” Shannon and Tan Mom…
By Noel Hoffman
Adam Barta is thirsty for television stardom and his new show, #THEDISH, is a tall glass of water. It is a rollicking parody of reality TV that stars Barta along with “Mama June” Shannon from TV’s Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Tan Mom, and a slew of RuPaul’s Drag Race drag queens, including Detox, Daya Betty, Tammie Brown, Pandora Boxx and Honey Davenport. Even ’80s pop singing sensation Debbie Gibson makes a cameo!
The premise of the show is anyone’s guess. It begins with a rich lady handing Barta a blank cheque to create his own reality show. He enlists his closest celebrity pals to join him in the endeavour, but everything turns to chaos when his so-called friends try to seize the spotlight for themselves in order to stage their own reality TV comebacks.
It is a hot mess, with Adam Barta at the centre of it. We chatted with the accomplished musician turned wannabe TV star from his Florida home.
You’ve been trying to land on a reality show for 10 years?
I have done a lot to inject myself into the reality TV world with the hopes of getting my own show. The first was way back in 2011 when I hosted a pilot for a show called Reality Check. That show had a bunch of personalities like Lindsay Lohan’s dad trying to redeem himself with charity work. Then I got graphic rhinoplasty on We-TV’s Dr. Miami, danced drunk with Teresa Giudice on The Real Housewives of New Jersey – I even got married in the middle of Times Square in New York City with a star from MTV’s Jersey Shore. There was also that horrible audition for RuPaul’s Drag Race…
…And all of the musical duets that went viral…
Those started as a fluke! I was focused on my career as a singer/songwriter at the time, fresh off a Billboard dance hit, and my manager represented Octomom and Tan Mom. I went to my manager and was like, I have this great music and it’s being recognized, but my fame isn’t growing. She suggested I add Octomom to my next track. I thought about it and was like, wait, this could get mainstream attention – and it did! The viral success of the video led to similar stunts with Tan Mom, several MTV Teen Moms and Real Housewives.
Who was the biggest nightmare to work with?
This may open a can of worms, but Angelina from Jersey Shore was absolutely awful. We were actually good friends at the time! She showed up five hours late to our music video shoot, while about 30 cast and crew waited for her. Later, she pulled some shenanigans I won’t mention, and spread lies about me. She got back on Jersey Shore and then blocked me on all socials, so yeah.
You must have a thing for MTV villainesses. You recently attended Drag Con with Teen Mom Farrah Abraham.
Farrah and I go way back. We collaborated on a song; however, we didn’t release it together. I was going to sue her at one point because she released it on her own, without me! But I changed my mind. I realized that was me not focusing on the right things and trying to stay relevant and get attention. That ‘look at me!’ mentality to stay in the headlines doesn’t work in 2023. Today, audiences demand authenticity.
Who is the authentic Adam Barta?
The authentic Adam Barta is not the best-looking guy. I’m not the funniest. I’m certainly not the richest. I’m simply a silly guy that is hoping to make people laugh. Those antics I’ve pulled in the past are the stuff I cringe at today. I do really feel they got out of hand. I lost myself at some point. What started out as a gimmick became my brand, and I needed to find a way to reconcile that with who I am as an artist. That’s what led me to the #THEDISH.
And Mama June!
I met June during the height of the Here Comes Honey Boo Boo craze, and we have stayed in touch throughout the years. What really cemented our friendship was during the pandemic when she checked into a recovery in my town. Because she was local, I would help her with stuff she needed, and we would always be at each other’s houses, taking photos and filming fun stuff together. We discovered we have a lot in common. I love that she doesn’t BS me, and will always lend an ear to listen [and] to help me when I need it. She has such a huge heart.
Yet she sued you over the summer on A&E’s Court Night Live. Why?
Into every friendship there must fall hard times, and this was one of those periods in our friendship that I wish I could erase. At the end of the day, June wanted credit as an EP [executive producer] on #THEDISH. I truly didn’t think she wanted her name attached to the show unless it was picked up by a major network. Turns out that she believes in the project and feels the show will go far. It hasn’t made any money yet. Unless a streaming service offers an upfront advance, it takes a long time for money to trickle down to show producers and creators. I laid out all the money myself for #THEDISH. So it was just a matter of June wanting to get paid quicker, which I don’t blame her for. I just didn’t have it to give at the time.
Where do things stand today?
Our friendship is stronger than ever.
Is all simpatico with the other talent in the show, especially Detox, Daya Betty, Kahmora Hall, Tammie Brown, Pandora Boxx and Honey Davenport? It’s never good to get on a queen’s bad side, Adam!
Yes! I love these queens so much. They all believe in me and this project. They were not paid a million dollars to appear on #THEDISH, which, in my eyes, is what they are each worth. It was a labour of love, and I am so appreciative and proud to have them as a part of the show. Tammie Brown and Kahmora Hall have already said they will return for a second season…if we’re lucky to get one!
In the end, what do you hope viewers take away from #THEDISH?
We know we are low budget, gimmicky and nonsensical, and that’s what makes the show plain old fun. We literally laugh at the fact that so much of reality TV is fake, over the top and over-produced. We own that our producers will pull shit to make a good storyline. It’s our way of serving laughs on a platter, or rather, on #THEDISH.
#THEDISH is executive produced by Adam Barta and “Mama June” Shannon for Aquetra Media. New episodes now on Tubi TV.
NOEL HOFFMAN is a digital media producer, author and freelance journalist for the Daily Collegian, ElectriCITY and the Los Angeles Times. In another lifetime, he was also an actor, singer and teacher, but today, much of his time is consumed with being a single gay dad of two young children.