Exclusive Interview with 'From G's to Gents' Host Fonzworth Bentley
Exclusive Interview with 'From G's to Gents' Host Fonzworth Bentley
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
The new MTV reality series From G’s to Gents is far more humanitarian than you might expect from the network that gave us a bisexual dating show. Contestants from rough backgrounds without much education in etiquette and manners are taught to appreciate the finer things in life from wine tasting to tying a tie. BuddyTV spoke to the show’s host and all-around gentleman Fonzworth Bentley about the new show. Bentley has a solid background as a classical musician and former intern for P. Diddy’s business empire.

Fonzworth spoke about how he became associated with From G’s to Gents, which is produced by Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx, how he became interested in etiquette, and he even chastised me for my cheap excuse for not knowing how to tie a tie. Continue reading for the full transcript or to listen to the interview, and check out From G’s to Gents every Tuesday at 10pm on MTV.

Hi this is John from BuddyTV and I’m talking to Fonzworth Bentley, the host and mentor for the new MTV series From G’s to Gents. How you doing?

I’m fantastic.

Good to hear. I’m just curious about your name, because you used to go by Farnsworth Bentley but now its Fonzworth and I’m just wondering what caused that change?

It was always actually Fonzworth, what happens is I think the first time it was put on television, and I don’t want to air them out but they didn’t want to pay for it because the name was trademarked, so they did it Farnsworth. Which is the traditional way of spelling it, but I wanted to mix it up a little bit, I’m hip hop, we remix, so I did Fonzworth, because who’s cooler in American culture than the Fonz?

Exactly. Moving into From G’s to Gents, how did you get started on this show and what made you want to be part of it?

Well essentially, Jamie’s wanted to do something with me since he met me in 2002 with television. So this was really exciting, but this is something that I fundamentally have been part of and been doing now for almost a year and a half now. I wrote an etiquette book that came out in September and titled it Advance Your Swagger, which I’m pretty sure really made me as a viable candidate to be the host on television. My goal is to go to 80 different colleges and universities, I’ve been to Boys Clubs and I’ve been targeting single gender schools over the past year, and I’ve been in schools from Harvard to the Wharton Business School. Essentially what this show is is what I’ve been doing on panels and speaking about etiquette and about basically working on being a better you.

Essentially, this show was an opportunity for me to act as an arbiter of good taste and mentor and choose the A list guys along with Jamie Foxx to teach these lessons. And a lot of times we would swap out different people to switch lessons with, because it’s reality so it was dependant on who was actually eliminated. So Financial Responsibility at that portion of the show Master P was the person to teach it. He was the guy who was from New Orleans, who had a record store, who had gold in his mouth, had braids. He sold on the corners of New Orleans and has raised his profile and his son is now going to USC. He took the gold teeth out of his mouth to play his father on Nickelodeon. He was somebody who exhibited and exuded financial responsibility and that transformation that we were talking about for these guys.

Where did this passion for etiquette and this whole mantra of yours, where did this philosophy come from?

All the way from my ancestors through my parents, this is just the way I was raised. A lot of folks have been raised this way and have been blessed to grow up in families like this. But there are a lot of folks out there, which you understand, that didn’t grow up well. That didn’t get the information and the etiquette and the please and thank yous and the opportunities to go to college. A lot of folks didn’t get that. When people always ask me how did you get here, how do you do this, essentially a lot of this stuff were the little things. That’s why I wrote the book, because I was like on the web stuff like that I can e-mail back and forth and answer questions, but I just don’t have enough time. And I want to mentor but I don’t have time, and even if I mentor for 20 years that’s just not enough. So if I can write a book I can touch hundreds of thousands, and now with the television I can internationally touch people and people can see what happens when you take these teachings and you utilize them and work on being a better you.

I’m just wondering about these teachings. Obviously there are a lot of tips, but is there any sort of one thing that just is easy for people to grasp and just is easy for people to understand and to adapt into their own lives? Is there one sort of fundamental tip that you have for people?

Yeah: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

It’s the golden rule.

Hey, if you live by that, a lot of this stuff will end up being common sense. There are some specifics like, Please don’t grab my water glass, that ain’t your glass, that’s my glass! Certain things we got a little more specific. We got really in depth with the guys, we taught them how to do a Power Point presentation. We taught them how to tie a tie, a lot of them didn’t know how to tie a tie, a lot of them don’t have fathers to teach of that. A lot of their mothers don’t know the importance of it. The suit is the international uniform for business, period. You need to know how to do it.

I actually don’t know how to tie a tie myself.

Well then you need to grab Advance Your Swagger, I show step by step not only how to tie a tie, I show how to tie a foreign hand knot, basically like a half Windsor – and by the way, the Duke of Windsor didn’t even make up the Windsor knot, his brother did, but that’s a side bar. And I show you step by step how to tie a bow tie. So you need to go grab a copy asap – hey man, I’m sending you one autographed, you got that.

Well thank you, I definitely do need to learn that. That’s one of those things I just never learned. I always keep one tie that I think my father tied it, and I just keep it there on the rack so whenever I need a tie I just slip it over my head, it’s an easy way out.

I’m going to act like I didn’t hear that.

OK I’m sorry, I should be telling the arbiter of good taste all this bad stuff that I’m doing.

Essentially, again, that’s why this show and the book and all of these teachings – I can’t say who it’s for, I can’t say it’s for a particular demographic, it’s really for someone who wants to feel comfortable in all social situations.

I’m just finally wondering, about the show itself, when you started working with these guys and on this show, what were your expectations and did they meet that? as it harder than you thought it would be, was it easier? How did the reality of working with these guys on this show compare to what you thought it would be like?

I really had no idea. My expectations were to be able to tell these guys that, you’re here, you’re on TV, you’re going to win $100,000 if you’re here at the end, so it’s sort of is kind of a competition. But my thing was, the competition isn’t against the other guys, the competition is against yourselves. My expectations were to show these guys that you should be wanting to be here to learn these different lessons so that you can be a better you. That was my one and only goal. I was able to do that, and it just got really deep because the array of guys we got. One of the guys was homeless, one of the guys dances for money and he takes that a little bit too far, he doesn’t just dance for money if you know what I’m saying. One of the guys had never left Miami ever, never been on a plane ever. One of the guys didn’t have a television, he didn’t even know who I was. He was from the projects for real. This was a real opportunity to have this group of people and to just give them a lot of information and then test them on that and see how they were doing. In a controlled environment in this gentleman’s club. That was essentially what it was.

What was the hard part? The hard part was to see certain guys who had different things that made them who they were, but because of those things it held them back even though they had an incredible amount of potential to continue to move forward. There was one guy who literally has been fired from every single job because of violence. He hit an employee, he done hit one of his bosses, somebody, hit something. To see people fail because of that, they needed more help. We actually brought in a counselor, more like a life coach, this woman we brought in. Coach Taylor, she works with prisoners at San Quentin. So we actually brought her in because he had some specific issues that I couldn’t even deal with. But it was hard because this guy had so much potential but because of those things, he was hurting himself.

Well thank you very much Fonzworth. I’m definitely excited to be checking out the show, because it sounds much more sort of informative and educational than just like the pure entertainment a lot of the competition reality shows we see, so it’s nice to see something different on the air.

I definitely had to say no to at least three reality shows every week for the past few years, and I said I wasn’t going to do anything until it was something that could make a difference. So this is right in line with who I am and what my ultimate goal is, so I’m glad that it’s happening and I can’t wait for everybody to get it.

-Interview conducted by John Kubicek
(Image courtesy of MTV)