Eighteen-year-old Kevin Michael Barba is a reality show waiting to happen. He was introduced to the culture via a deliciously catty Gawker item lampooning a letter written on his behalf seeking help in securing a publicist. His goal? To be an out gay role model to teens, a human It Gets Better—even if his privileged upbringing makes him one of those rare It Was Never That Bad To Begin Withs.
Like any good member of the proletariat, I figured he might be a male Paris Hilton and scoffed at his naked desire to be famous. But I was curious, and after some Facebooking, I met with him for lunch at Blue Fin in Times Square. And lo and behold, I found him way more likable than his assistant's letter betrayed—yes, in spite of the fact that he's less than half my age and has an assistant in the first place. In person, he comes across as downright earnest, hoping to do good and at the same time wondering aloud how so many Gawker squawkers could liken his haircut to Justin Bieber's. ("Old people only have one point of reference for 18-year-olds?" I offered.)
He's also self-aware enough to note that while he hopes to inspire others, he'd also like to earn a Mazel of the Week nod from Andy Cohen someday. His role models sound like ingredients in the image he hopes to convey—Cohen, Jackie O, Bethenny Frankel.
Lest you think I'm just cozying up to him on the off chance he could be persuaded to pay for my first tummy tuck, I paid for lunch over his strident objections. I wanted to preserve my journalistic integrity. So keep an open mind and have a look at how he responded to all my questions—if you watch to the end, you might even get a chic Countess LuAnn de Lesseps reference...