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Rex Harrington, fiance Bob Hope to compete on 'Amazing Race Canada'

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TORONTO - It was the days prior to the start of the second "Amazing Race Canada," and Rex Harrington wasn't dancing around it: he was sizing up his competition.

Harrington and his (longtime) fiance Bob Hope had been milling about the other 10 teams for days but had been strictly discouraged from talking to them. So they talked about them instead, relegating some poor competitors to also-ran status before the proverbial starting pistol had sounded.

"Half are already gone," grinned Harrington, with Hope referencing the "low-hanging fruit" in agreement.

"There's a little bit of competition but we'll be in the Top 3 for sure."

Elaborating, Harrington said the most imposing teams were the "really muscular-looking guys who are very athletic" and the "two girls who are wearing the same thing and are very athletic."

He reserved less consideration for a few other poor teams.

"We're thinking the mother-son (pair) and the girlfriends who are tiny and the women are going to whine and cry, so they're all gone," Harrington said. "We're just speculating."

On "Amazing Race Canada," Harrington's acid tongue will take centre stage, not the fleet feet that led the Peterborough, Ont., native to significant success as principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada.

As it is, he says he gets recognized more often for being a judge on "So You Think You Can Dance Canada" than for his dancing career. Those familiar with his witty, pointed presence there or on social media — he recently, for instance, unleashed an expletive-laden Twitter tirade upon Usher for wearing a fur hat on "The Voice" — won't be surprised that an Officer of the Order of Canada and ballet dancer could be so cheeky and blunt.

"I didn't wear my Order of Canada pin. I forgot," he said with a laugh, musing on how other teams would react. "I should be wearing it. 'Hi, do you have one of these? Carry my bag.'"

Harrington and Hope watched the first season of "Amazing Race Canada," which was won by Tim Hague Sr. and Jr. from Winnipeg. But that's not the team they necessarily idolized.

"We loved Jet and Dave last season. They just had fun," Harrington said, referencing the muscular, jocular London, Ont., pair. "We cannot be those two people whining at each other."

Ten years retired, Harrington warns that he is "not in that kind of dancing shape." But he's quick to point to the advantages provided by his training, the "determination and discipline and ... ability to size things up" he acquired from dancing.

Although given that the first season included dance-based challenges that stymied dizzy competitors, he's hopeful that his actual virtuosity could come in useful.

"I saw all the dance challenges last season and I was like: 'I could do that in a second. Oh my God — six hours on a line dance? Let's go people.'"

In the show's first year, the "celebrity" team was "Body Break" duo Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod. The duo rode in on a swell of nostalgic goodwill, then proved tenacious competitors who rubbed some other teams the wrong way.

Harrington isn't worried about his image being affected by the show. He says he's an "open book," though he does note that his relationship with Hope had previously been free of public scrutiny for the most part.

"No one's seen Bob," he said. "There might be some haters out there. When we announced our engagement, I made the mistake of reading (reaction). 'What are they doing, promoting their lifestyle?' Really? Get over it. It is Canada, isn't it? It's not the Tea Party, but there are a few of them here.

"I think we should be fine ... we'll be the token gays," he added.

"When you think about it, we're not different from any couple. We just happen to be two guys," Hope added later.

"We just go home, roll over, watch TV and (sleep)," Harrington agreed. "We're not swinging from the chandeliers having mad sex orgies. We have two dogs and a farm and that's it."

Hope and Harrington have been engaged for years, long enough that Harrington actually lost his ring (he suspects it's buried somewhere in the garden of their previous home). They planned a wedding years ago but ultimately put it off. (They were going to honeymoon in Positano along the Amalfi Coast in Italy. They vacationed there anyway.)

"Our wedding planner actually got married and had a baby since then," Harrington noted.

If they win, they have pledged to direct the prize money toward a wedding.

"WHEN we win," Harrington corrected, "we're going to CTV about shooting the wedding. (We're) calling it 'Gaylyweds.'"

If they're to pull off the victory, Harrington says it will owe to a combination of his physical co-ordination and Hope's organization.

When they met 10 years ago, Hope pursued Harrington doggedly through a mutual friend, who worked at the National Ballet of Canada. He sent cryptic gifts over for weeks until they met for dinner. They bought a house less than a month later.

"We moved fast — faster than lesbians," Hope said.

"We are lesbians," Harrington shot back, before considering the comment.

"Oh my God, we're in so much trouble and it hasn't even started."

___

"Amazing Race Canada" returns July 8 on CTV.

— Follow @CP_Patch on Twitter.

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