Jon Gosselin is smiling again because he’s excited about his future. (Photo: Getty Images)
We wanted Jon Gosselin’s prom playlist.
It was a random idea, but the Jon & Kate Plus 8 dad is a DJ now, and it was prom season. An hour later, however, we had talked about so much more than his post-reality TV career path, including his kids (one of whom he hasn’t seen in a year and a half), his ex-wife (today marks seven years since they filed for divorce, and the ice hasn’t thawed), his current relationship (which has its troubles), and even tabloid fixtures from the post-Jon & Kate Plus 8 era (remember Hailey Glassman?).
The recovering reality star, who resides in his hometown of Wyomissing, Pa., gave up everything in June 2009 when he walked away from his unhappy marriage and the lucrative show that documented it all only to then be sued by TLC, the network that aired the hit show, for breach of contract. No longer silenced by the settlement terms of the lawsuit, Jon is extremely uncensored. Or, in his words: “I’m not afraid anymore. I’m not under TLC. I don’t have to behave.”
DJ Jon Gosselin at your service
First things first: his career. Yes, the dad of eight is a DJ. Not an entertainment DJ, like the guy that won’t shut up during a bar mitzvah, and not a club DJ, like Calvin Harris, but a maître d’DJ. (“I do the lounge,” he explains. “I don’t do the club.”) And, yes, he DJ’ed his nephew’s prom last month and “crushed” it. However, he pays his bills booking out other DJs via Embodied Agency, for which he is VP of sales, and he plans to return to the entertainment space in a new career centered around that.
“I have my residencies, which pay my bills,” Jon tells Yahoo Celebrity by phone. “I get good money. I work at Building 24 in my hometown. It’s great for my kids. It means I’m not traveling a lot.” However, “I make more money booking than I do DJ’ing. You can only DJ seven days a week. You’re capped. But if you have other DJs working for you, that’s increased.” For each booking, he pulls in “15 to 20 percent based on the gig.”
Gosselin with DJ Noah at The Pool After Dark at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City, N.J., last year. (Photo: Getty Images)
Kate was his boss for 10 years during their marriage, and now he enjoys being his own boss. “It’s the longest job I’ve had after the divorce, and it’s all mine,” he says. “I own it. I don’t have a boss. It’s me. I’m the boss. Now I just want to add more dynamic to it by filming it.”
Through this agency, he plans to film and produce a music-related docuseries that will bring him back to TV. “The platform might start off on YouTube, and we’ll see what happens, but I’m sure somebody is going to pick it up as soon as they see my face,” he says. “Unfortunately, that’s how it works.”
As far as his role, it will be on the production and hosting sides. “Because I don’t want a camera following me around,” he notes, adding, before he was asked, “And I will never film my kids again. It will never happen. Never ever.” And he’s excited — almost giddy — about the new venture. “I’m 39 and I finally know what I want to do. For those who had patience with me, God bless ’em. For those who don’t, I’ll see you on TV.”
The DJ life
When he is actually doing the DJ’ing, there are pluses and minuses to being Jon Gosselin, as you might imagine.
While he likes the fact that “you run the party; you’re in charge,” he admits that “some people are douchebags and try to start s*** with me. I have security, so it’s like, ‘Hey, buddy, have a nice life.’ It happened a few weeks ago. They picked him up so quick it would make your head spin.”
Jon at his nephew’s prom last month. (Photo: Instagram)
He continues: “But when you know you killed it that night, when you are so spot-on — all your scratching, all your music choices — and the night flew by and the bartenders look at you and give you the wink, that’s a great feeling. Because you know they made money, I made money, and everybody made money. And everybody had a great time and they’re going to come back next week. That’s the whole point.”
Besides, not everyone tries to start trouble with him. He actually meets some nice people. “I didn’t have a connection for a long time,” he says. “There’s a connection with them. Meaning they know me [from Jon & Kate Plus 8], but now they get to know me and talk to me as a real person.”
‘I know all the s*** people talk about me’
Jon doesn’t live in a bubble. He’s fully aware of what people say about him — from those now out-of-date Ed Hardy jokes to suggestions that he’s a deadbeat dad.
“I know everything that’s going on. I know all the s*** people talk about me. I know the haters, the lovers, the team this, the team that,” he says.
And now he’s free to speak his mind. “Because I was sworn to secrecy by TLC through my injunction, I had no voice,” explains Jon, whose divorce was tabloid fodder to the max. “I had to wait until all of that rode out and hope that people still understand where I’m coming from. Now that there are more reality shows, I think people are more understanding. But then? Then, it was different.”
As for why he’d even want to return to showbiz life after being ripped to shreds by the tabs, he says, “The two options are: Follow the entertainment route, the job you’ve been doing for 10 years, or go back to IT. But that doesn’t work because I did do that. I did solar. I still do IT work. I do part-time IT work over the phone. But I’m still Jon Gosselin. That doesn’t change. You can’t run from who you are and how people see you. Now I’m just showing people naturally that I’m good person.”
Things with Kate aren’t great
Today marks seven years since Jon and Kate filed for divorce, and all this time later, their relationship is nonexistent. While he gets a weekly dinner night with the kids per their custody arrangement and has them stay over every other weekend, he only gets four of the eight at a time and has no control over who he sees. Because of that, he hasn’t seen Collin — one of the 12-year-old sextuplets — in a year and a half.
“I can’t do anything,” he sighs. “It’s unfair of her to do that, considering she claims that she does her best for all my kids. Dah, dah, dah, drama. ‘I’m perfect.’ No one’s perfect, honey. Trust me.”
He continues, “Now all the secrets are coming out because I’m not afraid to say anything. ‘How come you only get four kids?’ Because who I get is who I get. Whoever comes through that gate or gets off that [school] bus is who I get. And Collin is homeschooled, so he doesn’t get off a bus.”
Jon says he’s just trying to make the best of the less-than-ideal situation. “If the kids want to come, they come,” he says. “I love them all, but I am going to focus on the ones that want to come. My hands are tied.”
Jon’s marriage to Kate unraveled in front of our eyes on Jon & Kate Plus 8. (Photo: TLC)
Describing the situation with Kate as “bad right now,” he says he needs “time to go back to court,” but it’s expensive. He knows there is also a court of public opinion.
“People are always like, ‘Oh, I would fight so hard [for a better custody arrangement].’ I’m like, ‘Honey, you don’t have the money to fight that hard. Do you know how expensive court is? You have no idea.’ All the filings — and I do my own filings, then submit them to a law firm for stamp of approval — I have to pay for that. And pay all the court fees in the hopes that you’ll get something out of it. I’ve been going to court for seven years now. Unless you can arbitrate out of it and have a working relationship with the other parent, you’re going to spend a lot of money.”
And there’s no working relationship. “Kate tells my kids a lot of stuff, and they tell me. I don’t want to get my kids in trouble, but she pretty much alienates me. ‘He’s a party boy. He does this…’”
As for twins Cara and Mady, who will be 16 this fall, and sextuplets Alexis, Hannah, Aaden, Collin, Leah, and Joel, Jon says their life together is normal.
Kate shared this photo of the kids in August. (Photo: Instagram)
“We do all normal stuff,” he says. “I don’t isolate my kids. I integrate them into society. I bring them to my charity events if it’s tasteful, no alcohol. I integrate them with friends in the neighborhood. Because they go to private school in a different county, all their school friends live in that county. So I join the public pool and that kind of stuff so they can see [their local] friends.”
They like music — all Top 40, including Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber. “They text, they use their iPods, all that.” But they don’t text him when they are apart. “They don’t from [Kate’s] home. I have no contact with them [when they’re there].” He’s not kidding when he says, “I’m hoping they’re at school today. … I just have to trust that everything is going OK.”
Jon says that when the kids are filming — Kate Plus 8 airs on TLC — he is never given any details.
“She pulls custody BS, like, ‘Oh, you don’t have custody this week. We’re filming.’ But she won’t tell me where they’re filming.” He adds he can usually figure out the whereabouts of his children by searching Twitter for “#kategosselinsighting,” which is one of the more depressing things we’ve heard.
The rumor mill
We ask Jon about some of the rumors about him through the years — like that he never paid Kate child support. He says it’s untrue.
“My first child support payments were $22,000 a month. I paid out $175,000 [in one year],” he says. “Go ask anyone how much they’ve paid out in child support ever. I guarantee it’s not $175,000 in one year.”
When he got a normal, non-TV job, his child payments “went to $2,000 and then it went to $1,500. Then Kate … denounced support because I got shared custody, and there’s no more support because it’s just pointless. I gave her $3 million. I walked away. I moved. [I said], ‘Take all of it.’ It was a moral sacrifice for my children.”
Regardless of who got what in the split, Jon says the kids are well taken care of thanks to their trust created with reality show earnings and endorsements. It pays for their private school educations now and all their expenses, and it will eventually cover their college tuitions as well. And that’s not that far away for Mady and Cara.
“The best thing that ever came out of this is that they’re financially taken care of,” he says. “As for me, I’m just building upon something, but I don’t use them to make money — ever. They say, ‘Oh, you did in the beginning.’ Yeah, I was married, bro. What the f***?”
As for the incident when he fired a warning shot at a paparazzo lurking on his property back in 2013, he says, “They trespassed on my property. I didn’t know what they had, so I just kind of protected [myself].” The paps don’t bother him these days. “They don’t come near me. Because I’m not afraid anymore. I’m not under TLC. I don’t have to behave all the time.“
As for that TLC lawsuit, you can tell he’s still smarting over it.
“TLC backed her lawyers. I was really naïve to think they gave a s*** about me, and they didn’t. They just had to back someone, and they backed her,” he says. “And good luck with those ratings [for Kate Plus 8] — those .3 ratings. Good luck.”
He continues, “I have way more patience than my ex-wife. I may be poor for a while or living a mediocre life, which is fine with me, but my dream is always to be back on top, and that keeps me going. Not for monetary gain, but for stability and finding the right people in my life who see me for who I am and not where I work.”
Will wedding bells ring again?
Jon has been dating Colleen Conrad, who is a nurse seven years his senior, since 2014. “We’ve been together for a year and a half,” he shares, noting that sometimes relationships can be challenging for him due to his line of work. “It’s totally different worlds. It’s really hard to find someone that understands entertainment and the life and the work involved.”
“Yes, Happy and still together!!!” he captioned this Instagram photo posted on June 1. (Photo: Instagram)
After all, trying to launch his return to showbiz is an all-consuming gig.
“People say, ‘Why don’t you get a 9 to 5?’ he says. “I don’t want a 9 to 5. I work from 7 a.m. until whenever I have to go to bed. And there’s a lot with living in your hometown — there are insecurities,” he admits. “I love [Colleen], but I can’t stop my dream because I’m so gung-ho on it. It’s not that it’s a consuming life, it is my life. When you do reality, everything is encompassed together. You are Jon Gosselin, this is the world you live in. I’m not an actor. I didn’t play a role on TV. It’s so weird. It’s surreal.”
Also surreal were some of his past relationships. Remember his volatile post-Kate romance with Kate’s plastic surgeon’s daughter, Hailey Glassman? “I don’t want it to ever get to a volatile Hailey Glassman situation,” he says. “That was a f***ing nightmare. Me and Hailey are friends now. It’s been seven years.”
Jon and Hailey Glassman (Photo: Splash News)
When we tell Jon we worked with another of his exes, Kate Major, at a different media outlet back when they had their fling in July 2009, he replies, “Oh, my gosh. That was just like a dating thing. It wasn’t even…” he trails off.
When we point out she’s in a really bad place, he knows all about it. “She’s like locked up now or something. She got her kids taken away. Crazy. All that stuff — I don’t have to protect anyone anymore. I don’t have to protect TLC. It is what it is. It happened.”
As for whether or not he’ll marry again, he says, “People ask me that all the time. I’m young. It could happen. I believe in marriage.”
And as for that prom playlist we initially called about? He ticked off some songs, including a remix of some of Bieber’s hits, Rihanna’s “Work,” Fetty Wap’s “679” and “Trap Queen,” Fifth Harmony’s “Work From Home,” Bruno Mars’s “Uptown Funk,” Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” and 50 Cent’s “In Da Club.” Then some old-school Run DMC, Ja Rule, and Bell Biv DeVoe.
“I don’t have a real playlist, though. However I feel that night — that’s what’s going to happen,” he says. And that’s how we feel about our conversation with Jon Gosselin. Whatever he felt like saying at the moment, that’s what he was going to say.