Party Wright Around The World: the TOWIE star chats drag, parties and travelling

In his new ITV show, the former I'm a Celeb contestant goes on an round-the-world challenge to create the best parties he can in very different environments

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The Only Way Is Essex star, and former event organiser, Mark Wright ventures across the globe in his new ITV2 travel show Party Wright Around The World (starting at 9pm tonight).

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Travelling to New York’s Harlem, a remote mining town in Australia, Canada’s cowboy territory and a West Country manor house, among other unfamiliar settings, Essex boy Wright pushes his party planning skills to the limit. We chat to him about tacky parties, dressing in drag, getting mocked in Harlem for wearing skinny jeans and ask him if Joey Essex is more famous than him…

What was the most challenging party to organise from your new show?

Northwest Australia was tough because it was like a mining town in a desert. They had never even seen a nightclub before. They didn’t know what it was about. It was really, really different, and the people were different from anyone I’d met before. I was living with these people and doing their day to day stuff, seeing what they like and what they get up to because I had to put that into a party and I had five days to do it. It was so different for me. But then again, I now lived on a hip-hop star’s couch in Harlem. I lived in a tent in Canada. I lived in snowy hills. It was all hard and challenging, but it was all an amazing experience.


Party Around The World with Radio Times Travel, see here for more details


How did you find the travelling? These places are very different from Essex…

I’ve never travelled to places I’m not used to. I’ve always travelled to glamorous places, like Dubai, Miami, stuff that’s similar, so I was alright. But this was me completely out of my comfort zone. When I was in New York, I went to Harlem. I would usually go to Manhattan to somewhere like Time Square. When I went to Miami, I was in Little Havana, which is more of a Latino culture rather than South Beach. Byron Bay had hippies; it was a really relaxed town. Everyone was just so chilled out.

So you liked it?

I did, but I want to do things and these people did not care. They surfed, would go to sleep, sat by the fire with a beer and that was it. After three days, it drove me mad. I was like, come on, we’ve got to do something. And then Karratha, a little mining town, I don’t know how people can live there. They get a fortune to work. Their food and drink costs them a fortune because everything has to be shipped in. I just can’t believe how isolated this one town was. It was a three hour flight from Perth, the nearest city.

What kind of party did they want Karratha? Surely it was all men working in the mines?

Basically, yeah. There’s about one woman for 10 men.

It must have been an interesting party?

It was weird. They’d never been into clubs before. I thought to myself, Right, they’re so not glamorous. All they do is have an Australia pint of beer where their mine is. I thought I’d turn it into a white party to make it glamorous and like I’ve seen in Miami. The only thing I could find for this party was a courtyard surrounded by this little rusty fence. I wanted to get these white tents to make it look like a wedding. Nowhere in town sold any canopies or anything like that. So I got bed sheets from a shop and circled the fence area off, made everyone wear white, and it looked so tacky, but it was the best I could do. But people were turning around and saying, “Mark, it’s the nicest thing I’ve ever seen, it’s the best party I’ve ever been to in my life.” And I was like, “Really? Why?” Because if they went to Essex, they’d be like, “Oh my god”.

Would you ever live in any of the places you visited?

I still live in Essex, and I don’t think I’d ever move. I love going into work, and then I can’t wait to get back out in the countryside and have peace and quiet. In London, there’s just too much going on. I like to do my work and then get out.

Joey Essex has also got a travel show coming up, he’s also done I’m a Celeb as well. Who do you think is more famous now you or him?

I don’t know. I don’t think it’s about being famous. I don’t look at it like that. I just want to succeed in my own career, do my own things and I think I’ll take a very different path to Joey. He’ll keep doing fun shows for younger fans, and I’ll be presenting and doing Daybreak and a lot of adult things, so we’re in a different kinds of fields. Joey will do well, but he’ll do well in a different way from me. There’s no competition whatsoever.

Did anything go wrong while filming Party Wright Around The World?

Episode one. A drag queen never turned up, so I had to dress as a woman to put on a performance and get a reaction. Also in the Karratha [episode] in the desert, security didn’t show up until five minutes before 8pm and the party was supposed to start at 7pm, so the party was nearly called off. 

After this show will you be organising any more parties or have you been put off?

I’d do it for a friend, but I don’t think I’d do it as a job again. It’s a lot of pressure. I’ve had five years for mingling and getting out there.

If you threw the party to end all parties, where would it be?

I’d love to do an Antarctic party, in an igloo or something like that. That would be good. Or a frat party at a university in America.


Party Around The World with Radio Times Travel, see here for more details


What was throwing a party in Harlem like?

It was scary. It was a lot of hip-hop stuff.

What did they make of you?

“Who’s this skinny white boy wearing skinny jeans?” That’s what they used to say to me every day.

Did you feel intimidated?

I did, once. I went to go talk to Damon Dash, you know, the guy who’s linked to Posh Spice. He created Rockefeller with Jay Z. He was the most intimidating man I’ve ever been around. He was like, “What are you doing?” And I said, “I’m here to see you.” And he said, “what are you wearing skinny jeans for?” That was hard.

Are you going to bring anything back from these parties and travel experience to your regular life?

I think each place you go, you adapt to what they want. I’m throwing a party for what they want. Essex likes the parties we’re used to, so I think we’re just going to keep it like that.

If you could go on holiday and party with any celebrity, who would it be?

Rihanna or Beckham. Rihanna because she’s wild and I’d like to see how wild she really is at a party. But Beckham because he’s my ultimate hero and I’d just love to spend a holiday with him and spend a week or two with him. Not in that way, but…yeah, I just think he’s amazing.

Have you ever been inspired to travel by a TV show?

[Films set in] Vegas made me think like that. I would see films and think, oh my god, it looks insane. American university films used to be my favourite. I’d also like to go to the Antarctic and really see penguins and live proper outdoors and really rough it up.

What are you up to now?

I’m doing ITV’s Surprise Surprise. And I have my own radio show on Heart FM. I’m also working on presenting some dating shows and some pilot shows. It’s great.

Are you going to do any more travel shows?

Maybe. Maybe this one [Mark Wright Party Around The World] again.

Oh, season 2?

Yeah, if the chance comes up and I’ve got time in my [diary], I’d do it.

Party Wright Around The World starts tonight at 9pm on ITV2.


Party Around The World with Radio Times Travel, see here for more details


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