Jax Taylor once ripped off his cream-colored shawl-neck sweater in a Vegas parking lot and ran shirtless after his ex’s new boyfriend in an attempt to beat his ass, screaming multiple variations of “You wanna go?” and “You’re a pussy!” The Vanderpump Rules star — arguably reality TV’s most notorious bad boy — also fucked his best friend’s girlfriend twice, once even in their apartment while he was sleeping in the other room. The popular Bravo series about life at Lisa Vanderpump and Ken Todd’s Beverly Hills restaurant Sur would have us believe that Jax has a lying problem, a drinking problem, a stealing problem and a cheating problem. After all, when he dates a woman, the experience is often so excruciating it’s described as “getting Jaxed.”
But then he met Brittany Cartwright (true to form — in Las Vegas, while on a date with someone else). They moved in together, adopted two dogs and even spent some precarious time with her family in Kentucky. And yet, despite all of that domestication, Taylor is still perceived as a wild creature who can never be tamed — and for whom lifelong bachelorhood seems like an inevitability. As he approaches 40 and year three of a committed relationship, I recently met Taylor at his West Hollywood apartment building to discuss how his kind of evil isn’t malicious; why he’s thrilled he isn’t a Kardashian man; the moment he gave up on God; his newfound passion for weed (at Brittany’s and his mother’s behest); and his inability to remember the names of most of the women he’s cheated on his girlfriends with.
You became the villain of Vanderpump Rules, but were you the bad boy growing up?
I wasn’t trying to be. But yeah, I was — I am. It’s all real. The only issue I have [with his portrayal on the show] is that we film for so long, and they have to cut it down to 45 or 22 minutes. So it sucks when I’m in an argument, and people call me a piece of shit. They didn’t see how the fight started. They didn’t see how it ended. They didn’t see how it stemmed. They just see the part where I’m yelling at someone. Then they go, “Oh Jax, you’re an asshole.” Well, they didn’t see the beginning or the end. They’re just getting a 2-minute segment of a 3-hour fight. That part isn’t fair.
People get really pissed at you. Why do you think you so easily trigger that response?
Because I’m an easy target. They all have their own demons, but they choose to come at me because it’s easier to come at me than it is to dissect their own lives. Plus, they all know I have thick skin — I don’t let too many things bother me. They know they can ride me, and that at the end of the day, I don’t care that much. I’m doing all right. Life is pretty good.
Have you found the show helpful for actually seeing yourself? A lot of people don’t have the benefit of seeing themselves behave in any way. You guys are exposed in every facet of your lives — the ups and the downs, your anger, the stuff that everyone gets to forget.
We definitely don’t get to forget anything. After we live it, it comes back on in five months when the show airs. So I gotta relive everything twice. I’m not trying to play the victim. I’m not trying to be like “poor me.” I know what I’m doing; I’m a big boy. I know what’s right and wrong. I just make stupid mistakes.
Speaking of mistakes, I’m always struck by how much the men of Vanderpump Rules hold each other accountable for their actions. Maybe too much sometimes. But a lot of guys don’t do that. They just let their friends’ bullshit slide.
I like it. Because I have to be told, or I won’t catch it. So I like being told, because I’ll keep doing something and not realize I’m doing it. I do have tendencies. I have a lot of bad habits that I sometimes fall back into. I have huge anger issues. I get evil — really, really evil. That’s a huge thing. And I say really hurtful things. I’ve done it for as long as I can remember. I have a short fuse. If something isn’t going my way, I’ll go crazy.
What it’s like when you get into that state? Because it seems like you go into that state for a while.
Yeah, it takes a while for me. What I need to do is just walk away. I always tell myself that, but I never do it. I need to go take the dogs on a walk and come back. But I don’t because I want to have the last word and I want to hit where it hurts. And that’s terrible. I don’t know why I do that.
Do you have any theories as to why?
Do you find satisfaction when you’re in that state?
When you know you’ve jabbed them hard?
That’s so terrible. That’s such an evil person when I think about it. I don’t mean it that way, though. I’ve done the worst things in the world to Tom Sandoval, but the best thing he’s ever said was, “You know what, Jax? You do stupid shit, but you’re not a malicious person.” I’m not a malicious person. I have a big heart, and I’ll do anything for my friends and would give anything to anybody. I just make stupid mistakes.
There isn’t part of you, though, that likes this bad boy identity?
Yeah, I guess. I always know what I’m doing is wrong, but I do it anyway.
At the very least, it’s a lucrative TV persona.
What do you want to watch? Do you want to watch us braid each other’s hair all day? Nobody wants to watch that. Nor am I the type of person who’s gonna sit around and do nothing. That’s not who I am. So I’m not gonna do that. And I’ll always say what’s on my mind. Right or wrong, I’ll still do it.
I watched the Kardashians recently, and there’s this whole thing with Scott Disick, who constantly fucks up on the show.
All the men in that family are doomed. What man in that family has a good life? They’re all fucked up. I mean, yeah, they’re all loaded and have tons of money, but they’re all fucked up. The women in that family ruin men’s lives.
I actually see it the opposite way — all the men they’ve picked have ruined their lives.
Whether they did it to themselves or whether the women did it to them, I feel bad for them. Look at what that fucking girl Blac Chyna did to Rob. I called that. She gets that $20,000 a month. I saw that coming a mile away. She gets knocked up, files a restraining order as soon as the baby is born and then has two alimonies coming in from the other guy [Tyga] and him. She’s got it made — what a hustler. How the system works is unbelievable.
On the other hand, Rob isn’t totally a functional person.
I understand that, but she took advantage of him. I don’t even know how the family allowed all that to happen to be honest.
Scott said that part of Kourtney likes the bad boy, and that’s the person she fell in love with.
She’s pretty screwed up. They had to sleep in separate beds, and there were so many rules. The poor guy couldn’t even have sex with his girlfriend. He had to beg her to have sex with him. She’d only have sex to pretty much have a child.
Do you feel like that a little bit? Where all the women you’re with know what they’re getting themselves into — which part of them may like — but then the second they’re dating you…
I feel like they feel like I’m a problem.
Do you think they also view you as a project?
I know they always think they can change me.
What’s it feel like when they start challenging your flaws?
It’s emotionally draining. It’s like I can do no right. It makes me want to throw in the towel sometimes. I’m at that point right now actually, where I’m just kind of throwing in the towel. I give up. [He laughs.]
What’s it like when you’re about to cheat or you’ve spotted the candidate you’re going to consort with?
I should just watch porn. I don’t know why the hell I don’t.
Do you think it’s about the girl or insecurity?
Of course there’s insecurity and the need for validation. It’s definitely never about the girl. I couldn’t even tell you half the girl’s names I’ve cheated with.
Is it an adrenaline rush?
I think so. I’m going to therapy, and I’m not up to that point yet. But there are some issues. There are some demons. I obviously do this for a reason. I just gotta figure out which one.
Why are you finally addressing this with therapy now?
I’ve talked about it a little bit before, but it’s at a point where I’m at this age  and it’s still not changing. I’m just like, “What do I do?” I’m tired of hurting people, too.
How much of it do you think is self-destructive?
Well, the last couple of months I’ve been going through some family issues. And I’m dealing with it in a way that I probably shouldn’t be — with alcohol. I’m also very aggressive toward everyone, and I don’t want anybody’s help. A lot of my friends are reaching out, and I appreciate them telling me that they get what I’m going through. But I’ve never lost anybody before; I’ve never even been to a funeral. So I’m going through something right now that I don’t know how to deal with. It’s gotten so bad that I’m losing faith in religion. In fact, I’ve lost all faith in God.
I was raised Catholic and went to church until I was 19. Recently, though, I gave up on it. But with the things that are happening to my family… If there is a God, why would he do this to these people? I don’t understand it.
What was your family life like growing up?
I have an amazing family, and my parents are still married. When I go to therapy, the therapist always says, “There’s gotta be something wrong with your family.” But, no. I grew up in the suburbs, upper middle class. I was a football and hockey player; I had the cheerleader girlfriend. The whole nine yards. I got whatever I wanted. I had a new car at 16. I led that life where people look at it and are like, “Wow, you’re a douche.”
Were there consequences when you acted like an asshole?
I didn’t really have any consequences. I mean, I got in trouble like anybody else. But nothing crazy.
The craziest trouble you got into on the show was when you slept with Kristen, Sandoval’s girlfriend at the time. I know that was a few seasons ago, but what do you think caused you to cuck your best friend?
I was going through a hell of a breakup at the time. Not that that’s an excuse. But it was like four days after [fellow Vanderpump Rules co-star] Stassi [Schroeder] and I broke up. I was about three bottles of vodka deep. I was sleeping on Sandoval’s couch. I hadn’t showered in four days. I was a mess. And it just happened. Out of everybody that I’ve ever slept with, that was my number one worst mistake. Not only because it was Sandoval’s girlfriend, but because she’s so fucking gross.
I thought you guys were on better terms now.
No, I’m hot and cold with her.
Don’t you think you’re very similar?
Absolutely. She’s a compulsive liar and cheater. Yes, I’m a cheater, but I don’t lie. I guess cheating is lying…
On the show, though, you said, “No, I didn’t sleep with Kristen.”
Yeah, but I admitted it later.
You are very good about copping up to stuff — eventually.
Everybody denies something right away, but then they’re like, “Okay, yeah.”
In the end, she still seemed to get more shit for it than you.
You think she got more shit than me?
I’m not gonna lie: I’m like a cat; I have nine lives. I do get away with a little bit more after a while. Because [our group of friends] all know that I’m not a malicious person. I don’t do it to be evil. That’s why I think they’re more lenient with me.
Do you think it’s easier for men to do that kind of stuff?
Umm, no. I’m not gonna sit here and blame other people. I make my own choices. You choose your path.
I like how everybody on the show is unabashedly themselves.
We pride ourselves on that. I’m not gonna put a show on or amp things up just to make a good TV show. This is who we really are. We’ve all been friends for more than 15 years. It’s very organic. I’m not gonna be part of a fake show. That’s not what I signed up for. I wish I had a script every day. I’d have so much less anxiety.
Do you suffer from anxiety?
Absolutely. I’m trying to smoke more weed. [He laughs.] I just started smoking it a month ago, and I love it.
You just started?
Brittany got me on it. My mom, too. She told me I’m too stressed, ADD and all over the place. It keeps me calm and makes me a lot nicer. The whole group told me that they like me more when I smoke weed. Because I’m just chill.
Within the group, the three main guys are you, Sandoval and Tom Schwartz. Are you equally close? Or is it impossible for two of you not to be closer?
I think we’re equally close. Eighty percent of the time, it’s all three of us. Though I’m usually with Schwartz a little bit more.
I feel like all three of you are also always in a relationship with a woman.
I’ve never seen Sandoval not in a relationship. He’s been in a relationship since I met him. He literally starts dating a new person as he’s breaking up with another girl.
Why do you think that is?
Co-dependency. He likes to be taken care of.
Let’s talk about Miami and your former roommate John. There were obviously a lot of rumors that you were more than roommates when you worked as a model, which your fellow cast members even seemed to stoke. Did that bother you?
I think everybody knows about how much I love fucking pussy. Sorry! [He laughs.] So it’s humorous when people say that. Am I comfortable with my sexuality? Absolutely. Did I give my friend John a kiss? Yeah, sure! Who cares? So what? I give my dad a kiss too. Who cares? Did I sleep with him? No, I didn’t sleep with him.
Have you not seen Tom Schwartz and Tom Sandoval kissing every episode? And they’re gonna say something about me kissing my buddy John one time? I didn’t like make out with him, I just gave him a kiss goodbye. It’s not a big deal. He’s a very close friend. It’s whatever. I don’t take it back at all or give a shit.
Do you think anyone is entirely gay or straight? Or do you think it’s more of a spectrum.
No, I think you’re either gay or straight.
There’s no middle ground whatsoever?
Not for me. I don’t understand the whole bisexuality thing. I don’t want to comment on it too much because I don’t understand it. I’m actually learning more about it. There’s a girl on our show named Billie, and we talk about it all the time. She’s transgender, and she goes, “I don’t even know what I’m allowed to say because I don’t want to offend anybody.”
Personally, though, I don’t understand bisexuality. Do I believe in it? I don’t know. I feel like you’re either one or the other. But again, I don’t know. I’d be ignorant to say it’s one way. You are what you are. I do know this: If you want to hook up with a donkey or a tree, do what you want. I’m for whatever floats your boat. I don’t understand why any of this would anger someone else either. It’s like, who gives a shit? We’re on Earth for such a short time, who cares?!?! Go do something for yourself that you enjoy.
What does your family think of the show?
My mom thinks it’s great and fun. My dad, on the other hand, doesn’t watch it that much. He’s a very conservative man. Growing up, he didn’t understand [my] modeling [career]. He didn’t know where my paychecks were coming from; he always wanted to see my pay stubs. I went to college for a little bit, but it wasn’t for me. All of my cousins went to Ivy League schools, I’m the only one who didn’t. But I’m probably more successful than all of them — at least financially.
Do you think, though, that your dad still wishes you did something else?A 9-to-5 job was never my thing. I could never do it. I don’t care how much you pay me, I could never wear a shirt and tie and go to work every day. As for my parents, as long as I’m happy, they’re cool. My father always just used to say, “Make good choices.” That’s one thing I never listened to.
There’s a running joke about your age on the show and among your friend group.
Apparently, I’m a really old man. [He laughs.] I’m 38. I’m not young by any means, but I’m not an old man. Fuck!
What’s that all about then?
I don’t know. I guess people like to say I’m an old man. I guess 38 is old. But I don’t have any grey hair yet.
How old is Brittany?
Twenty-eight. I’ve never dated a girl older than 28.
You’re like Matthew McConaughey’s character from Dazed and Confused: You keep getting older, and they just stay the same age.
I think it’s different now. I don’t want to start over. If things go south with Brittany, I’ll never have a girlfriend again — God as my witness. I swear on my family, I will never have a girlfriend again if this doesn’t work out. It’s not worth it for me. I honestly don’t mind being alone. In fact, I actually enjoy being alone. I’m not worried about that; I’m worried about hurting people. I don’t want to hurt anybody any more. It hurts me. Before I didn’t give a shit.
Do you think you’re just not good at relationships?
I’m terrible at relationships. I’ve never been faithful in my life — ever. I’ve been the best with Brittany thus far. But I somehow always fall into bad habits. I’m just not good. That’s why everyone hates me — it’s because of the relationships. Other than that, I’m a pretty good guy. Everyone always comes at me because of how I am in relationships or with girls.
Why would you ever date someone who is super traditional, though?
But that’s what I want. I do want to get married at some point. And if I’m gonna do it, it’s gonna be with Brittany. That’s for sure. If it doesn’t work out with Brittany, I won’t get married.
You could fall into a different type of relationship…
Just sexual? That never works out.
That’s not true. There are lots of different versions of relationships.
You think so? You think just having a sexual relationship with someone without feelings is possible? I don’t. Girls always get feelings. Even guys do.
Have you ever dated a female version of yourself? Someone who also cheated and had a temper?
No, I’ve only ever dated absolutely amazing women. I’m always the total opposite of who I date: Super smart, intelligent, good people.
Who love projects?
Who love projects, yeah. I think I’ve done so much damage to girls. I’ve fucked up some of them mentally. I’ve done bad things that makes them question things. I mean, my girlfriend is friends with three of my ex-girlfriends. They hang out all the time. It’s so fucking weird. So I know I’ve done some emotional damage.
Did you do that to Stassi?
That’s not one I’ll take credit for. She’s a tough one. She’s very independent, strong and opinionated. She stands by her word and likes being on her own. It’s funny, because she’s really humble now and likes to make fun of herself about dating. She’s going on all these dating websites, but no one will date her. She’s funny and humble about it. She definitely did a 180. Looking back, I don’t know how I stayed with her as long as I did or how we were compatible.
There was, however, an era of the show when you were trying to win her back.
Because that’s the first time I got rejected. She left me. I’d never had anybody in my life leave me before. It’s not because I wanted her back so badly; it’s because I got rejected. That’s why I fought so hard to get her back. And that’s what I was chasing — not her. Because I got her back sometimes. There were a couple times when she’d come over and spend the night, and I’d be like, “I really don’t want this back, but I’m doing it to get her back.” It was more of a game. That’s not to take away anything from Stassi — she’s great — but I was doing it for the wrong reasons.
Is it the same thing with cheating?
Exactly. When I’ve cheated, it’s not because I’m attracted to these other girls. I’m doing it because it’s like a drug. It’s a fix. And it sucks — right after I’m done, I’m like, “Fuck!”
Are you nice to women when you first start dating?
I mean, everybody is. Everybody puts on a facade in the first couple of months. Not that what I do is a complete facade. You’re just kind of auditioning to impress someone.
How many of your girlfriends have you lived with?
Every one of them.
And how soon into the relationship do you move in together?
With Stassi, it was about three years. With Brittany, we’re going on three years.
I want to get back to the show. Namely, when it started, all of you were starving actors. That feels so different now.
I was at the point where I was literally overdrafting all the time. I had zero dollars; I couldn’t even pay my rent. I had been modeling for a long time, and there were times when I had a lot of money and other times I didn’t. I was eating steak one day and ramen noodles the next.
Still, I wasn’t gonna do the show. I was actually on my way out of L.A. I had my truck packed up, and I’d promised my dad that I was going to move home and become a firefighter. I’d even asked him for money to come home. It was the hardest thing to do, because I never asked my dad for a dollar in my life. But I told him I needed gas to come home.
Then Lisa told me she had this idea for a show. I told her that I’d told my father that I was coming home. I was 30, broke and living on my friend’s couch. I’d had a good run from 20 to 30 — I was living all over the world, modeling. She was like, “Please just trust me. I need you to be on it.” I told her, “Do you know how many people promised me that?”
I was stressed because I lost like three auditions right after that. I was up for a couple things, and I didn’t get them. I was like, “I can’t do it any more.” She just kept saying, “Trust me. Stick around for a couple more days, go through these interviews and you’ll see.” I’m glad I did!
Do you still want to act?
Not at all. I’m not good at it. I can’t memorize shit.
What’s next then?
I’m retiring. [He laughs.] I think I’ve had a good run. I’ve invested well, and I’m going to retire. No, I have some projects and things lined up. But I don’t think we’re done yet. Now, do I want to be done? Sometimes.
It’s dark to think about what happened to all the people on Jersey Shore.
They spent lavishly and didn’t pay their taxes. [He laughs.] You gotta be smart about it, because it’s going to run out one day. And you gotta plan for that. We’re all in our mid-30s, and so, we’ve got our investments, businesses and side projects. You have to think about stuff like that.
I’m very fortunate. I used to cash a check and owe the bank money because I was over drafting. Now they offer me water and a cookie and ask me how I want to invest my money.
Was that a weird adjustment when it started happening?
Totally. I used to take a hockey bag and rob Fresh & Easy, our local grocery store. I didn’t have any money, I had to. This is when I was living with Sandoval and Schwartz. None of us had money. So I’d take a hockey bag after the gym and fill it up with food we needed to eat. We needed to survive. I mean, stealing is wrong in general, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
How often did you hit that place?
Every other day.
And how much would you take when you went in?
A lot. They went out of business. Tom makes fun of me about it all the time. He’s like, “You put that place out of business.” Because I did it for a solid year and a half.
So maybe all the dragging on the internet is worth it?
I laugh all the way to the bank. I shouldn’t say that. But I’m very blessed and fortunate. Like I said, I’ve paid my dues. I bend over on the show, so yeah [he laughs again], I think I deserve it.