Cody Rigsby Wants You to Have Regular, Fulfilling Orgasms
The first time I took a Cody Rigsby Peloton class, I thought, “This is what would happen if Jane Fonda were a gay man who loves P!NK.” Halfway through his first book, XOXO, Cody, which is out today, Rigsby explains that he’s aware of the association but thinks of himself as more like Richard Simmons. “This man had wild hair and bright short-shorts and he was so over the top, so comical, that he made people feel safe.” These are apt descriptors for the iconic fitness instructor, Dancing with the Stars bronze medalist, pop music enthusiast, and self-described slut.
Rigsby had a turbulent childhood, and his path from closeted gay kid to poster boy of the stationary cycling world is both heartening and, after reading his book, obvious. Despite growing up with little money and a mother who struggled with addiction, Rigsby had (and still has) one major thing that precipitated his success: a strong sense of self. He’s confident and has this contagious, manic energy that makes him the ideal Virgil to guide us through the inferno that is a cardio class.
In the opening lines of XOXO, Cody, Rigsby reminds us that he has a lot of opinions. As a gay man who also feels definite about almost everything, I felt that utterly unfiltered was the proper lane to take for our chat. Over a pleasant Zoom (with his publicist in the background waiting for one of us to overstep), we discussed everything from a dream Madonna’s Confessions ride to all of the haters who limit themselves in life by having boring, missionary-position sex.
ERIC EIDELSTEIN: Can I start this recording or do you have anything you want to say off the record?
CODY RIGSBY: No, I think I’m good. We’re going right into it.
EIDELSTEIN: How are you today?
RIGSBY: I’m a little slow, but I’m good.
EIDELSTEIN: First of all, congratulations on writing a book.
RIGSBY: Thank you.
EIDELSTEIN: Do you know the Heidi Montag tweet where she’s like, “Congratulations to anyone who’s ever written a book”?
RIGSBY: No, but I’ll have to go look at it, and I’m sure she specifically had a hard time writing a book.
EIDELSTEIN: I don’t know if she has. I think it was just out of the blue. But for real, congrats. I really love it.
RIGSBY: Thank you.
EIDELSTEIN: In my mind, it felt like a self-help guide for broken gays. The pipeline of coming from a small town to New York is relatable to a lot of queers who make this pilgrimage. What’s your relationship to New York?
RIGSBY: I might definitely use that review in other interviews. I’ve been in New York 14 years and still love this place with a ton of passion. Right after high school, it was never really on my radar. When I was a kid in North Carolina, I had always aspired to go back to Los Angeles, where I was born. Now, what I love about New York is that weirdly this city of 8 million people also feels like a community, and especially for queer people. We make this pilgrimage to a place where we seek refuge to feel safe, to feel seen, and to share in fellowship with other people who understand our experience. I’m sure if you talk to the average Fox News viewer, it would blow their mind that I find New York to be safe.
EIDELSTEIN: It reminds me of something a therapist told me when I was debating moving here. He said something like, “You can make it really small in your head.” You live in a neighborhood and you go to the same bodegas and places, and you see the same people. And in this giant space, suddenly your world feels cozy.
RIGSBY: Think about how many times you run into somebody that you know on the subway. Sometimes you want to run into those people, and most of the time you don’t.
EIDELSTEIN: What do you think makes New York gays better than L.A. gays?
RIGSBY: You’re starting a little war here. I think the fashions, if you want to call them fashions, are atrocious in L.A. The few that have style do it really well, but the majority of them don’t. Whereas New Yorkers, our cars are our bodies, so we want to adorn them in beautiful gowns, to quote Aretha Franklin. We want to wear cute things and we invest a lot into it. I do feel the stereotype is true that in L.A. people are using others to climb whatever aspirational ladder. Whereas I feel like New Yorkers are—
EIDELSTEIN: Too tired.
RIGSBY: They have a purpose, and we’re getting there one way or the other, without so-and-so’s help. L.A. is getting better at queer nightlife spaces, but New York has always had them. And maybe this is from a place of privilege or stupidity, but I do feel it’s becoming more diverse. L.A. has great food and great weather at times.
EIDELSTEIN: You’re being really diplomatic.
RIGSBY: I know. I also am just not a car person. I sound so bougie right now, but I only drive it out to Fire Island. I hate to drive. I hate car culture, so I think that’s why I love New York. No matter how rich or bougie you get, riding the subway is the quickest way somewhere.
EIDELSTEIN: I definitely subscribe to the “gays can’t drive” stereotype.
RIGSBY: Guilty as charged.
EIDELSTEIN: I’ve been sweating to you for the past several years, and I really enjoy your classes. And reading the book, you’ve made this composition of Cody-isms and put your whole—I hate saying the word brand, but brand—into a book. When did you get this idea?
RIGSBY: XOXO, Cody’s inception was obviously a ride at Peloton, and I’m really happy I’ve been able to push it into a more long-form vehicle. Many of the Cody-isms are quick meme-able moments in class or condensed versions of vulnerable stories. And even in those short, snackable versions, people connect to them. Now I have this vehicle that allows me to be more methodical and intentional with how I share my story and people get a lot more details of the success story. I think how we get there is important, as Miley Cyrus said in her 2012 hit, “The Climb.”
EIDELSTEIN: I remember one of the first Peloton rides I took with you, you went on what seemed like a tangent about sex work. It was unexpected, but in a pleasant way, where I’m climbing and climbing and losing my breath, but I’m also hearing you say very astute things about sex work and body positivity. Is that something you plan?
RIGSBY: I would say that 85% of this is improv. I have always been a talkative-ass gay. I’m taking all of the air out of the room. I’ve just always kind of been that kind of person. The more produced rides, like XOXO Cody or LOL Cody, I might actually be sitting there writing a script, but the majority of my rides are just improv of stupid ass shit that I think of. And I create a very sex-positive space. I want people to be sluts if they want to be, and I want them to know that sex work is work.
EIDELSTEIN: I love that. Are you ever conscious about toeing a line of political correctness, or appealing to a larger mass of people?
EIDELSTEIN: What won’t you say?
RIGSBY: Here’s the thing. Although I have really brash opinions, most of them are about pop culture or food or music and those are fun and healthy debates. I can sit there and be like, “I don’t like Taylor Swift,” but half of the ride probably does like Taylor Swift. I’m sure you, like any other gay man, love to argue about your favorite pop stars with your friends. That’s just part of the culture, and it’s harmless.
EIDELSTEIN: But I do notice that you’re good at slipping in nuggets that sometimes feel a little political.
RIGSBY: I think it’s pretty covert, and the people that get it, get it. And the people that don’t, it flies over their head. It’s somewhat intentional, but I don’t go to that place too frequently. Surprisingly, it’s a mixed bag on a Peloton ride where sometimes a lot of conservatives take my ride, which surprises me because of the way that I act. But instead of trying to push them away, I try to create a space where they’re also entertained. I never want to make Peloton a political space. We get enough of that on TikTok, on YouTube, on the news. That being said, I’m always going to stand up for rights. I want to be an ally to women and trans people and people of color as much as I can be. But that allyship is not always on the Peloton bike. That’s more in my actions outside of there.
EIDELSTEIN: You mentioned Taylor Swift. What is the craziest thing you’ve been told by a Swiftie?
RIGSBY’S PUBLICIST: Sorry, jumping in. I think we can pass on this one. We don’t need the Swifties coming after us.
RIGSBY: Yeah, that’s true. We all have an emotional and really deep connection to our favorite pop stars because they’ve gotten us through a lot.
EIDELSTEIN: For sure. I was also thinking about what seems unique to Peloton, which is that you’re a fitness instructor on one end, but you’re also there to be a personality. Do you ever worry you give too much?
RIGSBY: As far as talking about partying or my relationship or my mom, these are all really authentic parts of me and I don’t feel the need to water it down. We spend so much of our young life trying to hide and deflect, and I’ve gotten to a place where I’ve accepted my mistakes, my past, the things that are flawed and messy about my upbringing. I’ve let go of any shame or guilt, and I love myself in spite of that. I’d be doing a disservice to tell people to love themselves while watering down and hiding parts of myself.
EIDELSTEIN: Which is another element I love so much about your book. You feel organically equipped to be giving the advice you’re giving.
RIGSBY: I’m not a therapist. I think that you should go see a therapist. I can only speak to my experience. And I’m just trying to share the little light bulbs that have gone off in my head when I’m meditating or in therapy.
EIDELSTEIN: For sure. If there was a Peloton ride you could curate that was super obscure, what would the theme be?
RIGSBY: I feel like I’ve done so many. Even the other day, I did a cat-inspired playlist. If you know me, you know I don’t like animals, but I was just trying to challenge myself. It was hard to find pop songs that were about cats. I had to make it more of a motif where I was like, there’s Doja Cat and The Pussycat Dolls on here.
EIDELSTEIN: Are there any up-and-coming pop stars that you wish you could dedicate a ride to, but they’re not quite there yet?
RIGSBY: I’ve already done a Kim Petras ride. Kim is a little bit niche, and I don’t know if mainstream America is completely going to get on board with her, but I hope they do.
EIDELSTEIN: You plugged Rina Sawayama.
RIGSBY: I didn’t do the Rina ride. I think Kendall did. Rina’s amazing. I think the ride I’d do just for me would be a Pabllo Vittar ride. Her music has helped me learn Portuguese, so I know a lot of her catalog. It’s so niche that not everybody would understand it, but Pablo’s famous in Brazil, and most importantly, famous to the gays. But I would do it just for me and I don’t care if anybody rides it with me or not.
EIDELSTEIN: I kind of want a Caroline Polachek ride.
RIGSBY: No idea who the fuck that is.
EIDELSTEIN: Great. She’s an indie pop girl. She’s fun. She wrote some music off of Beyonce’s self-titled.
RIGSBY: I would love to do a ride where it’s literally Madonna’s Confessions from start to finish.
EIDELSTEIN: Is that your favorite Madonna album?
RIGSBY: Hands down. I don’t think I wrote about it in the book, but that came out when I was still in the closet in college. I felt ashamed of liking it, and then I grew into loving it. I love that album so much. And then I would also love to do the same thing with Renaissance, start to finish.
EIDELSTEIN: Sign me up for that. To wrap up, I had an idea for a little game. I’m going to read out some random quotes you’ve said throughout your rides, and I want you to rank them from 1 being, “I wish I never said this,” to 10, “I didn’t give enough.”
RIGSBY: We love games. All right.
EIDELSTEIN: “I’m going to give you some life advice. Don’t ever wear a khaki pant with a red or maroon top. You know why? Because you’re going to look like a target employee. Just avoid it.”
RIGSBY: I’m going to stand by that at a solid 8. Every time I see someone in public wearing that, I think they just got off their shift at Target. Now, some might see that as classist and I’m trying to demean someone working at Target. That is not what I’m trying to do. I’m just saying that Target could do a better job with the colors.
EIDELSTEIN: “You’re not the complimentary basket of chips and salsa, you’re the fajita, sizzling, grabbing everyone’s attention. A high-priced ticket item of the Chili’s menu.”
RIGSBY: I think that is a quote that I’m very well known for, and I would say a 10. Everybody knows what it’s like to be in a restaurant and watch the fajitas go by. And I think that everyone, once in their lifetime, deserves to be stared at like a sizzling plate of fajitas at a packed Chili’s.
EIDELSTEIN: “All the single people out there, you have to run amok in the city and swap fluids with a minimum of three people and get naked with a minimum of one, or what I call a Tuesday.”
RIGSBY: But wait, I think I was saying that’s… What was I saying? That’s what single people need to do on Valentine’s Day. I’m saying, “Don’t hold back.” Listen, I stand by that. As long as you’ve consented to it, go out, swap fluids with people. That does sound like a Tuesday to me.
EIDELSTEIN: I’ve got one more for you. “Your friends are probably jealous because they’re only having missionary position intimacy, and that’s on them. Stay crusty.”
RIGSBY: And be a slut, be a hoe. If somebody’s got something to say about you doing you, then they’re fucking jealous. If they were having regular, fulfilling orgasms, they would not be worried about what you’re doing.
EIDELSTEIN: So stay crusty.
RIGSBY: Stay crusty, bitch.
EIDELSTEIN: On that note, it was really nice to talk to you.
RIGSBY: Likewise. Have a good one, babe.
EIDELSTEIN: You too.