If you were watching the season premiere of The Amazing Race Sunday night, you may have noticed a team of long-haired, heavy-metal-looking guys. Mark "Abba" Abbattista is an entertainment lawyer who currently lives in Golden, and he partnered up with longtime friend and musician James LoMenzo -- former member of White Lion and Megadeth -- to rock the competition.
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Abbattista and LoMenzo say their experience with touring prepared them for the competition. "We have been running around the world together on tour for a number of years anyway. And we were running through an airport when I asked [LoMenzo], 'Hey, have you ever watched the Amazing Race? Because that's kind of what we're doing every day,'" Abbattista recalls. "Personality-wise and image-wise, we thought that we had kind of an interesting team dynamic -- and the show agreed with us."
Over the past twenty seasons, The Amazing Race has seen all types of teams. Even so, a metal musician and an entertainment lawyer are not the typical contestants. Although all teams are different, a couple of traits set him and Abbattista apart, according to LoMenzo. "We live at an accelerated pace. When we're touring and playing music and going country to country, as both Abba and I have done for many years, it puts a whole different mindset on the way we look at things," he says. "Looking the way we do, to the other contestants I'd imagine we look a little sillier, kind of strange and different."
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They use this different look as a tactic, hoping to be underestimated by the other teams. "I think that did work in our favor because probably people's first impression of looking at us was that we were some kind of long-haired, hippie stoner guys and nobody knew that I was a lawyer. Nobody probably expected too much from us," Abbattista says. Under their stoner-guy camouflage, they played Ping-Pong with the experts and ate frog fallopian tubes in China, finishing in sixth place on the first episode and securing a spot to continue in the race.
With reality television always comes drama. Under the stress of the race, couples have seen each other's real colors and sibling rivalries have been ignited. But LoMenzo and Abbattista insist they didn't experience any strain in their friendship during the competition. "There's so much that goes on in the race as far as strategizing and moving quickly, and that can really wear on people," LoMenzo says. "Abba and I have traveled for years together, so we're kind of used to all the pitfalls, and we have a good rhythm between one another, so it really didn't come into play."
"Because we were experienced in doing this, I think we definitely had a leg up," Abbattista adds.
They're also getting solid support from Golden, Abbattista says. "Everybody here is kind of rallying around the whole show and my participation in it," he explains, "because I'm very active here with my children in school, being the baseball coach."
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Root for the home team next Sunday, when the second episode of The Amazing Race airs.