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George Unda, Manhattan Digest, Where The Bears Are
Credit to: George Unda

In doing my ongoing series “Get To Know”, I have noticed that each person that I interview has a great deal of physical admirability but also has a vast amount of intelligence, humor and self awareness of who they are and of course how they are perceived in the larger scheme of things.  One of these people is my good friend George Unda, who currently resides right outside of Los Angeles in Long Beach, California.  I got to know George through my laptop screen (minds out of the gutters people) watching the hit online series in which he is apart of called “Where The Bears Are”.  Billed as a comedy-mystery series, it focuses on three different friends in the bear world who are thrown into a different murder mystery each season and have to figure out the whodunit aspect by the time the season ends.  George plays the hunky and charming Detective Marcus Martinez on the show.

Outside of “Where The Bears Are”, George has developed quite a large following on his social networking.  On top of the super hot selfies he posts, he also creates an open forum to discuss what is going on in the current world and his love for shows like Adventure Time.  On top of that, George is a fantastic writer who did his first piece for Manhattan Digest a little while ago to great fanfare and feedback.  You can see that article here.

I was lucky enough to sit down with George to discuss “Where The Bears Are” upcoming season, his thoughts on the bear community, what tickles his fancy when it comes to who is he attracted to and what his hopes are for 2015 and beyond.

Where The Bears Are, Manhattan Digest, George Unda
Credit to: George Unda/Where The Bears Are

Hey George, thanks for taking time to chat with us! So tell us about the upcoming season of the hit show Where The Bears Are? What can the viewer’s expect from you and the rest of the gang?

Hey Ryan, thanks for interviewing me! Well Ben, Rick and Joe are keeping all the big and fun plot points a secret still, but what I can tell you is that everyone is super excited to go back into production and give our viewers more of what our viewers love, which is comedy, mixed with sex, mixed with drama, and of course a trail of dead bodies won’t hurt. My impression is that both my character (Detective Marcus Martinez) and my partner (Detective Chad Winters) will be going in new and exciting directions. In fact, all the characters will enter very interesting new adventures….ok…I’m biting on my tongue right now trying not to give away any big stuff I have overheard.

The show has of course experienced some great feedback but criticism as well, as most things do in the gay community. What is your best advice to give to the naysayers about your show?

Well just like any show on television or on the web, its got is specific audience. I think Ben, Rick and Joe do a great job at capturing the essence of camp humor while adding lots of unique tropes that are specific to the bear community. Of course, there will always be exaggerations, hyperbole and things that are simply wacky, but hey! It’s a comedy show!  Just relax and enjoy the craziness.

Where The Bears Are, George Unda, Manhattan Digest
Credit to: Where The Bears Are/George Unda

We see so many shows that highlight the LGBT community lately, in particularly “Looking” and “Transparent”. What are your thoughts on the progress of LGBT characters on mainstream television and where do you think we still need to improve on?

It’s been an interesting evolution when it comes to the LGBT community. I don’t think it’s been a linear progression; instead it seems to be broken into a spectrum of what is acceptable and not acceptable, stereotypical and non-stereotypical. We started with the Ellen Show, which allowed for Will & Grace, which opened the doors for shows like Queer As Folk and The L Word to blast the closet door open. Each one had a different take on LGBT, either more or less political, more or less sexualized, again, never linear. Now we have “Looking” and “Transparent” which I feel seem to neutralize previous incarnations of gay shows. “Looking” seems to want to show us that gays can be boring and normal folk with average issues, while “Transparent” shows us that we can all identify with Mort/Mora and her complex family. Ultimately we are being humanized finally. That had been the goal all along, I believe.

Regarding WTBA, do you have a favorite moment or scene that you have done with the show?

Yes, my favorite scene is in season two, when Chad Sanders (my co-star and on-screen partner) were on a steak-out with Joe Dietl (Wood Burns) and we had our wacky three-way affair mix-up scene. I look forward to more fun shoots like that one.

It is set in Los Angeles, but have you ever thought of moving the show for an episode or season to cities like Manhattan, Chicago or SF?

I think that would be an awesome idea. As you may know, the main cast has traveled to Europe and Australia, though officially shooting a scene in a specific city other than Los Angeles would be something fun for us to try. I don’t know if they guys will be doing this but stay tuned and find out if/when Season 4 premieres.

George Unda, Where The Bears Are, Manhattan Digest
Credit to: George Unda/Where The Bears Are

I want to discuss you of course. You have a pretty large following in the bear community. What in your opinion is the bear scene like in Los Angeles and do you see juxtaposition between LA and other highly concentrated areas?

Thanks, I’m flattered you think I have a big following. I find that people outside of Los Angeles typically think that LA is still that stereotype from the 80’s and 90’s— meaning a shallow cesspool full of industry types, disingenuous personalities and fake body parts. Los Angeles is NOTHING like that, especially its bear community. Here we have So much space, So much activity and So many communities within communities that what you end up finding is bears from all walks of life, all career types and personalities gathering at the same pool parties on weekends. We are a warm city people. I have found other cities to be clicqu-ier than ours, maybe due to weather restrictions, maybe just social norms. Talk to our locals, not our transplants, and you will see what I mean.

What is your overall take on the bear community in 2015? Do you think we have progressed at all?

I feel that the bear community is stronger than ever in terms of visibility and identity. We have been referenced in mainstream media and have taken our claim in pop culture with shows like Glee, Family Guy, and many other shows and movies. As we become more mainstream however, I find that the need to further dissect gay subgroups becomes less necessary. The more we try to further split us into groups (muscle bears, otters, silverfoxes, etc) the less unified we become. Ultimately we are just dudes who find other dudes hot, and sometimes they have hair, muscle and fat and sometimes they don’t, and that is totally ok.

A hotly debated topic in this community is race. Seeing as you are a man of color, what is your take on that issue? Do you think there is a difference between preference and prejudice overall?

Oh boy!  The heavy questions! Well, I have lots and lots to say on this topic, but I’ll try to keep my answer short. I’ve been rejected before by dudes who say they exclusively only dates white dudes, or black dudes, and it does sting to hear that. I mean, what can I do to change that?  Nothing. But ultimately I brush it off and move on since in my experience I’ve had the luck of being gracefully accepted by all races in the bear community. I know this has not been the case for many, and I find that simply awful. Social media has pushed racial discrimination to a new edge, as racist dudes can now find comfort in anonymity and social detachment. I think it’s all of our responsibilities to combat this behavior. Regardless of what race you are, be respectful to folks. If you aren’t attracted to them, don’t make it a race issue. Be polite and treat them as you would like to be treated and/or turned down. It’s not that hard.

Manhattan Digest, George Unda
Credit to: Dusticunningham.com

Speaking of preferences, I am sure there are a ton of guys who want to know what is your type of guy (besides me, duh).

I’ll split this one into two categories, looks and personality: Looks, I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t say that I prefer a dude with a muscled, thick body. Good hygiene is crucial. Personality, I love a guy who has a great sense of humor, is intelligent, confident and humble. It’s hard to find this combination in its entirety, however I have found a few and I’m proud to call them great friends of mine. I would want to say that personality trumps looks in the long game.

Anything else you want to add?

I’m excited at the prospect of doing a season 4 of Where The Bears Are. We will be starting the new Kickstarter Fundraiser soon and we are more than thrilled to have everyone join us. We depend solely on the support of our fans and followers and we cannot make it without their help. They help us shape the show in the most incredible ways, and their help is a reminder that Where The Bears Are is a manifestation of what the bear community can accomplish when we support each other out. Please visit wherethebearsare.tv and feel free to Facebook us for more information!