As someone who is always interested in up and coming brands, primarily ones with an LGBT focus, it gives me a great sense of adoration when there is one in particular I really like a lot that has had some fantastic developments to them, all within a short time frame. This can be said of the up and coming and booming clothing line Krave and Kulture, who just relaunched their website with four incredible new collections for the savvy & smart guy.
I was watching a very old episode of “Sex And The City” the other day, it might have been the pilot, where the discussion surrounded around women trying to have sex like men. In other words- no feelings, get in, get out, with no emotions. In the modern age we call that a friend with benefit or in layman’s terms, a fuck buddy. However, a growing trend I have seen in the gay world, especially in major metropolitan cities like New York, is the idea that men will edge and edge and edge their brains and nether regions into thinking that the next man (or scene) will finally be the one to make them finish looking (and coming), but some are never truly satisfied and will continue edging for their own personal (and sometimes) selfish reasons. So the question remains- why do men edge and never cum when it comes to actually committing yourself to another guy?
With the excitement of NYC Comic Con coming up very shortly, many comic book loving aficionado’s are bracing for what will hopefully be an epic weekend of seeing the creative art of thousands upon thousands of illustrators, artists and so much more. Something that will hopefully get some representation there is the awesome LGBT artists that represent the vast amounts of backgrounds covered by our community.
Speaking of LGBT and comic books, there is someone that I recently was given attention to on my Facebook page due to his incredible comic strip line called “Shirtlifter”. This happens to be produced and made by Steve MacIsaac, who resides in the heart of Long Beach, California. Not being a stranger to comic book writing, Steve has had a lush and quite incredible history and backstory in this particular world of art. From his sex positive and very successful comic called “Sticky” to his successful completion of his 5th series of “Shirtlifter”, Steve has done and seen a lot in the comic world and has a lot to talk about regarding it. I recently sat down with Steve to get to know him a little more. I learned about his first interest in comics, inspirations, how “Sticky” and “Shirtlifter” came about, his thoughts on the LGBT comic world today and his incredible upcoming event taking place this Friday. Take a peek into his world.
At what age did you discover that comic books were something you wanted to make a career out of?
I guess it depends on how you parse the question; I began drawing on my parents walls when I was about four years old; I learned to read from Peanuts, became an aficionado of superhero comics when I was eight years old, and started making my own strips and stories when I was about 10. So I am a long term cartoonist, in terms of interest, but gave it up in my teens because I was frustrated with my drawing ability. I didn’t come back to it until my late 20s, when my somewhat lapsed interest in comics came raging back, and I actually had something to say.
Did you have any inspirations in terms of authors, series, or illustrators that got you to this point?
I think everything I have ever read has influenced me in some way. I try not to have direct influences – I try and solve problems by coming up with a “Steve MacIsaac” way to do it from all the things I have internalized, rather than cribbing directly from other artists. I hate making lists because I will mail this and immediately hit my head because I have left someone obvious off of it, but people I admire and have been influenced by: Charles Schulz, Jaime Hernandez, Eddie Campbell, Dylan Horrocks, Dan Clowes, Dave Sim, Alex Toth, Tom of Finland, Gengorah Tagame, Fabrice Neaud, Alison Bechdel, Maurice Vellekoop, Kurt Vonnegut, Flannery O’Connor, David Sedaris, David Lynch, Roman Polanski, Derek Jarman, Edouard Manet, Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe, Barbara Kruger, The Velvet Underground , Coil, Brian Eno, Talking Heads, The Fall, The Magnetic Fields, The Mountain Goats, Judith Thompson, Brad Fraser. I could go on and on.
From “Sticky” to “Shirtlifter”, your comics have a huge gay theme to them. Was this the arena you wanted to work in from the get go or was it something that found its way during your career?
I didn’t particularly set out to do gay comics, at all, but the biggest stumbling block I had to becoming a cartoonist when I was younger was not really having anything to say. It wasn’t until coming out, which I did rather late (I was 26) and being rather confused by the gay scene, being somewhat shy and clueless and not really fitting like I fit in (which, to be fair, was also true of me when I was trying to be straight). Doing STICKY was a way of me coming to grips with sexuality, with who I was and who I was attracted to, while the SHIRTLIFTER material is me coming to grips with gay culture, with what that means in the early part of the 21st century. I was interested in comics, formally, and I didn’t see any material out there that was addressing gay issues in a way that I felt was representative of how gay men are currently living their lives. And in any medium, when you see a gap that is not being served, that is an opportunity.
For people who don’t know, what is the premise of the comic “Sticky”?
Dale and I wanted to do wordless, sex-positive comics, in the vein of Tom of Finland, that showed real people having meaningful sex, in a real world context and with the personality of the guys coming through, in contrast to the dehumanized, stock going through the motions that is more typical of erotic work. “Carnality and sweetness” was a tag line that we thought up to describe the work – sex with a smile rather than a sneer.
You have also developed a line of comics called “Shirtlifter”. Can you tell our readers what those are about?
SHIRTLIFTER is my catch all anthology title where I write about whatever comes to mind. The stories in there explore the intersection of culture, identity, and sexuality: how gay men strive, succeed, and fail to make sense of the paradoxes and opportunities that present themselves in contemporary gay life, particularly the construction of presentation of masculinity. The first issue was a 32 page short story about American ex-patriots living in Tokyo; the second was a collection of 10 autobiographical short stories. Issues 3 – 5 have all formed one continuing story, “Unpacking”, exploring the relationship between a commitment-phobic gay man and a straight, married businessman. The stories are a mixture of funny and serious; I try to make them feel as real as possible, to the point where some people have accused me of spying on them and their friends. That always makes me feel good; the characters, even when they are not behaving as well as they should, are still fairly relatable.
You created and were successful in your Kickstarter for the 5th series of Shirtlifter. How awesome! Do you plan on doing any more crowd funding for upcoming novels?
I’m not sure – I’d rather not rely on Kickstarter too much, as it is a well you can’t go to too often. But the truth of the matter is that print runs are expensive, and my sales, while consistent, take a long time to recoup their initial outlay. So I wouldn’t rule it out, at least for number 6.
What is your hope with the Shirtlifter series? Do you hope that it can be transformed into a television series for LOGO or something?
I do comics because I like the form, and I think they express my ideas in a way that would be hard to duplicate in other media. Comics allow for both the rich subjectivity that is possible with prose, and the objective distance provided by film or theatre. The observer is both observing and being, depending on the cues that the cartoonist is providing. That an being able to speed up or slow down the pace of consumption, depending on the layout and design that you use, gives me a pretty big toolbox that I am happy to explore. I don’t consider my work to be a jumping off point to something else. Which is not to say that if someone was interested I would say no – I love film and TV as medium, and did a lot of theatre when I was in my 20s. So I am interested in other media. But the reason I do comics is because of their unique ability to present and form ideas. When the medium is firing on all cylinders, I think it is the narrative experience provided is unrivaled.
Do you feel that LGBT comic book artists get the credit that they deserve in that particular world?
I’m on the fence about this question. On one hand, Alison Bechdel is unquestionably one of the comics industries best cultural ambassadors; she is up there in with Chris Ware and Art Spiegelman as being a serious cartoonist with strong public awareness. At the same time, she has gone on record as feeling very out of place and ignored within the mainstream comics community for the first 20 years of her career. She was carried in LGBT bookshops and mainstream bookstores, but not comic shops. She became successful despite the comic book industry, not because of it. I think things are definitely changing; there are more LGBT titles than ever before, and many superhero comics are including queer and trans characters. But most comics shops don’t carry indie titles, and many of those that do don’t carry many queer indie titles, mostly due to lack of promotion or resources than internalized homophobia (though that honestly plays a part as well). Hopefully the success of Anne Ishii and Graham Kobekin’s Massive book, as well as Ed Luce’s Wuvable Oaf book (both from Fantagraphics) are helping increase queer visibility in comics shops.
Tell me about your Long Beach event that is happening on September 11th?
It is taking place at a store called MADE, which is at 236 Pine Ave, just down the street from my house. I’ve never done a reading in my own city before, so I am kind of excited. It’s a new shop that’s opened up, featuring locally made clothing, food items, arts and crafts, and also has a shelf allocated to local authors. So it seemed like a good fit for the venue. The evening will start as a mixer, people can browse the store and the books and art while having some beer and wine and snacks, then I will do a reading from previous work, the newest SHIRTLIFTER and a few stories that have not yet been published. I’ll have books available and will sign throughout the evening.
What else is next for Steve MacIsaac? What is your biggest hope for your career?
Now that it’s done, I’d like to collect “Unpacking” in a single volume, revising a few things and making some layout changes to give it more room to breathe. I’m also working on the next issue, which will be another suite of short autobiographical pieces, similar to what I did in SHIRTLIFTER number 2, with an eye to eventually collecting all those short pieces together in a single volume. Beyond that, I am not sure. I’d like to continue to do work that reflects the culture around me, as well as possible expand my horizons. I’m kicking around an idea for an science fiction story, but that’s still pretty gestational. So far, the world around me has proven to have more than enough material for me to turn into comics, fictional and otherwise.
I’m always on the lookout for the next great thing in gay brands, especially in the fashion industry. With the summer still in full swing for another month, many gay men are on the hunt for their last big vacation to take before the warm weather makes its exit and the brisk Fall weather makes its way in. So why not try to find some really great fitted tees that show off your physique, have a great pop of color with some awesome and sexy graphics to go along with? This is where Bare Beef Tees come along.
I discovered Bare Beef on Instagram actually, where that particular page alone has amounted to 6,000 followers in a short period of time. Pretty impressive for any Instagram page. The page is chock full of super hot beefy guys modeling some of Bare Beef’s signature and great tees for the masses to enjoy (including myself). I was very curious to know more about how the brand came about and so much more, and got the opportunity to do so. I sat down with owner Al Bare who told me more about the business, how his shirts are for men of all sizes, upcoming events, and so much more. Take a look.
So how did the concept of Bare Beef tees start?
The idea of Bare Beef tees came about from several compliments and conversations shared with friends, followers and admirers regarding my artwork. It was our collective belief that there was a community out there that would both enjoy and appreciate fantasy images of bear and leather men on quality tees and tank shirts.
When it came to coming up with a name for them, how did you land on “Bare Beef”?
A friend and I were brainstorming with one another about a name that would both suggest and sort of be a twist for the word “bear” and the word “beef” to denote images of sexy muscular hairy-beefy–bare chested fantasy men. So we thought it was just a good marriage of words to come with Bare Beef as our company name. While there are numerous t-shirt companies geared for the bear community that featured cartoon oriented designs and phrases we however wanted our designs to feature actual images of beefy muscular guys.
Design wise; was there anything you drew inspiration on when it came to making the tees themselves?
As an artist, I drew upon images from tv, movie and photographic prints as well as everyday men I saw at the gym , bear events, clubs or just regular guys on the street with a strikingly handsome face or aspect about their bodies that I could draw and even enhance wherever i chose.
You use very bold and strong colors on your tees such as a sharp red and black for instance. Do you tend to shy away from a softer color palette due to the intensity in how the models wear the shirts?
Since the original drawings are grey from their inception and then outlined digitally, a lighter color palette would not necessarily provide as great of a contrast as it does with the bolder t-shirt colors. This way the bolder “colored fabric canvas” provides a backdrop that stands out more and shows off the artwork a little more prominently. As we continue to grow and designs become more varied we will very likely incorporate different color palettes accordingly for their respective designs.
Are these shirts designed for men of all sizes?
Currently our designs are available in Medium to XXXLarge sizes. Even though most of our customers are members of the bear community (bears cubs,otters,chubs) as well as the leather community, we have however more recently received many requests from smaller framed guys that we will of course be certainly fulfilling in the very near future.
What is your take on gay men’s fashion today. Do you find that it is a bit one note or do you think we are improving when it comes to body acceptance in the community overall?
When discussing body image acceptance as a whole within the gay community and all of its sub-cultures I personally believe that there is still need for improvement. The bear community has long been identified as one in which body image shape, size; etc has been much more accepting and less critical when compared to the other sub cultures. The other cultures have both promoted and continued to revere a more slender, fit contoured physique and thereby have not embraced nor been as accepting of fashions which were casual or otherwise.
You have amassed over 5,000 Instagram followers which is quite impressive. How were you able to build on that with your brand?
When the original idea came up to begin this line of tees and tanks we asked friends, acquaintances and models to wear a tank or tee and had a photographer take several provocative pics of the guys. Then, we slowly released the pictures one by one via Instagram exclusively and we gained an impressive following right from the start with the release of the first couple of pictures. From there it just grew and grew until the launch of the line in May. We have had several customers who have purchase a tee or tank then took a selfie of themselves in their tee or tank and then we posted those and received even more attention and more followers from those postings. We also try to keep up with our customers by liking and commenting on their posts.
Price-wise, what does an average Bare Beef shirt cost?
Industry-wise we are on the low end since some of the retailers actually sell their tees and tanks from anywhere $40-$50. Our tees are only $26.99 and tanks for only $24.99.
Do you have any events coming up with Bare Beef that my readers would like to know about?
Yes thanks very much for asking …International Bear Bash in Orlando, FL in September; Hibearnation in St. Louis, MO. in November; and North American Bear Weekend in Lexington,KY in February. There’s also a chance that we’ll have our shirts at the Mid-Atlantic Leather in Washington, DC in January although that is not yet confirmed. At each of those events, our line of tees and tanks will be available at the Vendor Market at the Torso Menswear booth.
What is your ultimate hope with the Bare Beef brand?
We hope to expand from just the line of tees and tanks and broaden the line to include items such as hats, underwear, shorts, swimwear or even gym bags. Ideally we’d like to see our line crossover into the other cultures and be worn by guys of all genres.
Gay Bars in Manhattan, especially the Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen area, should go together like Peanut Butter & Jelly. Sadly, a lot of legendary gay bars here are going the way of the Dodo bird due to jacked up rent and jack asses who would prefer to put another Bank of America/Chase/TD Bank or a trendy run of the mill Italian joint there in place of an institution that has been there for 40 plus years. It really is a shame. The most recent casualty of all of this is Boots & Saddles, which will be closing its doors on Christopher Street soon. According to Towleroad, this is what they had to say-
The gay bar — known for its drag shows, packed parties and welcoming vibe — cannot afford to pay a rent increase on its space at 76 Christopher St. and will shut down soon after 40 years in the Village, managing owner Rob Ziegler said. “I’m sad,” said Ziegler, who started as a bartender at Boots & Saddle in 1999 and later became an owner. “I’ve been here 15 years. Fifteen years is a long time.” Ziegler said a new landlord is taking over the building in the coming months and plans to raise rent for the 700-square-foot bar by thousands of dollars per month, to the “high twenties.”
It’s really pathetic how in the past couple of years places like this and other ones, like the popular No Parking and Rawhide, are closing to due unforeseen circumstances that the owners themselves can’t seem to shake themselves off of due to the greedy world that is Manhattan. HOWEVER, there are some fantastic and amazing gay bars that seem to be doing well in this economy and are also a great place to visit whether you are visiting Manhattan or have lived here for a good period of time. The only gay bar that is thriving that I don’t see the big deal with is Boxers, which is both located in Chelsea & Hell’s Kitchen. The HK one is decent, but the Chelsea one I just personally find to be appalling with the amount of straight douchebag bartenders they have, the overcrowded aspect and the fact that it is looking more and more like a straight bar lately with the amount of women in it (No T No Shade ladies, but if its a gay bar we should be the ones running a muck). That being said, here are my list of what I think are still the best gay bars in Manhattan.
Gym Sportsbar- 167 8th Avenue (Between 18th and 19th Street) In terms of what I think is the pinnacle for gay bars in the new millennium, Gym Sportsbar exemplifies that and then some. Being open now for over a decade, this bar promises a great and upbeat vibe with friendly bartenders and fantastically priced drinks. Something I find that Gym Sportsbar does in a very clever way is the different types of bartenders they have. When you go to other gay bars, it seems to be all muscular and not much substance. The great thing about this bar is that if you have a type of guy, you will see that in one of the bartenders there. So if you like the cute bearish ones, sexy muscular dudes, or athletic jock types, you will find them there. I may be more biased towards Gym Sportsbar due to the location (right by Penn Station) but it also is surrounded by a lot of great eateries to fill you up after you kick back a couple (The Dish, Spice are good examples). The best reason in my opinion is the drink specials are off the chain. HAPPY HOUR 2 FOR 1, Monday-Friday for one. Beer Blast on Sunday. You can’t get better beer and drink prices in the city, and your wallet will be very you compared to going to some of the other bars nearby. Of all the gay bars to go into in Manhattan, this would be a great starting off point for a night on the town and the best & happiest environment in my opinion.
Rockbar (185 Christopher Street, right off the West Side Highway) Rockbar is considered to be an institution on Christopher Street and in the bear community, and some in said community think this is the best “bear” bar in the country. Located right off the west side highway, it is your run of the mill gay bar with great drink prices and fun themed events like the once a month “Underbear” that my good buddy Chris Reed produces. If bear is your thing, this is the place to go.
Adonis Lounge at Evolve (221 East 58th Street, Between 2nd and 3rd Avenue) When you think “gay bar” in Manhattan the first thing that doesn’t really come to mind is the Upper East Side, which is known mainly for its high end boutique stores and upscale restaurants and bars. However, nestled right off of the 63rd & Lexington stop is Evolve Bar, which hosts the infamous (and quite fun I might add) Adonis Lounge. Adonis hosts some of the hottest men in and out of Manhattan for your own pleasure, albeit for a great conversation or a great lap dance. Pair that off with some of the best music I’ve ever heard at a gay bar (yes they play the ORIGINAL versions of hip-hop songs, not the super uptempo remixes) then this is the place you want to be. Adonis takes place on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday nights so be sure to check out their official page for who will be there each night. Surely not to disappoint.
New York City Eagle (554 West 28th Street, Between 10th and 11th Avenue) Infamous, debauchery, scandal and exuberance are just a couple of words to describe the New York City Eagle. A landmark in gay culture, The Eagle has standed the test of time in this revolving door of gay bars opening and closing simply because they are the L’Oreal of the gay world. Meaning that they have a brand that they live up to and its always a good place to end the night at. I call this bar the “Goldilocks” of gay Manhattan, because each floor has something for each comfort level. The most relaxed one seems to be the first floor, where events like “Piggy Bear” amongst others start off. The second floor is where bad things can happen, in the best way possible :). I don’t need to get into details, y’all know what i mean. The third floor, especially during the summer, is a great place to be to meet new people and catch up with old friends, in particular the beer blast on Sundays which is uber popular. Definitely a great place to visit during the 12am-4am hour, as you may meet the love of your life or just the love of your front pants that night. Hehe.
The Russian Federation outlawed openly advocating any speech “propaganda” in relation to LGBTI topics as propaganda that could damage society. In the wake of this neighboring countries now seem to be following suit. Kyrgyzstan has introduced a similar bill in parliament that would criminalize the promotion of homosexuality. Like in Russia, if passed citizens in Kyrgyzstan could face up to a year of imprisonment for advocating LGBTI issues.
Is this a new wave of anti-LGBTI sentiment, evolving into anti gay propaganda, as long as gay people keep it to themselves they are law abiding citizens?
“The sponsors of this bill define ‘non-traditional sexual relations’ as ‘sodomy, lesbianism and other forms of non-traditional sexual behavior,’” according to the organization. “They justify the amendments as necessary ‘to safeguard and protect the traditional family, human, moral, and historical values of Kyrgyz society.’”
Kyrgyzstan already has a hostile climate towards the LGBTI community and with the potential of this ‘draconian’ bill being put into effect, things look darker for the Kyrgyz LGBTI community. According to the bill those convicted of violating the law would face up to six months in prison and a fine of 2,000 to 5,000 som ($36 to $91). For repeat offenders the maximum sentence would be a year in prison and a fine of up to 6,000 som ($110).
In other ex-soviet satellites, the Ukraine considered such a bill but it was not passed, Moldova repealed a ‘gay propaganda’ law last July, a month after it was enacted and a similar bill is pending in Lithuania.
It appears the ex-soviet sphere is in a decline of human rights and equality for LGBTI communities with ever tightening restrictions on their livelihoods and social-inclusion. So far the Russian Federation has met little to no political opposition regards its law which removes certain human rights and freedoms from a minority of its population.
Will the old Soviet Union reunite under an anti-LGBTI “propaganda” law?
Roopbaan! Bangladesh’s first and only LGBTI magazine! Roopbaan essentially translates into “A Fabulous Person”, and its time for Bangladesh’s LGBTI population to speak out about how fabulous they are and how fabulous their love is. The core theme is LOVE and the magazine is named after a famous Bengali folk character who symbolizes the power of love. A poignant choice as the power of love can conquer prejudice and oppression which many LGBTI people face in their daily lives to varying degrees of severity. The publication is aimed on the community level in the hope to expose love in all its glory and joy, and to ‘normalize’ LGBTI love in the area. It can be said the magazine itself is a labor of love as it involves the input from volunteer contributors, including articles, photography and personal accounts from members of the LGBTI community. [Read more…] about Roopbaan! The Right to Love!
Bear Week 2014- Finally Popping That Cherry…
I’ll be the first one to admit it- I can be a bit judgey (is there even a correct spelling for that word?) when it comes to the bear community. I know I wasn’t really like that when I came into it roughly 6 years ago, but over that time my thought process on it has changed drastically and for the most part has left me with a negative viewpoint on it and not so much a positive one. Throughout all my blogging that I have done about living in the gay world for the past year, my friends have consistently said to me that even though my articles can be thought provoking and spark a conversation, they always seem to have a negative thought process and don’t point out the good things that happen in the gay world.
Something that I always shit on for the past couple of years has been bear events. Noticeably TBRU (Texas Bear Round Up), Bear Pride in Chicago and the creme de la creme of them all, Bear Week in Provincetown. As someone that has gone to smaller events in the past, they have left me with a bitter taste in my mouth for personal reasons. I went to several when I was in and out of college in Rhode Island and I think the reason why I felt a bit left out and not in the “in” crowd was that those parties were more designed for the chub/chaser community and I was in between. I guess my viewpoint after I left my last bear event roughly two years ago was that many were like that, but it also came down to my deep insecurity that I have felt over the years since entering in this community.
I have often written in my previous posts about the trials and tribulations that I have dealt with in this community, from the physical (too much weight, too little weight, body hair) to the mental (gossiping, cliques) and everything in between. It has hardened me for sure to a point where I have a hard time remembering the guy I used to be which was friendly, outgoing and generally happy for the most part. Luckily, over the past couple couple year or so I have come in contact with so many authentic & amazing gay friends who have championed me getting to be the guy that I used to be. They have done well in making me realize that not all gay men are bad and that if you need to talk to someone that they will be there for you. I have the utmost gratitude towards them for changing my attitude in all of this.
So when all this Bear Week talk came around again, I originally scoffed at the idea due to it being way outside my budget for the most part. Then a couple of weeks ago my friend was nice enough to get me a room at his place at an affordable rate and really went out of his way to make me feel comfortable with going. Obviously the reason why I’m going to Bear Week isn’t because of finance at all, it is more about starting over and coming into my own again. NOt letting a ton of shit that has brought me down in the past affect my future, and really enjoying this experience authentically and for myself to grow in the process. Also the friendships that I will make, and naturally the hot guys that I will meet (I mean this is a self improvement article but I gotta be honest about everything okayyyyyyy?) I am definitely excited to pop my Bear Week cherry and enjoy what will happen in the beautiful Provincetown in mid-July.
Who else is going to Bear Week for the first time? What should I expect?
Haven’t booked yet or want to learn more? Log on to the official site for more details!
Looking Brings Something Real… And So Much More
Not that I am known for doing things prematurely (insert as many jokes as you want to here. That’s why I wrote that), my first article basically loathing HBO’s “Looking” is something that I do regret in many different ways. It was based off of a combination of the endless press the show was getting even before the show premiered, the seemingly lack of men of color on the show and the way people were treating it that really led to that write up. Add a not so great premiere (sorry, not taking that back) and I was quite apprehensive about the show.
Well now that the first season has ended, and it already has been given the green light for season two, my opinion on the show has drastically changed since that first episode. The characters have developed quite well over the past eight episodes, even though each of them are only half an hour long. Whereas I do believe if they made each episode an hour long they could develop even further, I am happy to see where the show has landed and am looking forward to what happens next season.
Strongest factors of the show-
Murray Bartlett (Dom)- I remember Murray as Oliver Spencer, the gay man who stole Carrie away from Aiden for a short period of time on “Sex And The City”. In the first episode of this series, he came across to me as the a-typical Chelsea/Hell’s Kitchen guy, musc/masc and nicely dressed and refusing to accept that he is getting older and turning 40. He consistently went after younger men and got insecure if a simple cater waiter denied him. His character over the 8 episodes did a complete 180 in my opinion, by going through somewhat of a growth in terms of opening up his own restaurant, listening to his friends advice and in the end falling for someone even older than him, Lynn (an uber-hot Scott Bakula). I am really looking forward to seeing how his character plays out in season 2, especially with him and Lynn.
The Supporting Characters (Boyfriends, best friends, coworkers)- Great shows are designed best when the main characters intrigue you but the supporting cast members add that particular something to make the show gel. This works with so many people like Patrick (Jonathan Groff’s) boss and now lover of sorts Kevin (my future husband Russel Tovey), Dom’s roommate and funny lady Doris (Laurel Weedman) who pretty much champions him to open the restaurant and point him in the right direction, and my favorite is Richie (my side boyfriend Raul Castillo) who challenges Patrick in his insecurities and ability to have a grown up relationship, even if Patrick doesn’t know if that what he particularly wants. Although I am bummed with how Richie leaves him in the end, I am hoping that he comes back for Season 2 in some sorts because the show really seemed to pick up steam in the episode that was just about the two of them.
The Dialogue- I love how this is how REAL friends talk to each other, and address their concerns on such a better level than just being like “GIRLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL” every other sentence. All three (Augustin will be mentioned later) really care about each other and keep it real when they have to. No sugar coating necessary. I think the writing for this show is one of its strongest points indeed because it is relatable no matter if you are gay or straight. A lot of these things are what everyday people go through in friendships, relationships and life issues and “Looking” does it really well.
Factors that could be improved-
Patrick- Love Jonathan Groff and I like that he is being utilized for something outside of his singing voice (Frozen, Glee) and really his acting chops, which he does tremendously. Here is my issue- his character doesn’t make much sense to me. If you watch the show, a lot of the stuff he seems to get into (dealing with an “uncut” guy, awkward dating, flighty attitude towards a lot of things) would be cute if he was a fresh faced 22 year old in San Francisco, but he’s not. He’s 29 and from the episodes have lived there for a while, so I don’t get why they wrote him like that. At the same time, he has had some great moments this year with his growth in his relationship with Richie and his somewhat standing up to the back and forth he has going on with Kevin. I personally hope he ends up with Richie on some level next season, but I hope his maturity continues to improve and he becomes a lot more aware of his behavior as time goes by.
Augustin- Ugh. I get it. Every show needs one character that you can’t stand, or love to hate, etc. Problem with him is that the evolution of his character doesn’t really make any sense. I get how you can do the whole “this is my bottom, can’t get any worse than this” type thing but I keep thinking that each episode is his bottom. It takes his now ex, Frank (awesomely played by O.T. Fagbenle) to tell him what we all feel- spoiled rich kid who is at best a mediocre artist. Yup. Granted he is a good friend to both Dom & Patrick, and I get that, but as a person on the show he really sucks. I hope that the revelation that Frank gave him really makes him improve next season so his sucking ability goes down and he starts to act like an authentic person and not some hipster douchebag that seems to be growing in population.
What do I love so much about 100%G?
Ever since I’d first heard about it, I had been trying to find the answer to that question. I met Peruvian photographer César Mansilla Sialer on a photo shoot for a swimwear campaign I was modeling for, and he was, as I like to say, the answer to all questions, so we stayed friends. It was César who first hipped me to 100%G (or OHP), a designer from his hometown of Lima.
Its design concept was straightforward. Skillfully cut, limited edition T-shirts made from soft, Peruvian cotton with simple words printed on the front.
Its online presence [NSFW] and marketing were equally straightforward. Witty and irreverent posts about boys, sex, and fun, pics of guys around the world sporting their gear, and campaigns that had a raw, DIY quality, like stealthy captures of those genuine, private moments, of modeling a new favorite outfit or dancing with total abandon in front of the mirror before a night out on the town (you know you do it too). Still, there was something more that drew me in.
It certainly helped that the face of its campaign was my old friend Tom Middleton, one of the former stars of Fuerza Bruta and current cast member of Hombre Vertiente. Tom’s devastatingly handsome looks, radiant smile, and tangible kindness made the shots effortlessly steamy.
The fact that the shirts framed the male form perfectly didn’t hurt either. And yet, there was more.
I still hadn’t figured it out, but I knew I had to be in on it, so I reached out to 100%G and ordered a couple of shirts from its latest campaign, “Party Animals.”
As I pulled my new shirts out of their packaging, reveling in the feel of the soft, smooth fabric against my fingers, my eye caught the writing on the inner printed tag: “One Hundred Percent Gay. One Hundred Percent Love.” G is for Gay? Apparently I had missed something key.
I took a look at its website: “Made 100% for the gay community. In Lima, we noticed an absence of trendy, fun, cool clothes made with the gay person in mind. That’s when the idea for 100%G began. We make our shirts using 100% Peruvian gay cotton, some of the best fabric in the world.”
First of all, clap clap clap and snap snap snap for the use of the term “gay cotton.”
But seriously, as I got a glimpse into the thinking behind the brand, everything began to come together for me, and I found my answer.
I love 100%G because it is deliciously sexy. If you know me well, you know that I love sex, not only as a physical act in which to partake (often…very often) but also as an idea. Sex or sexiness for me has to do with a lot more than just naked bodies and dim lighting or indeed marriage and heavy promises. It is a basic energy that courses through all of life, and 100%G taps into that fundamental energy in order to encourage a different kind of (gay) pride, more human, more inclusive, more complex, less complicated.
The irreverence. The unabashed, playful sensuality. The unapologetic attitude, free of rigid definitions and precarious binaries. And the beauty. Real beauty. The kind that comes not just from a pretty face and a hot body, but from an easy smile, a mischievous nature, a relaxed poise. Beauty that isn’t afraid to get messy, silly, or frisky. Beauty that doesn’t take itself too seriously because it knows that it’s here to stay.
100%G says that it is “STRAIGHT FRIENDLY.” Of course it is. Because the sexiness that it ascribes to is the kind that Idris Elba can wear just as easily. Or James Franco. Or Legolas Greenleaf (proud geek here). Or Lupita Nyong’o. Or you. It’s the guys and girls that turn you on, not just with their looks or what they say, but with the titillating ease with which they live in their own space. An uncomplicated confidence that is flexible, free, and universal.
At the base of the blog entries, the campaigns, the aesthetic, and the fashion design is this basic principle. I interviewed 100%G to get a bit more insight into their vision.
Tell me how 100%G began.
OHP was born out of a design project created by El Cartel Design Ghetto, out of a need not only to create a product that was commercially viable but also to communicate an idea. We strive to use skillful design to represent a lifestyle. We want to represent the gay lifestyle in a fun and light way.
Your campaigns and your branding seem to have a very specific intention. What inspires your choices in that regard?
We openly celebrate gay lifestyles and the idea of facing everything with a positive attitude. It has been an interesting task since we are based in Peru, which is a really conservative country. Even so, we’ve been noticing an incredible trend in the country, thousands of guys are coming out of the closet, and we obviously wanted to do what we could to make sure they were well represented.
What does it mean to be sexy?
Sexy is being exactly who you are. It’s being true to yourself in words and actions. It’s being part of a multifaceted, global community. Sexy is being proud of who you are.
Tell me about your current campaign.
Our current campaign is in dialogue with the issues that face our community today. We’re using it to support 100% Equality.