I have been a big fan of Colton Ford for several years now. His chiseled and gorgeous looks, smooth vocals, and overall fantastic persona have made him a huge force to be reckoned with in the music industry. I was lucky enough to sit down with Colton three years ago, right when Manhattan Digest was starting, about his budding music career and life in New York City. Since that interview, there have been a lot of changes, all for the better. [Read more…] about Catching Up with Red Hot Music Star Colton Ford
Cocktails On Demand? Check Out Instapour’s Launch on Sept. 5th!
Here are three fun words put together “Cocktails On Demand”. Now that sort of thing usually exists at a bar usually when you are celebrating your birthday, a friends engagement or had a rough day and need to pound back a few, however there is this amazing new service that promises this- “We’ll bring you the drinks, you enjoy responsibly”. This awesomeness is called Instapour, which is being touted as a premium, on demand cocktail delivery service to connoisseurs who enjoy the delicious and tasty concoctions that cocktails really are.
This service is being offered to people in the New York City and Los Angeles area starting on September 5th, just in time to kick of the Labor Day Weekend celebrations. Residents be able to order Caliche Rum and Casamigos Tequila cocktails and mixers, to bring happy hour straight from the bar to wherever you are.
Mixed and prepped by 15 year NYC veteran mixologist Warren Hode (Bond St, The Summit Bar, White Street), Instapour provides cocktailians a chance to enjoy the craft cocktail experience at home without having to take a mixology class. The care package includes a bottle of either Caliche Rum or Casamigos, a pre-batched cocktail mixer, and garnish and bar tools to add the final touches to the drink. Whether it’s a Friday afternoon at the office, rooftop brunch at your apartment or a picnic in the park, Instapour is made for any occasion and is delivered with a click of a button within the hour. The menu for this unique summer cocktail experience offers The Casamigos Spicy Cucumber Margarita, InstaSoul Reviver with Casamigos, Picasso Palomas with Casamigos, The Caliche Rum Mojito and Caliche Rum Strawberry Daiquiri.
This sounds like an awesome opportunity for this who are going to be hella busy this weekend to save themselves the energy and time for going out and getting all the necessary items and for it simply to come to you, beautifully packaged and ready to drink in minutes. Its something that I would definitely recommend for any of my readers to try out. Want more information and recipes on the Caliche Rum and Casamigos Tequila? Read below! Happy Labor Day Weekend everyone and enjoy safely please!
WHAT: Instapour Launch featuring Caliche Rum and Casamigos Tequila
WHEN: Begins Saturday, September 5 in NYC between 9am-8pm EST and LA between 9am-8pm PT
HOW: Readers can enjoy this unique cocktail experience and order cocktail hour for delivery within the hour at: www.Instapour.com (mobile friendly)
SOCIAL MEDIA: @Instapour.Cocktails, @CalicheRum, @Casamigos, #DrinksOnDemand, #InstapourFavor, #DaiquiriDelivery
PRICE: FREE Delivery | $39 – $59 Monthly Cocktail Box Subscription | $59 Start an Instaparty per-hour
ADDITIONAL DETAILS: Instapour x Caliche Rum will also be available through the holidays for a festive AND convenient holiday season (holiday cocktail recipes TBD)
Caliche Rum Strawberry Daiquiri
2 oz Caliche Rum
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
¾ oz Cane Syrup (preferred) or Simple Syrup
1 Fresh Strawberry
In a mixing tin, combine all ingredients, lightly muddle the strawberry (do not shred to pieces). In ice shaker shake vigorously until well chilled. Strain into an ice filled rocks glass and garnish with Strawberry.
The Caliche Rum Mojito
2 oz Caliche Rum
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
¾ oz Simple Syrup
8 Mint Leaves
Crushed ice on top
Garnish: Mint Sprig
In a rocks glass, combine all ingredients, lightly muddle mint leaves. Top with crushed ice or preferably nugget ice. Garnish with a mint spring.
Help Where The Bears Are Reach Their Kickstarter Goal!
What do you get when you combine a group of hot bears of all shapes and sizes, a murder mystery and comedy galore all jam packed in one hole, I mean season? You get the wildly popular online series “Where The Bears Are” of course! The hit show, which has developed quite the following over three years, is back for season four and the creators need your help! They are doing a huge Kickstarter campaign to ensure that season four can happen and that you can continue to enjoy the ups and downs of this wild and crazy group. Fellow MD writer and “Where The Bears Are” star George Unda touched upon this in a recent interview I did with him. Now, with three days left for the Kickstarter campaign, every dollar counts as they are about 15 percent away from goal!
I sat down today with co-creator Ben Zook about the campaign itself as well as some juicy hints for season 4. Take a look!
So Ben, this must be super exciting that Where The Bears Are is entering in its fourth season. Did you ever expect it to make this is far when you first developed the show?
I don’t think so. We never anticipated how successful the show would become and getting to Season 4 is really amazing. We are really grateful and overwhelmed by the support we have gotten from people who watch the show. It’s wonderful!
Something that was recently brought up was how amazing it was to see a character like Daniel Franzese’s Eddie on “Looking” in such a spotlight, whereas gay roles on mainstream TV tend to only skew towards skinny/muscle. Do you think we have come a long way in the bear community in terms of depictions outside of our own repertoire?
I love that “Looking” has the character of Eddie! Both the character and Daniel’s performance is terrific. I hope more mainstream TV shows follow suit. We need more big, hairy, sexy bears represented on television. I feel we do a nice job of it in our show. I love that we have men of all shapes and sizes being unapologetically sexual and confident. People need to see that.
One item that I have written about before that I have definitely noticed about Where The Bears Are is the diversity in the men you cast. From color to size to age, you have a lot of it covered and it is done beautifully. Do you think it is important to show bears in that particular kind of light?
Yes. We really try to be as diverse as possible in casting, size, age etc. We’ve done a pretty good job of it, but we are always striving to do better. It’s tough sometimes though because we have a smaller pool of actors to cast from because we are a low-budget web show. A lot of actors agents won’t submit them because it’s not huge TV money. But, we do the best we can. It’s Important that all colors, sizes, ages are represented because that is the reality of the world.
So let’s discuss the Kickstarter campaign that you are doing for Where The Bears Are. You currently sit at about 85 percent, which is very exciting! What can you tell my readers, in hopes they will donate, that will give them some bonus incentives in doing so?
I hope your readers will donate because raising the money is the only way a Season 4 will happen! We have to fundraise because a network would never put a show like ours on the air. We have to do it. And, that takes a lot of money. Our show ends up being a 2 /2 hour movie each season. Plus we shoot a 22 minute bonus holiday episode each year. So we really rely on our fans to fund each season. People love our show and if you haven’t seen it I would encourage everyone to check it out at wherethebearsare.tv Watch a few episodes and see what you think. Then throw us a little money for our season 4 on Kickstarter. The world is a better place with our show on the web!
Once the Kickstarter campaign is done and you have reached goal, what will be the next steps in terms of getting S4 started? Do you have locations outside of LA that you want to film (Manhattan please!)?
If we reach our goal we will plunge right into pre-production and start shooting around the 1st of May! Season 4 takes place in lots of locations all over L.A and also Palm Springs. I WISH we could shoot in Manhattan but I don’t think that’s going to happen this year at least:)
Give us some hints on the upcoming season. Anything you can divulge to our readers that will leave them wanting more, more more?
The season centers around the wedding of Todd and Nelson! Of course there is a murder once again that the bears have to solve. At the same time Reggie’s true crime TV pilot gets picked up by a network. And, Wood decides to start his own clothing line called, “Sporting Wood.” So he spends much of the season working with scantily clad bear swimwear models. Some drama happens between the detectives this season and you get to meet Nelson’s parents, which is going to be fun! Honey Garrett, Dickie Calloway and Hairy Potter are all coming back. We think this season will be our most romantic and suspenseful one yet!
Will there be any new characters added this season? There is a really cute cub that would love to participate, that cub being me. :).
Actually there will be several new characters! There’s a lot happening this season with the wedding etc. and a lot of people/suspects wandering around! If you are in L.A. during shooting let us know, maybe we can throw you in somewhere?
Of course, as is with anything in this community, you have dealt with naysayers with the common phrase “I don’t like this because I don’t see myself portrayed by anyone in the cast”. I’ve seen this happen with bear events and just an overall feeling by some people in the community. How do you counteract that with your show?
Once again, we try and represent all shapes, sizes, colors and ages. Tim Hooper and I are over 280 lbs and we do sex scenes. We also have “muscle bears”, thin guys, guys with and without fur etc. George Ridgemont is in his 60’s and we have cast members right out of college. We try to be ethnically diverse as well. Some characters are more masculine than others and so on. So, that is really all we can do. We try and have characters that people can look at and identify with. But the thing we also keep in mind with our show is that it is a campy comedy murder-mystery! So, the characters aren’t completely realistic at all. They are heightened exaggerations. That’s the way we make it funny in the end.
Now that 2015 is well under way, what are your ultimate hopes for Where The Bears Are and yourself this year?
I’ve always said that we will keep doing the show as long as people want to see it and are willing to help us fund it. So, hopefully we will get to do a Season 4, 5, 6, 7 and beyond!
Anything else you want to add?
Just thank you for writing about our show and campaign! I hope your readers will help us out and support our show: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/wherethebearsare/where-the-bears-are-season-4-the-gay-comedy-myster
Why Magnolia Bakery Is Worth The Hype & Deliciousness
The cupcake to the New Yorker is quintessential to a whiny woman in a Woody Allen film. It just makes everything that much better. Seeing as there is a bevy of locations in New York City where you can divulge in your favorite type of cupcake, there is one place that many locals and visitors deem as the creme de la creme of the cupcake shops here. This of course, is Magnolia Bakery which has several different locations throughout the New York City area.
I became aware of Magnolia Bakery years ago due to my love of the HBO hit show and two time movie “Sex And The City” in which Sarah Jessica Parker’s character Carrie visits the original Bleecker Street location in one of the episodes. I didn’t visit, however, until a friend of mine surprised me on my birthday five or six years back and took me to their location in the Upper West Side. The bakery itself had a warm and friendly vibe as well on top of the lovely people working there. Then of course, there was the taste of what they were preparing for everyone. All of it was delicious, from the decadent red velvet cupcakes to the world famous and insanely delicious Banana Pudding, Magnolia Bakery stepped up to the plate when it came to delicious treats designed for the masses.
I recently sat down with one of their fantastic and fabulous PR & Marketing Manager Riana Zimmerman to talk about Magnolia Bakery’s rise in the food world in general, from its one location to now internationally known brand. Take a look.
So how did the world famous Magnolia Bakery start?
So we started in 1996 at the Bleecker Street location in the West Village. It was a local bakery known for cupcakes and a bunch of other yummy desserts. And then “Sex And The City” mentioned it on one of their episodes and Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) ate one of our vanilla cupcakes with pink frosting. After that happened, it brought an insane amount of crazy lines to the Bleecker Street location and started the whole “cupcake craze”. Steve Abrams, who is our current CEO, bought the brand in 2007 and expanded it further in New York City while opening up locations in Chicago & Los Angeles and now we are franchising internationally. So the supposed “Cupcake Craze” that Magnolia Bakery started is taking over the world.
I, just like a lot of people, became knowledgeable of Magnolia Bakery through “Sex And The City”. What was the process in getting a huge show and star like Sarah Jessica Parker to visit and film at the original location?
I’m not entirely sure! This was just a local bakery that may have been on the show’s radar, or maybe it was on someone’s recommendation list. I just know that it completely changed the Magnolia Bakery brand once the episode aired.
To the people that live in the New York City area, they view Magnolia Bakery as licorice. Meaning you either love it or hate it, but the haters don’t hate the actual products but see it more as a tourist trap. What would you say to those people in order for them to overlook the droves of people and just enjoy what Magnolia has to offer?
Everybody has their own personal taste of course, but I don’t think it is a tourist trap. We are at the Upper West Side location right now, very local to the neighborhood and as you can tell it has a pretty normal crowd as does the Bleecker street location. I think the one that they are referring to is the one in Rockefeller Center, however I don’t think it’s a tourist trap. The fuss is for a reason, and I think we have great cupcakes and a full menu of 100 other desserts and customizable cakes and whatnot.
Now I have my personal favorite at Magnolia Bakery (Red Velvet Of Course!), but what would some of yours be?
I personally love our Banana cupcake with chocolate frosting. The icing is so rich and delicious that it really works well with the cupcake itself.
There was a lot of hoopla over the summer about the supposed “Cupcake Craze” being over as a big cupcake chain filed for bankruptcy. What are your thoughts on the craze in general?
I think there are places that do specialize in one off products like cupcakes. Luckily for us we are known for our cupcakes but we also have a ton of other desserts. Our Magnolia Bakery customers do buy a lot of cupcakes however they do also purchase a ton of our other products so it really is the best of both world when you come here. A cupcake is a perfect size portion for a snack during lunch or after you finish your dinner with friends, as opposed to a large slice of cake. It really has shown by how well all of our stores are doing with all of our products, so I don’t agree with it being a craze.
What big celebrities have you seen come into any of your locations?
So I actually saw Donatella Versace at our Bleecker Street location which was very exciting. Zoe Saldana was at our Los Angeles store which has been all over the news as she is pregnant and has visited us a couple of times due to her craving of cupcakes. Michelle Obama actually sent some of her secret service agents for our cupcakes while she was visiting in New York even!
The location size of Magnolia Bakery is growing each year, however do you think you’ll open up anymore in its hometown of New York City?
We aren’t focused on expanding domestically right now as we are focused on expanding internationally however down the line we are looking into opening up other locations.
What would you recommend for a first timer at Magnolia Bakery in trying?
Maybe you are going to think I have a love affair with chocolate but it’s OK if you do because it’s true and it’s real. A chocolate piece of cake with chocolate icing is so good. Of course, the world famous banana pudding. To top it off I would recommend our pumpkin cheesecake & pumpkin spice whoopie pies is essential to now as it is available throughout the fall.
Does Magnolia Bakery do deliveries?
We do! We have an online store which delivers all throughout the United States with the exception of Alaska and Hawaii. You can order anything from cupcakes, cookies and bars so I definitely recommend if you aren’t local to a Magnolia Bakery you check out the online store to try something out!
What are you ultimately hopeful for the Magnolia Bakery brand and beyond?
We would love to see our international franchises succeed of course! We are excited about our growth, in fact we had a meeting recently to discuss 2015 and see what new items we can bring to you, your readers and the masses! Stay tuned!
Want to know more about Magnolia Bakery? Log on to their official website for locations, product information and more!
Get To Know Jazz Musician MRF- The MD Interview
Sometimes in the most unconventional of settings you will meet some really great people and the further you get to know them and their passion makes you understand just how awesome they truly are. This can be said of jazz musician Mike Flanagan, who goes under the stage name MRF. I conveniently met him through some mutual friends at this year’s Bear Week in Provincetown, Massachusetts. On top of being a brutally handsome, charismatic and an all around great guy, I got to know him a little deeper and found out what a successful artist he has become in the jazz world.
In a short couple of years, MRF has accomplished things that many artists wouldn’t even dream about doing. He has independently released two albums, the most recent called “Mob Music”, which both have had a considerable amount of success since each of their inceptions. In a short twenty hour time frame, “Mob Music” became the highest-selling jazz album in the country on iTunes, sharing in the same company as jazz legends Miles Davis and Harry Connick Jr. Some of the singles off of that album, including “Trying” have remained in massive rotations on stations in and outside the US from Germany to Spain to name a few. On top of all of this, MRF has been able to work throughout the world with Grammy winners and nominees Esperanza Spaulding, Issa Pointer of The Pointer Sisters and Surefire Music Group. The Berklee College Of Music Graduate has also received rave reviews for his LGBT anthem “Be Strong (LGBT Youth)” as it was selected for the Flag Raising Anthem for Boston Pride last year. Quite a lot of accomplishments for a guy in such a short period of time.
The day before his big performance at Bear Week, I sat down with MRF to discuss his meteoric rise in the music industry, what and who inspires him, and what his music has meant to his fans and in particular the LGBT youth. Take a look.
So tell me how you got started in the music industry.
I graduated from the Berklee College of Music, and I wasn’t really sure which direction musically I wanted to go in. I had been playing a lot of jazz in and out of school, but I came out in my last year and it changed gears with what I was doing. I started writing my own stuff and collaborated with a singer who lives in New York, which is ultimately how my first album “Elevator Music” came to be. Once I started recording that, I ended up developing my own sound and own approach and knew exactly the direction I wanted to go in.
Jazz is such a unique part of the industry right now, so who would you say are your biggest inspirations?
I would say my number ones are D’Angelo and Lauryn Hill. That is the kind of stuff that I grew up on and it’s in me. Also, Meshell Ndegeocello is a good example. There are a whole bunch of jazz musicians and even country artists that I draw inspiration from in terms of their approach as well.
Many of my readers are unfamiliar with your work, so how would you describe your sound to them?
Its kind of a hybrid of R&B and Jazz. It also has a pop aesthetic to it as well because of the lyrics and forms of the songs. The music leaves a lot of room for my vocalists to interpret it in their own way, and for myself to stretch out on my instruments (saxophone, piano, etc) as well. The objective of my sophomore album, Mob Music, was to capture and document the magic of what we do on stage.
You are here enjoying Provincetown’s Bear Week, just as I am. Is this your first Bear Week?
This is my seventh actually!
Oh wow! This is my first time experiencing Bear Week in all of its glory, what would you say to convince people who are consistently on the fence about going to actually get them to go?
I really think it’s most important to figure out what Provincetown means to you, because it has so much to offer. It’s actually a great music town, and you can meet incredible people here. You can definitely go outside of the routine bear events that are going on and find something unique and different. So I would definitely recommend coming to “Bear Week” as there is plenty to love about the experience.
You have a song called “Be Strong (LGBT Youth)” which is a very empowering LGBT anthem. There isn’t a lot out there now that are like that, so tell me about the processing in recording this amazing song.
In 2010, when Asher Brown took his own life, and the epidemic of LGBT youth suicides made the media around that time, it made me insane. I started thinking about the work I was doing in my classroom by myself and how there are far too many kids without someone to turn to. Far too many kids that do not have an adult telling them that they are normal, and beautiful, and that they should love who they are. I felt I had to create something through music that could hopefully and potentially reach far beyond the classroom of students I was helping in my small corner of Boston. Originally, I wanted to name the song ‘Asher Brown’ but I was unsuccessful in getting in touch with his family to assure that was okay. So, “Be Strong”it was. That’s where the inspiration of the song came about.
Being an out musician yourself, do you find it to be a hindrance or a blessing to be so in the music industry?
I think everyone needs to come out. I hope everyone does. Sam Smith for example, love him. He is an incredible artist. He is in a position now where he can make a change, not saying he has to or wants to. He got rave reviews recently for his rendition of Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know” but one thing that stood out to me was that he changed the pronoun“he”to “you”and instead of “there’s a boy I know”he says, “oh it’s you I know”to make the song entirely gender-neutral. I think most people didn’t think about that, however when I was doing my first album, I made a lot of my music gender-neutral in fear that there would backlash. It felt like I was regressing after working so hard to be who I am. I realized how important it was that I not do that on Mob Music. So, thought it may seem small, it’s a big step that fosters much needed change.
I love Joan Osbourne’s “What If God Was One Of Us”, so why did you choose to remake that on your latest album, “Mob Music”?
I started working with Lisa, Justin and Sheree in Boston, shortly after my first album was released. The first was singer Lisa Bello. Our styles have so much chemistry and when we come together, it really makes some incredible magic. We were raised similarly, share influences, and the way we approach music is similar as well. We started performing weekly in Boston at a place called “Club Cafe”every Thursday night. They were like, “What do you want to call the night?” and I was like, “Well, we are both Italian, so let’s call it Mob Music”. We loved it, and Mob Music just grew and grew. After our first month, singer Justin Waithe started coming on Thursdays and harmonized with Lisa. Then Sheree Dunwell filled in for Lisa while she was in LA and we she got back, the whole package of “Mob Music” was truly formed.
We would do popular songs and treat them like jazz standards, elevating them to the point where we took the audience on a journey every week! One of the songs we did was “One Of Us”and I knew that had to be the one cover on the ‘Mob Music’album.
On the “Mob Music” album, my favorite track is one called “This Love”. What is your favorite on this album?
I love that song, but I would say that my favorite is “Trying”. “Trying” is the smooth jazz radio single on the record, and it is the most personal for me. I wrote that about a guy I was with, and that relationship ended right before I went into the studio to finish this record. We had two singles done at that point, and were heading in to track the rest of it. “Trying” was written right as that relationship was ending, and to this day remains my favorite.
OK, let’s do some fun questions so that my readers can see a different side of you. If you had a dream concert, with two artists (dead or alive) that would never be on the same bill for ONE night only, who would it be?
The two on the same bill. Hmmm. I’m going to say D’Angelo and The Dixie Chicks. I’m a huge Dixie Chicks fan. I saw both live within a year’s time, and both were incredible. D’Angelo’s show had such an energy to. Knowing his entire catalog, I was dancing my ass off the entire time. When I saw The Dixie Chicks, my friends and I were lucky enough to stand right under Natalie Maines, and she was winking and smiling at us the whole time. Just great experiences for both.
Got it! So you are stuck on an island with a CD player but it only has one song in it. What do you want that song to be?
“Who Knew” by P!nk. It is my favorite song of all time. Everything about it, from her voice to the lyrics to the melody. The song is somewhat ambiguous, and even though it is a song about her losing a friend to an overdose I believe, it’s able to be interpreted in a lot of different ways. After my first relationship ended, I would come down here to Ptown and it was playing everywhere. So the song itself, my love for her, and the connection to PTown and gay life sort of culminates in why this truly is my favorite song.
You go to a 90’s dance party. Which phase do you hope they play?
I’ll pick the Aaliyah, Brandy, Monica phase. I want them, I want Ginuwine, Jagged Edge, Toni Braxton, etc. Love 90’s R&B.
What do you have going on for the future?
So, I already have a third album planned. I want to continue to make music with the group I have right now. I’m hoping to go back into the studio in September in Orleans here in Mass. It will be similar to the second album however this one will be more saxophone driven. A challenge for me is the human voice. It’s something I love on others but hate my own. I’ve heard Me’Shell and Lenny Kravitz are like that too. I am tempted to get over that fear I guess and use it and see if I can come up with something that I am okay with releasing. I don’t know if it will be on this album, but sometime in the future it is something I definitely want to accomplish.
Adonis Lounge grand opening in LA tomorrow night!
Adonis Lounge has become synonymous in New York City as a great place to hang out, have some drinks and mingle with some of the hottest men New York City has to offer. I have gotten to know these guys beyond the bar and they are all really stand up fellas especially Tim who is the mastermind behind the whole production. Hell I’ve even interviewed him and he is quite the impressive guy. Now, him and his brother are going bi-coastal and launching Adonis Lounge in Los Angeles tomorrow night and it plans on being one hell of an opening!
Billed as one of the top M4m (Male 4 Male) experiences in New York, it plans on being that and so much more when it opens at FuBar in the heart of West Hollywood tomorrow. Zeb Atlas, muscle god and well known in several different industries (and has appeared quite frequently at the New York location) will be on hand to help open the new location. Also on deck will be an array of studs at your disposal, from Sean Cody model Aiden to Playgirl centerfold and actor Marcus Patrick just for the first night. Oh, and pretty much add all the guys in the picture and then some. Yum!
FUBAR, known as “not your fathers gay bar,” has been described by Time Out as “the most alternative of the Boys Town clan of bars and clubs. Ripped, tattooed and pierced bartenders pour strong drinks in this steamy dark bar that oozes sex seven days a week. Hooking up is always in the air at Fubar thanks to its underground vibe, so be ye not confused—this is not the bar you go to for a casual drink, this is the bar you go to looking for casual sex.” Sounds good to us!! Valet parking available across the street at the Bank of America (bring your parking stub in for a parking shot).
For future appearances they have booked big names such as porn stars Angel Diablo of Randy Blue fame and Grabby and Hookie award winner Trenton Ducati. Sure to be a great opening night for anyone in the LA area. For more information, log onto The Adonis Lounge website to learn more about both locations. Best of luck to Tim and the gang!
My interview with Modern Bear’s Travis & Chris- WOOF!
I have been a fan of the Modern Bear guys for quite sometime, when I stumbled upon their website through a photo my friend shared not of a hot bear, but of a particular “modern” design photo that I had a similar interest to. My thought process here was, “Finally! A bear page not 100 percent devoted to shirtless men. There is thought behind this!” And that is what the Modern Bear message is truly about. They equate it to the following- Modern Design + Bears + Retro + Beefcake= THE MODERN BEAR! Travis Smith and Chris Bale, who are based out of Palm Springs, California, visited the Urban Bear festival a couple of weeks back and I got the opportunity to talk with them about a variety of things they have going on currently. Something I definitely wanted to mention was their fantastic new book called “Guide For The Modern Bear”, where they visited a variety of cities and found where is the best places to eat, shop and bar hop for the everyday MB (Modern Bear). Take a look.
So Travis, how did this whole “Modern Bear” thing start for you guys?
It’s a combination of starting it three years ago, so that was a really good time to be starting a good commercial Facebook page anyway. It was an experiment for us, a petri dish if you will, to see if anybody was interested in a “Modern Bear” concept and our formula of modern design plus bears plus retro plus beefcake. Those are the things we like. It was a free way to put it out there, and see if there was any interest in that concept and then determine if we should go further with it and produce a book and all the other things we ended up producing. There wasn’t an immediate response to it, but I would say in the last six months we added 5,000 people. It took us the past three years to get to 25,000 fans overall.
What is that increase in fans attributed to?
I think the bear thing is going mainstream, we are kind of last to become part of this trend thing. I think you will be seeing a lot more bears popping up in movies and television. Like Anne Hathaway’s best friend role in her next movie will go to a bear. It’s starting to happen. That’s one of our goals is to get a TV deal, but doing the book first is the perfect baby step for us because by processing and writing the book it also helped formulate what Modern Bear was going to be as a commercial entity.
Tell me about the book you just released.
What we love about the book and how it turned out is how accessible it is. A lot of straight people buy our book. Wives and girlfriends approach us and say “What is my boyfriend? Is he an otter? A wolf? WHAT IS HE!” It’s hysterical. It’s really funny when the book is at shelves, children gravitate toward it because it’s really cute looking of course. The shop owner usually has to explain to parents what it really is about, and sometimes they even buy it.
Chris, tell me more.
Well, the book is a hybrid. It’s a guide to all the different characters in the bear world. You got your straight up bears, you got your muscle bears, cubs, wolf like me. We are going to do this book every year and update it like so. Each of these characters right now lives in a different city and talk about the bear bars, a few places to eat both fancy and low brow, you know for the bears who want their diner food. The Modern part is mid-century modern furnishing and the stores in each place. So you got Miami, Los Angeles, New York and Barcelona and London to name a few. In the future we are going to have Vancouver and Phoenix which is actually where this whole thing started.
As an avid New Yorker would you say it is the best place to eat from your research?
Well, we did ELMO which is the best Mac N Cheese in town. Let me refer to the book actually! The Breslin is really good. That is this amazing restaurant in the ACE hotel. The Shake Shack is amazing, and Westville is my favorite place for Breakfast. We had a super cute experience at Kitchen last night. We had comfort food like Fondue which was yummy.
What are you ultimately hopeful for?
Well, we’ve always joked about being Beartha Stewart. We are two bears, a bear and a wolf, that are into design and into hot men and bringing those two worlds together in any which way we can.
On top of being incredibly friendly and sexy guys, they are also very down to earth and have a great message to share not only to the bear community but straight women and beyond. For more information on The Modern Bear guys and their story, check out their Facebook, Twitter and to shop for the book and anything else log on to their main site here.
Seth Kravitz from Technori and formerly InsuranceAgents.com
What was your Inspiration behind Technori
Well, 2009 was a rough year for me. In 2009 both with my business and my personal life fell apart. It was at that moment that I realized my need to be part of a community where I could meet people and make friends. I needed a community in general, as I was a recluse. When I looked at the community I noticed the entrepreneurial community in Chicago lacked events for the burgeoning tech industry. Technori was started with four other people. We threw up a website and started doing interviews with great entrepreneurs and the reaction was positive from day one. Readership was instantaneous and people wanted more. It was the right thing at the right time.
What challenges did you face changing gears when turning Technori into a business?
Technori wasn’t started as a business. Technori was started because Technori needed to exist. Technori has transformed into a business to cover it’s own costs and in a way it’s a win-win. Technori now employs people and pays for itself. The summer of 2012 was when we decided it would be a business.
When did you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I started young. Creating contraband others would buy in high school. I have always had the instinct where I needed to generate my own money and be in control in of my own destiny. I had authority issues. I barely graduated high school. I dropped out of college. I liked figuring things out. I liked never relying on someone for a paycheck.
It was either living in my parents’ basement as a bum or become an entrepreneur. I chose the latter. My professional career began with building websites around 18 -19 years old, these were mostly for small businesses and I was not charging real money.
What does it take to be considered for Technori pitch
We are trying to find companies that are as close to launching as possible. Giving them time to launch and then having them pitch is usually the best. We are looking for companies on the cutting edge. Doing something different. Either building a new business model or play on old. It has be something they can present quickly and concisely.
What advice would you give new entrepreneurs?
There are too many things that come to mind for me to narrow it down. Embrace your idea like your life depends on it. Be ready to risk everything, don’t be afraid, and remember that once you start down this path that paying your rent on time is going to be tough.
Pick a co-founder incredibly wisely. It’s as much like a marriage as they claim. You cannot pick your family but you can pick your business family. You will spend dramatically more time with these people than you think. Don’t just jump into a business relationship. Picking a bad partner happens so often that I think repeating this advice is always falling on deaf ears.
Getting to a point where you can test your concept is good before you spend a lot of time and money seeing if it’s viable. Walk the streets and try to get $5 out of someone’s pocket into yours before you lock yourself into a basement for 6 months to build something unproven.
If you could have one super power what would it be?
I don’t know. Being a geek I’ve thought about this for decades now and… I don’t know! Oh, how do you define super powers? Wouldn’t you want something like Magical Powers? I could then cast whatever I want. If there were spells you could use to gain super strength and speed then I would just choose Magic Powers. If not then I would choose flight. I would want to fly fast, like Superman fast! I would go on some unique vacations. I would leave work at 5p.m. and by 5:15p.m. I would be in Honolulu on a beach somewhere.
Whats next for Technori?
We are focused on being a National Publication. We are trying to build the best starter community in the world. That means everyone, including Non-profits and project-oriented folks. Those who don’t find the word entrepreneur fits them don’t seem to get the respect from traditional publications that they deserve. Technori wants to give them the articles and attention they deserve. We feel like we have the opportunity to do that. We feel like we can move beyond the online community and can publish books. Beyond that, Technori is going abroad and building an international presence. We want to find starters on every continent and get them involved in the brand Technori.
We want to create a movement that can last. One that is here in 20 years. That’s a giant challenge but I think we can do it. It all started 4-5 months ago when we changed direction from Chicago only to an international audience. You will see the changes shortly.
Thats what the new website is about?
We are stepping up to become more like a blog/digital magazine. Like starter network. You will see soon here. That will give you a taste of your long-term goals.
DJ Dainjazone- from LMFAO’s DJ to man with a mission
DJ Dainjazone has become one of the most sought-after DJ’s in and outside of the Los Angeles are in which he resides. After coming off an uber-successful tour with Grammy nominated superstars LMFAO, he took time to sit down with me and discuss what he has going in his career and the steps he took along the way to get to where he is. Really good read and someone you should be on the lookout for in the upcoming months. Check it out.
So how old were you when you decided you wanted to become a DJ?
I started DJ’ing about six and a half years go around the age of 22. I’ve always had an interest in DJ’ing in particular the hip-hop elements of it. I can’t really break dance or rap, so I figured doing this would be perfect. One night some of my basketball team members were throwing a house party and I decided to DJ the whole event. Turned out to be a great success. From there on I took matters into my own hand and made this into a career.
Who would you say are some of your musical influences that inspire you?
I would say guys like Chris Brown and Kanye West, ones that really express passion in what they are doing. I am a huge fan of Travis Barker and it inspires the hell out of just watching him play the drums. Stuff like that.
How would you describe your sound as a DJ for me?
It is tastefully all over the map. Red Foo of LMFAO lets me play more stuff that is hip-hop based. At the same time I like to throw curveballs in my sets but do it in a tasteful way. I like to educate a crowd and teach people new things when it comes to being a DJ and doing this has been a great platform for that.
When people hear your sets who do you usually get comparisons to?
I’ve gotten DJ AM a couple of times before. No one really besides that. For me with AM that is the ultimate compliment. He is the Michael Jordan in this field and broke down so many walls in terms of finding a way to be creative so anyone that says that to me is truly gratifying.
What was the experience like working on LMFAO’s recent tour?
The first feeling I had in this whole thing was truly how tiring it was. The schedule was crazy- we would do a set, go to another country and so on and so forth. In a span of three weeks we would only have two days off. I saw both sides of it truly- how relaxing and cool it was to really how intense it got. The intense times where was I learned a lot about your character by learning to be patient and survive mentally and physically. I persevered through and overall it was a great experience.
LMFAO got nominated for a Grammy this year for “Sexy and I Know It”. What were your thoughts on the show overall?
The Grammy’s for me is always an awarid show for the more grown crowd. Other award shows tend to me a little bit more goofier and people acting out, that doesn’t really happen here. It was a chill show that really was done very appropriately.
You have a hashtag on your Twitter handle about #theteam. What exactly is that?
The team’s group is myself, DJ Rell and Sean Harris who raps and produces. The team came organically, we even have our own hand pose to boot. Few other guys are based in Las Vegas and LA. This team ultimately consists of guys that I have chemistry and gel with, which ultimately is the most important thing when you are forming a team.
What are your plans for the rest of 2013?
There is a brand that I am working on called Infinite Intelligence. It is the name on my Twitter handle actually. It is related to DJ’ing and represents my lifestyle and being great in everything I do. It is putting out there that anything you do is possible and you can do anything you want if you put your mind right. I am going to put documentary videos on what I do- shopping, DJ’ing, working out,m etc. Let people out there know how we are proceeding. I also plan on redoing my website in the upcoming months and I have a great new logo that is done.
Catfish the TV Show: Addictive for all the right reasons.
I have to say in recent years MTV has sure put out some shows that I would rather run into a knife than watch, most recently Buckwild and the gem of all gems Teen Mom, which is making thousands of girls pregnant and money hungry as I type this post. It didn’t seem too long ago when I was growing up that shows like Fanatic, Total Request Live and The Real World (when it was good and documentary-ish) were filling their airwaves of a once thriving network. Lately though, that sparkle and luster is gone from a network that is completely devoted to programming (why on earth there is still a VMA every year beats me).
Yet, they seemed to have strike it gold with their new reality show “Catfish”, which premiered back in November. The show centers around its star Nev Schulman, who made the movie of the same name two years ago. It is based off of people you develop a relationship online, yet never meet in person, or Skype/Facetime either. His whole purpose of the show was that “Catfish the movie was my story, Catfish the TV show is yours”. Pretty simple, right? Sure. Then, no matter what the topic is, shit always gets real and by the end the show has more twists and turns than a bad Lifetime movie (it’s your opinion if that is a good reference, but you get it).
Take the premiere episode. Cute nursing student Sunny thought she had been talking to a model out in Los Angeles called Jamison for quite sometime. Her younger sister actually talked to him first. Yet during the whole eight months they talked, they never did it in front of a camera. Finally, Nev to the rescue! After doing some research (he does this in every episode, and it seems like anyone can, just pointing that out there) both Nev and Sunny travel to find that the person they were talking to isn’t a drop dead gorgeous model, but in fact a teenage girl named Chelsea. Chelsea in return said she made the profile due to the incessant bullying she was dealing with on a daily basis, and wanted to create an alternate life in a way where she felt like she could be accepted. All hell breaks loose but by the end there isn’t too much harm done and everyone goes their separate ways.
I’m sorry, I would be having serious issues if I was Sunny. For so many different reasons. I felt bad for her the whole time but at the same time you have to wake up and realize this person you think you are talking to isn’t real. Why do I say this? Because just like every other gay man, woman, and even straight man to a certain degree, I have done online dating. Whether it’s an app or a site, I have been there, and still do. The thing for me is unless you are far away or there is a chance you are visiting the Tri-State area I don’t really have the need to talk to you beyond a certain point. It’s not rude, it’s just honest. If you are in Australia, and ask to see certain parts of me, what is the point? Can’t go through someone’s phone and grab it now right? Ugh, I digress.
I have been in Sunny’s situation where I have talked to guys from far away, and there have been several few exceptions of ones that really get my interest. But, within two or three days of talking, we always Facetime or Skype. That way, I know you are real and not cray cray. Moral of the story to everyone reading this and watching the show is always make sure you know who you are talking to. That way, you don’t end up sad and really embarassed in front of millions of people. I think the show is fantastic though for several reasons. It has done a couple of episodes focusing around the LGBT community, especially transgendered which of all those letters doesn’t really get the most attention. It’s done in a non-judgemental way and people can see that when they watch the show, so kudos to Nev.
Bottom line, I am hooked. Watch the show. Debate it for yourself.
Have you ever been in a catfish situation? What do you think of the show? Sound off!