Monday, November 28, 2011

“CRUISING”: Lust in The Great Outdoors!

“CRUISING”: Lust in The Great Outdoors!

Before Grindr… Before Manhunt… In fact, before the concept of the Internet even came into our consciousness, there was reliable, old-school style cruising. Of course, hot-to-trot guys seeking each other out for some bona fide man-to-man fun is nothing new. Through the years, however, the “the art of cruising“, shall we say, has evolved. A while back, the only option was to meet up face to face. It was all about adult bookstores, bars, and Liza concerts. And, of course, there was cruising in public places: Parks. Rest stops. Roadside wooded groves. For many guys, satisfying their carnal desires “right out there in the open” only heightened the excitement of the fulfillment of forbidden desires.

That’s the mood established in “Cruising”, the new book by award-winning photographer Chad States. States’ lush photography focuses on the beauty of the great outdoors: the light and shadows of the woods, the grandeur of the blue sky, the colors of autumn that only nature could create, and more. Amidst this, there’s a titillating tease of man-to-man action in the photos. In the style of the best of erotica, States’ photos merely hint at the sexual situations, leaving much of what’s going on to the lucky viewer‘s fantasies. States is truly a gifted artist, but “Cruising” is not solely a collection of photography. The book gets a real boost from writer Gordon Brent Ingram, Ph.D. In his piece “Cruising on the Margins”, Ingram offers some provocative thought about both States’ artistic vision as well as the history and politics of gay male cruising in general. An example: “In the digital hookup, era, outdoor areas may be strategic for two very different groups: those who do not have as much access to digital technologies (or in their preferred languages), and those who are so ‘connected‘ that visceral, physical contact as an introduction is the most scarce element of social intercourse. In ‘Cruising‘, Chad States explores the spaces of intimacy and distance played out with men’s bodies across the landscape. There may be distance and temporariness in the contact, but these recorded instances of intimacy are far more tangible than marriage vows.“ Ingram’s writings are a must-read for anyone who is seriously interested in the dynamics and history of gay male sexuality. In addition, the reader gets a real treat with the segment “Chad States in Conversation with Alec Soth”, where States chats with fellow photographer and publisher Soth. It’s both insightful and fun, with a special shout-out to a certain disgraced U.S. Senator!

Chad States, who resides in Philadelphia, spoke with me about his new book, which enjoyed a release party at the famous powerHouse Arena in Brooklyn earlier this month:

JR:Hi Chad. Congratulations on the new book! So, where did the idea for “Cruising” come from?

CS: In the summer, I live in Rehoboth Beach, and a park near my house became a cruising destination over the course of a summer about 4 years ago. I used to cruise all the time as a teenager and into my early twenties, and knew the signs. I became curious about the idea of how cruising spaces originate, since it is all about anonymity and disconnect. So, as I watched the park become more and more popular, I started to think that I wanted to make a project out of it.

JR:How long did it take you to see your project come to life? In other words, how long was your journey from the idea to create “Cruising” to actually having the book in your hands?

CS: It took about four years from start to finish. The first two years were really me trying to figure out how to make the photographs. For a long time, I just sat on the periphery looking in. It took me awhile to figure out to get into the woods and make the images that I really wanted to make… and then the project really took off. I started playing around with the idea of presenting the images in book form early on. Then it was really about trying to find a publisher-- and I was very lucky that powerHouse contacted me about publishing the work.

JR: That’s great! As a self-published author, what was the most difficult challenge along the way?

CS:I have never worked with a publisher before, so dealing with another person’s input was difficult at first. Though, in the end, the collaboration between me and the publisher made the book better. But at first, there is this feeling of potentially losing control of the work through making compromises. But compromising can be the best thing for the work. As an artist, you can be so tightly closed down on what needs to happen… but differing input can really open up new ideas, which is always for the best.

JR: How true. Now, years ago, before the advent of the Internet and apps like Grindr and Scruff, guys actually had to go to bars, bookstores, or places like Rambles in Central Park to hook up. Do you think that eventually, we’re gonna get sick of using our computers and I-Phones, and eventually go back to “old school cruising”?

CS: I hope so! Sex is so much about chemistry, and that chemistry is lost in a virtual setting. Virtual cruising is just lazy cruising. I stare at a computer enough as it is. I want to get out of the house… and if there is one reason to leave the house, sex is definitely it!

JR: I couldn’t agree more! I must say, the photography in “Cruising” is really breathtaking. It really captures the beauty of the great outdoors. (Something as a New York City guy, I rarely get to see, sadly…) Do you consider yourself an “outdoors guy”?

CS: The beauty of the woods is the best part about cruising in a park, because if you don't get your dick sucked, at least you can enjoy the natural setting… and that can't be said for Manhunt. I don't know if I would call myself an "outdoors guy", but I do love it.

JR: Well said! In the photos, there are hints of man-to-man action, but it‘s very, shall we say, “artfully” done. Was there any kind of difficulty for you in deciding how much, ahem, “skin” to show in your photos?

CS: I want there to be enough skin so that you know what is happening, but without pulling the veil away. The obscuring of figures with foliage heightens the voyeuristic quality of the images, and keeps people anonymous.

JR: I understand! What was the most memorable anecdote about the making of the book?

CS: I met and became friends with another photographer named Adrain Chesser, who makes really good work, while photographing in the woods. And I love the idea that potential for sex and friendship/relationship exist in these spaces.

JR:Do you have a particularly memorable cruising story yourself?

CS: When I was 16, a much older man picked me up in a park. He was so old he was impotent, so I just happily grinded against him until I came. I was so young and hungry for experience with other men that it was very satisfying.

JR: (Laughs) So, Chad, what’s your next project?

CS: A series of portraits. It is a bit hard to succinctly describe. But the portraits are coming out of thoughts I had while making the “Cruising” images. While I was photographing for “Cruising”, I would use myself and my body to entice and instigate situations so that I could make the photographs. I am doing basically the same thing in this series of portraits, except the interaction is much more direct and my hand as the creator of the image is at the forefront.

JR: Lastly, I have to ask you (Just for fun!)… When doing a Google search of your book, inevitably that controversial 1980 movie “Cruising” with Al Pacino will pop up. Has anybody ever asked you if your book has any relation to that film?

CS: Not yet, though I just re-watched that movie a couple of months ago and lamented that gay bars don't seem as exciting anymore.

Now, that’s a man after my own heart! You can see a sneak preview of “Cruising” and buy the book at States’ artwork from the book will be on exhibition at the powerHouse Arena (37 Main Street, Brooklyn) until Sunday, December 4th.

Keep on “Cruising“!

DRUMMER BEAR: The Hardest Working Bear in Showbiz!

The Hardest Working Bear in Showbiz!

     The Stonewall Inn, in New York City‘s colorful Greenwich Village, is considered to be the birthplace of the modern gay liberation movement after the Stonewall Riots in 1969. Forty-two years later, in June 2011, Stonewall held its first ever “Mr. Stonewall Bear Contest”. Out of five woofy Contestants, Mike Fass, better known to legions of fans as DrummerBear, won the Title of Mr. Stonewall Bear 2011. He jokes about the Contest, “I think I was the only one old enough to remember Stonewall!” DrummerBear is used to getting a lot of attention. True to his name, he was one of the hardest hitting power drummers in all of rock, with his name featured on the credits of records by many artists. He was also one of the most popular nude Bear models on the web. Yum! As an actor, he was most often seen playing bikers and bad guys before being cast as an assortment of father and Daddy Bear figures. Today, Fass is best known worldwide for his portrayal of a well known, thickly-accented Russian musclebear: “Street Fighter” legend Zangief, in the runaway hit series "Street Fighter: The Later Years". Among many distinctions, he is the first self-identified Bear celebrity to portray a Bear icon on a hit series. DrummerBear’s latest projects are two testosterone-fueled web series: He plays “Luke Barger” in the sci-fi action adventure superhero drama "Major Ursus", and “Torgo” in the gritty new urban drama, "Chickenbones", both shooting this fall. Being an actor isn’t always glamorous as it looks, folks! The characters he plays are often naked or in abbreviated clothing (We can all be grateful for that!). Fass remembers an uncharacteristically cold 52 degree October day when he was shooting a rooftop scene-- in just his bear skin. He had to do naked jumping jacks to stay warm. Wearing his own fur, apparently, wasn’t enough! Fass was rewarded with applause from some nearby construction workers, who clearly enjoyed the free show.

     Fass was born and raised in New York City and lived there until 1988, when he was “priced out“ . He then moved in Union City, and now calls Jersey City, New Jersey (sometimes called “the fifth borough”) his home. The hirsute hero and I met to speak about his, ahem, “body” of work…


JR: Hi Drummer Bear. Thanks for meeting me.
DB: Thank YOU!
JR: When I was writing your bio for the "Men of the Sash" calendar, it was hard to keep it "short and sweet". Your "resume", shall we say, is pretty impressive: actor, producer, screenwriter, musician, model…
DB: Yeah. When I do my resume, I have to try NOT to make it look like a telephone book!
JR: It can’t be easy being a "multi-hyphenate".
DB: It goes hand in hand with getting old! (Laughs)
JR: Oh really? I thought it was just a New York thing!
DB: When I was younger, there were so many fewer pages. You just build up all these things that you’ve done.
JR: Do you ever have any time for yourself?
DB: Rarely. As a matter a fact, I have to hire a few personal assistants to answer mail and that kind of stuff. I can’t read and answer that much mail. It would be nice to just take some time off and just do absolutely nothing-- to take a nice long vacation. But even the last three times I’ve had a vacation, I take work with me. I know I shouldn’t do that! My manager has said, "I don’t want to see a thing in those books! No notation of any kind. No business cards, no phone numbers, no addresses…" He said, "Just don’t do it!" It’s so hard not to. Coming from him it’s really odd, because my manager takes work with himself as well. He’s just as bad as I am. Maybe that’s why he is telling me this!
JR: I don’t see anything wrong with taking notes even when you’re on vacation. It may be a source of inspiration for an upcoming project, like the writer who sleeps with a notepad under his pillow and gets an idea at 3 AM…
DB: Some of the best ideas I had as a songwriter came at 3 in the morning. Such spiritual things have happened, and you want to capture them right away. I always forced myself to get up and go to the keyboard. Write it down, and then go right back to bed…
JR: Yeah! So, congratulations on winning the Mr. Stonewall Bear 2011 Contest back in June. Do you have any specific goals that you want to accomplish during your title year?
DB: I do have a charity in mind, focused in Jersey City, New Jersey where I live. It would benefit anyone who was about to be evicted: the hard-working people who are just not making their rent payments because the economy is so hard. It is so lofty that I wonder if I can pull it off. I am fortunate enough to be friends with New Jersey State Senator Brian Stack and the Commissioners. They could probably help me pull this off. In North Hudson County, there’s something called the North Hudson Community Action Agency. It’s an emergency relief fund to use when all your other resources have failed. The problem is, it’s run under such a heavy bureaucracy. The one woman who is your final gateway to getting things done-- meaning, getting the money-- is your classic "senior bureaucrat". I think the only reason they haven’t fired her yet is because she probably knows "where the bodies are buried" (Laughs). That’s the impression I get. I actually heard her brag to me about how one time she wouldn‘t let a guy get his funds, because he they had locked him out of his apartment. There was actually a padlock on his door. She insisted on getting certain paperwork from him that he couldn’t get, because then he’d be arrested for breaking into his own apartment! She was very happy and pleased by the idea that they couldn‘t help him out because he needed that paperwork. Then, you have people who don’t fit in: the "square pegs in round holes". They have a system whereby only a specific group of people who happen to be in need can "get in". There are some people who don’t fit into those rigid parameters, but who are just as much in need. They don’t get the benefits and services which presumably their tax dollars are going for anyway. So, what I want to do is have an agency which is a backup for that, but without the bureaucracy. Bureaucracy is something that happens out of nowhere, so it would have to be constantly self-policed so that the bureaucratic aspect never enters… and so that someone who needs the money can get it without being evicted or locked out of their apartment. We’d have to find out some kind of advertising or business model to keep the money coming in after the fundraising, to keep it running.
JR: Sounds great! So, you are considered by many to be "Bear royalty". As a mover and shaker in the Bear community, what makes a "Bear" a "Bear"?
DB: I never had anything very original to say about that! Nothing is written in stone, except that "You know a Bear when you see one!" When you get past all the particulars-- which are all arguable-- you pretty much just know one when you see one: "That’s a Bear!". A guy lumbering down the street: "That’s a Bear!"
JR: Some guys get bogged down in specifics, like how big a guy is, or how much body hair he has.
DB: Yeah. How much weight, how much body hair, your hairstyle, your choice of dress… Basically, it’s an attitude more than anything else. It’s a celebration of masculinity, and a rejection of all the stereotypes that people have tried to throw on gay men for the longest time. I think that because the gay community as a whole has all shared the same struggle, we have kind of all gotten "lumped up" together. It’s very interesting. I don’t think a station like LOGO, for example, would run a show like "Major Ursus". LOGO has never really found their market. Because they aim to cater to the entire lesbian/gay/transgender/bisexual community as a whole, and because we are such a disparate community, they really don’t take into consideration that there are different factions who like their own thing. The number one cable station that gay men watch is not LOGO. It‘s Spike.
JR: Really?
DB: Because it’s all "guy stuff". It’s all men! So, Spike is number one with gay men.
JR: LOGO must be like, "What did we do wrong?"!
DB: There was a wonderful cartoon by Rick Fiala from a while back that showed two groups of people sitting at their desks in an office. A group of women gathered around the book "The Joy of Gay Sex". The men gathered around the book "The Joys of Lesbian Sex". The caption read, "Two new books find their markets". (Both laugh.)
JR: That’s great! I don’t have cable TV, so I never watched Spike, but I guess I should start!
DB: It’s fun. It’s a guilty pleasure with a lot of stupid programming. But it’s for guys: stuff blowing up, and guys fighting each other … and it’s all guys doing it!
JR: While we’re on the subject of fighting… Let’s talk about "Street Fighter". Since I discovered masturbation at age 11, I stopped playing video games, so I am not much of an expert on the subject. How would you describe your "Street Fighter" fans? Are they guys who were fans of the video game when it first came out in 1987? Or, is it a new audience?
DB: I researched the character Zangief very carefully. I realized that although "Street Fighter" is not from my generation-- I am old enough to be the FATHER of that generation!-- I appreciate nostalgia. My own is sacred, so I know that theirs is sacred. I wanted to make sure I played the character in a way that was familiar to them and was not foreign to them. But as far as the show was concerned, it played on their nostalgia and it could have gone either way. When you have a different generation doing a character that you remember, you never know how it’s gonna go. I asked our series creator, Sam Reich, after the first night premier, "Did you expect it to be this huge?" He said, "I knew it would be popular, but I never thought it would be a monster like this!" The public embraced our interpretations of the characters that they grew up with, even though we’re new actors playing them. They didn‘t have to. That was the beauty of it. We were just very lucky.
JR: It’s like with comic books. Fans are very protective of their favorite comic book characters.
DB: I am too!
JR: That’s why if you do something ridiculous, like reinventing Spiderman, for example…
DB: I think they already HAVE reinvented Spiderman… I grew up with Spiderman. I was a latecomer. I didn’t start reading him until about 1967... but after that, I got hooked. So, throughout the ‘70’s, ‘80’s, and ‘90’s, I was constantly reading "Spiderman". I was a huge fan. To see him reinvented is kind of painful for me. I remember Kathryn Leigh Scott once describing the second "Dark Shadows" series with a whole new cast on NBC in 1991: "It’s kind of like coming home to your apartment and finding all your furniture rearranged." That‘s how I felt about that. I am very protective of the heroes I grew up with in my childhood. That was a very sacred time.
JR: Who is your "Street Fighter" audience?
DB: Mostly under 30 and male. My own sister is only a year older that I am, and she didn’t even know what "Street Fighter" was. All I could think was, "How did you get through the ‘90’s without having even heard of "Street Fighter"? I wasn’t a gamer, but I got acquainted with Zangief quite by chance. In 1991, there was a "Street Fighter 2" video game console at a pizza place in our neighborhood. It was brand new. Kids were playing it right away. One time, when the kids were away, I just started to take a look at the game. Some of the characters were pretty hot. The Muay Thai kickboxer with the eye patch was pretty hot . He turned out to Sagat. The Russian guy with the Mohawk was pretty hot, too. After the kids had left, I looked at the "Character Select" screen which had all the closeups of all their faces. I looked at Zangief, and I thought, "If I just shaved my head (At the time I had shaggy "Beatles" hair.) down to a Mohawk, I would look just like that guy!"-- never knowing that, 15 years later, I would actually be cast to play him. Even when I got the part, they asked me if I could do a Russian accent, and I could just barely. If you watch the first episode, it’s a really weak Russian accent. "Make crazy, Zangief!"
JR: Yes! Make crazy, Zangief! We like you best that way! Now, how about the two upcoming web series you have: "Major Ursus" and "Chickenbones"?
DB: I just got cast in "Chickenbones". I am playing a guy named Torgo, a grizzled old ex-Leather Master from the ‘70’s and ’80’s who presided over the old Meatpacking District in New York City. He’s really disillusioned and disgruntled by the fact that the neighborhood has become a bunch of trendy, posh restaurants with yuppie crowds, and everything is high-priced… and all the places where he used to enjoy his favorite sexual activities are now just eateries-- of a different kind! (Both laugh.) He’s upset by this. So, that’s the basis of the character. I know little more than that! We start shooting this fall. "Street Fighter Reunion" is the spinoff of "Street Fighter: The Later Years" that we’re doing. I’ll be playing Zangief again, and most of the original cast will be reunited for this.
JR: And "Major Ursus"?

DB: Yes. "Major Ursus" is the series that I created. It’s a superhero action-adventure-science fiction outer space drama with Bears. It‘s been described as "Oz" meets "X-Men" meets "Star Trek".
JR: That’s "Oz", as in the HBO prison drama, not "The Wizard of…", I take it?!
DB: Yes. An example of another gay show that would have probably had difficulty finding funding-- so they never called it a gay show! Heterosexual men are fascinated by homoerotica… but just don’t CALL it "homoerotica" and just don‘t call it "gay", and they will watch! Case in point: "Spartacus: Blood and Sand". It wasn’t a very good show, but it was very entertaining nonetheless! It was extremely homoerotic. More people watched it on the web than on television.
JR: I never watched that show, but I heard a lot about it!
DB: Gay men found it! We always do. And I think gay men will find "Major Ursus"! I am hoping it will have the same appeal. There’s only one scene in the first season when they actually acknowledge that they are Bears. Everything else is just so matter-of-fact. It’s just presented to you in a such a plain, "right out there on the table" kind of way that it does not need an analysis or a description.
JR: Wow! I can’t wait! So, as a musician, you have worked with a lot of high-profile artists. What was one of your most memorable moments?
DB: Wow! There were so many… One time during the late 1980s I was backing the Skinny Vinny Band onstage and he had an intense fan following. Skinny Vinny was known as “The Black Donovan” which pleased him because he loved Donovan's music. Vinny had a heavily gay male fan base and he had a tendency to gradually—okay, maybe not so gradually—strip down to his brief throughout his stage act. One night a very enthusiastic young fan managed to leap onto the stage, throw his arms around Vinny's neck and kiss him passionately. Vinny's arms flew out and his guitar went, “KRANG!”, while the rest of us onstage laughed and kept playing. They loved that man. Of course we all did. What a sweet guy he is. Another time I remember when I doing a fill-in for another drummer for a group, and it was the first concert I have ever done live to Japan from America. I should point out that, no matter how much deodorant I slap on before a show, once I am playing drums all night long, I stink like the devil…
JR: Nice!
DB: … You don’t want to get near me until after I’ve had a shower! Anyway, the crowd was really excited. When it was over, I was leaving the stage and a very nicely dressed, attractive lady in an evening gown and jewelry just threw her arms around me and started kissing me. I’d think that I would be offending the hell out of her, but it didn‘t even matter. I guess that‘s the power of music. Music has the power to transcend common sense.
JR: Personally, I don‘t like guys to wear deodorant. I want to be able to lick their armpits and when there‘s deodorant it‘s like, "Ewwww!" The natural scent of a guy is always more appealing! But, anyway, was there a particular celebrity or personality who you particularly enjoyed working with?
DB: Yes. I enjoyed working with the wrestler Brimstone during something called "Kirby" that Chris Notarile produced and directed. It goes by the name "Kirby, the Short Film" on YouTube. I got to play Zangief again, and this time Zangief is Brimstone‘s coach for a fight that he’s about to have. I think the title kind of gives it away! (Laughs) So, because that went so well, Brimstone had contact me recently and asked, "What can I do to get a cameo on your new series?" I said, "Forget the cameo. We have to have you as a guest star. We have to write you into the next episode!" Comedian Paul Reiser is also one of the nicest men I've ever known in this business. We've played the same bill but, as yet, have never appeared in a series together. He's such a gentleman. Hope I run into him again someday soon.
JR: You’ve really embraced the new phenomenon of the "web series", which is great because it is truly universal and accessible to everyone. Is it something of a culture shock for the masses to be watching TV on the Web, as opposed to, well… on TV?
DB: I think it is. But, in my opinion, the crossover point and overlap is so narrow, because there’s a whole generation of kids who grew up watching TV on the web. They never really embraced television except when they were little babies. That’s pretty much where it ended for them. When we were developing "Street Fighter Reunion" as a television series initially, we had in the palm of our hands the one demographic which was the "Holy Grail" that television wanted back but couldn’t get: the 15 to 30 year old males. We had them, but we would have to "bring them back to television". When the bottom fell out of television, it was no longer practical to do it as a TV series. We had to throw out our whole itemized budget. It didn‘t make any sense anymore. We made our fame on the web initially, so we went "home". We redeveloped it as a web series. The kids never really wanted television. They want to watch their shows immediately, whenever they want, and as many times as they want to.,
JR: Yeah, it’s hard to put a genie back in a bottle! So, Drummer Bear: As a bona fide Bear sex symbol, what do you personally find sexy in a guy?
DB: I like ‘em real diesel, real rugged. I like brutes! But I also like cubs. Cubs are irresistible to me. They bring out the "Daddy Bear" in me!
JR: Well, we can all be grateful for that! So, what does Drummer Bear do for fun?
DB: I like sports. Swimming, martial arts, playing Frisbee, volleyball, racquetball… even badminton. It’s hard to get anyone my age to play sports with me, so I am always playing with younger people. Anything that requires a lot of cardiovascular activity: running, and jumping high into the air, and hitting things.
JR: Is that your secret for staying in shape?
DB: Yeah! It keeps my stamina up. Drumming was the one thing that kept my stamina up, and I don’t do that anymore.
JR: Well, there are always other ways to work up a sweat. Hint, hint!!!

See more at!  See also:
Drummer Bear and Brimstone in "Kirby"

Mike Fass Speaks for Zangief

Mighty Zangief Speaks for Himself

Zangief's New Super Move Saves Ryu's Life:

A Few Zangief Dance Moves​watch?v=b3nSdSmS1pM

And a Few More:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

TOM RAGU: Are You Ready to Be "Tickled Pink"?

Are You Ready to Be “Tickled Pink”?

Is Tom Ragu “The Busiest Man in Comedy“? Perhaps there’s nobody better to ask than Mr. Ragu himself. He tells me, “Well, I just like to keep busy, because if I don't, I'll eat a loaf of bread while watching ‘The View‘ with Pete Ragú, my cute little BFF. I love him so much.” For those inquiring minds out there, Pete Ragu is Tom’s unyieldingly loyal pooch. The woofy New York City native (Tom, not Pete…) wears two hats-- and sometimes three, but please don‘t ask me where he wears that THIRD one… In addition to plying his trade as furry funnyman, Ragu is also a producer, being the creator and host of the weekly “Tom Ragu Comedy Revue“ on Monday nights at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. More recently, he has brought us “Tom Ragú Presents: Sorry, We're Funny.”, a traveling comedy/variety show which promises to showcase lots of new and unsung performers. Ragu has a knack for discovering new talent, as you may have guessed: Just when you think that you’ve discovered the “last comic standing” in The Naked City, Tom will find another one to tickle your funny bone… or, tickle any body part you wish. On the subject of tickling, also on Ragu’s lineup is “Tickled Pink”, a variety show which is part of The Fresh Fruit Festival this month. The event is scheduled for Tuesday, October 25th in New York City. Tom and I met to discuss life, laughs, and lasagna…

JR: Hi Tom! Thanks for taking the time to talk to me! Now, in addition to “The Tom Ragú Comedy Revue”, your bi-weekly comedy shows at New York City‘s legendary Stonewall Inn, you have created "Tom Ragú Presents: Sorry, We're Funny." - a new traveling comedy and variety show that, according to the press release, “un-apologetically features some of New York and New Jersey’s best comics, variety acts, and misfits…” What are some of the surprises you have in store for us with this endeavor?

TR: I really wanted to start a show that was more than just a lineup of comics. I've been dying to "hit the road" for a long time now and I thought that this was the perfect opportunity to produce that show I've been longing to do: Comedians. Performance artists. Musical artists. Drag Queens. Poets. Jugglers. A clown. But I needed a name. One fine day, I was walking around in Chelsea - well, actually, Ninth Avenue because overweight comedians with mother issues are not allowed to walk along Eighth Avenue with the rest of the Skinny Bitches - and I saw a shopkeeper switch his sign in the window from "Come in, We're Open" to "Sorry, We're Closed" .. and I thought "That's it! That's the new name!" and "Tom Ragú Presents: Sorry, We're Funny" was born. Our first show is at NYC's Laugh Lounge. Our second show is in East Brunswick, New Jersey. Our third show will be on Long Island, New York. I'll be getting around. Try and act surprised.

I will! What can you tell us about “Tickled Pink“?

TR: "Tom Ragú Presents: Ticked Pink" - October 25th at The Workshop Theater - is going to be a fabulous celebration of all things Gay! Or do the kids say 'Queer' now? Have we taken that word back yet?

Anyhow, this show is what happens when you mix part drag queen, part gay comedian, add a leather person and a gay rapper, with a producer with too many shows, a gay hip-hop artist, a dash of a lesbian comedian, a Queen with a ukulele and a member of The Imperial Court of New York - then add alcohol and SHAKE! The result: one fabulous show - part of The Fresh Fruit Festival, which supports the LGBTQ arts. It's either going to be really good or really bad! Your readers should check it out to see which!

I agree! Now, you and I both know that sometimes a stand-up comedian can go on stage and the audience just doesn’t, shall we say, “feel it”. As a performer, you must have had a moment of two like that in your history of performing. Or maybe not… But anyway, how does a comedian get through it?

TR: I think that every single performer has - whether one is a comic, an actor, a dancer, or whatever one's passion - gone through performing their little heart out, and then the audience just didn't get it. I certainly know that it has happened to me a number of times. It really feels horrible. The only way I can describe it is how you would feel if someone told you that you had an ugly baby. Horrible! But I really do believe that all of those times have certainly made me stronger as a performer. And that's how you get through it. Knowing that in a year or two, it will all be different.

JR: It seems like we live in an unshockable society. Nothing really raises an eyebrow nowadays in the news. That said, are there any topics that you WON’T touch in your performances?

TR: There are things that are inherently funny across the board. And there are things that are never funny. For me, I don't think that death, despair, human suffering, or disease are funny. Oh, and anything too vulgar and tasteless. I like to leave the vulgarity and tastelessness to certain husband and husband comedy teams that shall remain nameless. As they should be. Oh, snap!

JR: (Laughs) In your opinion, who are some of the “unsung heroes” of the world of comedy?

TR: There are literally thousands and thousands of young people who are so incredibly talented and funny, and the majority of them will never see the light of day. They get railroaded through the clubs into doing the "bringer" scene - which is doing shows sponsored by the clubs in which one is required to "bring" people. It gets very old very fast. I did two "bringer" shows in my life, and then I looked around, and I saw that everyone else in the room was making money. The Manger was making money; the Booker was making money; the club owner was making money; the waitstaff was making money; even the host of the show was making money. So I decided to create my own opportunities. If you let them, these big comedy clubs will have new comics in the "bringer" cycle for years. These young people have no idea that there is a whole world out there, and that nothing will happen for you if one doesn't create their own opportunities.

JR: How true. Now, on to more serious subjects. Reportedly, the powers that be are making a new “prequel” of “Sex and the City” for TV. Do you plan on watching it when it comes out?

TR: (Laughs) No, I am spending my time watching "The Playboy Club" and the re-launch of "Charlie's Angels" ... Wait. What? They cancelled those shows? Oh, damn. Now what will I do with myself? I guess I'll have to go back to "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant."

If you had to pick one of the following events to go to, which one would it be (Sorry, feigning illness is NOT an option!):
1. A dinner party (with cocktails!) with the cast of “The Real Housewives of (pick a city…) ”,
2. A book signing party (with cocktails!) with Alexis Stewart (daughter of Martha), who has a new tell-all book called “Martha Dearest”… no, the title is actually “Learning to Live Here”,
3. A “Motivational Seminar (with cocktails!)” with Gayle King,
4. A sneak preview of the upcoming Liberace movie (with cocktails!), or…
5. The Michael Jackson doctor murder trial (No cocktails, but there might be propofol available…)

TR: I'd love to have some face-time with Gayle King because she is a Pop Culture Junkie like me! Moreover, I'd love to know if Oprah snores while she sleeps, and if Gayle nudges her or if she just moves to the other room! That's right, I said it. I am tired of pretending that those two are not a couple. Anyhow, I do think that I have to go with a sneak-preview of the new Liberace flick - for no other reason than to see the on-screen kiss between Matt Damon & Michael Douglas, and watching Matt Damon trying not to vomit in his mouth at the mere thought!

JR: You took the vomit… uh, I mean the words, right out of my mouth! Now, I’m gonna get personal: A few years ago, I was dining out with my family and I ordered the vegetable lasagna. It came out with tomato sauce, not the white sauce (bechamel) that the dish is traditionally served with. I wanted to speak to the chef. My mother was enraged-- she turned as red as the tomato sauce-- and asked me how dare I question the chef … and how dare I “embarrass” her like that? She still brings up that incident ten years later. So, because I know you are such a great cook, I have to ask the final, most serious question of all: Is it ever OK to put tomato sauce on vegetable lasagna?

TR: I would be enraged too. I am enraged right now! Not because you wanted to add marinara sauce to vegetarian lasagna (!) but because you have decided to ask me about it!!! You know that I am so busy producing 45 shows and raising my child, I mean dog, Pete Ragú. Why the heck are you asking me about lasagna? Go find Mario Batali somewhere with his stupid orange crocs, and leave me the hell alone!

Are we done? There is a fantastic all-you-can-eat Chinese Buffet right around the corner, and I'm starving.

Starving for laughter? Join hosts Jed Ryan and Tom Ragú as they present the different, the unique and the misunderstood in "Tom Ragú Presents: Tickled Pink" - a comedy & variety show featuring some of NY & NJ's best comics, musical acts and misfits.
 Admission: $12.00 (includes a beverage)
 Scheduled to appear: Ben Lerman, Tom Ragú, Lester Greene, Bone Intell, Juan Pablo, Chanelle Futrell, Jay Edwards, Sunshine Richard McLean, and Witti Repartee.
 Tuesday, October 25, 2011
 Showtime: 9:30pm
 at The Workshop Theatre
 312 West 36th Street, NYC
 Visit for more info!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

FUN WITH DICK AND DUANE (AKA: "Testosterone: A Love Story")

(Photos: Dick and Duane... THEN!)
(AKA: “Testosterone: A Love Story“)

Picture it: New York City, 1981. While cruising down pre-Guiliani 42nd Street, you’re tempted by the idea of skipping the nightly adult bookstore hookup and instead seeing the cult-classic-to-be ”Mommie Dearest”… or maybe you’ll catch John Waters’ “Polyester“-- in Odorama! That is, if you have any money left over for a $3 movie ticket: The average rent on an apartment in Manhattan was just starting to reach the $300-a-month mark, and there was even a rumor that a subway token was going up to a dollar.

That was the same year, incidentally, that Lady Diana Spencer married Charles, Prince of Wales, on the other side of the Atlantic. But Stateside, a more enduring union was developing at that same moment: New Jersey teenagers Richie Cohen and Duane Tragis met, fell in love, got married with rings from a gumball machine, and became lifelong partners both personally and creatively. Fast forward to 2011. Cohen and Tragis, better known to their legions of fans and stalkers alike as Dick and Duane, are busier (and buffer!) than ever. They may have traded their Dippity-Do hair gel and “Frankie Says Relax” T-shirts for buzz cuts and protein shakes, but they’re just as dedicated to each other. And, as the only “husband and husband comedy team” in history, they’re just as dedicated to making you laugh. On their website,, you’ll find links to their YouTube videos, their blog, and photos of the couple throughout their three-decade relationship. The newest pictures of the two of them, in (almost) all of their hirsute glory, are guaranteed to arouse some carnal desires. WOOF! Dick and Duane have a new show coming up, a 30-year anniversary stage celebration called “Never Too Much”, at New York City‘s Laurie Beechman Theater in post-Guiliani Times Square. While the show was named after the song of the same name by Luther Vandross, the duo warn us that this WON’T be two hours of silly love songs or sickeningly sweet anecdotes. Their press release teases: “These boys just want to get down & dirty in their irreverently risqué way. Bring your trench coats for that vintage XXX porn theater vibe.” NOW we’re talkin’! The hunky twosome spoke to me about their new show and about life in their own two-king monarchy:

(Photos: Dick and Duane: NOW!)
So, boys, congratulations on the new show! What are some of the surprises we can expect in “Never Too Much“?

D&D: Thanks, Jed! Well, if I reveal any of the surprises, then potential audience members won't be surprised. But I will say that we won't be holding back a thing. "Never Too Much" is our song, but this is not a sentimental show. It's going to be a little political, a little raunchy, and very silly. Just like we are in real life. Only, in real life, we aren't on a stage with bright lights.

JR: Is this the kind of show you can bring your mother to? Put another way, just how raunchy does it get?

D&D: Well, we would bring our mothers, but that's because they've become desensitized after years and years of our blue humor. But I don't know about anybody else's mother. Oh, what the hell. Sure, bring your mothers!

JR: Or, bring your Daddies! (Ahem!) Now, Dick and Duane have a very big following on Facebook. I notice how you two often (affectionately, I presume…) refer to each other as “The Monkey” and “The Ape“. Say more, say more…
D&D: Is a "big following" a euphemism for a big ass? (Laughs) The Ape does like to shake his. OK, Richie (Dick) was nicknamed "Monkey" at around age two by his father, who said that Richie's face resembled one. And Duane is this big, hairy, muscley, kind of dim guy who, when he runs, kind of looks like a character from “Planet of the Apes“. Plus, his arms are very long. So, that's how he got that name. We would eventually like to start an Ape Community, to compete with the Bear Community. Like the NFL and AFL. Or something…

JR: That’s a “Planet of the Apes” guaranteed to give me a “Rise”! Get it?… Oh, that was a BAD one! I‘d better leave the humor to you two… So, at one of your recent New York City performances, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen were the target of a lot of your jokes. Why the Olsen twins?

D&D: Well, they were the subject of one of our pieces, where we do them throughout their lives, at age 4, 17, 61 and 97. We've always been drawn to the untalented as a source of humor, and they don't really come less talented than the Twins. Well, true, now they have all those reality show "stars" who are worse. But in the 80s, nobody could beat the Olsens for bad acting. And we love that.

JR: If you were stuck in an elevator and HAD to pick one of the following famous people to be trapped with, who would it be: Anthony Weiner, Chaz Bono, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, or Michelle Bachmann?

D&D: That's a bizarre assortment! Definitely Chaz Bono. And he could bring along his mother, what's-her-name…

JR: I dunno. While we’re on the subject of overexposed media whores: What do you think of that 61-year old lifeguard on Long Island who supposedly got fired for not wearing a Speedo? He said something to the effect of “No man over the age of 50 should be allowed to wear a Speedo?” What would you say to this dork?

D&D: We hadn't heard about that, but I guess we would just drop our pants and say something like, "Dude!! WTF, man?!"

JR: I’ll join you for that! While we’re on the subject of dropping pants: My boyfriend and I just celebrated our one year man-niversary. For a lot of gay male couples, that’s a big landmark-- the equivalent of 15 years in a heterosexual marriage. What are some of the tips you can give us so that we can reach the 30-year mark like Dick and Duane have?

D&D: Well, first of all, congratulations! But I think one year is the same in any relationship. Straight people break up, too. But as far as tips...just be honest with your feelings at all times. No, wait… I guess that could lead to constant bitching and nagging. Hmmm... I guess we don't really have any tips. And we don't want to give anybody the wrong advice and open ourselves up to a potential lawsuit.

JR: (Laughs) And now, a very serious question: Boxers, briefs, jock, or commando?

D&D: Duane switches around all the time...boxers, jock, bikini briefs, commando… Dick is always in bikini briefs. Except at the desk, when he's on-line looking at porn.

JR: Hmmm…that’s a very enticing visual indeed! While we’re on the subject: You two obviously spend a lot of time at the gym. What’s your funniest gym story? We all have one!

D&D: We have funny stories every day at the gym! If you follow our Facebook page-- I assume you'll put a link here because you're good at that stuff, Jed!-- you can read about our daily gym misadventures. Today, we wrote about the guy we saw in the locker room last night and how we couldn't figure out why we knew him. Did we have sex with him? Is he a Facebook friend? Does he work at some store we frequent? Have we seen him on X-Tube? And then, we both realized that we actually knew him from right there....from the locker room, where we'd seen him before. Duh!

JR: I think I know that guy! So, what else do Dick and Duane have in store for the upcoming year?

D&D:We're finally going to get to work on our long-awaited web series, once our 30th anniversary show is completed on Oct. 20th. We can't wait to get started!

JR: I can’t wait! Now, the last time we spoke, you told me that you had a cat named Eve Plumb. Now, in the case Eve could not fulfill her duties as a pet, would the next cat be named "Geri Reischl"? (Geri Reischl is the talented actress who replaced Eve during the "Brady Bunch Variety Hour" and was unfairly labeled from then on as "the Fake Jan Brady".)

D&D: (Laughs) No, you got that a little mixed-up. We have a cat named Dawn whom we named after the TV-movie "Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway" starring Eve Plumb! But definitely, we'd consider Fake Jan (and of course, we knew who she was!) as a replacement should Dawn decide to sit out the web series.

JR: Gotcha!!!

Here cum the grooms! (Ahem…) You can see Dick and Duane at The Will Clark Show at Pieces (8 Christopher Street, NYC) on Wednesday October 12th, at 8PM. “Never Too Much: The 30th Anniversary Show” is Thursday, October 20 at 7:00PM at The Laurie Beechman Theatre, 407 West 42 Street (downstairs from the West Bank Café, just west of Ninth Avenue), NYC. Reservations required; call 212-695-6909. $12.00 admission plus $15.00 food or beverage minimum.

Visit for more. You can also visit the happy husbands on Facebook at!

Saturday, October 8, 2011



In the HBO series “Hung”, blandly attractive actor Thomas Jane plays Ray Drecker: a divorced, middle-aged high school basketball coach with a house that’s just burned down and two kids who require child support. It seems like the only thing Ray has in his favor is that he’s, well… “hung”. What’s a broke guy with a big dick supposed to do? Become a male hooker, of course! Using his friend Tanya (Jane Adams) as his “pimp”, he sells his sexual services to lonely women. Reviews for the “Hung” were initially mixed (One critic questioned the plausibility of women in working-class Detroit being willing to pay for sex. I have to admit that I’m inclined to agree, despite being a fan of the show…). However, the series was apparently popular enough to be renewed for a second season. Despite the fact that HBO is not averse to full frontal male nudity (Remember “Oz“?) and that Ray Drecker’s big dick is the main character in the show, we never see Jane‘s penis on the screen-- even though “Hung” features a good amount of simulated sex. When asked if his well-endowed character would ever consider selling his services to male clients, Mr. Jane responded, “I've always said that the year that Ray ends up with a penis in his mouth is the last year of the show.” That remark apparently struck some members of the gay media as being homophobic, although Jane was no doubt speaking from the perspective of his totally hetero character Ray. (Trivia: “Hung” is not the first film where Jane plays a male prostitute. What others were there? The answer’s at the bottom…)
In a recent interview with the "L.A. Times", 42-year old Jane (who has appeared in a lot of movies, ranging from indies to the big budget “The Punisher” in 2004) revealed that he’s apparently had real-life experience with being a rentboy. It was back when he was a hungry, struggling actor… and his clients, not surprisingly, were Jacks rather than Jills. Jane stated, “Hey, you grow up as an artist in a big city, as James Dean said, you're going to have one arm tied behind your back if you don't accept people's sexual flavors… You know, when I was a kid out here in L.A., I was homeless, I didn't have any money and I was living in my car. I was 18. I wasn't averse to going down to Santa Monica Boulevard and letting a guy buy me a sandwich. Know what I mean?"

Yes, Thomas, we do. And we won’t hold it against you! Later on in the interview, Jane went on to speak about whether being gay or straight is a choice, and his answer may raise a few eyebrows: "I'll tell you what -- it's not a choice until you're open enough to experience both male and female sexuality… Until you've tasted the food, you don't know whether you'll like it or not, as my mom always said." Well, I for one have always believed that everyone should have a wide variety on their plate. And make it a BIG plate too!!!

(Answer to trivia: Thomas Jane played a hustler in the independent flicks “I Love You Forever, Tonight” in 1992 and “The Velocity of Gary [Not His Real Name]” in 1999.)

JAY EDWARDS: Your Cub For All Seasons

(Photos of Jay by Edward Lindquist)
JAY EDWARDS: Your Cub For All Seasons!
The Stonewall Inn, in New York City’s colorful Greenwich Village, is considered to be the birthplace of the modern gay liberation movement after being the site of the famous Stonewall Riots in June 1969. Forty-two years later, in June 2011, Stonewall held its first-ever “Mr. Stonewall Bear Contest”. Actor/musician/model Mike Fass, AKA “Drummerbear”, won the Title of Mr. Stonewall Bear 2011, and 22-year old Jay Edwards won Mr. Stonewall Cub 2011. Raised in Virginia and now living in Connecticut, Edwards spends a lot of time in New York City. The 5’10”, 315 lb. Bear could be seen shaking his ample charms with The Boys of BEAR-lesque to raise money for charity one night, and hanging out at New York’s woofy hangout Rockbar the next. A member of the NYC Metrobears, the young cub hopes to use his Title and his creative talents to unite the gay community in a unique way. He wants to create and perform cabaret- and variety show-style events that can not only be enjoyed by his fellow Bears and the guys who love them, but also for twinks, Leathermen, lesbians, drag queens, … in short, our entire community and our straight allies. Over pizza in New York’s Greenwich Village (Where else?), Jay spoke to me about his upcoming Title year. Jay was born in 1989, the year when singer Debbie Gibson reached her height of popularity, and Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” and Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative” were big hits. Throughout our interview, I was continuously impressed by the depth of knowledge and intellect displayed by a guy who just became the legal drinking age not too long ago…

JR: Congratulations on winning the Title of Mr. Stonewall Cub 2011. What specific goals and/or endeavors do you have in mind for the year?

JE: As a Titleholder, you have many responsibilities: one of them being to make a name for yourself . Also, you are expected to raise money for charity-- for a cause that you feel confident about. In addition to getting MY name out there, I also want more Bears of color out there to come out and be seen. There aren’t too many other Black Bear Titleholders around. I don’t really know any others around the country! I also want to raise money for Sylvia’s Place, which is an emergency 90-day shelter for homeless queer youth. In distinction to The Ali Forney Center (another resource for homeless queer youth), Sylvia’s Place will “take you in” right away-- whereas with The Ali Forney Center, it’s a little more work to get in. Ali Forney is a long term shelter. From what I understand, you have to apply to get in there. Sylvia’s Place does a lot of work, and they are struggling. Sylvia’s Place will take you in right away, even in the middle of the night-- if you are running away from someone who is trying to make you do something you don’t want to do, for example; or if you’ve been kicked out; or you’re running away from home and you’re in a strange city. One of the things with queer youth is that when they “come out“, they get “put out”. For a lot of them, New York City looks like so much fun. They only see the Pride Parade on TV, for example. They don’t know that when you come here, it’s a totally different ballgame. It’s not that easy. You can make it anywhere, but it’s work. And, like I said, I want my name out there. One of the things about being a Titleholder is that you should be getting your name out there… or you’ll be like “Mr. WHO?”! Your Title reign is only for a year. I’m young and I have a lot of energy for it.

JR: Sounds great! Now, in your opinion, what makes a “Bear” a “Bear”? As a Titleholder, you are going to be looked upon as a role model, and you’ll have to explain what a “Bear” is to people who may not be familiar with our lexicon.

JE: You may be a hairy person, but I think that what makes a “Bear” a “Bear” is the attitude. I believe that a Bear is someone who is nice, but also has that “viciousness” about them, like a wild bear on a hunt. A bear can be just as vicious as a lion or a tiger, but he also has a heart too. Whether you’re a Chub, or a Muscle Bear, or somewhere in between, to be a Bear you have to believe that you ARE one. It has to be because of what you DO, not just because everyone else that looks like you calls themselves a “Bear“. (Laughs) The whole point of life is to be your own person. Even if you “label” yourself, you’re still your own person regardless. I am a Bear, and a Black Bear. I am a bunch of things, but at the end of the day I am still me… which is basically a nice person with a pretty filthy mouth!

JR: (Laughs) We can all be thankful for that. I won’t object!  Now, do you think that some people get bogged down by labels like “Chubby Bear”, “Muscle Bear”, “Otter”, etc… Do we get too focused on the terminology?

JE: Some people do get tied up in the terminology, but I think that if you want to call yourself a “Muscle Bear”, for example, then that’s fine. Whether you are a Muscle Bear or Chub, you’re a Bear regardless. Accept what you are. I feel like a lot of Chub Bears see the Muscle Bears, and they get down on themselves because of that. They want to be that. But it doesn’t matter whether you are a Chub Bear or Muscle Bear, or whether you go from being one to the other. Just learn to be what you are, and take that feeling with you everywhere you go and just live with that. I’m a big Chub Bear, and I don’t care whether I would be perceived as a Chub Bear or a Muscle Bear. I’m still a Bear regardless. I feel I can compete with either. But, I don’t TRY to compete. I just have that attention, that thing that I can be seen having and be known for. No matter what you call yourself, you’re still your own person at the end of the day.

JR: How true! Now, you mentioned before that there seems to be a real void in terms of men of color who call themselves Bears. Why is that?

JE: I think that with the Bear community, pretty much all that we have seen has been very Caucasian-oriented. It’s been mostly white people with a few black people in there. There are Caucasian bears who are accepting of other Bears, but then there are others who are like, “What are you doing? This is OUR territory.” Rather than say, “Fuck it, I’m still gonna stick around.”, they just take a back seat and let themselves be brought down. When I first came in, that’s how I felt, and I spoke with Heriberto (Heriberto Oquendo, Jr., Mr. Metrocub NYC 2011). He gave me one of the best insights: No matter where you go, there are always gonna be people who don’t want you in their area, but don’t let that push you away. I don’t know much about the Leather community, but from what I have seen, there are a lot more men of color in the Leather community: all races, colors, and shapes are there. In the Bear community, maybe one day it will be like that.


(Photos of Jay by Adam Woomer.)
JR: I hope so. I think a lot of Caucasian guys may have fetishes about men of other races (Hispanic, black, Asian, etc…) … I am making sure I distinguish between “preference”, which just means that you are attracted to someone of another race; and “fetish”, which implies that you’re objectifying the object of your desire.

JE: You’re allowed to have your own preferences and fetishes, but all you need to remember is: You’re not Jean Claude Van Dam or whoever the hell there is! (Laughs) Who the hell are you to sit there and be like, “I don’t want you because you’re ‘this’ or ‘that’…!” Remember, one of these days your ass is gonna get up to that age where everything is gonna get old and sag, and nobody is really gonna want you… and you might not even be able to get them back with money! (Laughs) I know a lot of men who have fetishes for big men. You have your chasers who just want to have a big man. One of the things I said on Facebook was, “I’m no one’s fetish!” I never was and I never will be. I refuse to be that person who you want because you want to lay on my fat, rub my fat, and feel my fat. My fat is a part of me. I am human! I think I have to remind them that I’m as regular as the next person. But if you’re OK with being someone’s fetish and that’s your thing, then do it. I think that if you have a fetish for a specific thing, then that’s kind of sad… because that fetish that you’re going for may not want you nine times out of ten! It has to be mutual.

JR: What was it like growing up in the South?

JE: The South has been called upon as being very racist. But the South is not really racist. I feel that coming up North, it has been more racist than anything. In the South, everyone just kind of loves one another. Up here, everyone is much more “picky”, and I have to make sure that I “have this“, or that I‘m “on top“ or “the best”. Down there it‘s not really about who‘s “the best“; it‘s more of like living in the moment. There are things that I miss about the South. But, I wouldn‘t want to live there now at this point of my life-- it‘s too damn slow for me!

JR: I agree! So, who is your Bear role model?

JE: I have numerous Bear role models. One of them is, of course, my Daddy Bear Mike Fass (AKA Drummerbear, Mr. Stonewall Bear 2011). I also admire Richard “Sunshine” McLean, Mr. Metrobear NYC 2011, my fellow performer with The Boys of BEARlesque. He’s big like I am, and he stepped out of the box; Everyone sees Bears as being manly and masculine, but there’s also that feminine side to him. He’s shown that by breaking out and doing “Bear drag“, and he went forward and just didn’t give a shit. This is the same man who was on stage stuffing food down his throat and didn‘t give a damn. It made for a good damn performance!

JR: He’s also the same guy who will go out partying wearing his Mr. Metrobear sash and a wig and a tiara. It’s not just “drag”, it‘s renegade drag, it’s genderfucking…

JE: Right! Another role model is Heriberto Oquendo Jr., being a Latino Bear. He’s one of the first Bears I really spoke to kind of regularly. He gave me good advice about what to do and what not to do. One of the things I have been offered to do a few times to do is Bear porn. I am not against it, but I just question what it could do for me. With those kind of things, I have gone to him for insight. One of the other people I admire was not even a Bear: Sparkle Southerland. She was the MC of The Boys of BEARlesque, “Queen of the Bears“. She’s a drag queen and I am a Black Bear, so we were both “different”. Being more experienced, she knows how to handle things. I give Sparkle one clear Title: “Reality Check”. She’s very honest.

JR: She’d agree with you!

JE: What you don’t want to hear is what she’ll tell you. I think that you’re lucky to find people like that.

JR: Thanks so much, Jay!

You can contact Jay Edwards at or visit his Facebook page at