Went to a fun event last night, a dual celebration in honor of the launch of the Web series In Between Men and model Ronnie Kroell's 28th birthday.
The event was co-hosted by Kroell and The Village People's cowboy Randy Jones and was charging $20 a ticket to raise money for the cash-strapped (it just hit a Bloomberg) Ali Forney Center. Not bad, considering your ticket fee got you some free food served in the chic Hudson Terrace and a chance to mingle with the seriously sexy stars of the series as well as Miss New York, Claire Buffie.
I was covering arrivals, but there was some time to kill because the stars treated it as a straight up party, to which one arrives fashionably late, as opposed to a press op. Chit-chatting with a sweet guy covering for AfterElton paid off—I'd gone into this thing having no idea the Web series was not a reality show and that Kroell was not starring in it. I can only imagine the awkward corrections to my questions. (Reminds me that over a decade ago, I interviewed some Nickelodeon kids—one is now a babe and a half—about whether their characters on a new series would ever hook up. They looked at me quizzically and the boy said, "But...we play brother and sister!" I'm not usually such a bad study.)
I should have just read the release:
"In Between Men is the new original Web series written and created by Quincy Morris, and directed by Jennifer Gelfer. The sexy new dramedy series follows four friends who are living in New York City 'in between' a gay world, whose clichés they don't relate to, and a straight world they don't belong to. The stories follow four successful professional men through their wild adventures, racy storylines, the joys and pains, all underscored by the pulse of New York City."
The lighting wasn't working for me, so I was grabbing guys off to a red-velvet draped hall in which a janitor's mop stood silent witness to our Q&A sessions, or to an area next to the coat check. It worked for the most part.
I have to say right off the bat that the series—the first three, eight-minute Webisodes were shown later in the evening—is slick and has some interesting chemistry going for it. It doesn't hurt that it has four really amazing-looking actors...I can't think of a feature-length gay-themed film with such a high quotient of "hi, how you doin'?" good looks.
It's basically a Sex and the City-type take, except these "ladies" probably wouldn't be as inexperienced with foreskins and anal sex. I'm not sure how I feel about the premise that the guys don't quite fit into gay clichés since they seemed to be well-off, sexually ravenous and comfy dancing shirtless at clubs, but there is a charm to it and none of them comes across as a villain or a cartoon. I made sure to ask them the "gayest" and "straightest" things about themselves based on the premise and was pleasantly surprised when no one got defensive—they all rolled with it charmingly.
I especially enjoyed speaking with Max Rhyser ("Jacob Ross"), who not only stars but produces, and who spoke with me about his decision to be an out actor despite advice over the years to keep it in the closet:
Ben Pamies ("Benjamin Reed"), who was discovered while bartending in Chelsea (cool your jets, he's opposite-sex married), couldn't have been warmer:
Series lead Nick Mathews (his "Dalton Fuller" is the Noah in this Arc and his character was originally written to be black) was very concerned that our picture together turned out to my satisfaction and gave me a bubbly interview after arriving so late I almost had to miss The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills at home (It was okay...he gives a solid, anchoring performance):
Chase Coleman ("Dr. Dane Sullivan"), a James Dean type, was proud to mention his work on Boardwalk Empire and in his dapper monkey suit looked like he'd just arrived from the SAG Awards where that series won the top honor in its category. He seemed like a potential future stahhhr:
Birthday boy Kroell was decked out in a see-through top that had a '60s feel and that tastefully showed off his tits in a Madonna/"Vogue" way and was happy to talk with me about the show—he's a fan—and his recent stint in Playgirl, about which he seems to have no regrets at all (nor do I):
Finally, Morris struck me as a thoughtful scribe and proud papa:
The funniest part was me being treated like an event photographer, duking it out with the big boys with my little Canon.
Later, Kroell took to the stage and announced homolib David Geffen and homocon Peter Thiel (boo, hiss) had each donated $1,000 to the cause (okay, I'll take back the "boo, hiss" since he donated $980 more than I did)—a nice surprise.
Then, on my way home (this was far West Side in the 40s), a car followed me closely, seemingly thinking—and I swear I'm not making this up—I was the world's fattest, oldest male prostitute. I say this because the driver was kind of looking at me expectantly, like he wondered if I was the one who was in between men. Then, when I crossed in front of this car at a light, I couldn't resist looking in. I saw zilch, but the gesture led to the car pulling over to the side and waiting for me. It was funny, then it was creepy (I kept remembering that poor lady whose last words were "please don't take me!"), so I feigned an important iPhone call and trudged on. It might have been my unseasonably light leather jacket that radiated sex-for-sale or my lone-wolf status on 11th Avenue. Either way, even though I didn't rush over and hop in the car, it was quite a trip!