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Interview

Interview (64)

Claire de Lune's Vampire Stories

For years, Claire de Lune provided Sydney with some of the most outrageous drag shows and massive events - and now, she is returning to the stage for a new production at her very own venue SLIDE, to take on the underworld, the macabre and and the blood curdling.

But don't expect a traditional drag show. Claire is taking things to the next level. Guidetogay.com caught up with the culinary kookster for the lowdown on 'Vampire Stories'.


So tell us why you have decided to return to drag?
I have not really been away too long, Claire has made regular appearance at Claire's kitchen for 2010 and in the last few years, but yes, it is my come back to the stage. After creating the very successful el'circo for Verushka, I felt it was time to create a show just for me...

What was the main reason for choosing the Vampire theme? Was it to attract all those young "Twilight" twinks?
lol absolutely, I love the new Vampire trend, skinny emo boys with fair skin... but the show is also visiting some more old fashion themes, wait until you see our main vampire, he is HOT! and the male pole dancing champion to boot.

How has it been for you not doing resident shows over the last few years? Did you miss the weekly action?
To tell you the truth I haven't had much time to think about it, slide does keep me busy, but I have missed the applause. lol

Will the show be anything like you old world famous shows with Maxi and Verushka etc etc?
Yes of course, I am even bringing back a scene from a Hey Homo show , that I did with Verushka, many years ago, The Exorcist. complete with moving bed, levitation, dancing priests  and pea soup vomit...

Slide's amazing restaurant will be in operation for the dinner/show package, and excuse the pun, but the food is to die for.

The show featuring amazing costumes (by Gallery Serpentine and Shane Dunn), choreography by James Taylor, horror makeup and effects and starring master illusionist Adam Mada (Channel 9’s The Real Hussle ) Suzie Q & Stephen A Watson (Aust pole dancing champions), trapeze artist Toby Monson, and your singing waiters Andreas Rhonner, Brendan Irving and Ruth Schaumann. Plus of course, the inimitable Claire de Lune is going to run on Thursdays at Slide, 7pm.


The Plug: VAMPIRE STORIES AT SLIDE 41 Oxford Street Darlinghurst Thursdays from 7pm

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LUCASONIC bring Berlin funk to Mardi Gras

Lucasonic hit our shores to promote their debut album, & join the Mardi Gras Festival.

Packing their winter woolies away & leaving behind sub-zero temperatures, straight from the urban Berlin dance scene, funk band LUCASONIC have arrived in sunny Sydney for Mardi Gras.

LUCASONIC are an explosive mixture of heavyweight professional musicians, who deliver hip-shakin’ funk made in Berlin. Screaming horn sections & wild vocal harmonies are balanced with solid beats & bad ass grooves.

Following exciting performances of their debut album, ‘THE BEAT’, across Germany, Switzerland & Russia, the boys bring their energetic live shows to the Mardi Gras Festival & various other venues in Sydney. Guidetogay.com caught up with the act just before they start their Australian tour…

"We have been in Sydney for 4 days & can feel the energy in this city like no other city we have been to. We cannot wait to perform & be a part of the Mardi Gras Festival, we have heard the gay crowd loves a good party & we are more than excited to be involved with such fabulousness! Bring it on!" says band member Phil.

You can catch LUCASONIC at the following MG Festival dates

21st February Mardi Gras Fair Day (check the schedule of what's on when here)

24th February Mardi Gras Festival Bar: The Supper Club (7:30pm)

OR for further local dates, log on to www.lucasonic.com

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Calling All Marchers - Go GaGa at Mardi Gras!

The 2010 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival, Parade and Party may not be without it's controversy, but there is always one major attraction that hundreds of thousands of people turn out each year to watch on the streets, or tune in on the telly to have a gander at, and that's the award winning Marching group "Dr Mark's Marching Academy".

You may not know them by their community name, but Dr Mark's Marching Academy is responsible for the award winning groups "Diva's through the Ages", the international headline grabbing "Kylie" float with the hundreds of marching boys and girls (with the mini Dannii Pride float behind) and Brokeback Cowboys… all massive entries and all crowd pleasers.

Guidetogay.com is proud to be the official media partner of the group this year and we sat down with creator Dr Mark to chat about the success of the group, why they do it and how you guys can get involved in this elite parade entry.

So Dr Mark's Marching Academy is an award winning group, what makes it so special for the participants?


It is all about celebrating our community. We know how to produce great parade entries, due to the expertise and generosity of our friends, we have lots of fun, and the parade judges seem to enjoy us too. Most importantly our marchers have the time of their lives.

This year, you are recruiting for new participants - what can they, and previous participants expect from the parade entry?

They can expect heaps of great fun. They will be part of one of the most spectacular entries in the largest night time celebration of the gay and lesbian community in the world. They will meet lots of new people. There is nothing like the buzz which comes from parading up Oxford Street before hundreds of thousands of excited spectators!

What would be required from anyone who wants to join the group - and for those greedy queens "what do they get out of it" - loll

Participants need to attend enough rehearsals to learn the (simple) marching routine. There will be 8 opportunities for rehearsal, and we will post a video on the web if necessary too! Rehearsals are held in the evenings and on Saturday afternoons, and are fun. Most importantly, you need to be prepared to look fabulous on Mardi Gras night, and have an amazing time!

There is a huge amount of work that goes into organising these types of parade entries - why have you (and others) put your hand up again?

Mardi Gras has always been both a protest and a celebration. Both of those aspects are important. Over the years we have learned to produce fabulous parade entries. It is a way we can make a contribution to the Sydney gay and lesbian community and have a fantastic time too!

If you want to be a part of the fun - then check out  http://www.drmarks-marchingacademy.com or check out the Official Facebook Group.

SPACES ARE LIMITED AND FILLING FAST - ORGANISE A GROUP OF FRIENDS - IT'S A GREAT WAY TO EXPERIENCE PARADE!

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Scott Herman


Scott Herman is already famous for being a nice guy - from MTV's Real World, to becoming an internet phenomenon. He has gays and well nearly everyone around the world clamouring to their nearest gym to workout and his youtube and online projects are just massive. Guidetogay.com's Mark Dickson got to sit down with the fitness industries newest superstar...


Hi Scott, thanks so much for taking this time out from your busy schedule to talk to GuidetoGay.com. You started visiting the gym around 14, but were you always fit and sporty from being a kid so this was a natural progression?

Yes, I was always into sports growing up but my main motivation to go to the gym was to blow steam because I was picked on a lot.  I was very quiet as a kid and therefore was an easy target.  I could release negative energy at the gym and it quickly became a second home.


A lot of your clients and viewers may have been scrawny or lumpy or both (like me!) for decades.  How do you relate to their personal image issues that I guess you have been genetically lucky enough to avoid?

Well it is a struggle at both end of the spectrum.  On my side, It is very hard to gain muscle but easy to be lean.  On the opposite, that person can gain muscle but has a hard time staying lean.  So I can relate to the amount of work it takes to reach a goal.  That is what working out is all about. Setting a goal and then accomplishing it.  I see myself as a great coach and helping people reach their goals is what I take pride in.


How do you get up in morning,  or go to gym when stuffed after a long day at work? Is that easier when it becomes a routine part of your life and start enjoying it?

I enjoy going to the gym at night.  I need the day to eat to have the energy to expel at night.  I am a very intense weight lifter and a half empty stomach in the morning just won’t cut it.


Is there an optimum time to work out? Morning or evening, or just when you are committed and going to make most effort?

The best time to workout is anytime after you have eaten enough food to have energy in the gym.  It can be any time of the day.  Just make sure you eat because meal plan is key to your results!


I recently had a cold - is that the perfect excuse to skip gym for weeks till it's entirely gone? Or would you recommend people rest up for the worst few days then get back and do some light stuff. I know I've skipped endless time due to this and it's difficult to get back into it after break – this time I changed tack and went to gym and seemed to get over it faster.

Well I have had hives for the last two days… allergic reaction to a cologne I believe, and I have been all kinds of miserable.  But I still went to the gym to at least “go through the motions” as opposed to not doing anything.  Whether that is the best decision or not… I guess that is up to you.  I just don’t like to accept defeat.


You have a LOT going on in your life, when hives isn’t trying to interrupt. How do you Balance gym and socializing? To go on a date, or gym? Or both?

Well the gym is a part of my daily routine so that’s never hard to fit in.  However my social life has suffered a lot. But I do have a date tomorrow!  Yeah!! Wish me luck!


Yay, Good luck for sure  - we’re so jealous!   Speaking of which: Sex sells! Your image obviously helps promote the videos but do you actually work out shirtless normally at the gym like the guys all seem to do in fitness magazines?

I would actually always workout shirtless at my gym after I closed it.  Me and my buddies would close the place, throw our iPod on the sound system and tear it up for a couple hours.  It is really fun.


Some gyms in Australia are notorious for people (mainly guys I noticed!) standing around gossiping, primping and preening more than working out - is that just a gay ghetto issue in Australia or do you see that across the states too? Should gyms should be serious or social or maybe both if doesn't affect others.

That is something you will see in every gym.  But it isn’t a bad thing because a lot of people wouldn’t go to the gym unless they had that sort of social atmosphere.  However, their workout and results will suffer.  But hey, it’s better than nothing right?


How's your acting coming along post your stint on MTV’s Real World? I know you have your eyes set on a role as Captain America in an upcoming movie (& could use the angle that you don't need 6 months of Intensive training before the role like most actors would!). Are there any other acting jobs you'd consider and do you have plans to build up a background in theatre or movies before this and have you done any amateur theatre in the past?

I am actually up for the lead in a new HBO series.  It is still in preproduction but I should know more very soon.  I want to venture out and do some serious acting, but my goal is to use those opportunities as vessels to bring more attention to my fitness websites.  I want to teach fitness to the world and more face time will for sure help me spread this message.


You’re in demand as a fitness/underwear model: "guys wanna be you; girls (and some guys!) want you" ...do you think this could be your main career aside from movies, or do you like the challenge of several jobs?

Modeling is great but I enjoy the challenge from several jobs.  I am a business man by nature and like to have something to work on each day.  I like to see things grow and become successful.


You seem to have Lots of gay followers of Youtube, but often people are asking if you’re gay or protesting that you’re straight. We don't care to know either way, but do you thing in the 21st Century we should have moved on from this?

I really don’t feed too much into the “are you gay or not” questions I get on youtube.  It never made sense to me.  We don’t ask someone if they are straight, so why do we have to ask if they are gay?  I think at this point in time it shouldn’t matter.  However the best thing about Youtube is that most of the time I cannot tell if I am talking to a girl or guy because of their username.  So when I respond to comments I can respond more naturally to something like.. “You’re hot!!” from a username like skatifs345.


Have you encountered any discrimination against Gay or Lesbian's in the fitness industry? It seems not to be a problem in inner Sydney but our gyms are often Gay run so maybe not that surprising! Also being in the fitness and modeling industry do you have many Gay friends?

I don’t see any discrimination against gays or lesbians in the fitness industry.  In fact, I have had many gay clients.  But as far as modeling goes, I’d say most of the people I meet in the entertainment industry in NY are gay men and they have made up the majority of my new friends since starting in the industry.


How do you find time to reply to posts online personally & why is this so important to you?

I make the time because I know there is going to be a point where I just won’t be able to do it anymore.  So while I can I want to let everyone know that I do care.  Even when I start getting 1,000s of comments per video I know I may not respond as much; but I want my viewers to know that I am still listening to what they need by reading them.


What drives you so hard to help people achieve their personal fitness goals?

Helping others fills me with joy.  I am a very social person and like to get involved in the lives of the people around me.


Any plans to visit Australia in the future?

I would love to visit Australia.  I am hoping a club or event coordinator will call me soon and book me for an appearance.  That would be so amazing! [Ed: anyone interested? drop us a line & we’ll put you in touch !]


What do you do when you get time to relax? Ever go to music festivals / clubs and what do you listen to at gym or when you’re out running?

My relaxing is playing video games with friends and watching TV or I will go for a jog.  I also enjoy working on my car.  I used to be a DJ so music is a big part of my life.  I listen to anything and everything.  If I am weight training I usually listen to hardcore rock like Korn, Disturbed, Godsmack, Slipknot, Static X, or Linkin Park.  When I run it is more upbeat music like Rhianna, Britney, Veronicas, Janet, Blackeyed peas, Pitbull, Lil Wayne or Beyonce.  A fast beat helps me run faster.


Do you think you have had an advantage by presenting well (looks/body/attitude) - research seems to say good looking people often get favored in life; but do you think by someone increasing their fitness that they can help this, regardless of if they're considered stereotypically good looking?

I have always been under the impression that if you are fit that it gives off the vibe that you have discipline.  However that is not always the case.  I have been approached by good looking men and woman and could see that they were full of it.  So in all actuality, it may help to get your foot slightly in the door, but it is your personality that is going to sell you 100%.


Finally, thank you for talking to the Guidetogay members, and good luck with all your goals, especially making more of us work out properly and pay attention to our health. One final question: if you come to Sydney and hit Bondi beach with us, would you want to be wearing Speedos, Boardies or Footy shorts?

Well after modeling all the jockstraps for UnderGear there is really nothing left for the imagination, so I guess I could go with the Speedo.  No one likes knee high tan lines anyways!


For more fitness advice and to watch a selection of Scott’s training videos check out the Guidetogay video section and subscribe to Scott’s Youtube channel: ScottHermanFitness for the entire set.

You can get great advice on health and fitness for free by watching these, and for a small charge get personalized assistance and dietary advice through his main website (let Scott know you read about him on Guidetogay.com). We hope to be doing a review of these features at a later date for you.

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International Drag Day 2009

Pride Week is pretty much over for another year across the globe, but the proud keep on getting prouder, with Drag queens and Kings all over the globe flocking to a new concept in celebration - INTERNATIONAL DRAG DAY!

Guidetogay.com is the official media partner of Drag Day, and we caught up with creator, Adam Stewart, to get the low down on FAAAABULOUS and FIERCE celebration.



So tell us a bit about International Drag Day... Why did you launch this concept?

International Drag Day is a day where all around the world on every gay scene we take this opportunity to celebrate and thank the drag artists that add so much to gay life and culture. This is the reason I launched this concept. I saw that there was no such day or event on an international platform in which we celebrated drag artists. So I went about launching is via my “Drag Queen” fan page on facebook, http://www.facebook.com/dragqueens. I thought this would be the best way to reach drag queen fans internationally and for free, as I obviously had no funds to launch the day or event like you would launch any other. The fan page has over 5,000 fans and interest has been greatly received and very positive and is still gaining interest about the event and how they are getting involved.

In your opinion – which country has the best drag?

I would obviously be somewhat biased to my home country the UK, as I think we have some great drag talents such as the retired Lily Savage, Vida Las Vegas, Drag with no name and Lola Lasagne to name but a few. I also live in Birmingham which has a thriving drag scene with many great artists. I would also have to say Australia would be a close second as they certainly have the most fun and outrageous drag queens especially a little know star called Dame Edna Everage as well as giving us one of THE best drag movie and now a stage show ever, “Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert”. 

Do you think Drag differs from region to region, and how do you see your project bringing different drag genre’s together?

If by region to region you mean different countries then definitely, yes. I think each country has their own ideas and qualities of how a drag artist should be, look and perform and I do believe and hope that IDD does bring these different types of drag artists together. Especially Drag Kings, which have to some degree been out of the lime light. I hope this day allows them to shine. I also think it will bring the different genres together through the events that people will put on. Just having a handful of different performers and artists in that sense brings them together, under one roof, for one cause, it is as simple as that.

What specifically is involved in IDD, and how can people get involved?

International Drag Day is what you make it. It works on the premise of the local gay bars and clubs in the gay scenes around the world throwing some kind of event to celebrate the day, that way people can go out and show their support and love for drag artists within their cities around the world. However it can be as simple and as poignant as going out that night, possibly dragging up yourself and supporting the drag talents performing, and showing your appreciation towards them. However of course ideally the bigger the celebration the better and I do urge owners/managers of the bars and clubs as well as local gay community projects to recognise this day and help in the celebration of drag.



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Damien Mancell Celebrates his new single and the Sydney GLBTI community

He graciously provided us with a kick ass soundtrack for the Guidetogay.com Mardi Gras soundtrack, and now, Sydney boy, Damien Mancell is kicking ass on all the charts, making his debut single 'Be With You Tonight' one of the hottest dance/pop tracks of the winter. We caught up with Damien during a very hectic week to find out more about Sydney's freshest singer/songwriter...



We obviously know you very well (firstly, thanks for providing the awesome soundtrack for our mardi gras coverage!) but for those that don't know Damien Mancell... can you sum yourself up if possible?
well..And thanks for the Mardi Gras coverage, as it kind of kick started this whole whirlwind. Im a sydney based singer songwriter that's been working behind the scenes for years now. I worked with dancers, artists, film directors, other bands, boy bands etc.I had been an active member of the GLBT community for many years now & I've worked in and out of the Sydney club scene for years.
I really enjoyed working behind the scenes,  but now its time for me to do my own thing. So I hooked up with one of Sydney's most talented writer/producers, Steve Mellare, and decided to write a few tracks. I met Steve whilst working on someone else's project. A few tracks turned into a larger body of work. Then the possibility of an album. I was well aware of who Steve was, and knew he was just the guy to help me deliver something substantial. We just clicked in the studio. I had been producing for others for years, but when it came to writing for me, I needed his guidance. I wanted to make a club record, as I love that scene. I live with a DJ, alot of my friends are DJ's, and I place myself firmly in that world. 

Your very active in the music and gay scenes in Australia, which is the bitchiest? lol
ooh..tough question, both are bitchy but in different ways .. the gay scene is a "why dont I have that.. lets cut him down" mentality, where as the Music  industry is a "kill him at all costs" mentality. You need a thick skin to survive. The gay scene is less harsh, hard to believe , but when your playing with the big nasty boys , they can "out bitch' any seasoned queen anyday. The only problem is when you mix the two, that can, and has been disaster!!LOL

So your single has been out for a week now - how does it feel?
Over the moon, Its taken so long to get it here. The reaction is a little overwhelming. Its kind of cool that people I dont know have bought it for some reason, like it, and have joined my facebook page. From all over the world. I couldn't believe that many people bought it on the day it came out.
That motivates me to do more, and deliver a great 2nd single, great remixes, great show and a killer album...

Why did you choose to go with "Be With You Tonight" as your lead single?
I chose it because it was a great introduction to what I am about. I love the song, the remixes are awesome. I felt that this would be a great way to introduce myself to the world. Its also a very catchy song, and it sticks in your head for days. I seem to have made the right choice..

What's the best thing about being a singer/songwriter?
The best thing is being able to express myself honestly and to be able to tell my story in a way that people can relate to. Im very lucky that people actually like what I do. So as a songwriter it gives me a little boost when it does well.

Can we expect any shows? Appearances? Maybe even Sleaze Ball or Mardi Gras Shows?
Im planning a few things for late july in the show department. I personally cant wait.. As for Mardi Gras? Hell YES! I am a staunch supporter of Mardi Gras. I think they are an important part of the Sydney culture, and will do anything I can to support them. I dont believe Sydney would be "sydney" without Mardi Gras. If they ever asked me to work for them in any way, I would say yes

What are your plans for future releases?
My plans are to promote this single (Be With You Tonight), working the clubs, and getting people away from their couches and back on the dancefloor Haha. Because of the success of the first single , it looks good for a  second single in September/ October, with a new batch of killer remixes,  and then the album for Christmas. Im also planning some shows, and some cool multi media aspects to what I do to make the music more accessible to people. Can I just take this opportunity to thank you guys for all your support...it means alot!



You can check out Damien on any iTunes store across the globe, Amazon.com, Walmart, Napster, CDBaby and every leading digital retailer.
Check out more on Damien at http://www.damienmancell.com



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Palmer Marchese (Spokes)

Palmer Marchese is 19-years-old and currently lives in Brisbane, but was born and raised in Melbourne. He is already a seasoned performer, with an extensive training resume and a growing list of credits in stage productions, short films and television.

Its a rare thing to be a fresh face with a list of credits as long as your arm, but this lad has managed to pull it off... last year, he won a national vote to host Network Ten’s Toasted TV and gained a wealth of presenting, interviewing and production experience. He recently made the tough decision to leave the show in order to pursue more serious roles.

It’s quite a gamble to walk away from a well-paid job, but it’s a decision that was made easier by recent interest form prominent casting agents and directors. This buzz is thanks to Palmer’s lead role in the critically acclaimed short film
Spokes, in which he delivers a moving portrayal of a love-struck and isolated gay man.

His versatile performance wowed audiences in Sydney and saw Spokes take out the short component at the Mardi Gras Film Festival. Now the film is embarking on a national tour as part of the Queer Film Festival, before heading off overseas to travel the festival circuit.

Guidetogay.com got to sit on the virtual couch with the talented young man to fire off some quick questions and help us get to know him just a little bit better.




Veteran actors say you should never work with animals and children... is that why you left your role on a kid’s TV show?

I love kids, but what I really want to do with my career strays outside of the boundaries of children’s television. I’m ready to take on more serious and challenging roles that appeal to a wider audience.

You’ve done a lot of theatre work – what was your favourite production and why?

The production of My Pet Human by Leah Pellinkoff was my favourite. I’ve always been a pet lover and this play explored the similarities between a dog and its owner. The raw Australian dialect in the script made me feel right at home and the fact I had to transform in and out of being a panting, barking and talking dog helped to build my self esteem whilst performing.

Harold from Neighbours – cool or not?

I don’t know him personally, but I know Neighbours fans miss him dearly!

You play the lead in short film Spokes. Did you hesitate before taking a gay role?

To be honest, I didn’t know it was a gay role until I was in the audition room. When I found out, I took it on board as a challenge and an opportunity to show my diversity.

As a straight guy, what preparation did you have to do for this role?

Firstly I had to break down the walls I had put up as a straight guy. I realised I didn’t know that much about gay guys – I mean, I have gay friends but there was a lot that I didn’t understand. I tried to observe how women interact with men and transferred the emotion I would use towards a woman to convey what I was feeling in Spokes.

What was the most challenging part? Did you learn anything from playing a gay man (better sense of style, dancing ability etc.)

Spokes made me appreciate the sensitivity of life and the full extent of sentimental value. My character’s passive nature proved that having a strong will can be rewarding.

Your character doesn’t speak – how do you convey emotion without words? Did you have to spend lots of time in front of the mirror.

I always work with thought first, and action second. The body conveys our thoughts and emotions, and strong thoughts can be visible to an outsider. People say speech is only a small part of communication and things like body language and expression make up the majority. But yes, the mirror and I have been friends for a very long time – it’s an amazing self-critique tool.

You also provide the voice of the animated French ant in Spokes – is the ant gay too?

No, he’s a typically hard-working French ant. He has a certain charisma perhaps, but he’s not gay.

Heath Ledger’s career was helped along by his role in Brokeback Mountain and everyone’s talking about Sean Penn after Milk. Are you hoping for a similar boost?

I saw this role as an opportunity to try a new, daring and bold genre that I’d not experienced before. I got so much out of this opportunity and for that I’m incredibly grateful. If it results in some additional success, that’s just an added bonus.

What’s on the horizon for you? Would you rather a gig in film or TV?

There are some very exciting things in the pipeline at the moment. I wish I could tell you, but I’m sworn to secrecy until the contract ink is dry. Television is something I definitely enjoy but I think film is where I’d love to end up. It gives an artistic license to explore a larger variety of choices and ideas, with fewer restrictions than television.



More Info :: www.palmermarchese.com.au/





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Queer As Folk's Robert Gant

In Australia, Queer As Folk originally screened as the UK version, and now we have the US version - there are significant differences in the show, and the characters - what do you think about the two shows, and how do you feel about the differences, and the added facets to the US series?

Comparing the UK and US versions of QAF is like comparing apples to oranges. I love them both, but they are fruits of very different trees. While the original had the luxury of being almost solely artistically driven and “indie” in feel, the US version had to deal with the mandates of series television. In other words, it had to concern itself with maintaining its audience for the long haul, with commercial viability. The original didn’t have to worry about ratings in the same way, so I think it likely had freer artistic reins with far less, if any network oversight. The US version also had to contend with the inevitable comparisons (such as this one) to the original. It took a bit of time to shake those comparisons and to become its own entity. I think that both endeavors succeeded very well within the parameters that they were given. Given all of that, too much comparison doesn’t really make sense.

Your character, Ben, emerged in the plot lines after the UK versions story lines were finished - was it easier for you to do a role that had not been portrayed by other actors?

I don’t know that it was necessarily easier. I don’t think that any of the actors really looked to the preexisting characters to contemplate the new ones. Like my fellows, even if there had been a preexisting Ben character, I don’t think I would have focused on him at all in my preparation. Again, these shows are very different creations, despite they’re shared title. They represent very different worlds. I don’t think I would have constrained myself by trying to do or not to do something the original character would have done, that is, had there been one.

As an actor - who just happens to be gay, is it easier, or harder to play a gay character?

Other than one episode of Veronica’s Closet, Ben was the first gay character I’ve played, certainly the only one of any depth. I don’t think that there’s really a whole lot of difference one way or the other. I will say that it has been invigorating to get to play Ben. As actors,we draw upon our life experiences to inform the characters we play. So it is freeing and fun to get to immerse myself in a gay character and use my own life experiences to inform him. That said, the difficulty in portraying a character has more to do for me with the depth to which the character is drawn. In many ways, Ben has been the hardest character for me to portray because he is the most textured that I’ve played. A straight character with no depth is not tough at all. So, I suppose it’s not a gay/straight issue at all but rather a simplicity/complexity issue.

Do you feel a sense of duty or burdon when it comes to playing an HIV positive character?

The script writers seem to be very aware of issues relating to positive people - would you have written the script differently if you held the pen? I think the writers have done a nice job with their handling of HIV. The only thing I would love to see explored are some of the other ideas and theories about HIV and its role in AIDS. So much really powerful and intelligent literature challenging some of our current beliefs around HIV has been sent to me. As someone who believes that discussion is always a good thing, I’m troubled by the extent to which parts of the medical community and pharmaceutical community seem so completely unwilling to engage in meaningful discussion about differing ideas and possibilities. A really interesting site I was pointed to is aliveandwell.org. I don’t know what the answers are to this great and painful dilemma, but I feel certain that only through meaningful discussion will we reach them.

As part of the Queer as Folk team - do you or any of the other actors get to have input into the script development?

The producers/writers are very good about fielding our concerns for the characters’ continuity. They often mention that we are keepers of our characters in a sense. With so many different directors on the show,we each keep an eye to some extent on our character to doublecheck that we’re not doing something that’s not in keeping with previous episodes. That said, this really is the baby of the show’s creators, and they are ones who develop the stories.

You are a role model to many gay Australian guys - what are the things you have done in your life that have made you the success you are today?

My life has really been about learning as I go with particular emphasis on the learning. I’m committed to expanding constantly what used to be my very narrow understanding of myself and the world. I think that therapy, self-help reading, and exporation of spirituality have been my greatest keys to growth and “success.” For me, it’s pretty much about the understanding of self and the world around me and the extent to which that understanding affects my actions, usually for the better.

You had a very cool career prior to taking on the role of Ben in Queer As Folk, what was your highlight of your past experiences as an actor?

Most of my experiences were highlights at the time they occurred. I really enjoyed doing a lot of the sitcom stuff (Caroline in the City, Friends, etc.). It’ll be fun to revisit that world once I move on from Queer as Folk. I think I’m ready for some comedy.

Have you been to Australia before?

I’ve not yet been but would love to go one of these days. All I hear are incredible things about the land and the people. Australia really sounds like my kind of place. And just once, I’d like to see what that Mardi Gras thing is all about before I reach a point in my life when it’s just no longer of any interest. To tell you the truth, I’m just about at that point now, so I’d better hurry down! Unfortunately, we always film at the same time, so it just hasn’t been a possibility. Maybe next year.

Do you have any business or acting ventures outside of QAF at the moment?

I’ve started a production company called Mythgarden with actor Chad Allen and producer Christopher Racster.We’ve optioned a number of fantastic scripts that take the storytelling of our community to a new level. We also have several television shows in development. It’s been very exciting, so stay tuned for next steps for Mythgarden. Acting-wise, I’ve been offered some great projects, but, unfortunately, they’ve conflicted with the shoot schedule for QAF. Once we wrap the season, I can turn my attention more to that. I did do a short film called Billy’s Dad is a Fudge-packer that is premiering in the Sundance film festival.

You are one good looking lad - is there ever going to be a Robert Gant workout video???

That’s funny. Umm, not likely in the near future. But maybe at some point, I’ll do something that has to do with one’s total sense of health and beauty. Physical, spiritual, the whole bit.

Are you currently in a relationship? Or do you find the binds of work make it too difficult?

I’m single. I look forward to finding a meaningful relationship. I feel very certain that the universe will provide that and that it will do so in its own time. And I’m okay with that. I didn’t use to be. I believed in my younger years that a relationship was somehow necessary to complete me. I didn’t feel okay being alone. I get now that I’m whole already. Today, I really enjoy spending time with myself. It’s such a nice place to have arrived.

Does your life reflect that of your characters in any way? How do you find inspiration to play Ben?

Sir Laurence Olivier once said,“Ask not who I become to play a character. Ask rather who the character becomes because I play it.” I’ve found that analysis to be very accurate. Any character an actor plays is who that character is largely as a result of the life experiences of the actor. So while Ben and I are not one in the same, while many of his storylines do not reflect my life, his expression is almost entirely me. His expression of emotion must necessarily be drawn from my own personal well of life experiences. If Ben’s experiencing something that I haven’t, then I must analogize his journey in that moment to mine as best I can. Because I’ve lived in his skin for quite some time, that happens much more readily for me.

Do you have a message for your Australian Fans?

I’ve gotten many terrific emails from fans in Australia through my website. I hope I get the chance to visit one of these days and to meet some of the great Australian folks who enjoy the show.

***Queer As Folk Screens on SBS Television.
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