E3: Season 3 of EastSiders Needs You

You should not look for any objective reporting here.  I’m just simply biased. I fell in love with EastSiders five years ago and have been awed by the talent and the dedication and the blood, sweat and tears that Kit and John and their team have put into this series. They’ve been telling the stories they want to tell on their own terms and, trust me, that’s powerful. And rare.

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Image|EastSiders Season 3 Kickstarter

And it’s also why people connect with them. They are real. They are authentic. They are from a singular vision. Too much of “entertainment” is decided by committee. And that’s why the edges aren’t sharp. It’s why the comedy is lukewarm and the drama is tepid. And it’s why we don’t see stories of substance, stories of depth, stories of importance that reflect the LGBT experience in this country. And now, more than ever, we desperately need to tell those.

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Image|EastSiders Season 3 Kickstarter

If I’ve convinced one person to give to one of these Kickstarters and convinced another five to sit down and watch an episode, then I’ve changed the world just an infinitesimal bit. And maybe even made it better. See if I’m right about that.

Read some of what I’ve written over the last five years (or not) and then go to www.eastsiderstheseries.com and donate to this Kickstarter.
EastSiders – New Web Series Worth Watching 2012
Kickstart This — “Eastsiders” Needs You 2013
Kit Williamson: Logo Online and the Web Series Renaissance 2013
How to Say Thank You — A Saga and a Case Study in Doing It Right 2013
Why I’m Supporting EastSiders — And Why You Should, Too 2014
Kit and Van and Cal and Thom and … Cassandra? 2014
When Not Shutting Up When You are Told to Shut Up is Important 2014
Kit Williamson on Slut-Shaming 2015
Return to Silver Lake – Long-Awaited Arrival of EastSiders Season 2 Does Not Disappoint 2015
Verdict on EastSiders Season 2: Most Assuredly the Best of the Lot 2015
Emmy Nods for EastSiders 2016

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Cal and Thom live in Silver Lake … and also in my guest room in New Jersey.

Help Van Hansis Make This Series

Hello, Blogosphere. There are nine days left to help make the web series Ms. Guidance by making a contribution through Kickstarter. (Maybe eight now; I’m late.)

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The Ms. Guidance Company all pride-ified.

WHY SHOULD I CARE?
Well, you know I am very bully on making your own art happen these days. One of the gifts that technology has given to creatives is the ability to make more art accessible to more people on a very grassroots level. And social sharing, though services like Kickstarter, has empowered more and more people to be a part of this rise of independent production with a very, very minimal monetary contribution.

Actor Van Hansis and playwright James Ryan Caldwell created the series and Hansis is also starring as well as taking a turn behind the camera, co-directing with Melodie Sisk.

WHAT WILL I GET OUT OF IT?
There’s the satisfaction that comes from making someone’s dream come true. If that’s too damn esoteric for you, I would suggest that you’ll get personal pleasure out of watching a well-crafted story, well-told. Isn’t that why we watch anything?

Also, if you’ve read this blog long enough, you’ll know that Hansis is on my short shortlist of people that I would pay to see read the phone book. (Do people have phone books anymore?) My soap opera people will know Hansis from his former incarnation as Luke Snyder on As The World Turns, recently called out — correctly, I might add — as Number 1 on thebacklot‘s list of 25 Greatest Gay Characters in soaps. My web series folks will know him from EastSiders, Kit Williamson’s smash-hit web series about a dysfunctional gay couple and their equally dysfunctional straight friends. My indie film friends will also be looking forward to his turn opposite Gale Harold in Casper Andreas’ upcoming Kiss Me, Kill Me or the 2013 horror film Devil May Call or maybe the thriller Occupant.

Look, he’s just good, okay.

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Ms. Guidance creators James Ryan Caldwell and Van Hansis.

WHY SHOULD I WANT TO SEE THIS?
I read somewhere that Hansis described Ms. Guidance as Strangers with Candy meets Anton Chekhov. That’s a genius line. How do you not want to see that?

There’s nothing I love more than stupid funny that makes you think; that sticks with you. And from the little teasers I’ve seen, that’s what this is. What do you do when your life doesn’t turn out the way you expected it to? That’s comedy gold, my friends. (Oh, trust me; that’s hilariously bitter experience talking.) Also, Uncle Vanya is one of the funniest plays ever written — yes it is! — so, there’s that.

In addition to Hansis, the cast includes Amber Gray, Adriane Lenox, Ian Unterman, Tyler Hanes, Marco Zunino, and introduces Elliotte Crowell as Jenny Bump, an actress who has a nervous breakdown on the New York stage and returns to her old performing arts boarding school as potentially the worst choice ever for an interim guidance counselor.

WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO?
Just log on to Kickstarter in the next nine days (eight now, maybe) and pledge. You can pledge as little as $5 or really as much as you want. Hey, for $750 you can get a dance lesson from Tyler Hanes! $750! Trust me, if you’ve ever seen him dance, that’s the bargain of the century.

They have just under $10,000 left to raise of a VERY MODEST goal. Just take that $10 you were going to spend on that venti four-shot no whip cinnamon dolce soy latte and give it to these guys. You’re awake enough; you don’t need any more coffee.

Have a lovely Independence Day. I have to go catch a damn airplane so I can go home for the weekend. (See above re: hilariously bitter life experience.)

Retake Kickstarter: Fund This

Hey, folks! I’ve been absent of late, because, well, life. But, I have backed the Kickstarter for the new feature film RETAKE and I think you should too. This is another in a string of important independent LGBT voices that need to be heard. Please join me and help them raise about $45,000 to bring this project to fruition.

Nick Corporon is the writer/director/jack-of-all-trades, Sean Mandell produces, Luke Pasqualino and Kit Williamson star. Make sure that these talented folks get a chance to make this film.

Fund Them.

We now return you to radio silence, already in progress.

Retake Kickstarter    Facebook    Twitter   Instagram

Kiss Me, Kill Me, Kickstart Me?

photo-main10/11/14 — National Coming Out Day — This is the perfect day to help make more gay and lesbian representation in the cinema happen. Help to fund this film, a good old-fashioned ‘whodunnit’ with a West Hollywood twist. And, it features some superstar talent: Gale Harold, Van Hansis, Kit Williamson, Jonathan Lisecki, just to name a few. They’ve got just under a month left and about $75,000 to raise. You can make that happen. Here’s the link. Click it!

Kit and Van and Cal and Thom and … Cassandra?

I hope you’ve already read Kit Williamson’s cover story in The Fight magazine where he interviews EastSiders co-star Van Hansis. It’s an excellent interview. You know, they call an actor/singer/dancer a “triple threat.” I think Kit, because he’s so good at so many things, is just an across-the-board threat. And the establishment should be more than a little wary.

Why? Because Kit is shaking up just about everything that is wrong with the status quo in Hollywood. And he’s doing it while not being an asshole (I’m assuming; but I have it on good authority) and he’s doing it on his own terms and he’s doing it right under their noses because he’s that smart.

After I read the interview, I said to myself, “Well, they’re going to pull the wrong thing.” And I was right because I am Cassandra! (Oh, look it up.)

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Van Hansis, whose portrayal of Luke Snyder on As The World Turns, made an indelible impression on the television landscape, stars as Thom in EastSiders. |Image: The Fight.

Every damn LGBT website I visited it seemed had some version of “Van Hansis Comes Out” on their homepage. And it made me crazy because that’s not the point.

The point is that no one was saying anything about this:

KIT: I’ve been out since I was sixteen, but when I first came to LA my agents were a bunch of Hollywood bro guys and I was afraid they wouldn’t be able to see me in straight roles. It’s a fear I still harbor, and it’s not necessarily paranoia. I met with a manager a couple of years back who told me I was “fey” and that I would need to “work on that” to be her client.

Someone, somewhere — and certainly more than just me — should be absolutely incensed by that. “Fey?” Seriously? Oh, just butch it up a little. I’ve said for years that the metaphorical corner of Hollywood and Vine is the most homophobic spot in America, but the inability of the industry as a whole to break free from ingrained stereotypes is an outrage.

Has the industry moved forward at all from 60 years ago when the divine Ethel Waters burst forth from a TV kitchen with a “Did somebody bawl for Beulah?” and the only African-Americans on television were servants?

Is gay the new black? Is calling someone “fey” any different? Is the fear that you may not work because someone thinks you may be gay any different?

When Van was breaking barriers and pushing envelopes and making a real cultural impact as Luke Snyder on As The World Turns, he didn’t talk about his own sexual orientation. Why? He tells Kit, “I was completely green, fresh out of college, and honestly, I was scared.”

And why shouldn’t he have been? He jumped feet first into the big time in a highly visible role in an industry that thinks it’s better off if you, you know, butch it up a little. Date some nice girls, like Rock Hudson did. Gimme a freakin’ break.

Van Hansis was a rock star on ATWT. I mean, he was so good you couldn’t really even believe it. He elevated the material to a new level and his was, culturally, the most important gay character of the time in the mainstream media. And the industry — and its warped perceptions of public attitudes and tastes — scared him from telling his own truth as a gay man. That shit just breaks my heart.

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A couple of subversives masquerading as handsome boys next door. Writer/Director/Jack-of-all-Trades Kit Williamson (l) stars with Van Hansis in EastSiders, the independent series that is challenging stereotypes and shifting the conversation on LGBT inclusion. |Image: The Fight.

But, guess what? I get it. I well and truly get it because I’m a helluva lot older. I lived through coming of age in the early 1980s. I lived through the terror of the early AIDS years where you weren’t sure if sex was a death sentence. I lived through years and years of pretense for fear of losing my job and my reputation.

In the late 80s, I was asked by a program director (I was on the radio at the time) if I had a girlfriend. I said that I didn’t. I probably rolled my eyes. He said — and this has been seared into my brain for 30 years — “You ain’t gay, are you? ‘Cause you can’t be gay on the radio.”

It would have been okay, I guess, if I was some abusive straight jerk, who smacked women around instead of a greenhorn 20-something who was scared as hell of being “found out.” I guess no one would dare listen to a gay guy do the damn news.

You can’t be gay on the radio. Jesus, that’s about the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Thirty years have passed since then and the needle hasn’t moved on actual, honest-to-God LGBT acceptance by the industry. Thirty years.

And that, cats and babies, is why EastSiders is so damn important. As Van points out in the interview, the show is changing the narrative; upsetting the applecart of preconceived notions.

There’s no classic hero to emerge from Thom and Cal nor is there one to emerge from Ian and Kathy. What’s there instead is a marvelous leveling. The gay characters are just as screwed up as the straight characters and the distinctions are not in any of their sexualities but in their personalities. And that’s powerful.

The show started at the Mayan Apocalypse and it’s shown since day one that just because some group says that disaster’s coming, it doesn’t mean it is. Life doesn’t work that way.

So, for anyone who has ever been told they are too gay or not gay enough or not straight enough or to butch it up or to hide their truth or to not ask or tell or that you can’t be gay on the radio, well, you owe it to yourself to make sure that this season of EastSiders gets made. Your $5 will make it happen.

What do I get out of this? Not a goddamn thing. Except smart, powerful entertainment. And the satisfaction of seeing the LGBT acceptance needle move a little bit more toward BETTER.


 

Why I’m Supporting EastSiders — And Why You Should, Too

You know that old saw, right? The one about taking a village to raise a child? Well, it takes an army to produce a show. And we need some foot soldiers.

This is not really light-hearted banter; this is fact. If you want to see something that you can’t get anywhere else, you will need to help make it happen. What does that mean, “make it happen?”

It means, you need to bring cash to the table. And you need to click HERE right now to make EastSiders Season 2 happen by supporting this Kickstarter.

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Will your $5 or $10 contribution help? Yes, absolutely. In fact, if every single person who reads this blog gave $10; they would be done.

So, do it.

There’s a counter-intuitive tipping point of information vs. action. If you’ve been around long enough, like I have, you’ve seen it before: a lot of terrific press, but you want to see even more momentum in the crucial front end of a campaign. This is because people assume that if they read excellent press about a production at every turn, then they don’t have to support it. That someone else will pick up the slack. That there is some big donor lurking. That their $20 doesn’t matter. And it does. It absolutely does.

If you want to see this show, you must give now.

If you want to make sure high-quality, independent LGBT voices continue to make an impact, you have to pledge your support now.

If you want to make sure this series has even more of an impact than the first season, you need to give now AND you need to tell a friend.

And you need to make sure your friend both gives and tells their friends.

Twenty bucks and a couple of tweets or Facebook posts or Instagrams. That’s all. That’s a couple of trips to Starbucks. Sure, you want another caramel macchiato, but is that worth more to you than making this program happen?

If EastSiders raises 80% or 95% or 99% of their goal, THIS SERIES DOES NOT GET MADE. That’s how Kickstarter works. You meet your target or exceed it. There are no do-overs. One shot.

If everything goes well and with two minutes left in the campaign it stalls at $124,980, it was your $20 bill that caused EastSiders Season 2 not to get made. Don’t be that person. Support this now.

I’ve made my pledge because I believe in this work. Kit has already proven that he can turn out a fascinating, relevant, entertaining, smart product, so I have no doubt that this group will do it again. I’ve joined the army (because we can do that now, you know) and I’m not asking you to pledge; I’m just telling you to do it.

You’ll thank me. Yes, you will.

A Grand Time for Singing

Steve Grand makes Top 10 list of most-funded Kickstarter projects.

When out singer-songwriter Steve Grand announced his Kickstarter a little less than a month ago, I contributed on the first day. I thought to myself, I think this is a good kid; I sure hope he makes it.

I needn’t have worried: he reached his $81,000 goal in 17 hours. As I write this, he has 8 days left on his Kickstarter and he’s at $237,000 and change.

Grand says he’s determined to stay independent and to use the money he raises over and above the costs of production to make sure the need for an openly gay singer, that has been embraced by his fans over the last year or so, feeds into the needs of the mainstream music community as well.

I like him. I like his work. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s cute as hell. If you can, send him a buck or two and let’s see how far he can go.