NEW YORK CITY “BEEFCAKE”!
New York City Mover and Shaker Chris Reed talks about all things “Bear”!
Most guys know New York City promoter Chris Reed from his infamous Bear party “Beefcake” (now celebrating two years) or the popular Latin dance music party “Azucar” (AKA “Sugar”) — both held at the seven-night-a-week West Village hairy hotspot Rockbar. Reed is also a working actor and a photographer with an affinity for shooting the big hairy guys. Reed says, “They tell me, ‘Damn! You make big boys look good!’ I tell them, ‘They ALREADY look good. They just don’t see it. Then, when I take their pictures and they get 100 ‘Likes’ on Facebook, they realize it. A lot people don’t know how good-looking they are until you capture the right image, at the right time, on camera. To me, it doesn’t matter what your age is, or what your race is, or how much hair you have. Sexy is sexy, and people have to realize that and embrace it.” Reed’s latest, highly-anticipated project is “Beefcake: The Series”, an upcoming Internet show which has stirred up a lot of buzz and excitement in the New York City Bear world– and beyond! Reed wrote, directed, and acts in the series. The striking Bear mover and shaker met in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen for an interview. In between being mistaken for rapper/actor Common by a bunch of wide-eyed teenagers and receiving a casting call from his agent, we talk about the next big, hairy thing he’s got in store for us…
JR: Hi Chris. Thanks for speaking with me. So, congratulations about the creation of “Beefcake: The Series”.
CR: Thank you. It’s exciting. I wanted do something kind of “East Coast Bear”– something a little bit different from what we might have seen before. I have a comedic background, and so I wanted something a little more gut-bustingly funny. My comedy is very “dark” and “blue”… and I kind of “push the envelope” a lot. So, that’s where I’d like to go with the comedy in “Beefcake”. And, I also wanted to do something that highlights a lot of Bears of color– Latino, Middle Eastern, Asian, African-American… because sometimes they get left out. To me, that’s what the Bear community is about: a mix of EVERYBODY. When you look at the Bear flag, you have all those different colors on there… but sometimes, in a lot of the things that we’ve seen over the last two years, it’s not represented.
JR: That’s what I like about where we live. In New York City, you do see Bears of all colors partying together.
CR: Yes. New York is so unique. I have friends all over the country, and I travel to parties all over– and in different areas of the country you have parties that are typically all or mostly White, and all or mostly Black, and all or mostly Latino… and not really a mix. But in New York we have EVERYTHING. It’s so awesome, because there’s always somebody there for everybody. For me, that’s what makes it a fun party. I don’t want to an all-Black or all-White or all-Latino party. I want to go to where EVERYONE is represented. That’s what I want with “Beefcake”– the party and the series.
JR: Gotcha! So, what was the hardest part about getting “Beefcake: The Series” started?
CR: The funding. We really didn’t TRY to raise a lot of money. Our goal was $5000, and we raised it in 21 days. That was only about 35 to 40 donors. We only wanted to do about six short episodes at first. The other hard part was getting everyone together to coordinate the whole project.
JR: How was the response from the Bear community with the “Beefcake” Kickstarter campaign? Were people supportive?
CR: People were VERY supportive. Like I said, we raised the money in 21 days. I was like, “Wow! We should have had a bigger budget!” (Laughs) But I just wanted to test the market, to see how it went, and to put it out there… and then, if there was a lot of interest, then we would possibly do some more and see what happens. I think there is gonna be even more interest. Even as we were shooting, people were laughing on the set. If these guys were laughing while we were working, then people sitting at home watching it on their computer or on their Smartphones are gonna laugh too!
JR: I can’t wait. So, you mentioned about the divisions within the Bear communities. A few years ago you heard a lot about “A List Bears” and “B List Bears”, and today we hear a lot about segregation between MuscleBears and Chubs…
CR: Arrrgghhh! I HATE it! I see it a lot. In fact, I was just in Florida on vacation for three weeks, and that segregation is very big down there. It’s worse in Southern Florida than anywhere in the country. But you do see it everywhere. You have the Musclebears, your Bears, your Chubs… but I like it better when everyone is together. Why can’t we all just get together and party? I don’t really like those titles. I think they’re ridiculous. I understand that Musclebears, for example, may want to hang out with other Musclebears, from a friendship point of view… maybe you work out at the gym a lot together. That’s cool. But when it comes to going to a party, I think it’s ridiculous to just have a category of people and just want to hang out with them the whole time. I know that some muscle guys can be very arrogant– and not want to speak to other people. Again, it’s ridiculous. I believe that in New York, we are breaking down those barriers. I see everybody hanging out together. It’s changed a lot over the last four years since I’ve been back in New York.
JR: I always believed that a sexy man is a sexy man, and a fun guy is a fun guy, and a great party is a great party– regardless of labels! So, it’s too bad we still have these divisions…
CR: Yeah, it’s a shame. I just don’t understand it either! Atlanta, Georgia is bad too. I have a friend in Atlanta who is mostly into Black guys, so he went to one of those clubs where everyone wants to go, and some guy walked up to him and said, “Excuse me… Do you know where you’re at?” He felt uncomfortable. So, it’s not just one category of people who are discriminatory or who are discriminated against. It’s everybody… every group of people. That’s why we have people who want to have “Beefcake” parties in different cities… but I don’t know if they’re ready for it. Are they ready for that integration? It’s 2014– why are we still talking about this? Especially in the gay community, where we are always talking about equality and stuff like that… yet we have so much discrimination in our own community. I had one guy tell me that he was “Bear Snobbish”. He only wanted to go to parties where there were other Bears. I was like, “Wow!” I understand that people have their preferences with what they want to see… but to say that other people are not welcome is a whole different ballgame. It’s just wrong! I have friends who come visit to New York, and they come to “Beefcake”, and they say, “What are THOSE guys doing here?” For example, sometimes I’ll get some transgendered people, and they may say, “What are THEY doing here?” I tell them that in New York City, it takes all kinds… and we all like to get together and have fun. So, don’t talk about a specific type or group, because we welcome everybody. And that’s what I want the show to be about! I touch upon a lot those issues in the show. We have a transgendered character, and those issues arise. They’re at the party, and someone asks what “that person” is doing there– and the characters “get into it” I want the show to be funny, but I also want it to open up some eyes. Another issue we touch on the show is gay bashing. I find that most of the gay bashing we see in the city is done to the smaller, more effeminate type of guys. So, we have a scene where one of the guys is being attacked and then the Bears show up and say, “Why don’t you pick on ME?!” A lot of the guys I know are pretty big and no one is gonna mess with them. I want to touch upon those issues, so we did. We also have some characters who are gay geeks– really into the comic books and superheroes! I want people to be educated while they laugh, and let people know what the gay community is like in New York City.
JR: You’ve had an especially busy year. What was one of the highlights or most memorable moment from the last year?
CR: It’s been creating the “Beefcake” web series. I am so excited with the idea that a TV network might pick it up, or that some of the actors may get discovered and hired for a new show concept or whatever. I wrote and created something that’s funny and different, but that will also start an awareness… and, to brand myself as a writer and a comedic actor. People see that I am tall and a big guy, so as an actor they see me as a cop or as a SWAT guy or a tough guy. I get a lot of auditions for these bad guy roles. So, to see me from a comedic side is what I want to do with “Beefcake”– to get people to say, “Hey, this guy is actually funny!” as opposed to being seen as a guy who is gonna beat up somebody. I love to do that kind of stuff, but I don’t want to be pigeonholed into one kind of role. I feel more natural doing comedy than playing a cop– although I can pull off either one! Self-producing: that’s what it’s all about! I’m getting a lot of interest. I’ve had people who I never even met who donated money to the series. I can see that there’s an interest and a demand for that kind of entertainment!
JR: That’s true. The Bear community is really thirsting to see themselves represented more.
CR: There are guys, even in the Bear community, who just don’t know a lot about it! I myself didn’t know anything about it until about eight years ago. And then I was like, “This is hot! These are some beefy, manly guys who like to go out and have fun together.” I went to my first Bear event when I was living in Orlando, Florida– the Bear Bust and Tidal Wave. I was like, “This is awesome. This is great! This is where I belong!” I encounter people every month who say they’ve never been to a Bear bar or Bear event before, and they feel comfortable there.
JR: I hear ya! So, as a sexy guy who works with so many other sexy guys on a daily basis: What do YOU personally find sexy in a guy?
CR: (Laughs)I am into Beards, Bellies, and Butts! That’s what I like.
JR: (Laughs)I sort of suspected that, but I figured I’d ask you anyway! Do you have a celebrity crush?
CR: Not really. I think The Rock is hot, when I look at those big-ass arms! He’s hot– and he doesn’t have a beard, and he’s smooth! But I think that average, everyday people to me are sexy. They don’t have to pay for the way they look! (Laughs) I’d say that the Bear image is becoming more popular in mainstream culture. They highlight the Bear guy– the chef John (Patrick Cox)— in “Two Broke Girls”. The character is gay and he’s funny as hell. Also, there’s Cam (Eric Stonestreet) in “Modern Family”.
JR: What are your secrets for staying in such great shape?
CR: Black don’t crack– unless you smoke it! (Laughs) I am a diabetic, so I stick with a low carb diet most of the time. I go to the gym at least four days a week. I have to, to stay competitive as an actor. I eat right and exercise all the time. Even when I am at work. I was on this project and I was doing 500 pushups in a day. I would bring my resistance band and my yoga mat to work, and I was doing situps and pushups on my break. I found that once I started adding some muscles, I started getting more calls. So, it’s been a twofold thing.
JR: So, what’s your favorite guilty pleasure?
CR: My favorite guilty pleasure? (Laughs) I guess it’s partying. I like to party! Someone called me “The King of the Bears” one time because we always go out and have a good time! That’s the one thing about New York: we have a good time EVERY WEEKEND! In some places, people go out and party once in a while, but in New York we party every weekend! I like to have fun, and laugh, and make other people laugh. So, hanging out with friends and having a good time is definitely my guilty pleasure.
JR: Awesome! So, lastly, where can people find out what you’re doing?
CR: The best way is www.Facebook.com/BeefcakeParty. ; Also, www.Facebook.com/MrChrisReed is my page. You’ll be hearing about “Beefcake: The Series” on there soon! We’re planning on expanding “Beefcake” the party to other cities, even internationally. I think that London is the first place I’d like to go to. There are a lot of Bears there!
JR: Sounds GRRR-eat!!!
Chris Reed, George Hains, and Joe Fiore bring you The Poseidon Adventure Boat Cruise II on Gay Pride Weekend in New York City, Saturday June 28th! Visit www.facebook.com/events/598148716901151/ for more info!