Last week, we had the opportunity to chat with two of the stars of “Hunting Season,” an amazing, daring, and endearing online-based show from MTV’s LOGO. This is the first of a series of three “Hunting Season” blogs that will appear- two are interviews and one is an opinion piece.
First up is an interview with the hysterical (truly- follow him on twitter @marcsinoway if you don’t believe us) Marc Sinoway. We had a great conversation with him that we have been ITCHING to share. Here goes. Let us know what you think!
Q: How did you get involved with Hunting Season?
A: I submitted online. The call came through a manager. The interesting thing about “Hunting Season” is that I was originally seen for Reese. I got called back for Nick and also prepared Alex for that callback. Then I booked Tommy without ever reading it. They thought I was Tommy when they were watching tapes. At the time- this is actually really awesome- I knew going in for Reese that I wasn’t in shape to play Reese. I got called back for Nick. It was really funny because his breakdown at the time was, “Nick is by any standards- it said something like- by normal standards Nick is in decent shape, but by New York City gay standards he is fat.” So I got called back to play a fatter guy than I auditioned for. It was kind of amazing… I had assumed that I wasn’t getting this project. It had a starting date and I was like, oh, that date passed, I guess I didn’t get it. Then I got a call. My first thought was, “This is awesome. I have plenty of time to get in shape for this.” Then they were like, “You start shooting in 13 days.” That’s how that happened.
Q: Do you consider the show groundbreaking? I have heard “Queer as Folk” and “Sex and The City” comparisons made. What do you think it is that “Hunting Season” does differently?
A: I don’t see it anywhere else. I don’t see this group of people represented anywhere else. “Sex and The City” did that but they’re older and they’re not gay men. It’s riskier to do it with gay men. For whatever reason people are scared of that. I didn’t watch “Queer As Folk” so I don’t know. I know that, as far as taking place in New York City, I don’t know anything else that represents gays that are sexual. It’s a pretty accurate representation of that population in New York City. I don’t think that exists anywhere else but “Hunting Season.”
Q: Ben Baur and I just talked about how a lot of gays today on television are non-sexualized characters.
A: I was just going to say that also. If you’re a gay on TV today, it’s pushing the agenda that hey we can be straight too, hey we can have kids, and we can do what you do. That’s fine, it’s great. It has its place as well. But not everyone wants that. It’s like gays are devoid of sexuality- like the actual desire to have and want sex- in most media portrayals of homosexuals. It’s not a bad thing but it’s the only thing that people say.
Q: Thinking about the content that’s on the show then, were you at all nervous by how brash and in your face it is? There were almost moments that seemed borderline pornographic even though it’s telling a story. Did that make you nervous or…?
A: I have very few artistic limits. I wasn’t going to do any old thing just because it’s provocative. I either have to think it’s good- which I did with “Hunting Season”- or it has to be a large enough chunk of material. I’m not just going to be an extra who’s getting naked. It’s not porn. Porn doesn’t make you think. There’s no hard penis in it! It’s not porn! `1!
Q: There definitely were brash sex scenes. I thought it led to the plot for sure.
A: Absolutely. When people say it’s pornographic, I’m like, well it’s not. There’s not a hard penis in it. How can it be pornographic?
Q: I don’t know if you watch “Girls” or not, but two weeks ago there was an episode with a character Adam and some “bodily fluid” that got shown. There were many people and commentators who thought it went too far. Were there times that you felt you guys crossed the line, or you don’t necessarily feel it was line crossing?
A: When everyone made a big deal about the thing with Adam, I was like, we did that first! That was my first thought. Make a big scene about it, but, been there, done that. I don’t think we crossed the line. I think we tell a story truthfully. I have people that have been turned off by it. They’re like, I don’t need to see his penis. I get that. You don’t need to. If you choose to show that- that’s not my decision at all, I just act it- I have no issue with that. Whether it’s necessary, that’s one thing. I don’t think it crosses the line. When guys hook up, someone’s gonna cum, the cum is gonna go somewhere. That’s a true representation. I know there were people who thought episode 8 of “Hunting Season” went too far with too much drugs, the unprotected sex, and the three way. I was like, well, that’s how people live their lives. There are people who get messed up, get caught up in the moment, and let people have sex with them without a condom. There are people who do a bunch of drugs before they go out. There are people who go to an underwear party and have a three way and it kind of dismisses the idea of monogamy. These are truthful representations. Again, this is just one population. I don’t think this show endeavors to show everyone’s experience. They’re showing the experience of these four men in Manhattan. “Girls” gets a lot of flack for being four white girls. Well, you know what, where they went to college- where these characters were supposed to have gone- that makes sense that this would be their core group of friends. They’re not trying to tell humanity’s story. They’re trying to tell the story of these four girls. That’s how I feel about “Hunting Season.” It totally makes sense that these guys would be friends. TJ is an Asian. It’s like people don’t notice that when they’re commenting that “Hunting Season” is so white and so young.
Q: You’re right about the show’s realistic portrayal. There are a lot of gay couples who are not monogamous and have threesomes.
A: And there’s a lot of straight couples who are! I think the media could do a better job to portray that, too… You can’t include everyone. Especially in our show. They’re 10 minute episodes… You’re telling a story of a specific group of people. Also, ours is based on something else. You’re really telling a story that was already written. There’s already a feel for what needs to happen, who these people are, and what they look like.
Q: I was going to ask you if you had ever read Alex’s blog (that “Hunting Season” is based on) or his book “The Great Cock Hunt.”
A: I have not. Normally I would as part of my actor’s research. For whatever reason, I know the blog wasn’t readily available. I was super amused when the Huffington Post had the real Alex and the real Tommy write about their thoughts on them.
Q: Before “Hunting Season” you were on “All My Children” and “One Life To Live.” How was this different? I’d imagine it was quite different.
A: My parts in “All My Children” and “One Life To Live” were really small. My parts were more important than an extra but not as important as the principals. You’re just kind of there. You’re in and out. It’s really quick and super easy. Also, you only have one take, two max. They just don’t have time. With “Hunting Season” we didn’t have a lot of time, but we certainly had multiple takes if something wasn’t coming across, they would take time to give you direction. I was a lot more central to “Hunting Season” than the other shows, as I was a lead in it. My soap parts were all under 5. I had a couple lines here and there. On a soap, they make it clear that you’re not an extra. You’re getting your hair and make up done, but then they’re not going to direct you. They’ll direct the principal. You have to go in there ready and just do it. There’s a pacing difference.
Q: How long did it take to film the average 10-minute episode of “Hunting Season?”
A: The whole thing was shot in a very ambitious 14 days. I was only there for 6 of the shooting days. We had one day for reshooting. It was super ambitious to do that much in that short a time.
Q: With all of the NOH8 and other gay social groups being active right now, did you feel any pressure going into the role to be a role model for younger gays going into the show?
A: You’re playing a character. The way it’s written is the way it’s written. Where Marc isn’t going to go do a bunch of blow and have unprotected sex at a party, I’m not playing Marc, I’m playing Tommy. Clearly that isn’t a good example. It’s not something that I can change or control. I had a talk with the director about that. I was like, I don’t think Tommy would do this, he’s too smart. He said, Tommy just did a bunch of coke. He’s partying hard. And he’s drinking. I did have a pause in doing it. When you’re playing a character, you play the character. You’re not doing it to be a good role model, especially when the character is doing things that don’t set the best example… You can’t be responsible for the entire image of homosexuality in New York. I think it’s realistic to show someone having unprotected sex. I don’t think it’s a good thing to do, but it’s a realistic thing that happens. In “Hunting Season” there wasn’t really room to deal with consequences. It’s ten minutes. If the show was longer, I’m sure we’d see some of the consequences of Tommy’s behavior. It gives an opportunity for you to be a good example when you’re being interviewed as Marc and you can say- you can use your comments. It brings up the topic, which is useful. Even though it’s being presented as a bad example, it brings it up as a bad example and puts the discussion on people’s minds, which can be helpful. It can start a positive conversation like, this is what happened, it is not safe behavior.
Q: What was your favorite part of filming and least favorite part of filming?
A: I really enjoyed it so much. It’s hard for me to say something I didn’t like. It was super fun. Tommy’s a super fun character to play. The social aspect was super fun because we got along really well. As an actor, you want to act. I would say the least favorite part- Alex’s apartment is really hot in the summer. We had the AC off in the middle of the summer. It was really hot. The air conditioner creates a bad sound, so it was turned off. My favorite part was doing something that I knew would be successful… It felt right.
Q: Any word on season 2?
A: I haven’t heard anything at all. I’m confident that there will be one because I think it’s good and I think there’s demand for it. I think season 2 should be told from the point of view of Tommy’s penis. (laughs)
Q: Your tweets are always funny. Have you ever thought of writing a book with gay humor or doing stand up?
A: Acting is more of my focus. I did some stand up a while ago…. I’m totally open to that. The thing is, it’s not my priority. I care more about acting. With standup, you need to constantly be working on material… I would totally write a book. I’d call it “Dumb Whores Drink Lychee Martinis- The Marc Sinoway Story.”
Q: Do you feel that being gay makes your portrayal of Tommy more believable?
A: A lot of people don’t think I’m gay when they see it. I think you have life experience that you can use to bring certain things to life. I think a talented straight actor could do it. Here’s an analogy- someone who’s been in love can play a character in love better than someone who hasn’t. But someone who hasn’t can totally play it. I think always someone who has that experience may be able to do it a little better.
Q: What other projects are you involved in?
A: I just finished a show (off Broadway). I plan to do a play in the Fringe Festival that I did last summer. My boyfriend’s a playwright. I just did another… that’s about it. Just auditioning.
Q: Now that your boyfriend’s come up, how did he feel about you doing “Hunting Season?”
A: “Hunting Season” was already done when we started dating, so he didn’t have any knowledge of it as it was happening. It’s art. It’s not real. I think he’s fine. I think he was a little uncomfortable watching episode 8, but he knows it’s a piece of fiction. I’d say he’s fine with it. There’s some moments that might be a little awkward. Also seeing people look at you as an object. I think he’s fine.
Q: One last thing- since we mentioned “Girls” and it’s HUGE right now, what are your thoughts on it?
A: I think “Girls” is great. I’m drawn to provocative things. I think it’s interesting when you’re showing sex and it isn’t the hottest thing. I think people get used to seeing sex in a way that is supposed to turn you on. The sex in “Girls” is not hot. It’s awkward. She doesn’t have a two pack. It’s interesting. She’s clearly an exhibitionist. I think it’s great to see more realistic portrayals of sex that aren’t just hot. They’re awkward and truthful. And it’s funny- not just the sex, but the show. I’m a big fan of Lena Dunham’s. It’s putting out more presentations of sex and what it’s like rather than everyone has a six-pack. It’s great that it’s out there. She owns her sexuality and that’s great. She’s not hiding under the blanket because she thinks she’s a little overweight.
Q: Anything else you want to share?
A: I did learn not to read the comments (online). Some guy wrote something like, “Tommy’s supposed to be the Brian (from “Queer As Folk”)? Cause he’s not good looking enough to play that. No one would ever look at him twice in the city.” Something like that is like, no, he’s not supposed to be Brian. He’s supposed to be Tommy. That’s a very limited way to look at the world that he has to be someone from another show. No, he’s not Brian. He’s Tommy.