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 second of a series of three “Hunting Season” blogs that will appear- two are interviews and one is an opinion piece.
Here is our interview with the talented- and dare we say downright sexy (hey, don’t blame us- blame “Out Magazine” who rated him one of the top 100 Bachelors)- Ben Baur, the star of “Hunting Season.” Ben moved from California to star in the show and pursue acting here. While he feels that he will eventually end up back in LA, we are hoping a second season of “Hunting Season” is on the way. Read our interview with Ben where we discuss the show, the sex scenes, and even talk about Rita Moreno.
Q: How did you end up getting started with Hunting Season?
A: My agent back in LA found this project. He is friends with Jon Marcus (the producer/director/writer). He got the script, he gave it to me, and I just automatically loved it. It was fun. It was also something that I was really excited about because I got to be the star of it. I had never had an experience like that. I was really into seeing if I could do that. I did a Skype audition with Jon Marcus and then they sent that to Billy Hopkins, who was casting it, and they picked me. Thank god.
Q: Did you feel pressure with this being a starring role?
A: Definitely. I’m in every single scene in that show, so it’s like, if people don’t like me or if I am not doing a good job, that’s kind of it for the show. I was definitely nervous. Also, I was also really nervous about the subject matter- the content of it. It was very out there. I’ve never exactly been a very naked person before, so that aspect of it too was also a little scary. I hit the gym like crazy for a solid three months.
Q: Did you read the blog/book “The Great Cock Hunt” (that “Hunting Season” was based on) beforehand?
A: I did. I took a look at it just to see what it was about. The blog is super hot. It was steamy. It was very steamy. It did kind of make me nervous- like, oh god, what am I doing? Is this basically porn?
Q: Was there ever a point you thought it (“Hunting Season”) was porn?
A: Before we started filming I definitely needed clarification of the fact that this was not porn. Like, no one was going to stick their dick in me. There wasn’t going to be anything like that. I needed that out in the open. Once we started filming- shooting a sex scene is the least sexy thing I’ve ever experience in my life. Once it actually got down to actually doing it, it was like whatever. I’m laying there in a bed having to hold my body in a certain position to make sure my muscles are popping and they’re holding a light meter next to my balls- I’m just like, I can’t with that… It’s really strange.
Q: Did you feel like “Hunting Season” is the modern day “Queer As Folk?”
A: I definitely feel like there were similarities, which, if people are comparing it to “Queer As Folk,” I’m stoked about that. That was an amazing, pretty groundbreaking show that really did put gay sexuality in the front. I think that’s fantastic, because so much of what you see of gay people on TV or in movies- a lot of it, at least the more mainstream stuff- everyone is very asexual. It’s not really about men and that part of their lives. I was really excited that we were doing this and it was going to be out there just like on “Queer As Folk.”
Q: Yes, even with shows like “The New Normal” they never have sex on the show.
A: Yeah. Every now and then they do a little peck on the mouth. All the kisses that they do on “The New Normal” are all very, like, cute relationship kisses. Not so much we’re getting hot and heavy and something’s about to happen kisses.
Q: Also, what you guys did kind of brought the real life more to the forefront.
A: That’s what we were going for.
Q: Do you also feel that there were comparisons between “Hunting Season” and “Sex and The City?” Some of your monologues seemed like Carrie Bradhsaw-esque.
A: Definitely. That’s another comparison that I’m happy to hear, because “Sex and The City” was such a great show. That’s one thing that really drew me to it. It is very real edgy, but it looks at it with the snark of “Sex and The City.” I’ve always wanted to do those opening intro monologues. It was really fun!
Q: A lot of the gay community had negative reactions to “Queer As Folk” claiming that it was not a representation of every gay man’s life and that it was making gay people look bad. Do you feel like “Hunting Season” could be doing that also?
A: I would say that overwhelmingly the reaction that I’ve gotten has been very positive. But, we’re making a show about this one group of friends. There’s no way that you can encompass every person’s gay experience. I do very much understand that criticism, but it’s also like, “Girls”- they had all that backlash because they were all white, well-off girls and they didn’t have any black friends or anything. I kind of feel like it’s the same thing as that. I don’t necessarily think that the show puts gays in a bad light. I feel like it’s honest and fun. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. I think that’s one of the reasons that people are drawn to it. You can see this person’s experience. It doesn’t have to be encompassing of everyone’s gay experience.
Q: Do you watch “Girls?”
A: I love “Girls.”
Q: Did you consider what your family, friends, and boyfriend would think when you went into “Hunting Season,” especially considering the fact that there are multiple sex scenes?
A: I was dating someone else when I got cast in this. We had been together for a while and I came out to New York to film it. I feel like he really couldn’t handle it. He got really, really upset. My current boyfriend watches the show. He knows that it’s acting. As far as my family goes- I think my Mom watched the entire 8 episodes, but I definitely think a lot of my family didn’t watch it. I definitely did not like show it to my Grandparents or anything. My family supports me 100%. It’s definitely a conversation I had with lots of people. I wanted to make sure my Mom was fine with me doing this- like, if she gets approached by someone like “Oh my God, I saw your son naked”- I didn’t want her to freak out. Not like anyone would approach her or say something like that. I wanted to make sure that they were comfortable with me doing this. All my family and friends were very supportive. I kind of lucked out.
Q: Do you feel pressure as a gay actor to be a role model, especially with the NOH8 campaign, the Defense of Marriage Act, etc? Did you feel pressure to bring that into the role or not really, since “Hunting Season” was focused more on a gay man trying to find his way in relationships?
A: Do I think my character could be a gay role model? I mean, I don’t necessarily think that as far as the show goes- I feel like we are there to tell our story. We are having fun. We are not taking anything seriously. We’re just telling our story. I don’t necessarily feel that there was pressure for us to add any… these characters are who they are and we’re not gonna sugarcoat it or anything like that. For me personally… hmm… It would feel really weird for me to say that- I don’t think I’m a big enough deal to be anybody’s role model. Do I feel that because I am someone in the public eye maybe I should try a little bit harder? Yeah, to an extent. I fully intend on doing the Aids walk and volunteering and getting involved. I don’t necessarily think that has anything to do with me being in the public eye. It’s just something I want to do as a gay man. I want to help.
Q: I think there could be a teenager in the a small town who may never have “gay” discussed publically, but then they may find “Hunting Season” online, see that this life exists, and then it could make a difference for them.
A: Totally. I’ve had some people reach out to me and say that it (“Hunting Season”) really helped them. Just seeing these characters living normal lives as gay men really helped them with struggling through it.
Q: You don’t know anything about season 2 I’m assuming?
A: I do not know anything. I know that there’s writing happening. That’s as far as I know. I would be stoked if we got to do a season 2.
Q: In a Huffington Post article you wrote you said that “at first I thought I was playing a role- this isn’t me” but then you changed your mind? Did that have to do with the nudity and the graphic content? Or did you just feel like you aren’t Alex and you’re a different person?
A: I’m trying to remember the exact context of what I was saying. I think that what I was trying to say was like just because I’m going to play this character- because I’m going to play this character, it’s not going to affect what I get to do next. Does that make sense?
Q: You didn’t want to be typecast as just Alex?
A: Exactly. I have a fear of only being able to play gay roles. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’d be so happy if I could make a career for myself doing that, but I want to be able to branch out and do other things. I think most of that article was just speaking to my fear of that and overcoming it a little bit. It’s definitely still a concern.
Q: You have also appeared in “Happily Divorced” and “Nip/Tuck.” How were those experiences and how did they differ from “Hunting Season?”
A: Well, I mean, I think one of the biggest- obviously the biggest difference- was the fact that “Happily Divorced” and “Nip/Tuck” are funded by major studios and it’s no dog and pony show. We kind of got to go a little gorilla with some of our shooting (on “Hunting Season”). Being a small road runner project we definitely ran into our challenges. On “Happily Divorced” I had a line, whereas on “Hunting Season” I’m carrying the show. It definitely had some challenges there.
Q: Did you get to meet anyone through your experience, such as Fran Drescher?
A: Yeah, totally! On the “Happily Divorced” set everyone was so incredibly nice. I was having lunch by myself one day while we were on our break and Rita Moreno comes into the room and she sits down at the table and says “Ben, you’re not being punished, come sit with us.” So I went and sat next to Rita Moreno and had lunch with her. It was incredible. Just the stories she was telling- it was really, really great. When I was on the set of “Nip/Tuck” I played Oliver Platt’s assistant, so I got to spend time with him and Jennifer Coolidge was in one of the episodes. Just sitting around and hearing them do their table read was hilarious. It was so fun.
Q: To veer back to “Hunting Season,” why has it only been shown online and not on the actual LOGO TV channel, since LOGO backed it? Was it too graphic to be shown on TV?
A: I really have no idea. Anything having to do with LOGO or distribution or anything like that, I am not the person at all to ask. I feel like it might have had more to do with length. I also know that their TV department is way different than their online department. That could be it too.
Q: Is the length something they were going for? The episodes were 8 minutes. Were they intended to be little blips or is that all that was budgeted for? We would have liked to see longer episodes.
A: Same here! I really couldn’t tell you. I kind of just feel like it was supposed to be just a brief little thing. I think that’s how it was written.
Q: What else are you up to in the future as far as other projects you’re working on?
A: I am currently in between projects. I did just sign with a new manager and agent recently, so that was really exciting for me. I’m auditioning and stuff. I’m getting great feedback. There’s just nothing concrete yet- I’m looking for something that is.
It was great getting to chat with Ben. He is a super talented actor and we have no doubt he’ll land something concrete quite soon. Until then, we are keeping our fingers crossed for a second season of “Hunting Season” to be green lit.