Gay Shows and Sex: An Essential Ingredient?

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Sex sells, but "Old Dogs" producers insist that "real stories" and "humor" will attract audiences to the series' January 8 return.

Sex sells, as the old adage has it. But is sexual content now a requirement in gay entertainment? A slew of gay-themed indie projects are out or in the works these days, and many seem to rely on nudity and highly sexualized plots to capture a fickle market. As the cast and producers of the new web series "Old Dogs & New Tricks" readied to launch their new season, beginning January, 8, they discussed possible approaches to the occasionally racy material in an attempt to discern whether such risqué business is now required.

"It was definitely a concern," says Leon Acord, creator and star of the series. "We did not want to create a show that was simply an excuse for men to take off their clothes and show their assets. We wanted to tell real stories. On the other hand," he adds, "it would simply be hypocritical of us to censor a character's behavior because we were worried about offending the 'Rick Perrys' of the world".

So does "Old Dogs & New Tricks" have sex scenes? "You bet," laughs producing partner Laurence Whiting. "The characters in our show are human and they do have sex. But it's only where the character or the plot demands it. And we do it with taste and quite a bit of humor."

The producers hope the show will also upend a few clichés about gay sexuality. "Old Dogs & New Tricks" features four central characters who are all 40+ and dealing with growing older as gay men and the makers believe those characteristics make it unique among new gay-themed series. Played by Leon Acord, Curt Bonnem, Jeffrey Patrick Olson, and David Pevsner, the four actors feel they have great chemistry together and definitely demonstrate that being a male "of a certain age" does not mean one's sex life needs to cool off.

Pevsner, who plays formerly famous TV actor Ross Stein, agrees with his producers that "sexual scenarios are part of the package for this series. But it's not the sex or the shirtless/pantless scenes that are going to keep the audiences returning. It's the fun plots, characters and witty dialogue."

Olson plays "Muscles", a personal trainer and a bit of a tease. Muscles is mature, hot, and loves being ogled. Says Olson on the subject of sex, "I have no problem with the scantily-clad scenes in this project. They are fun to do and have relevancy to the show. Do I feel exploited? Not at all!" he laughs. "Exploit me!"

Adds Bonnem (who plays former pop star Brad King) laughingly, "Yes, this show moves from tongue-in-cheek to tongue-in-mouth quite seamlessly."

The pilot episode (which scored a 95% "Like" rating on YouTube) introduces the central character "Nathan Adler" (played by series creator Acord) and his friends and culminates in the celebration of Adler's 50th birthday at a gay club.

The new season debuting January 8th picks up at the party, where the friends continue their escapades and where things start to spiral out of control and sparks fly when Acord's character Nathan encounters bitchy professional "frenemy" Nelson Van Eddy, played by guest star Bruce L. Hart (the feature "Homewrecker"). Says Hart, "I loved playing this snarky character because he gets to deliver such great zingers. I didn't have any racy scenes in the episodes we've shot so far, but who knows?"

Other fun guest stars include hunky Thom Bierdz ("Young and the Restless") and comedian Patrick Bristow ("Ellen", "Austin Powers", "Showgirls") as a psychiatrist. Bierdz says that this is his first web series and he enjoyed the experience of working in a new format. "There's a sense of freedom on a web series that I love. You can work more quickly because the episodes are each only a few minutes long, and it makes for spontaneity. As for the sexual content, I thought it was played more for comedy than eroticism, and I had no problem with it." Bristow agrees: "I thought it was all in good taste and in good fun."

Says Acord, "I hope that once viewers get caught up in the series, pretty soon they won't be thinking about the racy elements per se, and will just be enjoying them as part of the whole experience: characters, dialog, hot scenes, and storyline all in one fun package." He laughs. "So to speak!"

Purveyors of gay content seem to believe that sexually-oriented material, in one form or another, is here to stay in gay media. However it will ultimately be up to the viewers to decide whether "Old Dogs & New Tricks" -- and other shows aimed at the gay male market -- go too far or just far enough. The producers of the series will find out starting January 8th.

Catch the new season of "Old Dogs & New Tricks" at http://www.olddogsnewtrickstheseries.com

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Laurence Whiting

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