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Archive for January, 2009|Monthly archive page

Norm Korpi as the Artist…

In Art, Being Gay, Gay Business, Gay Celebrity on January 27, 2009 at 10:39 pm

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This is a follow-up to Norman Korpi’s interview. He has been up to many things over the past 10+ years, but art has been his main calling.

Here is an excerpt from the OC weekly on Mr. Korpi’s latest masterpiece:

There are several very good reasons why Norman Korpi’s paintings of sunsets should suck. He was one of the cast members of the very first season of MTV‘s The Real World, and you don’t really expect anything worthwhile to come from one of those kids who got famous for sitting around arguing about which housemate is the most obnoxious. Plus, paintings of sunsets fall somewhere between crashing waves and sad clowns on the scale of hopeless clichés. But Korpi’s “Twilight” series…” (Read more here)

For more on the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, please click here.

Jamie Clayton’s One Hott Tamale!

In Being Gay, Dating, Gay Celebrity, Relationships on January 23, 2009 at 6:00 pm

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Jamie Clayton – does that name sound familiar? She was named the 2nd most beautiful girl in New York last August by The New York Observer. But what may perplex most of you is that Jamie did not start out as “Jamie” whatsoever. Yes, ladies and gents (and everyone in between), Jamie is a m-f transsexual – and she’s got the look!

Jamie, please explain to our readers what struggles and turmoil you must have gone through before making the permanent decision to rid yourself of your manly duty and completely transform into the woman you are today:

JC: My “manly duty;” What’s that? LOL! There really wasn’t much struggle or turmoil before I decided to start my transition. I just remember feeling confused because I was so feminine, but I wasn’t born female. Once I started taking hormones, I was so much happier.

When you were a wee little lad growing up in San Diego, did you ever think to yourself, “I can’t wait to be a beautiful, foxy woman someday!”? Can you give us any insight as to what you did think to yourself when you were a kid?

JC: No, I never thought that. Just like most children, I didn’t even know it was possible to change one’s gender; I didn’t find that out until I moved to New York (I was 19 at that time). The only thing I remember thinking to myself when I was young, was that I never really felt like I belonged – I felt so different but I had no idea why.

Did you ever think that you could just be a gay man living in a gay man’s body or was that not an option for you?

JC: That was definitely not an option – I hated my body. I wanted to be with men but not with the body I was born with. I knew I had to have surgery in order to lead a happy, healthy life.

How did you pay for your sex-change operation? Did you have to do prep for it – i.e. seek counseling, etc.?

JC: I charged my SRS … it’s true! I worked very hard to pay it off. At one point I was working two jobs and DJing at night a couple times a month. I am very proud to say that I am debt free and that I paid for every single procedure myself. Yes, I was in therapy – I was given two glowing letters of recommendation for surgery by two different therapists.

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How did it feel to be named the 2nd most beautiful girl in New York? With all due respect, how did you even get nominated? Do you feel that you conquered something greater than just a beauty contest, being that you were a man in the past? I’m talking about gender-bending and the like…

JC: I wasn’t actually nominated for anything – that was just the title they came up with for the article. There was no contest. I have conquered a lot in my life and continue to do so on a daily basis. For the record though, I was never a “man.” Yes, I was born biologically male but I never played the role of a man in society.

As per observer.com, we read that you get hit on at least 5 times a week – is that true? Have you found a man that truly accepts you for you or is Mr. Right still out in the concrete jungle somewhere?

JC: Yes, however, it’s actually more like a combination of compliments, one-liners and flirtation; I have dated (and will only date) men that truly accept me for me … but I am currently single.

Please give advice to anyone who may be struggling with coming to terms with who they truly are.

JC: I would have to say learn to love yourself and everyone else will follow. Don’t deny your personal happiness because you are afraid of what other people will think. Live your life for you and you only.

What can we expect from the lovely Miss Clayton in the near future?

JC: Plenty! I am currently taking acting classes at Sally Johnson Studio and working with an agent. You’ll be seeing a lot more of me!

Quick, on your toes…

Blue or red?

Grey is my hands-down favorite color.

The ocean or a lake?

Jacuzzi!

Cook or take-out?

Take-out. Always.

Blonds or brunettes?

I prefer dark hair on men.

What kind of car do you drive?

I’ve never driven a car.

Favorite candy bar?

I adore Zone Bars – Chocolate Almond Raisin is my favorite!

Favorite website?

armourbeauty.com and chanel.com

If you would like to contact Ms. Clayton, check her out here.

Interview conducted and edited by J. Federico

The Man Behind Pink Banana Media – Matthew Skallerud

In Being Gay, Dating, Gay Business, Relationships on January 11, 2009 at 11:15 pm

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Matthew Skallerud, President of Pink Banana Media, began his career in the GLBT marketplace in the mid-90s – a time where not many companies catered to the GLBT community and their needs to go forth and flourish in this country. Matthew wanted to be a trailblazer – a true trend-setter. And that’s just what he transformed himself into after many a trial and error. Equal4all is proud to introduce Mr. Skallerud in the raw…

Equal4all: Way way back, in what feels like eons ago (okay, just 1995), what was your deciding factor in launching GayWired.com? Did you feel that the GLBT needed a bit more representation on the newly-transformed world wide web?

MS: The internet was really just getting started at this time … there were little bits and pieces of GLBT info found online, but you really had to dig around to find it.  This was before Yahoo and way before Google.  So we launched GayWired.com as more of a resource site for people to find GLBT online resources as they evolved and came online.  Of course, the web exploded and we were right there in the driver’s seat in terms of having the opportunity to develop and grow alongside both the technology and the excitement of the internet.

Equal4all: When you were a child, what was your absolute dream job? Did you think you’d be an internet superstar?

MS: Since I got my degree in Aerospace Engineering, it’s safe to say that as a child, I wanted to first be an astronaut, and then later in life, a fighter pilot (go figure!)  Never in my wildest dreams did I envision where I’m at in life today.

Equal4all: Tell us a what a typical day is like in the world of Matthew Skallerud working at pinkbananamedia.com:

MS: I’m an early riser, so I begin my morning (with coffee) reviewing e-mails and going through my top social networks, starting with Facebook.  I then get my top news and information for the day from my Google customized start page.  Then, once that is done, the coffee has kicked in and I’m ready to rock and roll, working on various client projects each day.

Equal4all: How do you feel that your websites have broadened the GLBT horizon?

MS: Since we started early on when there really was no roadmap for how to do things online, we helped lead the way by testing out various concepts including one of the first back-end content management systems (so that editors could post and format content anywhere on the road) to e-commerce (we helped get TLA Video and 10% Productions started with their first online e-commerce sites).  We also had the opportunity to test out various forms of online advertising, at a time when both banner ads and e-mail campaigns were in their infancy.

Equal4all: Who has been your best client to date and why?

MS: I can’t say I’ve ever had a “best” client … I’ve had some real favorites over the years, including VisitBritain and VisitLondon.  My favorite clients are always those that are willing to work with us as a partner to test the boundaries of what is considered normal in online marketing today, allowing us to help lead them along in Web 2.0 and social network marketing so relevant in today’s online marketplace.

Equal4all: We’re sure you have had to go through trial and error in your internet endeavors – please share a horror story with us that you’ll never forget and how you overcame that hurdle:

MS: The horror stories are usually associated with the fast-paced growth of the Internet and how both the positives and negatives of human behavior manifest themselves in this new space online.  From anti-gay activists trying to hack into our site and bring our site down to denial of service attacks aimed explicitly at us over the years, our worst times have always been the small number of hatemongers out there trying to cause us harm.

Equal4all: When did you first realize, “Hey, I made it!”?

MS: When I started making more money per month than I ever did working in the corporate world.  Then, when I moved back to LA in 1998 and bought my first real house, I realized I was doing things I could have never done had I still been self-employed.  The cherry on top was being featured with Gay.com and PlanetOut.com in a feature article in the Marketplace section of the Wall Street Journal.

Equal4all: How do you feel about gay marriage? Is a wedding in your future?

MS: I feel it’s only a matter of time before our laws reflect where society is going.  Ask 20-somethings about gay marriage and it’s so much less of an issue for them compared to older generations.  Well, in about 20-40 years, those 20-somethings will be running our country.  They’ll turn around and ask themselves “what is THIS law doing on the books” the same way we do today when we see laws making black-white marriages illegal not so long ago.

Equal4all: Please give advice to anyone who may be struggling with their sexuality and coming to terms with who they truly are:

MS: Don’t bend under peer pressure. Come out at your own pace, and find friends and other people who can help and guide you along the way.  For most of us, it’s an individual journey that is hard at first and easier as we all mature.

Equal4all: What can we expect from Matthew Skallerud in the future?

MS: I’d like to continue in the forefront of online marketing, helping companies large and small promote themselves to the GLBT community online, no matter where they may be … the web, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, a blog and more.

Quick, on your toes…

Blue or red?

Blue

The ocean or a lake?

Ocean

Cook or take-out?

Cook

Blonds or brunettes?

Brunette

What kind of car do you drive?

Honda Ridgeline

Favorite candy bar?

Reeses Peanut Butter Cup

Favorite website?

Facebook

If you would like to follow Matthew Skallerud’s personal blog, please click here. If you would like to contact Matthew directly, please email him at mattskal@pinkieb.com.

Interview conducted and written by J. Federico

James Yeramian, the Man Who Breathes Life into His Subjects

In Art, Being Gay on January 10, 2009 at 1:08 am

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James Yeramian, a photographer, is truly a translator of sorts; he takes an ordinary, everyday image and gives it a soul – a purpose, if you will. Equal4all is proud to introduce that man…

.First and foremost, did aspiring to be a photographer ever cross your mind as you were growing up and going through the motions of finding yourself?

J: Not photography in particular, no. I knew I had a different vision of how I viewed the world, which was rarely cohesive with group mentality – I knew I had creative intuition. Growing up, I found myself gravitating toward other creative minds, and living vicariously through other’s work that I admired – finding my own outlet came much later. Being an Armenian-American, “art” was never encouraged as a child – the stereotypical lifestyle that was associated with being an “artist,” and the impracticality of basing a career on any sort of artistry was a great obstacle. Oddly enough, there were successful artists in my ancestry though, that may have worked against me.  For this reason, finding photography, in particular, was rather organic – without any outside influence or intervention. Once I discovered it, I knew it was part of my fiber, and moreover, it became a way for me to communicate.

.How do you think people are affected by your work? Do you want your pieces to come off a certain way or is it up to the viewer to come up with their own conclusions?

J: It really depends on the subject of the photograph and whoever is viewing it. If I’m fully cognizant, my main objective is to present the mundane in a new and enticing way. More often than not, my work is instinctual and tends to fall into the aforementioned category on its own. When someone is viewing one of my photographs, I hope that it makes them think and question the way they view the world. My work is not for everyone, though, and probably only pertains to the analytical mind. I definitely don’t want to tell people how to think through my photography; I want them to think for themselves and open up and expand their thought process.  Therefore, the greatest satisfaction for me is to hear the viewers own interpretation, whether or not it falls in line with my own. Sometimes they just completely get it, and sometimes they don’t – but the photograph served its purpose either way.

.Is what you produce ultimately an extension of yourself? Do you put your “all” into your photography?

J: It is absolutely an extension of “me” – it’s the only place where I can be truly free. As they say, “a picture speaks a thousand words.” I have yet to find a more effective way of communicating than through my work.  I do always put my “all” into my work, but not necessarily in the strictest sense of the term. Much of my work is instinctual, and I’m not always aware of what’s going to happen – or I don’t necessarily plan things out meticulously. Sometimes the photos just come. I guess my photographs would best be defined as documentary photography. To quote Elizabeth McCausland, documentary photography “…represents strong organic forces at work, strong creative impulses seeking an outlet suitable to the serious and tense spirit of our age.” She says it way better than I ever could!

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.How do you feel that gay photographer’s experiences may differ from let’s say, an Annie Leibovitz? Do you feel that it would be hard out there for a homosexual artist to make it in the world of photography?

J: If one of your readers decided to pursue photography, I think they would find many gay photographers to take inspiration from, namely Herb Ritts, Robert Mappelthorpe, and the amazing and totally inspiring, Nan Goldin. I think their successes speak for themselves. I don’t believe that one’s sexuality, though, has any bearing on talent and the ability to relate to people through their work. That being said, I ran across Annie Leibovitz once during a shoot she was doing with Brooke Shields. Are you sure she doesn’t swing your way?!

.To this day, who or what has been your favorite subject matter and why? Have you photographed anyone famous?

J: I can’t really say that I have one particular favorite subject matter, but more and more as of late, I’ve been intrigued by photographing humans, and faces – the nuances of the expressions, the wrinkles, the folds of their skin. I never want to take a posed photograph; I want to remember what that person was thinking or feeling at that exact moment in time – that one fleeting second. I find that so profound. I’ve photographed, as you know, Norman Korpi, from the first season of MTV’s The Real World; Kristin Hersh of the seminal rock-groups Throwing Muses and 50 Foot Wave, and of solo fame (www.kristinhersh.com); Karin Berquist and Linford Detweiler of the band Over the Rhine (www.overtherhine.com); Neil Halstead of solo fame, Mojave 3 and Slowdive; and Cyndi Lauper.  All of these artists have inspired me in some way.

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.Is your photography self-fulfilling and satisfying to you – or have you ever thought about going down a different career path?

J: Photography for me is not a career. Whether or not I make money off of it is irrelevant. Of course, there is a special sort of gratification that comes with selling a piece, but the actual sale of my photos does not in any way determine whether or not I continue to take photographs. I take them because I have an urgent need to, which nothing else seems to satiate.

.Please give our readers a little bit of an inclination as to how you realized that you truly made it as an artist:

J: I would first have to define what the definition of “making it” means to me in terms of my photography. For me, I know I’ve made it when the purpose of each individual photograph is realized, when he who has viewed the photograph, has deemed it worthy enough to spend time to view it, and put some thought into what its purpose may be. It’s not about monetary gain, or recognition in the art world.

.Please give advice to anyone who may be struggling with who they truly are:

J: I could give the stock answer of “be true to yourself” and “don’t give a damn what others think,” but the truth of the matter is that we are all on our own path – and part of the meaning of life, as I see it, is the search for oneself – and all of the hardships that go along with that. For me to give advice on this would be hypocritical. If I had all the answers, or any of the answers for that matter, I would cease to exist. So, I guess my advice is: Try not to cease existing. Keep asking questions.

Quick, on your toes…

Blue or red?

Always red.

The ocean or a lake?

Ocean.

Cook or take-out?

Cook.

Blonds or brunettes?

Brunettes.

What kind of car do you drive?

Toyota Solara Convertible; pearly white with a tan top.

Favorite candy bar?

Do granola bars, count?

Favorite website?

Mine. www.jamesjosephimages.com.

( If you would like to find out more about James Yeramian, please click the link above. )

Interview conducted and written by J. Federico

Just Call Him … Charlie

In Being Gay, Dating, Gay Celebrity, Music, Relationships on January 8, 2009 at 5:17 pm

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Charlie Demos is the artist to keep on your radar in 2009! He’s a hip out and proud musician, and currently preparing to launch his third album – his debut album was launched in 2006, which had three chart-topping hits and that was the beginning of an excellent adventure! The rest is history…

.Charlie, please tell us and our readers how it feels to be preparing for the launch of your third album? Did you ever think you’d get this far when you first ventured off into the wonderful world of music?

C: I feel great about it! I live and breathe music; so, it’s very natural for me to constantly create new songs for people to experience and hopefully, enjoy! I definitely knew I would be performing by now, but I NEVER would have guessed I would have my hands in so many aspects of my own career. Not only am I composing, producing, and performing all my own music but I’m also managing myself – and I love it!

.How do you think your experience with “making it” as a gay artist differs from someone who is straight – for instance, somebody like Justin Timberlake or Britney Spears? Do you think it’s harder for gay musicians to become a success because of their sexual preference and orientation?

C: People place too much emphasis on outcome and not enough attention on the experience of getting to where you want to go. “Making it” means something different to everyone. To me “making it” means I get to do what I love most everyday and support myself by doing it – it doesn’t mean having millions of dollars and a bunch of real estate. I think in some regards, it’s easier in this day and age for out artists to get recognition within the community because of wonderful resources like LOGO, HERE, OutMusic, and many other organizations that bring out arts and entertainment to people both nationally and internationally.  On the other hand, mainstream pop music still isn’t entirely gay friendly – there really isn’t an artist who began their career completely out of the closet and has made it in mainstream. I do think it’s coming though – soon

.How do you think your music has and will influence people in general?

C: I’ve been told by fans of my music that I empower them to be more assertive in their lives and not take any s***t – which is great! Music inspires me, comforts me, and gives me a deep connection to the artist; that’s what I want for people who love my music! I hope that people will relate to what I’m saying and have a great time doing it. I want people to know that although I’m a musician, I’m also a dude. I have good days, bad days, strengths and weaknesses just like everyone else. I want my audience to draw strength, self-confidence, and a playful sense of “in your face” moxie from my songs. Sometimes what I’m saying is very specific to my personal experiences; sometimes I’m calling out for people to drop the stress and rock out! Either way, we are all human beings and our experiences are universal. 

.How do you feel your music differs from today’s countless genres of music already out there?

C: Well my music definitely falls into the “Pop” genre. However, I have a diverse palate of musical influences, which gives me a unique sound.  I’m a little rock, a little soul, dance, 80s new wave, electro-experimental avant-garde,  and music from all around the world! I try to incorporate all of this into my personal soundscape. That’s what’s so great about pop music – there is room for every artist to be themselves, and to express their own experiences in a “one-of-a-kind” way.  Whether or not one would CHOOSE to be themselves is up to that individual … but I choose ME 100%!!

.What was the deciding factor in incorporating traditional Greek and Gypsy music into your own music?

C: That’s where my passion and fiery, rebellious spirit comes from! Haha – I’ve yet to fully incorporate these musical traditions into my music. Everything about Middle Eastern music, the minor tonalities, instruments, and vocal ornamentation captivates me! I’ve always dreamed of making a Middle Eastern record but I’m not quite there yet.

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.What’re your thoughts on gay marriage? Do you think President-elect Obama will make an effort to change the current policies?

C: I was overjoyed at Obama’s election – and even more excited when Hilary accepted the secretary of state position; I have been a supporter of hers from day one. Of course I believe that gay people should be allowed to marry! I want to get married some day! Unfortunately, I don’t think gay marriage will be legalized nation wide anytime soon. Ultimately, it will be left up to the individual states, which is better than nothing. Rick Warren is no help either … However, I am very proud that my home state, Connecticut, was one of the first!

.Please give advice to those out there who are struggling with coming to terms about who they truly are:

C: We all need to work towards accepting who we are at the present moment. Everyone has a reason for being in this life, a purpose, and everyone has gifts to give to the world. Life is too short and way too beautiful to not follow the individual rhythm of your own heart. We pride ourselves on “coming out,” but this is only the first brave step on an amazing and sometimes rocky road to self-discovery.  Our community can be really superficial, judgmental, and discriminatory – which saddens me but also fires me up to be 100% unapologetically Charlie – and tell everyone “this is bulls***! Wake up robots!! Who you are, who you really are on the inside, all those hidden dreams and desires … ROCK! Let’s ditch the frivolity and party!!”

Quick, on your toes…

Blue or red?

C: RED. Always red. The color of Passion, Love, and Romance!

 

The ocean or a lake?

C: I love nature. This is a tough one! I would have to say Lake … in Vermont … with a breath-taking mountain view!

 

Cook or take-out?

C: Take-out! I am the WORST cook in the world, but I can definitely order in, heat it up, and serve it as my own! Haha – *wink*

 

Blonds or brunettes?

C: Red heads. I am a red-head. HELL-O!!

 

What kind of car do you drive?

C: I’m a New Yorker – we don’t drive. It’s all about mass transit – subways, buses, and the occasional cab.

 

Favorite candy bar?

C: Twix and Snickers duke it out for my top pick in this category. And snickers wins! It’s the peanuts. Anything peanutty is a weakness of mine. Mix that with caramel AND chocolate … game over

 

Favorite website?

C: www.pandora.com – boring … but HEY free streaming music 24/7

For more on Charlie, please head to soulfulboi.com or his myspace page!

Interview conducted and written by J. Federico

( Special thanks to Steve le Vine of grapeVine Public Relations )

Ryan Kehoe: Reality Master

In Being Gay, Dating, Gay Celebrity, Relationships on January 8, 2009 at 4:45 pm

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We had a chance to interview Ryan Kehoe from Fresh Meat, and the Gauntlet III. He spills about his feelings on hooking-up with Tyler Duckworth (Real World: Key West), gay marriage, and tells us what he’s going to be up to in the near future. He’s a true reality master…

Equal4all: What was the deciding factor for you when coming out and being who you are today?

RK: I decided to come out at 16 actually. I had initially played the “bisexual” card to some of my closest high school friends at the time, but by the time I graduated in 1999, I was a full-fledged homosexual. For me, my sexuality was so innate that I couldn’t dream of staying closeted. I’ve always lived my life as an open book and luckily, I had great people around me that supported me for me.

Equal4all: Do you believe that your life as a homosexual man would be different if you hadn’t lived in the city that never sleeps?

RK: I think life as a gay man is a lot easier in any city, especially in NYC which is the “gay mecca” of the world. People don’t single you out for your differences, as New York is such a melting pot. For every straight girl in New York, there is always at least one gay guy on her side (and there are a lot of straight girls in NYC). But I do feel if I lived anywhere else, the scene is always smaller, everyone has dated everyone else, and people know way too much about your business. Some people like the comfort of the “small-town” scene, but for me it would get old real quick.

Equal4all: How do you feel about GLBT marriage?

RK: I’m all for GLBT marriage. I think our country has come far enough concerning human rights; this can only be the next step. As long as we succeed in getting these dangerous right-wingers out of office this next election, we can all work toward this. I do believe it should be up to the state, though. But I, like any other straight person, have dreamed of marriage since I was a little boy. And when I find “the one”, my mother will be there walking me down the aisle (and I won’t be wearing a dress – haha)

Equal4all: Since doing shows such as Fresh Meat and the Gauntlet III, have you done any philanthropy for the GLBT community?

RK: I need to be way more involved in the GLBT community actually. I’ve always left that to other people; but now, I’m 26 and am beginning to find my own voice and opinion on different gay issues. I plan on being more involved and pro-active in our community in the near future.

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Equal4all: Did you ever feel like the odd man out, being the gay man on those MTV shows?

RK: I wasn’t actually “the only” gay man on either shows. On Fresh Meat, I wasn’t just singled out for being the gay guy. I also happened to have dated one of the veterans a few months prior, which didn’t end well. On the Gauntlet, I wasn’t singled out right away because I always performed well, but when we started our losing streak, I’m sure all the guys on my team wanted me against them in the Gauntlet cause of my size, not my sexuality. Fresh Meat wasn’t a great experience, but in the Gauntlet, I felt extremely accepted and had a serious chance to prove myself.

Equal4all: So far on the Gauntlet III we’ve seen some hooking up and what not with Tyler Duckworth. Was there a real attraction there or was it more of a heat-of-the-moment type of deal and for fun?

RK: I made out with Tyler a couple times in the pool … all in the same night. I was drunk and he was the only other gay guy there. Everyone else was hooking up, and even though he’s not my type physically, it was fun to make out and scare the straight boys a little. He began to develop feelings for me, but I did not egg that on and was always up front with him that it was only a kiss. But Tyler is a very hysterical person and we had a blast making fun of people together while we were there. It’s always nice to have another gay guy with you in these insane circumstances.

Equal4all: Who was your closest fellow cast member from either of the shows?

RK: I really got along with everyone, but Paula and Robin were definitely the two people I chilled with the most. I’ve always had a little crush on Robin and as soon as we met, we became attached at the hip. She was going through a lot at home, and I became her shoulder to lean on. We would always sing, dance, cuddle, and make-out (when the cameras weren’t rolling) to keep ourselves entertained. Paula was the most amazing person I met through this entire experience. She is so cool and funny and is an example of someone who I thought was a train wreck on her Real World season. She’s one of the few people who watched themselves on TV and actually made a conscious decision to change and not be “that girl” anymore. I love her so much that I convinced her to move to NYC, and now she’s my roommate!

Equal4all: With the Presidential Election rapidly approaching in the US, who would you like to see win and why?

RK: I’d be happy if Clinton or Obama won; honestly, as long as the Republicans lost. I think Clinton has a lot more experience and having Bill behind her would help us a great deal! He was a great president, regardless of his scandals, and would love to see him as the “first man” in the white house again. Our country is ready for a serious change. My father is a disabled Vietnam veteran who also happens to be gay, so I’ve always grown up with sensitivity to war and its effect on families. We need to clean up this mess in Iraq. Plus, so many other countries have female leaders – why not America too?

Equal4all: Please give advice to those in the GLBT community struggling with who they truly are:

RK: I always say to live your life truly and be proud of who you are. Not everyone has the freedom that we do in America, and take advantage of this now. We may not be able to legally marry in this country yet, but we’ve come a long way in a short period of time. The more people that live their lives openly and comfortably, the less taboo being gay will become. I know it’s way harder in small towns and suburbs, but there is always a GLBT center or support group nearby and ready to listen. And take it from me- being gay is FABULOUS!

Equal4all: What can we expect from the handsome Ryan Kehoe in the future?

RK: I will certainly do more challenges in the future if asked, but reality TV is not my life. It is fun and silly, and has been a great experience altogether. I will take every opportunity that comes my way and hopefully have a voice to create my own show one day. In the meantime, it’s back to work at my restaurant in NYC and spending time with friends and family that keep me sane, happy, and grounded.

Interview conducted and written by J. Federico

( This article was originally published on Febreuary 15, 2008 )

Norm Korpi: The Voice of 1 of 7 Strangers

In Being Gay, Dating, Gay Celebrity, Gay Weddings, Relationships on January 6, 2009 at 3:59 pm

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Remember when the Real World aired back in 1992? Well, we got a chance to catch-up with a trailblazer named Norman Korpi … remember him?

Equal4all: When you first auditioned for the show (Real World: New York) back in 1992, did you think it would last as long as it did … I mean, 20 seasons is a VERY long time!

NK: NO … no … no … I never thought it would make it past Season 2. But looking at Real World’s format with changing casts members, and cities, the format somehow keeps it fresh or predicable with the marketing and the teen machine.

Equal4all: Do you consider yourself a role model for the GLBT community; why/why not?

NK: I don’t consider myself a role model for the GLBT community. Candidly, I would rather be considered a role model for the straight community. Why? I think people are starting to see the green impact that gays share a light on. Upholding population control and resource consumption with same-sex (or no sex, in my case) lifestyle which I celebrated through helping others around me achieve their happiness by staying out of the rat race and lines which plague us all. I am glad my trend-setting role on the Real World has also had a positive cultural impact after all these years with other fancy-free-folk and such, making their waves of acceptance in the pond of pop-culture more splashy then I. In short, gays reduce traffic. Traffic and pollution are not good. Go Green … GO GAY!

Equal4all: Was your season really “real?” How so? What was your most “real” moment throughout the filming? Do you think the seasons that came after yours weren’t as valid as far as reality was concerned?

NK: The show was only 22 minutes long and it was in a forced semi-controlled space. I think I reacted as I would in that type of environment. If you knew me before the show, you would say that I was pretty much me. What MTV aired, I think, was a nice portrayal… but it was limited due to the time they had to show. Also, there was time when there were no, I mean no gay people on television. This was a huge commercial event … PBS nor the NEWS aired this kind of thing. Pop-Culture. Soda Pop. I was new, and so it was a very unusual event having a gay cast member … and the “real” was what made it work. Once we changed the way people watched, people saw it for some kind of a stage to be famous, and they wanted to celebrate their issues and learned from/had fun with others. I think you can do this all now on facebook and YouTube.

Equal4all: Do you think you portrayed a realistic sense of the gay lifestyle throughout the duration of filming of the show that would someday hold an iconic status in pop-culture?

NK: I am not sure there was anything called a “gay lifestyle” back then. It was disco, and we did the best to have fun and keep from catching the bug. It was a sad time and we protested a bit more than the kick back “IKEA chill.” Also, I like deer hunting, and golfing; I am not sure how all that played out either.

Equal4all: Besides making “The Wedding Video,” what else have you done since your season was all wrapped up and aired?

NK: I have been painting and exhibiting my artwork with various galleries, commissions and shows; I have few art shows coming up this summer (at The Contemporary Center of Art in Orange County). I have a few other projects that will be surfacing about water control and renewable energy, but that’s too long and dull to get into.

Equal4all: Are you married? What are your stands on gay marriage?

NK: No, I am not married – I am for whatever works for the people!

Equal4all: Who have been your top 5 favorite gay cast members over the last 20 seasons and why?

NK: What I have learned over the years is this: favorite, like, and dislike are traps and don’t offer much to me; those steps create a hierarchy or reward structure in which others will follow, because even when there is a likeness assumed, there is a dislike or someone’s life wasn’t as meaningful when the editors made choices. I will say the cast members who were straight did has much or more for the gays … by making relationships that were caring, combative, and real. All of this happened for all to see!

Equal4all: Please give advice to anyone who is struggling with coming to terms with who they truly are:

NK: Take a step forward … Stop being so needy … Learn to listen to other people … The Meteor is coming, so help us stop it from wiping us all off the earth! (It’s part metaphor, and it’s also on the horizon) Oh yes, and you can’t change anyone…just yourself. This is sad but true. Once you get that, you’ll go much further down the road. Make a party of it, damnit! You can be “out” in your mind and when you have control of your life, you feel safe that day. Out you go – wear whatever you want and thank the people with a flower for the freedom. It’s not free … so vote, you little shit. But remember, you can’t change people… people change themselves. So you make yourself safe. Find those friends … the truth will set you free.

Photo taken by James Yeramian

Interview conducted and written by J. Federico