The Fabulous Beekman Boys :: Gay Green Acres?
A country farm is not the first place you'd expect to find a gay couple, but Josh Kilmer-Purcell and his partner of 10 years Brent Ridge may be starting a new trend (or reviving the concept of Green Acres) by saying good-bye to the crazy city life and settling down in the country. In truth, Ridge, a physician who once worked for Martha Stewart Omnimedia, maintains the Beekman farm in Sharon Springs, New York 24/7 while Kilmer-Purcell still divides his time between his regular job in the city (among other things, he is a regular contributor to OUT magazine) and weekends on the farm. While most gay-centric programming is found on Logo or Here, Planet Green doesn't treat The Fabulous Beekman Boys as a gay show but simply a docu-series that naturally (and without judgment) follows not only their adventures on the farm but their relationship ups and downs.
EDGE's Jim Halterman recently talked to the guys about this new endeavor, whether Martha Stewart or pigs are easier to wrangle and the duo also offered up sound advice for others that want to give up Park Avenue and head to the country.
Breaking new ground
EDGE: You guys are breaking new ground so why not have cameras follow you, right? Tell me how the show first came about?
Josh: The show came about when we first bought the farm and we started blogging about it and we started our business (both can be found @ beekman1802.com). We were sending out email newsletters and the General Manager and President of Planet Green signed up for the newsletter. She called us to see if we wanted to meet and she saw a show here.
EDGE: The show really spends equal time focusing on your relationship and how the farm impacts it. Can you talk about that being a part of the show?
Josh: I don’t know that the show impacted our relationship but like any relationship we’re going through job changes and transitions, career transitions, double mortgages, starting a business and having a television show so all these things put stresses on a relationship.
Brent: I would say that what the show made us realize is when you’ve been in a relationship for ten years you take each other for granted and maybe you’re a little bit casual about your arguments and sit-downs. When you see yourself on camera on how you act and treat one another it’s kind of like therapy. A lot of people would be surprised if they saw a playback of their days with all the unsavory behavior that they exhibited.
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Watch this interview with The Fabulous Beekman Boys
Making things sparkle
EDGE: Was it important to both of you that the show focus on the fact that you’re gay and not just on the farm?
Brent: I don’t know if it was that important. We just are ourselves and we present ourselves just as we are. I think what is important is that Planet Green has never really thought about it. It was never a discussion in developing the show that we were a gay couple. The by-product of it will be that a large portion of America will get a glimpse at something that they aren’t familiar with but it really wasn’t intended as that.
EDGE: Brent, what is easier? Working for Martha Stewart or wrangling a bunch of pigs?
Brent: That’s a real tough call! I’d say given my personality, probably working with Martha was easier because we’re very similar. I’m probably more in-tune with her than working with pigs.
EDGE: Josh, how does your drag queen past inform what you’re doing know with running the farm?
Josh: My whole life has been about making things sparkle. From being a drag queen to working in advertising to working on the farm, I just want things to be as sparkly and entertaining as they can be. I can put lipstick on a pig! [NOTE: It was recently announced that Darren Star would adapt Kilmer-Purcell’s drag queen book, I Am Not Myself These Days, for a scripted series for Bravo]
EDGE: And you guys were not the only gay couple going into this experience. Did that make the transition easier?
Brent: When we discovered the Beekman estate, we stayed at the hotel that is owned by the other gay couple so we knew they were there right away. Subconsciously, we knew that if they were that it was a safe place to be. We have never had a single incident of uncomfortable interaction with the locals. It’s not really an issue that we’re aware of.
EDGE: Were you surprised that the locals weren’t your stereotypical country bumpkins like Woody Harrelson was on Cheers?
Josh: I think we’re continually amazed. We still find new, talented interesting people all the time. But we’re not the stereotypical gay media portrayal on television and they’re not country bumpkins.
EDGE: You guys have help on the farm with Farmer John and I love that he’s the one who cries on the first episode!
Brent: Almost everything we learned about farming we learned from Farmer John. He’s a critical part of our business. I was at the farm full time and I’m his employer as well as his business partner and neighbor - he lives on our property - and any of those relationships in and of itself certainly will have their ups and downs. We’re around each other 24/7 so there’s bound to be conflict. Farmer John is a person who has rarely traveled outside Sharon Springs, where he grew up. He really doesn’t have any desire to leave the area so our world view and perspectives are different. It really conflicts with my background with Martha Stewart where I want something to be a certain way and he thinks that’s crazy. During the season, we get a lot of me wanting things a certain way and Farmer John thinking that’s a waste of time.
EDGE: You guys might inspire some people to leave their established, big city lives to do a similar endeavor. What would your advice be?
Josh: I would say just to double-check themselves to make sure they’re not just running away from something. A lot of people think this is the simple life but it’s really no simpler than anything else. If you really want to make this change in life, be aware of what you’re getting into and make sure it’s a viable alternative.
EDGE: Josh, The Bucolic Plague is your book chronicling your experience on the farm so I’m wondering if there is content in the book we won’t see on the show or do they compliment each other?
Josh: Coincidentally, the book actually is a prequel to the show. I was writing the book right after we purchased the farm and the book details our very first year and a half on the farm. Because of the global and economic collapse we very nearly lost the farm so the book ends right where the new show begins.
EDGE: Since you guys are in a long term relationship, what are your thoughts on gay marriage?
Josh: I’m just waiting for Brent to ask!
The Fabulous Beekman Boys airs every Wednesday night at 9/8c.
Watch this The Fabulous Beekman Boys musical advert: