It's not Just About Him: Interview with Brandon Karson
Still, this was more than soft porn that would be used for my personal time a bit later, this was gay cinema. Not only was it gay cinema, it was BLACK, gay cinema—and it was well produced at that.
Once I finally sat down to watch the series “About Him”, I quickly realized why it was a viral hit. From the moment I started to view the first of 12 episodes of this series, I noticed the relativity this show had in my life. It was about a young black man finding his way with his sexuality through the discreet sexual advances of someone he was close to. I won’t say too much about it because you should have watched it already or be heading over to YouTube to watch it shortly after this. Anyway, I fell in love with the show and ended up purchasing the unrated scenes on their Vimeo profile through their website www.signal23tv.com. As you can see, I really liked the show.
But this isn’t “About Him”, it’s about the man who plays the main character whose name is Damian. Brandon Karson is the name of the breakout star who played Damien in the webseries. I got a chance to sit with this phenomenal artist and person while they were here in Houston during their tour through the country showing the season finale-- and what a treat it was.
He was rocking his newly changed blonde low cut, walked up to me showing his tall, statuesque frame, beautiful smile and drink in hand when we met. We had met formerly through some exchanges on Instagram where we were admiring each other's work. Before long we were emailing each other along with his manager and we were setting up a time to meet and chat.
Brandon, like his character and most black, gay men, didn’t have it easy in his personal life regarding his sexuality. He even admits early on that he had to change his given last name to Karson because his father didn’t believe that the work he was doing as an LGBT actor was respectful of the family’s name. Coming from the South, we know that to be true in many families as Brandon was born in Baton Rouge but tells me he was raised by the city of New Orleans.
As we sat down to chat, I had to admit Brandon was one of the most personable humans I have ever met. He was able to switch through multiple topics quickly all while being transparent and relatable at the same time. It must be the Scorpio in him.
Once I figured out that was his sign, it immediately brought me to the multiple sex scenes; most specifically the one that went viral. Although I think I would have a hard time being hard on camera, it was not difficult for him to stay up during the scene; that probably comes from the fact that Scorpio’s are extremely committed to their work. Still, he was, umm, rock solid all the way through. Fortunately for us, he was able to go where “Damien” wanted him to go with no anxiety of what Brandon’s personal fears were. I don't care what you say: being hard while cameras are on you is talent. Fortunately, his co-stars made it easy because they were also attractive men.
The thing I appreciated most about Mr. Karson was his ability to be as professional as possible; from the interview to his anecdotes about filming, he was able to articulate effectively his feelings about taking his career serious. Even more respectable was his ability to be himself. As he said, "I'm appreciative of how big this has become, but I'm still just me."
We then took a swig of tequila and he opened up even more, still poised. We talked about everything from modeling to boys to personal positions. FYI: the modeling world is a beast, he's "single as a Pringle", no group sex, but once you pop you can't stop to answer all your questions. Then we switched and talked about him on set. On the set, he reassures me, that he was completely in character. He says, “I’ve studied Will Smith and a lot of great artists that I admire and saw how they were able to completely embody their characters. I take this very serious. The whole month of October, I am taking it to study who Damien was in the first season and bring (the character) to the next level.”
Like Damian though, Brandon is in a discovery phase of his own. Since capturing the role on “About Him”, he has become, at minimum, a gay celebrity. They are traveling the country showing the season finale to sold out crowds and, for a country boy from Louisiana, it is something totally different. Even sitting in the restaurant here in a totally different city with the owner asking him to be a part of the second season, it made him blush. Yes, I did say that there will be a second season! Still, he is learning the ins and outs of being the main character in the biggest social media phenomenon for Black LGBT people this year-- and I think he is the perfect man for the job.
Coming to the end of the interview, we talked about how it feels to be an openly gay person following his dreams and he understands that his fans may want Brandon to be more like the character Damian in being a little more discreet. As it pertains to his masculinity he explains he is comfortable in his skin. He believes that being an attractive, unapologetically openly gay man is a form of power. “Our generation has it easy,” he says, “It’s perfectly legal for two men to get married. And with two men, you need to be able to be aggressive and submissive altogether. So, people have to accept that I am just me. When I think about all the people in the former generations fighting for me, it makes me happy just to be able to sit here and just be me.” And that is exactly what he is: the perfect embodiment of what we need in cinema. He is openly gay and proud, not bending to any heteronormative boxes and beautiful inside and out.
The series “About Him” is a gamechanger for LGBT media and Brandon Karson is the king. After all, it’s all about him.