'Open To It' - queer series tackles Drag Story Hour

  • by Christopher J. Beale
  • Tuesday June 18, 2024
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Casavina, Selena Minogue and Tim Wardell in the Pride episode of 'Open To It'
Casavina, Selena Minogue and Tim Wardell in the Pride episode of 'Open To It'

"'Open To It' is all about a couple experimenting with an open relationship," said director and star Frank Arthur Smith of his series on Amazon and OutTV, "and of course the silly, sexy situations that arise."

"Open To It" is Smith's baby, an initially self-funded comedy series that shines light on a somehow still taboo subject within the LGBTQ community, that of open relationships and various forms of ethical non-monogamy. I caught up with Smith on the heels of his hometown pride in WeHo for my podcast, "Stereotypes: Straight Talk From Queer Voices."

Frank Arthur Smith and Tim Wardell in 'Open To It'  

"I had been seeing a lot of queer content that was depicting non-monogamy in particular as this heavy, sad thing that just breaks families apart," said Smith, so he set out to present a more accurate depiction because, "that's not the only version of it." The first season explores success and failure of various relationship formats in a way that is considerably more 'fair' than typical pop-culture depictions.

"Living where I do and seeing the couples that I do, where they communicate in a very healthy way and they have fun — together or apart — and it works out," proclaimed Smith, who himself is in an open relationship with his partner of nine years. They are getting married next year, and, Smith said, "being open is actually additive to the relationship and not disruptive."

In the first season, the couple at the center of the series, Greg and Cam, found themselves taking the plunge and, in addition to various sexual encounters with men of all types, ended up stumbling into a relationship with a third named Princeton. Smith said in the second season the focus is on expanding the characters now that the episodes are longer.

"Greg and Cam really think about why they got into an open relationship in the first place," said Smith, "and Princeton (their third) comes to the realization that he isn't necessarily being taken that seriously by the guys, or really anyone in his life. He experiences the most growth of any character so far in season two."

That second season is already in the can, and will be out soon. In the meantime, "Open To It" has released a special mid-season episode for Pride season.

"This episode is about a drag queen story hour that gets interrupted by protesters," said Smith, "because that's something we've seen happen even here in West Hollywood, where I live."

In the episode, Cam, one third of our primary throuple, is reading to children at a Drag Story Hour when protestors break in chanting, "No more drag queens reading to our kids & teens!!" The drag queens, including a number of "RuPaul's Drag Race" alumni like Laganja Estranga, Manila Luzon, Pandora Boxx and Honey Davenport, first protect the children, then they fight back.

"Having experienced these Drag Queen Story Hours, they are nothing more than people reading to, and entertaining children," said Smith, "And I'm tired of people feeling that we need to turn back the clock. I think that's ridiculous. Progress is a forward arc, and I intend to reflect that through my art."

You can watch season one of "Open To It," as well as the pride special at www.opentoitseries.com
Listen to the full interview at www.stereotypespodcast.org

Christopher J. Beale is an award-winning journalist, producer, and podcaster based in San Francisco. www.christopherjbeale.com

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