For all of the 21st Century and a sliver of the 20th, JED RYAN is surely one of the Kings (Queens?) of Nightlife. His online periodical, LAVENDER AFTER DARK shines a light on all the NYC Downtown Scene has to offer – from the birds eye view of the leather-or-claps clad (when he is indeed clad) Ryan himelf.
So who better to lens a lampoon of male body issues!
Channel i begins a series of interviews (and a review) of Party-Lord JED RYAN and his maiden (?) voyage as a filmmaker with MODEST MALE EXPOSURE.
PART I: PANTS OFF!
Tell us about yourself as an artist.
Thank you for speaking with me!
I have always been hesitant to call myself an “artist”! I always reserved that term for the brave people who get to use their creative side to make a living: singers, songwriters, actors, dancers, burlesque performers, drag artists, comedians, DJ’s, et cetera! Almost all of the people I associate with in New York City are one or more of the above. I’m so lucky to be surrounded by some of the most colorful and talented personalities in our dirty, noisy little city! But I’m not a full-time artist like them. I am a writer, photographer, and “bon vivant”: That’s just a fancy term for someone who likes to go to parties. So, I guess that I’ve always been more useful BEHIND the scenes. “Modest Male Exposure” is my first time as a film producer and co-director. And yeah, I also “star” in it! (Laughs)
You’re touted as a nightlife personality. How did you get involved in charting pop culture?
It started in 1994. I guess I was about 23 at the time. As soon as I was able to explore New York City nightlife, I did it with a vengeance. I always brought my camera with me. At the time, it was usually a crappy little disposable plastic thing. I didn’t want to buy an expensive camera that was going to get smashed on the dancefloor or fall into the urinal in the men’s room! My first “gig” was writing a monthly column for a local LGBTQ magazine called “PM Entertainment”. The column was called “What Jed Said”. I would pretty much write about whatever I wanted to, which was great. I’d write about anything from independent films to, ahem… “after hours” clubs. But I’d make sure there was at least one photo of a celebrity each month, in hopes that the picture would catch people’s eye and maybe they’d actually READ the article. (Laughs) Thankfully, in New York City there was no shortage of famous (or infamous) people to run into. (“Oh, look, there’s Sarah Jessica Parker! There’s James St. James! There’s… that guy from ‘Boy Meets Boy'”!) I never even got paid for that column. The editor of the magazine would take me out for breakfast at a diner once a month. (Rolls eyes) Fast forward to 2021, and my goal is still to put the spotlight on people, places, and events who deserve to be noticed. But now, I have my own online magazine… and a much better camera. Judging by the stats, people from all over the world do read my articles, and I am grateful for that. I’m apparently very popular in Brazil and Malta. (Laughs) I didn’t even know where Malta was. I had to Google it! People all over the world have their eyes on New York City, so why not give them what they want to see?
What made you decide to do a movie?
Thank you for asking! (Laughs) About three years ago I decided to explore acting for the first time. I did the usual things: got headshots, made a “reel”, scraped together a resume, blah blah blah. As any working actors in New York City already know, it’s very, very difficult just to even get an audition… or a request for a “self tape” as they call it now. But I had good “beginner’s luck”. I got work in a lot of small projects as well as doing extra work in some big projects. The problem was (drumroll please…) most of these projects never saw the light of day. I never even learned the reasons why. I assume it was either that the creative team ran out of money, or they “flaked out”. Keep in mind, I did most of these projects for free, or for transportation reimbursement– put another way, I did it “for the experience”. But knowing that you gave so much of yourself– even in a small role– and never seeing the fruits of your labor can be very disheartening. I can’t count the number of times when the contact person for the project never returned my emails or never sent payment, however minimal it may have been. That’s just unprofessional. At the same time, my friend Clover Welsh (AKA Lady Clover Honey), a hard-working drag performer, presented me with a script for a short film she had written, called “Modest Male Exposure”. It was a comedy with some serious explorations of the issues of, as the title suggests, male modesty. I’ve been friends with Clover seemingly forever, and I knew that we would see eye to eye with the movie’s creative vision. I was like, “We can do this!” But as producer, I had some of my own requirements. I wanted all my actors to be paid. I wanted a fun, respectful set where everyone was fed! I wanted the actors to have some flexibility for the shooting schedule. And above all, I wanted the movie to see the light of day…