Campaign running through October 29, 2016
“Hey, is your name Tom?” I’ll never forget being introduced to a music video of his for the first time just a few days prior. And then, there he was. “Yeah, that’s me” said Tom. With his boyish good-looks and his trademark blue eyes, he was just as warm and lovely in person as he comes across on-screen. If you’re not familiar with Tom Goss…I highly recommend you bone up on the subject…so to speak.
I was visiting Los Angeles to produce and attend the release party for my 2015 calendar, filled with some of LA’s most beloved male beauties, and I decided to accept an invitation to attend the 2014 Queer Art Expo at Rough Trade (curated by the fantastic Salvador Hernandez) where several friends and colleagues were either showing their art, working the event or simply stopping by to take in the sights. While Tom and I were chatting and getting acquainted, he was unwittingly recruited to be a living model for an artist at the event. Tom put up a bit of a fight, as he had been recovering from and injury and wasn’t feeling in top form, but in the end he conceded…and it went something like this (Tom’s lookin’ pretty darn good, if you ask me…):
But I digress…
During our chat, I mentioned to Tom that the following day was the release party I was in town to attend. I said, “Hey, you should swing by.” “I’ll really try” said Tom. I thought that was going to be the end of it…like many of my LA encounters (have your people call my people). I had forgotten one important thing…Tom wasn’t from LA. When I saw him the following day at my event, I have to say, it made me feel really great. Someone that I had just met, the hardly knew me, made an effort to support me and my guys. I was sold. My huge man crush on Tom was cemented that day, and has been securely in place ever since.
Earlier this year, while planning a trip to LA to spend a day in the studio and visit with friends, I reached out to Tom. I really dug the idea of working with him on something fun and collaborative. With very little effort, a date was in place. Seeing Tom show up with a fresh fade and his sexy scruff was indeed a pleasant surprise. As I hope is evidenced in the photos below, I had such a great time working with and spending time with Tom on that very hot August afternoon. His energy, his openness and his spirit were such revitalizing sources of joy, calm and inspiration for me. You can even check out some of that session by viewing the “live broadcast” he made during part of our session.
I got to spend a good amount of time with Tom during that trip. We had some yummy sushi in WeHo with my hosts (one of them being the incomparable Ms. Poppy Fields) and hit Precinct nightclub, the new gay nightlife destination Downtown. I feel safe saying that I have actually made a new friend…which as an adult, gay man doesn’t happen all that often. Thanks for your genuine spirit and electric heart, Tom. You are truly gifted, and are considered a gift by so many.
But, enough of my words…let’s hear from the man himself. As you scroll through the photos from the shoot, you’ll find some questions that Tom so graciously agreed to answer for me. Let the games begin…
Press PLAY ▶︎ to enjoy Illuminate the Dark by Tom Goss while viewing.
AW: So first and foremost, let’s just get this out of the way. When did you know you were adorable?
TG: Hahaha, um…pass.
AW: Ok, then. How has your move to LA treated you thus far?
TG: So far so good! It’s so very different from DC. It’s just great to be in a city where everyone is creating!
AW: Talk to me a little about your geographic history. You’ve lived all over, have you not?
TG: I definitely have lived in lots of different areas. I grew up North of Chicago in Kenosha, WI and went to school in rural Missouri, near Kansas City. After college I moved to Washington, DC because I wanted to be a Catholic priest. That didn’t work out, but afterwards, I almost immediately met Mike and we lived in DC for 10 years. This past year I moved to Los Angeles! Those are definitely four very distinctly different cultures to be immersed in, and they’ve all taught me a lot. I also spend a lot of time driving around the country performing. I’ve logged over 1,000 shows in 100 US cities and 5 countries. I feel like I know this country very well, and the more I know it, the more I love it. It is an extremely diverse place, filled with amazing individuals.
AW: You wear a lot of hats…musician, actor, activist and gymnast (to name just a few). How do you decide which hat to wear at any given point in your life and career?
TG: Hahaha, well you’re being very generous. Honestly, I really have no idea what I’m doing. More than anything, I’m just trying to explore creative outlets. Whether those outlets manifest themselves musically, physically or artistically, it’s all just a matter of experimenting. It’s all a learning process. More than anything, I consider myself a storyteller, and there are a lot of exciting ways to tell stories!
AW: You’re very good friends with some of the internet’s most beloved personalities. Will you tell me a little about some of your favorite experiences with those folks?
TG: When I was shooting my silly beefcake calendar with Dusti Cunningham, I was also shooting a cover video for a song about strippers called ‘I Don’t Mind’ with Max Emerson. We were both running around in speedos for hours while a workout video was being shot in the studio next door. It was full of straight women who were obviously a little flustered by how often we were changing in front of them or running around half naked. I thought it was pretty funny.
AW: You have become quite the ‘chaser’ poster boy for the bear community. How did that come to be and how has that influenced your work?
TG: Honestly, I don’t like the term ‘chaser,’ although a lot of folks identify me as such. To me, terms like ‘chaser’ and ‘boy’ don’t always carry with it the most positive of connotations. I much prefer the term ‘admirer’ as it speaks in positive terms about where I see beauty. But I digress, I always have strived to be open, honest and authentic in my work. I find that the more authentic I am, the more people are able to connect with the message and the story I am telling. As artistic consumers, we are very quick to spot someone who is faking it. In my personal life, I’m attracted to men who carry more weight. I have never tried to hide that. For years I wrote and sang about my love and he would be standing in the audience. Everyone knew who Mike was and what he looked like because he was there supporting me. People were drawn to that. When I was asked to play Bear Happy Hour in Washington, DC, I thought it would be fun to write an anthem to the kind of man that I find sexually attractive. Let’s face it, there are plenty of songs about young, thin, muscular men and women, but there isn’t a lot out there that speaks to where I see beauty. So I wrote ‘Bears.’ People instantly responded to it, again, because I was simply speaking my truth. We thought it would be even more fun to make a music video that showcased how beautiful the heavy set, hirsute, husky, rotund, or whatever adjective you want to use are, because we felt like the world needed to see big men in a different light. As soon as it released I was flooded with positive messages about how the video helped people see the beauty in themselves. I still receive those messages to this day. I’m humbled by that fact.
AW: You’re not the first ‘admirer’ to say that to me. From this day forward, I will spread the gospel of the bear admirer. #admirebearsdontchase
AW: I feel really honored to have been given the opportunity to work with you, considering the vast number of talented photographers and artists you have worked with. Besides your experience with me, of course, can you share some behind the scenes dish on one or two of your favorite creative collaborations?
TG: Well ‘Bears’ was such a fun shoot to be a part of. I’ll always be indebted to my creative team in DC (especially Aram Vartian and Michael Patrick Key) because we were taking on challenges that nobody else in DC was taking on. With ‘Bears’ the whole community rallied behind the project, by the time we were done, there were probably 300 people involved. Folks flew in from all over the country just to party with us. I wish I hadn’t been working so hard, if you want the best stories, just get a hold of some of the folks at the slip-n-slide party, apparently most of the fun happened when the cameras were off. The collaboration on ‘Breath and Sound’ with Matt Alber (vocals/piano) and Doug Poplin (cello) were also very humbling. All of us were in different cities, recording at different times, and as I would receive tracks I would be floored at how beautifully the project was unfolding. It took me 18 months to find the right people to transform the song into video, but when we were finally shooting, there were many moments that brought me to tears. Michael Serrato (Director) and Andrew Pirozzi (Choreographer) really brought ‘Breath and Sound’ to life. ‘Breath and Sound’ is the kind of video I had always dreamed of making, but honestly, I didn’t know if I could, or if people would react positively to it. To me, art is all about collaboration. You can only do so much by yourself. If you bring in other creative minds, you can create something so much greater. Oh, and Austin Wondolowski, you know him? He’s the best, by far!
AW: What’s next for you, Tom? Any new projects on the horizon?
TG: As I type I’m listening to some new mixes for an album that’s releasing in early 2016. It’s a collaboration with producer & musician Marr Zimm and it’s been such a great experience. It’s almost done so I can finally start talking about it. I’m not going to say it’s been a secret, but it’s been under wraps for months. Lots of new sounds, a whole new direction really. People are definitely going to have their left eyebrow raised on the first listen. By the second they’re just going to be vibing along. I’m also finishing up a new music video with Michael Serrato. Visually, it’s the most mature piece of work I’ve ever done. I’m really excited for people to see it. It’s really more of a short film than anything. That’ll release in early 2016 as well.