Brett W. Ashley


‘Looking’ episode 8 recap: SEASON FINALE!

After last week’s episode, I couldn’t wait to see where our three characters would end up. I’ve got to say this season finale definitely left us with some questions and left me eager for season 2. One great thing I’ve learned is that Richie, Kevin and Doris have all signed on to be series regulars for the soft-more season, not just guest stars. Thank god for Doris, she’s of the voice of reason among this gaggle of gays, especially when it comes to her ex-boyfriend Dom.

This week, Patrick shows up a Richie’s workplace, like a creepy stalker. He isn’t returning your calls for a reason Patrick! Showing up at his work just feels desperate, and is really only  a selfish move to try and clear the air and make yourself feel better.

Speaking of making themselves feel better, Agustin – who is starting to look homeless – ruffles through his bedside table to find what I can only assume is two hits of MDMA in a little baggy. Franklin finally comes home and Agustin shows his desperate side by pleading with him to reconsider their relationship. He apologizes for everything he’s done, especially when it comes to CJ. Frank isn’t having any of it, “What you did with the hustler, nothing but the musings of a bored rich kid.” Well said Frank. Agustin doesn’t know who he is or what he wants and just bobs around from idea to idea trying to find out. Does he actually want to create art? Or does he just like the idea of being an artist? Frank dishes one last jab saying that anything he’ll ever do will be mediocre at best, before taking off and telling Agustin to finish packing.

Dom takes his turn apologizing in this episode by calling up Lynn and leaving him voicemails asking him to come to the Peri Peri pop-up restaurant that night.

At work, Kevin finds Patrick taking a break on the roof and before Kevin really gets the chance to apologize, Patrick tells him there is no need, it is just water under the bridge. But is it? The way Patrick dismisses it so quickly feels almost like he’s not letting himself actually think it through and would rather pretend it never happened.

Agustin decides to console himself by poppin’ a pill on the subway and really starts feeling it by the time he meets up with Patrick in front of Dom’s pop-up. Dom is clearly very anxious when he greets his friends but his buddies let him know how proud they are of him. Some of my favourite moments in this show are when the three of them are all together and just acting like supportive friends. Dom’s anxiety looks even worse when a group of Lynn’s investor friends come in and ask where Lynn is. When he does finally arrive, he’s with a very handsome gentleman and Dom clearly gets jealous. Meanwhile Patrick is giving his tweaking friend glasses of water and talking about all of his boy drama with Kevin and Richie. I’ve definitely been the friend to take care of someone who has maybe had a little bit too much of a substance. One time I had to walk laps around a track with a bestie until the pot brownie effects wore off. That’s just what friends are for! “I just want to lick his arm pits all day long” Patrick says about Richie and Agustin agrees…hell, I agree. Richie is a total babe, and he’s passionate, wild and unpredictable. That’s what he offers Patrick. Agustin finds out about the kiss with Kevin, “You want to have a thing with him” he tells Patrick. What does Kevin offer him? More stability perhaps? Security? Is that even a real thing? Or just a term I learned from watching movies like The Wedding Singer or episodes of Friends.

Kevin keeps texting and calling Patrick to come back into work, at first Patrick refuses but then Agustin answers the phone and hands it to him, he has to head back in. This is where it all goes down. Patrick arrives to find Kevin alone with two beers. Kevin apparently fixed whatever it was (the excuse to get Patrick in) and just wants to talk. “Do you know how much effort it takes to be around you? I can’t stop thinking about you” Kevin finally spills to Patrick. They start kissing, at first Patrick resists, then finally gives in and they go at it right there on the floor (and not in that chair/sling thing they have in their offices – not this time at least). Patrick bottoms for him! The one thing he wouldn’t do with Richie, is this telling us something? Patrick’s actions show that he’s more willing to be vulnerable with someone safe like Kevin, or maybe he’s just trying to be cool by joining the bottom club. Either way, it was a hot scene and a great chance to see some pant-less Russell Tovey. “What happens now?” “I don’t know” I guess we’ll have to wait for season 2.

At the Peri Peri Pop-Up (it’s fun to say isn’t it?) Doris goes to bat for her best friend Dom. She chats up Lynn about him and at first he doesn’t seem to respond until finally she says plain and simple, “Dom is worth it”. I’m not going to lie, it gave me goosebumps, but then again I get goosebumps at really good car commercials. When Lynn is on his way out, Dom has his chance to take him aside and talk to him. Dom tries to get him to agree to coming back to work but Lynn isn’t having it, “I just feel like tonight should be the end of our working relationship” and right there Dom goes in for a kiss. This time, Lynn doesn’t pull away. Yes! Now that they are no longer work partners, they can be boyfriends. I am really looking forward to seeing Dom in what I expect to be a serious, committed relationship next year (by the way, rumour has it the show isn’t returning until the fall of next year which means we’ve got to wait a year and a half!)

Patrick arrives home and Richie is there waiting outside, “when I feel disrespected by someone I care about, it does something to me. My pride is something I’m working through” he tells Patrick. He explains that he feels the two of them went too fast and “I am this close to falling in love with you but I’m not going to do that to myself if you’re not ready” and clearly Patrick isn’t. They take a moment, Patrick in tears, then part ways. Is this the end of Patchie? Something tells me Richie will be back in the not so distant future. Patrick makes his way inside to find his bestie, Agustin passed out in his bed with his macbook open. Patrick curls up next to him and presses play, the Golden Girls starts playing. “Thank you for being a friend”. Just like the good old days of these two roommate, I think it’s about time Agustin moves back in permanently.

The show has really found it’s footing after the first couple episodes. It’s been criticized for being “boring”, but I for one find it to be very realistic and a pretty accurate portrayal of a gay lifestyle in a larger city. It was designed to be a slice of life style show, and it hits it’s mark. We’ll have to wait and see if it can keep it’s steam in season 2!

‘Looking’ episode 6 recap: Looking in the mirror

Patrick and Richie

Patrick lets it slip – the word that makes it official – he calls Richie his boyfriend. Is it too soon? Richie plays with Patrick’s awkward side, “Who said I was your boyfriend?” This prompts Patrick to back pedal and stumble over his words. The next morning, Richie returns from a quick outing and tells Patrick, “I’m in.” Richie pulls out a scapular for Patrick to wear, one that’s just like his. How cute is this? They now have matching boyfriend necklaces! It’s official: they’re an item! And just in time for Richie to meet all of Patrick’s friends at Dom’s 40th birthday party. We also get to find out a little bit more about Patrick and Dom’s relationship. “We hooked up once” he tells Richie. I must say I love that about Dom and Patrick’s relationship. It is something that has happened to me a few times: people I’ve hooked up with or have had a brief romantic relationship with have ended up being some of my closest friends. Nothing bothers me more than when you see someone out and about who you’ve had a tiny (one-night) past with and they act completely awkward and uncomfortable. Grow up, figure it out, get over it!

Dom and Lynn

Dom meets with Lynn and some of his friends that are potential investors for his piri piri chicken restaurant. The older gentlemen sit around Lynn’s beautiful apartment and discuss opera. If there is one thing I’ve learned from working at a restaurant on Church Street (that has been around for over 20 years) it is that older gay men love opera. Well, not all of them, some enjoy searching Craigslist’s “Casual Encounters” on their iPads and checking off the images-only box. Believe me, nothing is more shocking than dropping off a customer’s steak and frites while they have a giant uncut penis on the screen in front of them.

Afterwards the two clean up together, they wash dishes, looking like the perfect married couple. Dom’s phone starts lighting up, his Facebook is starting to blow up with birthday posts; he is now 40 on the east coast. “Did you know that when you turn 40, Grindr emails you a death certificate?” Dom constantly worries and sulks about his age, even though Lynn – who is much older –  is within earshot. “When I was 40 we took mushrooms in a canoe,” Lynn replies. Can Dom please get over his age-depression and realize life doesn’t end once you’re 40?

On the bus ride to his birthday party, Doris and Dom discuss what’s happening with Dom and Lynn. “God forbid you fuck someone who could care for you,” says Doris pointing out that of all the past relationships (fuck-buddies) Dom has had, this one actually has potential. “It’s different.”

Agustin and CJ

It seems Agustin has taken advantage of his relationship with his $220/hour friend, CJ. He’s taken many photographs of him with what looks like different sexual partners. He displays them on his wall then suddenly tears them down. Oh what a brooding artist he has become! Frank comes over to console him, “That guy’s hot!” Wrong move Franklin. “Hot? That’s all?” Surprise, surprise; Agustin gets defensive when discussing his work. The two go shopping for supplies for Dom’s park party and Frank asks when he’s going to get to meet CJ. Agustin invited him to Dom’s birthday so everyone will meet him soon enough.

Richie and Patrick

Richie and Patrick make their way to the park and meet up with Agustin and Frank, and Patrick’s co-worker Owen and his girlfriend. Richie is introduced as Patrick’s boyfriend and almost immediately Agustin gets defensive. Agustin is really starting to show his true colours and I am not a fan. His insecurities are getting frustrating to watch, but maybe because it’s at times like looking in the mirror (title of the episode, ha!) especially when it comes to his art. Agustin gets very territorial about Patrick for the majority of the birthday picnic; he dishes out some passive-aggressive remarks towards Richie and pokes fun at Patricks’ new scapular. Finally the whole gang has arrived and they are getting drunk on a sunny day in the park. I’m jealous. With the weather Toronto has been having, I would kill for a hot summer day drinking beer in Trinity Bellwoods Park.

Just when it seems like everyone is starting to get along, Kevin (Patrick and Owen’s hot English boss) shows up in the distance. Patrick and Richie go over to say hello, and Kevin introduces them to John, his boyfriend who is no longer long distance and has officially moved to San Fran. The tension is so thick you could cut it with a scapular, oops, I meant scalpel. They exchange pleasantries, we find out John is in sports medicine, but when Kevin asks what Richie does for a living, Patrick jumps in, he cuts hair but will hopefully have his own place soon. “I will?” Richie asks. Patrick is embarrassed by Richie, or at least when being compared to Kevin and John.

Patrick and Agustin

Patrick asks Agustin what he thinks about Richie and all hell breaks loose. These two besties let each other have it and the truth finally comes out. Patrick criticizes Agustin for his behaviour with CJ and for introducing him to their friends. Agustin thinks that Patrick is being cruel to Richie by leading him on and letting him think he’s his boyfriend. “What are you trying to prove? You’re slumming and it ain’t cute!” Just at that moment, Richie shows up, and he is pissed off! Richie’s temper is sexy, Agustin takes a huge step back and cowers; he’s all talk and no action. Everyone parts on bad terms. Agustin makes his way back to the blankets to join CJ and Frank who are clearly hitting it off.

Dom and Doris

Over on the hill Dom smashes a piñata of his former self and thanks Doris for putting the party together. “For what? All I did was make a Facebook event.” Dom takes her picture, “Don’t tag me, I’m ditching a bowling thing.” I love how this show embraces social media and our relationship with it. Have you ever gone out even though you called in sick to work that day and had to make sure everyone you were with knew not to tag you in any posts? I have. I have more times than I can count.

Dom and Lynn

Out of nowhere a delivery boy drops off some flowers for Dom, from none other than, you guessed it – Lynn. Talk about husband material! Later, Dom meets up with Lynn to thank him, smoke a joint and watch some cartoons. They really do seem perfect for one another. Lynn pitches the idea of just the two of them putting together a night for possible restaurant investors and Dom gets excited. Just the two of them! Unfortunately this gives Dom the wrong impression and he goes in for a kiss. REJECTION! Lynn wants to keep their relationship business. I think I moaned out loud when the sexy, suave Dom was denied, mostly because I want these two to work out.

Patrick and Richie

On the walk home, Patrick suggests getting some fro-yo to Richie, but Richie decides it might be better to just go home. Richie is still clearly shaken up from earlier, and thinks Patrick is embarrassed about him. Richie is right to be angry. It seems at times that Patrick is ashamed of his relationship with Richie because he probably isn’t the type of person he pictured himself with. Patrick didn’t even stick up for Richie when Agustin was bad mouthing him. Patrick’s reply is to show how committed he really is and invite Richie to his sister’s wedding. The two make up, although there is still a little doubt in Richie’s eyes. At the end of the episode, Patrick is standing nude in the mirror and fixes his new boyfriend necklace; he’s in it for the long haul.

Agustin and Frank

Meanwhile, Agustin and Frank find themselves in a sexy situation. Something they’ve done before – a threesome. Only this time, Agustin is filming it. Maybe it was a good idea at first, but Agustin seems to have some doubts when he’s wielding the camera over his boyfriend who’s being penetrated. I wonder if CJ is charging $220/hour, or maybe there’s a friendly discount.

Follow Brett on Twitter at @AshleyBrett.

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‘Looking’ episode 5 recap – Looking for the future

 Patrick and Richie

It’s the morning after and Patrick is the first to wake. He leaves the naked Richie in bed and makes his way to the shower (but not before we see his cute little booty pull on some underwear — I screen grabbed that one!). He brushes his teeth using his finger, and does the obligatory check of the medicine cabinet to find out which meds — if any — his new partner is on. Finger brushing is always the worst; it’s so hard to reach those molars and you just look bulimic if somebody walks in at the wrong time. This is why I only suggest doing so when you have to go straight to work or you’re planning round two in the bedroom. Right before he can make his sweet escape, Patrick hears music coming from the bedroom, a naked Richie is playing bass guitar in bed and singing.

How can Patrick head to work and leave this stud serenading him? We find out that Richie has stayed at Patrick’s at least three times now and this has made him late for work in the past. They kiss each other goodbye and Patrick says good morning to Richie’s erect, “incredible penis.” He leaves, like an idiot, but suddenly regrets his actions and makes his way back to Richie’s bed for a more orgasmic send-off. This is when things really heat up. Like, really. I may have re-watched this scene about twelve times. Richie gives Patrick a blow job then pushes his legs up to go even a little further downtown. The look on Patrick’s face says it all, it’s the look some tops get when they receive an unexpected rim job. Richie tells him not to worry, “You just took a shower.” Which is a lot better than stumbling home with a random from the club and thinking it’s a good idea to visit his back door. Richie really wants to top Patrick, but Patrick normally doesn’t bottom. The moment is interrupted when Patrick finishes, directly into Richie’s mouth, something Patrick says later “isn’t completely safe.”

They have some breakfast at a diner, where Richie pokes fun at the taste of Patrick, “did you have pineapple yesterday?” and Patrick laments his love for The Goonies. “Heeeeyyyy you guysssss!” Richie tells Patrick that he used to have braces and was embarrassed by them as a child. We also find out that Richie’s ex was HIV positive but “Don’t worry, I’m not.” A jolt of paranoia passes Patrick’s face, he really does get worried about everything. Watching these two flirt and joke is adorable — the passion and intrigue that happens when two people really start to connect and learn about one another is always a beautiful thing. Patrick is having such a good time that he decides to call in sick to work so the two can continue exploring.

They go through all of the typical questions two gay guys ask each other when they’ve passed the pleasantries and can delve a little deeper. What was your first gay experience? When did you come out to your parents? How’d they take it? Patrick was fifteen and in the back of a bus on his way home from computer camp with a fellow nerd; they had a blanket over their laps and Patrick helped his buddy out. Richie was fourteen and gave blow jobs to the Mormon guy that came over about once a week. They walk to the mysterious destination that Richie has picked out, Patrick can’t seem to stop talking, “I’m not good with silences, just so you know.” Oh, we know Patrick, we know. Thankfully Richie always seems to call him on his shit, which is probably the main reason I’m team Richie all the way.

They eventually make it to a planetarium and just as I started thinking, Wow, this is a Friends rip-off, Richie beats me to it. “This is sort of like where Ross took Rachel on their date.” Yes! Exactly! They come to the conclusion that Patrick is the Rachel since she’s typically the one in charge and therefore would be the top. Richie provides a wonderful moment where he says that he doesn’t identify with the labels top or bottom (“those are for people on websites”) and is adaptable to experiences. Patrick claims he doesn’t like to bottom, “As soon as it’s in I’m like, take it out, take it out, take it out!” Nothing kills the mood like when a guy says take it out — trust me. They come to the conclusion that Patrick has bottom shame and that’s why he isn’t normally into it and Richie admits that usually, he would be the Rachel. I hope these two don’t end up going on a break where one of them sleeps with the hot copygirl.

They grab some street meat after the planetarium and discuss their coming-out stories. Richie’s father didn’t take it so well and he avoids discussing it further. Patrick told his mom in a car on the way to the airport and she made it all about her.

On a side note, I remember when I first decided to come out to my mother, I geared up, watched some scenes from the film Milk to really build my confidence, then when we were out for brunch and my mother asked me if there were any girls I was interested in I said it, “I don’t really like girls.” My heart stopped, waiting for her reply. “Excuse me, can we get some more milk?” she asked the waitress. I thought she hadn’t heard me, and I didn’t bring it up again until I was drunk after my brothers wedding and let it all out a la C.R.A.Z.Y. Turns out, she had heard me in the diner but was going through a lot at the time (my grandfather was on his deathbed) and didn’t really allow herself to acknowledge my reveal. I was angry for a while when I found that out, but her support and love has more than made up for it and she currently adores my boyfriend. My father was living in Vancouver at the time, and we weren’t really on speaking terms. He happened to tune into MTV one night and saw me on one episode of 1 Girl 5 Gays. He called up my sister to ask if I had been on a TV show, she said yes. He replied with “Tell him I love him.” We’ve reconnected since and the topic has come up a couple of times, we laugh about it now, but thanks MTV for doing my dirty work!

So back to Patrick and Richie! They walk past beaches, talk about marriage — they both eventually want to get hitched. “Now we have to deal with that pressure,” says Patrick since gays can now legally marry. Sure it’s a pressure that’s put on you to be considered normal and get married, but be grateful you now have that option. Patrick reminds me of myself, he worries about everything, which is why Richie is such a great Yin to his Yang. Richie is more faith based, he tells Patrick about his Seniora, an older woman who rubs eggs over his body then answers questions about his life based on reading his cards. Patrick pokes fun at it a bit, and Richie gets a little defensive, “Some people have drugs, addictions; I have her.” Richie brings Patrick to see her but he backs out once he realizes Richie would have to translate and hear all of Patrick’s bad fortunes before Patrick would. Who would want your new partner to find out your darkest secrets? Another reason why you should keep your bathroom cabinet locked.

The two end up exactly where they started, back in bed. Patrick let’s Richie know that he does eventually want to bottom for Richie, not today since he’s “opened up enough already,” but it will happen. Richie throws Patrick a condom and they are back in the throws of new love.

I really did love this episode. I have been on this date. I have had these discussions. It really was the most accurate portrayal of two men falling for each other I’ve seen since Andrew Haigh’s film Weekend. They touch on a lot of topics, more than I was able to discuss here, but the format was a great way for the two to learn about one another and for us the audience to get more of a back story about them. The only thing I missed were our other characters, but I’m sure we have a lot more of Agustin and Dom to look forward to.

Follow Brett on Twitter at @AshleyBrett.

‘Looking’ episode 4 recap: work husbands, work relationships, work sex?

Dom meets up with Lynn

Dom meets with Lynn — in case you’ve forgotten, Lynn is that dude from Quantum Leap whom Dom chatted with in the steam room of the bathhouse — to discuss his business idea for a restaurant. Unfortunately for Lynn (because let’s be honest: Dom’s a babe) this meeting is strictly business in Dom’s eyes. The chemistry on-screen between the two is thick; I found myself wanting this to be a date, but Dom makes it clear that it isn’t when Lynn asks him. The two seem very relaxed with each other and talk about everything from their parents to Piri Piri chicken. It’s almost like that elusive perfect first date — but again, let’s be clear, this isn’t a date! Lynn offers Dom some great advice and says he may be able to help get the ball rolling on some investors. They finish their lunch and make their way to Lynn’s. At this point, we see Dom going back to his old ways, offering to come over to cook dinner at Lynn’s later and have Lynn taste his chicken. I guess it makes a change from Dom eating all the “chicken” the first three episodes.  Dom is stuck in his habits, even though everything went well and Lynn is on board to help him, he feels he’s got to seal the deal with some sex. Thankfully, the older and wiser Lynn asks, “What are you doing?” and tells him to put together a business plan that they’ll take a look at together sometime in the future. It’s great seeing Dom as the younger one when he is in scenes with Lynn; it’s a different spin on the interactions we’ve seen him be a part of so far, which highlight him as the ‘older one’ in comparison with the other boys.

Patrick’s crush on Kevin intensifies

Patrick and Kevin are working on a video game they are due to present the next day; the only problem is that they may have to pull an all-nighter. Is this really a problem, though? Not to Patrick. Besides the fact the Folsom Street Fair (an annual kink and leather street fair) just happens to be taking place outside, prompting them to discuss ass-less chaps and whips. Patrick’s crush for Kevin is getting more and more obvious, and since Kevin is in a two-year relationship with his boyfriend, this really should be more of an issue. “You have to find someone who understands what you do,” Kevin says when discussing his long-distance relationship, pretty much allowing Patrick to keep falling for him since these two obviously understand what the other does. Both are dancing a fine line between work relationship and something a little bit more. However, a lot of people have their work-husband or work-wife. You know, the one who you can joke with about the boss or bitch about that co-worker who brought tuna for lunch … again. When Kevin’s boyfriend calls to have him pick him up from the airport, Kevin takes off and Patrick stays behind to show his commitment to the project, and impress his new crush.

Agustin and Doris with their leather persuasion

Agustin is decked out in his leather and hanging out with Doris at the fair. They call Patrick and persuade him to come meet them for some lunch and leather. He obliges and they end up in a leather store where the friends convince Patrick to wear a leather vest, with nothing underneath. Finally! Some semi-shirtless Patrick! Jonathan Groff looks good in leather, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t screen grab that one and save it to my “Essays” folder on my laptop (this folder is X-rated and does not include a single essay).

Agustin wants to start creating some art with CJ

Agustin is dead set on meeting up with the male sex worker, CJ, who he met last week. Agustin wants to start creating some art with him. He wants to follow him around, record things, not think about it too much, and just see what happens. Sometimes as gay men, we get wrapped up in our sexuality since society thinks it is what defines us. Apparently sex, sex, sex, is all we think about. This reminds me of a documentary I made in Film school titled D.I.Y. It was an X-rated look at people who create their own amateur pornography online. At the time I did my best to push peoples buttons and really shock my audience. Is that what Agustin is doing? Prove yet again he isn’t just a stay-at-home husband, that he has his wild side?

Rent-a-guy for $220/hour

Once they meet up with the rent-a-guy, Agustin and Patrick take him to lunch (which Patrick has to pay for since Agustin is a starving artist). Agustin tries his hardest to come off as the confident, suave artist, so much so that he eats a piece of meat that CJ offers him. This normally wouldn’t be a problem, but Agustin is a vegetarian, and the meat does not agree with his stomach. Once CJ agrees to work with Agustin for $220/hour, they take off. Agustin searches for a port-a-potty but not before Patrick gets some judgmental comments in about Agustin’s threesome and working with a prostitute after just moving in with his boyfriend. Once they see the line up for the portables is way too long, they head to Patrick’s office so Agustin can get some sweet sweet relief. We’ve all been there, having a few too many drinks or eating a few too many different types of food at a street fair (or worse, Pride) and it feels like World War III is taking place in your stomach.

Patrick continues to be judgmental about Agustin’s wild ways

Patrick acts like he is supportive of his best friend but repeatedly brings up his wild behaviour. Is monogamy the only type of relationship Patrick is looking for? This coming from a guy who wanted a quick hook-up with Richie and to see if he was uncut. Thankfully, Agustin quickly turns it around on him “You’re having a fantasy relationship with your boss,” which is true. Only moments later, Kevin comes back to the office to discover the leather-clad group playing video games and taking a break from the Folsom festivities. Everyone takes off except for Patrick who is ready to – unfortunately — put some clothes back on and get back to work.

Work-husband no more

Patrick gets to hear some complaints from Kevin about his boyfriend, and the two are back to their work-husband scenario. Kevin asks Patrick if he is hungry and would want to order some fried chicken, something Kevin’s boyfriend would never let him eat, and it finally dawns on Patrick. Patrick sees what Agustin is talking about: the two breaking this rule would only lead to more broken rules, late nights at the office, and most likely Patrick falling hard for something that could never work. Patrick blows Kevin off, and Kevin takes the hint. He puts the leather back on and meets up with his gang at a leather bar just in time to see RuPaul’s drag race star (or flop), Honey Mahogany perform. Remember Honey from last season? She was so bad; she was sent home in a double-elimination, all the caftans in the world couldn’t save her.

 Agustin keeps things underwraps from Frank

They meet up with Frank and his friends, Agustin has an awkward exchange with Frank and he doesn’t exactly explain how things went with CJ. Agustin is essentially hiring him, for whatever purpose. Agustin is rebelling against his commitment with Frank once again and starting to keep secrets.

Patrick reunites with Richie in the hottest scene this season

The silver lining to this bar is that the sexy Richie is spotted across the dance floor. After some drinks Patrick gets up the courage to go and talk to him. Seeing a past hook-up or ex-boyfriend at a bar can always put a damper on the night. I’ve definitely done a drink-and-dash once I’ve seen an old flame, or have been caught in a “Hey, nice to meet you,” “You slept at my place last month” scenario. Not cute. Rarely does it result in a positive outcome. But here, Richie is forgiving, “I’ve been alright, still cut,” he pokes fun at their awkward past and extends the olive branch. Patrick confesses that he is more LTR minded than he led on and begs forgiveness. The two dance slowly together, in what I find to be the hottest scene so far this season. DP Reed Morano captures the moment beautifully, from a distance in a crowded club, the dance floor belongs to these two. Their lips close enough to touch, yet aren’t, chest to chest, moving as one.

We’ll have to wait to see exactly what Agustin will be paying for, how Patrick and Richie’s night ended, and if a business plan buds into something more intimate for Lynn and Dom.

Follow Brett on Twitter at @AshleyBrett.

‘Looking’ episode 3 recap: Patrick’s gaffes, Agustin the angry artist, Dom the gay icon


At a big work party on a Naval Destroyer, Patrick decides to forget about Richie, get drunk and have fun. Sailors hand out free drinks and Patrick is in heaven, I think I would be too. A group of co-workers discuss the games they work on and Patrick talks about how he always plays as the female character in his video games, not because he’s gay but because “Women are the outsiders in games and I relate to that”. What gay man hasn’t played as Princess Peach in Mario Kart, or at least as Yoshi the androgynous dinosaur?

After a random man pokes fun at him, Patrick follows him to a side area of the party to find out if he’s gay or not. This man happens to be Patrick’s potential new boss, played by the handsome Brit Russell Tovey. He is in fact gay, but unfortunately, has a boyfriend. “I asked out my boss while straddling a torpedo, and he said no,” after talking to his co-worker, Patrick realizes he needs to apologize to Kevin (Tovey) in order to get on his good side and possibly work with him.

The next day Patrick makes his way into Kevin’s office, asking for forgiveness and explaining while he and his work partner should be considered for the new position. Kevin let’s Patrick know that it would be long days and working weekends, something Patrick doesn’t seem to mind. I don’t think I would mind either if my boss was an attractive gay man with a seductive accent — my boss is an attractive gay man with a seductive Scottish accent and I’ve definitely worked extra shifts for that reason.

At that point Kevin brings up Patrick’s internet usage at work and shows him how much time he’s spent logged in on sites like OKcupid and ManHunt, sites that I still receive e-mails from even though I thought I deleted accounts years ago.  “It seems like all I do lately is give people the wrong impression.” Which is true, we the audience get to see Patrick’s good intentions, but his follow-through is usually pretty pathetic and embarrassing.

Patrick stays up late working on a level of a video game to impress Kevin. The next day when he presents it, Kevin lets him know that he was always going to be a part of his team and that he was just messing with him, a little payback for the other night. Which is well deserved, Patrick needs to check himself every once in a while, other people are not just his play things or video game characters he gets to do whatever he wants with.


Frank brings up to Agustin that his friend has a gallery space and asks if he has any work he may like to show. This strikes a chord deep in Agustin, and his bitchy-backfire hits Frank. He is upset at himself for not creating, and it lingers with him all the way to work where he has a minor blow-up with his artist.

Agustin is finally honest to his boss about her art that he’s been working on and she makes a joke about his lack of work, prompting him to tell her to “fuck off” and ending his position as her assistant. While consoling himself over a piece of cake, he meets a male sex-worker who has no shame in what he does. “This is what I do. If I was embarrassed about it, I wouldn’t do it.” Nothing cures the work blues like a slice of red velvet. “People are into beards,” he tells Agustin, maybe he should consider a new line of work?

I remember when I lived in an artists loft after my final year of Film School and that exact conversation came up with a close friend. You’d see posters all around the city of Toronto looking for “Hot Guys 18+ Needed” and there were times we were so broke, my roommate and I discussed it. It was never actually considered, but we wondered how those types of things work and what the pay was and if it was worth it just so we could buy some nice groceries or a brick of fancy cheese for once. Neither of us ever went through with it, but it was always fun to wonder what a “generou$” date could bring.

Agustin gets extremely defensive whenever anyone brings up his work, his art, or the act of creating. Even Patrick gets cut off quickly when he acts concerned about what’s in store for Agustin. “When was the last time you heard me call myself an artist?” It’s something Agustin never does. When I first left film school, I never called myself a filmmaker, even though it was what I had spent the last 5 years doing. “I don’t think either of us are very good at being who we think we are” Patrick says to Agustin, and he’s right. On his way home, Agustin stares at the sex workers business card, maybe it’s time for him to think of himself a little differently?

Dom is uncharacteristically in a great mood, “I haven’t seen you this perky since you dragged me to see Miss Congeniality” Doris says, something I’ve said to my own roommate a number of times. During a Zoomba class, Dom lets Doris know about his plans to finally open his own restaurant. He feels empowered after his verbal throw down with Ethan and decides to focus all of his energy on this new business endeavour.

He heads out to meet up with an old chef friend to persuade her to jump ship at her job and come on board with him. It doesn’t work out too well, she’s afraid that Dom won’t be able to get the money and that people don’t know exactly what Piri Piri chicken is.

After this letdown, Dom does the only thing that he knows how to make himself feel better, goes looking for sex. He heads to a bathhouse where he is only in a towel the entire time, inspiring me to stick to my New Years resolution and keep working out. He meets an older gentleman and discusses with him the way things used to be, men used to talk in bathhouses, there were discussions instead of just a quick pump-n-go. I like the nod back to the older days, the days when these men had to fight for the rights that the new generation has.

This character seems like a great catalyst for a little more discussion on knowing our gay history, and the men who stood before us to pave the queer way. Shows like this are so important to young closeted gay men. Watching Queer as Folk secretly on Monday nights helped me get through some tough times in high school, so if the show throws in a little history (with it’s spank-bankable sex scenes) it’s a win-win!

Once they get to talking, Dom realizes he knows this gentleman. He owns a florist shop on Castro, he’s “like an institution”. When Dom let’s him know where he works, the gentleman turns it around on him: Dom too is an institution. This hits Dom a little too hard and puts him in feel-better mode. The young guy who has been following Dom around the bathhouse suddenly looks like a great way to forget about his age and escape, but not before making plans with the florist to get lunch sometime. I love the idea of Dom dating someone older than him, that he could possibly see a future with instead of hopping around from boy to boy to boy. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing much more of the florist in future episodes.

Will Dom open his new Piri Piri restaurant? Will Agustin put his beard to good use and dabble in sex work? Will Patrick get a little too involved with his new boss? With the next episode title, Looking for $220/hour, I think we can count on at least one of those coming to fruition.

Follow Brett on Twitter at @AshleyBrett.

‘Looking’ episode 2 recap: Patrick is a little bit racist, Dom confronts his ex, and Agustin moves in

The big move: Patrick and Dom help Agustin start his new life of domestication by carting all of his personal belongings out of downtown San Francisco and up to his new home with Frank in Oakland. On the way Patrick decides to discuss his new relationship with Richie and whether or not he is just going to be a “fuck buddy”. Coming from Patrick, it sounds awkward and uncomfortable, but so do most things.

When Patrick and Agustin finally say goodbye, it is the end of an era, and Patrick begins saying those beautiful golden lyrics, “Thank you for being a friend, traveled down the road and back again…” What is it that ties gay men to the Golden Girls? Are they the original Mean Girls? Or perhaps it’s just the cheesecake.

Patrick fumbles his way through a date with Richie. After Agustin informed him that there is a good chance Richie’s penis is uncut if he’s a “real Mexican”, Patrick spent the afternoon googling images so that he would know exactly how to deal with an uncircumcised guy. They go out for beers, and it is clear that Richie really wants to get to know Patrick, he asks him questions that Patrick just shrugs off. Patrick’s only goal seems to be to get Richie in bed and find out once and for all, cut or uncut?

He pushes booze down his throat, and says awkward things like “cheers to more beers”. They make their way back to Patrick’s apartment and things start to heat up, only to cool down moments later when Patrick gets his question answered. He is cut. Patrick starts to giggle which prompts Richie to ask him why, starting a conversation that made me want to pluck out my eyes. We’ve all been there, when you reach down and you’re not sure if you’re going to find a turtle-neck or a crew-cut, but Patrick is 29, is this really his first experience with an uncircumcised member?

He explains that he spent the afternoon looking at uncut penises and that he thought that Richie might be. Why would anyone ever admit to that embarrassing google search? Because Patrick doesn’t know any better, and unfortunately for him, ignorance is not bliss. “I think we’re looking for different things, it’s no big deal, it’s cool” Richie says while he puts his clothes back on his furry body. Patrick flops around like a fish out of water trying to get him to stay, but he’s gone. Patrick doesn’t know what he wants.

He calls Agustin to discuss how horrible the whole situation was, “Everything was fine until I acted like all I wanted to do was suck on his uncut cock… I think I may be a racist as well” Patrick asked Richie about his family at the bar, waiting to hear where exactly they were “from”, meaning which country other than the United States. “He’s a good guy, but we get together I act like a crazy person.” Yes, you do Patrick.

Hopefully this encounter will be a lesson for Patrick to smarten up and actually pursue Richie for a relationship and not just someone for a booty-call every once in a while.

Dom meets up with his ex-meth-head, ex-boyfriend Ethan. We learn that Dom gave Ethan eight thousand dollars for treatment to get him sober years back. Even though Ethan is clean now, and acts as though he has changed and apologizes for his past, “I’m sorry I took advantage of you” he still makes Dom feel like a piece of shit. It takes Dom cruising on gay-GPS app Grindr to find a young bottom twink who knows all the words to the musical Wicked — who doesn’t? I saw it five times when it was in Toronto and twice on Broadway — to “fuck the pain away.”

The 28-year old muscle-twink gushes over Dom’s adult apartment and great view because he lives only a couple floors down. This is one of the many issues that come up with Grindr and apps like it, sure it’s convenient for finding someone nearby, but what happens when they’re too close? When they live in the same building? Inviting someone over for a quick roll in the hay is one thing, but what about seeing them hungover on a Sunday afternoon when you come in with your bucket of KFC and Mccain deep-n-delicious cake? Been there, done that.

After some self reflection (Dom has sex with him in front of his bedroom mirror) and chat with his roommate, Dom realizes he’s a walking cliche and that Ethan hasn’t really changed. He’s still the guy who capitalizes on Dom’s generosity, whether it’s eight thousand for a stint in rehab, or covering his Starbucks “Refresher” and Protein Box.

I loved how Dom’s roommate Doris talked about hating people who call things by their specific product name (Starbucks Refresher), it is definitely a type, and they are the worst type. “Can somebody pass me my Yoplait Yoptimal Yogurt?” No. No, I can’t.

When Dom finally speaks his mind, he loses it for a moment and calls out to the clients that Ethan is seeing, “Once a meth-head motherfucker, always a meth-head!” It may have been a little much, but I do like seeing this commanding side of Dom and hope that this interaction lights the much needed spark for him to pursue a goal other than topping a blonde ten years his junior.

Agustin is starting to settle in with Frank, and it is pretty adorable. Frank finds a piece of artwork Agustin made when he was seventeen, a unicorn collage made from gay porn clippings. Frank begs him to let him hang it next to the doorway where everyone can see, but Agustin isn’t budging.

I am starting to really fall in love with Agustin, maybe it’s because I too am in a committed relationship and sometimes the idea of staying in and watching something on a laptop with your partner instead of going out seems like the best possible option. “We can just check in somewhere cool on Facebook” Frank tells Agustin, something that is both hilarious and hits close to home. It also shows again how heavily reliant most people are on the internet and social media, but especially gay men. With apps like Scruff and Grindr and countless websites,we’ve really paved the way for meeting other queers like ourselves.

When I was younger and living in a smaller city, going online was the only place you felt free enough to discuss openly who you were, even if it was with a fake profile picture and altered stats. It helped you come into your own, and then maybe cum somewhere else.

After Frank falls asleep, Agustin (in just his briefs) runs to the wall and decides to hang up his cock-filled unicorn, maybe domestic life is really for him.

I’ve also discovered that the show makes a great drinking game: Drink every time they say the title Looking. Drink every time Doris speaks. Drink every time somebody gets naked. Hopefully we can look forward to more of the latter.


Follow Brett on Twitter at @AshleyBrett.

‘Looking’ episode 1 recap: Everything you need to know about the new gay dramedy

Andrew Haigh is best known for his unflinching portrait of a gay couple who’s romantic tryst is limited to 2 days in his film Weekend. It was a sexy, raw, honest look at the relationship between two men that wasn’t a typical gay movie. Sure it had it’s man-on-man sex and a few scenes at a gay club, but it’s focus wasn’t about coming out to your parents or a vicious gay bashing, it had more to do with day-to-day aspects of being gay. It’s appropriate that he is writing and directing episodes of HBO’s new series Looking and bringing his fly-on-the-wall style with him. The show feels like a cleaner more mainstream take on this idea, slightly funnier and with just as much male eye-candy.

Patrick is played by the adorable Jonathan Groff (who happens to be in my top five list of celebrities I’m allowed to have a freebie with and my boyfriend — can’t complain). I fell in love with him when I first saw him in a production of Spring Awakening on Broadway a few years ago and it has only grown with time. Patrick is a 29 year old anxious video game designer living in San Francisco. The longest relationship he’s had is 6 months and he’s bouncing between looking for Mr. Right and Mr. Right Now.

The episode starts with an awkward case of park cruising gone terribly wrong for Patrick when he tries to introduce himself to his new male friend and is told to stop talking while the bear’s cold hands make their way to his member. From there Patrick spends the next few days cruising somewhere a typical 20-something feels a little more comfortable: the internet. He eventually lands a date on OKCupid with a doctor who, after meeting for a glass of wine, decides that things aren’t going to work between the two. Watching Patrick on his bus ride home I was blushing just as much as he was when he was getting hit-on by Richie (Raul Castillo) who seems to be the new love interest for Patrick the show will (hopefully) explore.

Patrick’s roommate Agustin (Frankie J. Alvarez) is an artist with a partner named Frank (O.T. Fagbenle – I’ll refrain from making a joke). Things just got serious between the two of them and Agustin has decided to move in with him — it’s a little more than giving a key, and a little less than sending out a joint Christmas card. Later in the episode Agustin, Frank and Agustin’s assistant at his studio have a few drinks and things start to get steamy after the assistant shows the couple his new Dolly Parton signature tattoo on his chest (did producers know the premiere date would be Dolly Parton’s birthday? Happy Birthday Dolly!). Is this Agustin’s way of balancing the decision of moving in by doing almost the exact opposite of what that act typically means? The two reflect on it afterwards and Frank asks, “Are we going to be one of those couples?” a segue for what I hope will be an interesting examination of the committed couple’s evolution and what happens when one partner wants something the other may not.

And then there’s the sexy moustached SATC alum Murray Bartlett who throws away his Aussie accent to become Dom. The oldest of the three friends, he’s approaching 40 and has been a server for years and is still trying to figure out what to do with his life; especially since for the first time ever, a younger man rejected him. He has a hilarious roommate named Doris played by Lauren Weedman who I’m hoping is given more screen time to make us laugh in future episodes.

What I loved about the show is how funny it was by being rooted in reality. Lines like “Can we just stay in and watch The View?” something I know I’ve asked my roommates more than once and “Instagram filters have ruined everything and I can’t tell if this guy is hot or not”. Sure, it sounds shallow and easy, and it is, but I know I’m guilty of it. It is however, a reality that wasn’t available to gay men decades ago, something that has been fought for by previous generations. I know it wasn’t touched upon in the first thirty minutes of this new series, and maybe it won’t be. Maybe the show isn’t meant to be outwardly revolutionary like Queer as Folk was, and it certainly doesn’t paint its characters as safe, unoffending gays next door like Modern Family.  For now we can just wait, for more awkward Patrick, for Dom’s 40th birthday, and for what I’m hoping will be some hot sex scenes. This reviewer is looking forward to the next episode and to see where these characters take us.

See what I did there?


Follow Brett on Twitter at @AshleyBrett.

What do you think, will you tune in?