Nick Mathews stars in web’s sexiest gay series.
"In Between Men" follows the lives of four friends in New York City living "in between" a gay world whose clichés they don’t relate to and a straight world they don’t belong. They are Dalton, Dane, Jacob and Ben; four attractive, successful men who refuse to be defined by their sexuality. Through wild adventures, racy storylines, joys and pains, "In Between Men" examines the relationships they share with one another, their colleagues, lovers, and the city of New York.
At first glance, the show appears similar to past gay series like "Queer as Folk." However, where the characters in "Queer as Folk" lived in an insular gay world (eating and breathing the LGBT community), "In Between Men" depicts out gay men living in a mainstream world, not fully subscribing to the practices of gaydom.
"’In Between Men’ is not a show about men trying to be straight or denying their sexuality," says Quincy Morris, who in addition to being the series’ creator, is also the head writer and executive producer. "The characters are proud to love themselves and other men."
Dalton, the lead character of "In Between Men," is based on Morris. Like the series creator, he is a young man at the top of his game. He finds little in common with the superficiality of most guys in the city and struggles with a lonely love life, wondering if he should settle for Mr. Almost-Right or hold out for someone better.
The role of Dalton was originally intended for a black actor, but when few black actors showed up to the three Manhattan auditions, Morris gave the role to Nick Mathews. According to Morris, "playing Dalton came so effortlessly to him. Nick captured the vulnerability and the strength of Dalton."
Out at Night: How much of Nick is in Dalton?
Nick Mathews: Dalton and I share a lot of the same characteristics. I can identify with his ambition and integrity; his work hard, play hard mentality. I’m juggling several jobs right now while I pursue my dream of being a full time actor.
OAN: What are your biggest differences?
NM: I am a little bit more relaxed, less conservative, and I probably play a little bit harder than I work.
OAN: Can you relate to Dalton feeling like a man living between two worlds?
NM: Most definitely. It’s what intrigued me so much to the project. I think most people live life in between things: careers, relationships. ...As an actor, I’m constantly living between the day job and the dream. I am not fully cemented in either.
OAN: New York City plays a significant role in Dalton’s life.
NM: New York is the fifth character in our show. She is a silent character that speaks volumes; from the beautiful panoramic views of Central Park to the busy hustle and bustle on the streets, her presence is always there.
OAN: What is it about NYC that draws men like Dalton (and Nick) to it?
NM: There’s an energy and vibe to NYC. I’ve always been attracted to the craziness of the city and people. New York is one of those places that you can go out any night of the week and meet a ton of new, interesting people from every corner of the world. People from every walk of life migrate here to try to make whatever dream they have a reality.
OAN: What led you to NYC?
NM: Acting, but also for the freedom to be me.
OAN: Is NYC as dog-eat-dog as it appears on "In Between Men"?
NM: I don’t like to think that NYC is dog-eat-dog, because that doesn’t help motivate me to get up in the morning. But, I suppose, in many ways it is. The entertainment business is straight up cut throat. I’m never surprised to hear the great lengths people go to just to land a job.
OAN: You mean...?
NM: Yeah, you know what I mean.
OAN: What has been your most memorable New York moment?
NM: Probably the time I was forced to change clothes in a cab from a meeting with a talent agent to an audition. It was pretty embarrassing and I probably scared a few tourists but I landed the gig and signed with the talent manager that day.
OAN: Dalton’s friends are important figures in his life. Do you have a tight knit social circle to rely on?
NM: I have my friends but I don’t have any one group that is as tightly knit as Dalton’s. I guess our show is probably the closest I’ve been to a group of people in a long time. I really love our cast and crew and honestly feel like we are a big family.
OAN: "In Between Men" turns gay stereotypes on its ear. Characters are depicted as regular guys that just happen to like guys.
NM: It’s so important to show that regular gay guys exist because we don’t see many of them on TV today. I mean, it’s great that shows like "Glee" and "Modern Family" are being pumped into the living rooms of all Americans to expose them to gay characters. But, so many of the characters depicted on the show tend to me real effeminate guys. It’s time to break the image of the effeminate gay or at least show that other types of gay men exist. I don’t think it’s fair or accurate to constantly enforce images that are skewed simply for comic relief.
OAN: Are stereotypes dangerous?
NM: Stereotypes are dangerous because they reinforce false notions. Young people within the community begin to mimic the stereotypes because they think it’s the norm and the way they’re expected to behave. Meanwhile, people outside the community feel they can use the stereotypes to define the community. Of course, every stereotype is based on some truth, but it’s not the reality for all.
OAN: Would the gay community have a better chance at getting marriage legalized and gay adoption passed if the rest of the world viewed gay men and women as just like them?
NM: I think the marriage debate is somewhat different because that is an argument based in religion. I don’t see religious leaders progressing for a very long time.
OAN: Teen bullying is a big issue facing the community today. Were you bullied as a teen?
NM: I grew up in Jersey which can be rough for kids, I suppose; but isn’t every place rough? Kids are cruel about anything and everything. I remember being dropped off at school in my father’s cleaning van because I had to help him clean businesses before school and everyone made fun of me. I came from a pretty dysfunctional household so I made some really tight bonds with other kids who kinda protected me.
OAN: Would Dalton have been bullied as a teen?
NM: Dalton grew up in Philadelphia so yeah, I think he would have encountered some difficult situations. But Dalton is not someone you would suspect to be gay. He’s aggressive and athletic. I think he would have used his athleticism as a cover until he moved to New York where he could really be himself.
OAN: What message do you have for teen fans watching the show who may be struggling with their own sense of self?
NM: Life is about survival. At the end of the day you need to do what you gotta do to survive and get ahead. If you are struggling with who you are or who you feel you need to be, first weigh the situation and determine if the charade is necessary and what the consequences might be if you come out now.
OAN: Are you suggesting they hide their true selves?
NM: I’m not advocating being a coward and living a lie. What I’m saying is that if coming out is going to put you in danger, maybe the charade is worth it momentarily. Of course, being your true self is always the best way to be but it’s not always possible.
OAN: "In Between Men" depicts challenges young adults face as they’re trying to establish themselves in the real world. Sex, of course, is a challenge. Is there really so much sex in the city?
NM: If there is, I am not having it! I find New York to be a great place for dating. You can date every night of the week, but when it’s time to move past the dating phase, that’s when things become tricky. There is always one in the relationship that is more serious than the other, and usually the one that’s less serious is afraid to risk missing out on what else might be out there.
OAN: Why do you think Dalton falls for Massimiliano? Is he looking for a daddy figure?
NM: Massimiliano is only ten years or so older than him! I wouldn’t call that a daddy relationship.
OAN: There’s a big difference between a guy in his early twenties and a man in late thirties.
NM: I think Dalton has suffered from some bad relationships with guys his age, so at the time he meets Max he is just done with young guys because of all their shenanigans. Massimiliano is mature, distinctive and very romantic which are all of the things Dalton is and is missing from the scene.
OAN: Would you ever date out of your generation?
NM: I’ve dated outside of my generation -- and my race, too. I believe in real connections and they can’t happen if you follow stupid rules of what you think you want. I firmly believe you have to experience it first before you can decide if you like it or not.
OAN: "In Between Men" also touches upon the prevalence of party drugs in the community. What has been your experience with drugs?
NM: I think most kids today experiment with drugs. It’s natural to gravitate towards something that makes you feel good.
OAN: Have you tried them?
NM: Yes, I have done my fair share of partying, but I’ve always had my eye on something bigger so I never got too caught up in it. I think the problem is when people lose sight of their dreams; when they have nothing that they are excited about or motivates them is when they fall off.
OAN: Have you known anyone who has abused drugs?
NM: I’ve seen it happen before, and it’s terrible because there isn’t much anyone can say to people who don’t have a passion to do anything else but get high.
OAN: In the show, the character Dane, who is a physician, prescribes party drugs to the guy he likes. It’s an interesting commentary on what some gay guys will do for acceptance.
NM: I think finding acceptance is a main challenge for a lot of young guys today. You start a new job, you want to make allies. You go to a new school, you want to make friends. Everywhere you go, you need people on your side, right? Having friends is important and necessary and sometimes you do dumb things to keep them.
OAN: Speaking of challenges; making a living is a big challenge for young guys today.
NM: That’s true but I think making a living is more of a thirties thing. In your twenties you are still defining who you are and what you want to be. In your thirties is when you are trying to make that happen.
OAN: At what stage in life do things get easier?
NM: I was hoping you could tell me. Mine isn’t. I’d like to think it gets easier with age.
OAN: I guess we’ll see in the next season of "In Between Men."
NM: With Dalton a year older, I expect new problems will arise. I guess I have to hope they do, or there won’t be much of a show now, will there?
The first season of "In Between Men" consists of six ten-minute shows, viewable now via the web at www.inbetweenmen.com.