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THE FABULOUS BEEKMAN BOYS
JOSH KILMER-PURCELL and BRENT RIDGE
by Andrew Mersmann

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On the Planet Green TV network (www.planetgreen.discovery.com), two gay men and a cast of characters that include an uber-emotional goat farmer play out the drama of their life and relationships on The Fabulous Beekman Boys. The couple, Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Dr. Brent Ridge, were successful Manhattan professionals: Josh a one-time drag queen, current author and advertising executive, Brent as a VP an on-air talent for Martha Stewart (Dr. Brent). Then they bought a mansion/farm in upstate New York, and decided to take up the life of country squires…or at least get outside and grow their own food. There are parallels drawn to Green Acres, but aside from the New York City/country dichotomy, the comparisons stop there. Of course, a transition this large isn't all unicorns and rainbows, and the effort of starting a new, organic lifestyle brand (www.beekman1802.com) takes its toll on their relationship and their dreams. Josh needs to live in the city during the weeks and only gets up to the farm on weekends, hoping to relax, while Brent is a fulltime resident at Beekman and as soon as Josh gets off the train is ready for him to get to work. Their bucolic country getaway starts to wear them down…while we watch, Wednesday nights at 9.

Josh, you are in Manhattan and Brent, you're up at the farm?
Brent Ridge: Just like always
Josh Kilmer-Purcell: Just like normal.

So you guys are all over my commuter train when I ride home each night-rocking your sportcoats and Wellies-is it fun being the centerpiece of such a big campaign?
J: Planet Green put a lot of effort into it and we're really grateful, but we're a long way from being recognized on the street. I don't think we've felt any difference, though we were just asked to be in a Fourth of July parade in the city next to Sharon Springs…so…

B: Of course I'm sequestered up at the farm so I don't get to see them, but they did put a big billboard up on the Westside Highway for the show and we went over there to see it and take our picture in front of it. When else in your life are you going to have a big billboard?

Tell me a little about the Planet Green connection-how did you end up there?
J: When we started the farm business-the website to sell our soap and [other items], part of our effort was to send out an email newsletter each month. Lauren Michalchyshyn [president and general manager of Planet Green] signed up for the newsletter, and after she got two or three of them, she called us into New York and said, "I think you guys have got a TV show." It was pure serendipity.

This enterprise seems very on-brand for Brent, former Vice President of Healthy Living for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, but Josh maybe not as much. Formerly Aqua, a drag queen with goldfish bowl breasts, and current Manhattan advertising exec…yet we learn it was originally Josh's idea to buy a place out of the city. That seems off target.
J: I think what makes it on target is our history together. We both grew up in rural areas, lower middle class, our families grew food... When it got to the point in our careers where we could afford a country place, the natural step for us was to find a place to grow our own food, and do a little gardening.

How did the decision come about as to who would be city mouse and who would be country mouse?
B: After buying the farm, it was going to be just a weekend place where we could do some gardening and whatnot. Then of course Farmer John showed up on our doorstep and we adopted him and the goats. Things were just sort of plugging along and we were using it as just a weekend place. Then that fall, 2008, we both lost our jobs. Like a lot of people we had to figure out what's going to happen next. What do we do with our lives? What are we going to do to pay this mortgage? So we said one of us will have to commit ourselves to this project, so whoever gets a job first will stay in the city and the other one will go up to the farm and try to get the business started.

J: And I think everything worked out perfectly, for a reason. Brent has his MBA and he's been able to do things for the business that I wouldn't be able to do.

So what's the buzz on Farmer John? Is he gay? Is he out? Does he live at the farm? Where?
Both: Yes, he's gay.

J: There's another house at the property there where they live [John and his boyfriend].

And he just showed up and said, "I've got these goats ad you've got space. Can we put them together?"
J: Yeah. We actually got a letter from him right after we moved in saying how much he loved his goats-you can see that on the show and the letter was just as heartfelt-and he had lost his farm. He had 30 days to find a new home for his goats or he was going to have to sell them at auction.

B: What's also very interesting about that first contact was that, the second sentence in his letter was, "My name is John and I'm gay." Of course two people bought this farm and everyone knew that we were gay immediately, so that was a selling point for him-that he would understand us and we would understand him.

J: I think it's verrrry important about Farmer John, to say he has a boyfriend. We've gotten more fan love letters for John than for anybody else.

Did Farmer John and the goats turn into the product idea of goat milk cheese and soap, or did you have that plan and the goats showed up fortuitously?
B: We didn't have a plan when we first bought the property. Even when John initially showed up, we were just thinking of things we could do with goat milk for our own use, so we were making our own cheeses and our own yogurt, for ourselves. Then we learned how great goat milk soap was and started making it for ourselves, and that first winter we used it, we noticed, "Oh wow, our skin is so amazing"…winters up here are very harsh. That winter I was trying to think of what to give Martha for Christmas, and I just made her some soap, thinking that was a unique gift. And she loved it, and she inspired us to start doing it on a commercial basis.

Has Martha called to congratulate you?
B: Oh yeah, she's actually in two episodes this season.

Since the show aired, are cheese and soap sales up?
Both: Oh yeah.

Are reservations up at American Hotel? Are they going to start being fully booked?
B: Yeah. I actually just had a meeting with the town tourism board, and they've been getting call after call of people wanting to come visit Sharon Springs.

The American Hotel and its proprietors-Doug & Garth-had you known them before moving there?
J: They're the reason we're there. Every fall we used to take a weekend apple-picking trip: We'd rent a car and leave the city and just drive until we got lost. One time we got lost in Sharon Springs, and found the American Hotel. So we stayed there overnight and the next day on the way out of town, we found Beekman.

Editing kind of makes Brent a tougher nut to crack, or a bigger handful-but then you seem so relaxed with Doug and Garth-laughing more with them than with Josh. Is that just the producers cutting it that way? We see a lot of tension between you guys and then it's all funny and easygoing with the boys at the hotel.
B: Well the view they captured was during a very stressful year for us. We were under a lot of financial constraints; we were apart for the first time in our ten-year relationship, and trying to launch a new business. It was really, really stressful, so, I think our relationship certainly reflected that in what they caught. I am very business-focused and I would say 90% of the day I am very focused because as a start-up company, that's what it required. But I can sometimes let my hair down. My hair's not very long, but I let it down.

What was your Manhattan life like before the move? Were you seeking escape?
B: We worked a LOT. People in New York City are working all the time. Even if you're going out after work, it's usually for the purpose of work. We were really dedicated to our jobs. We'd leave the house at 8 in the morning and get home at 9 at night and go to bed-and that was pretty much it. It was very routine. I'd say our life now is infinitely more interesting.

Tell me about the title-any intended play off Fabulous Baker Boys aside from having a familiar ring to it?
B: When we first got the place, people were saying, "Those are the boys that bought the Beekman" and then it was truncated to "Those are the Beekman Boys." When it came time to come up with a title for the show, we were trying to be very strategic and thought, OK, on the channel guide, the name will be cut off, so, what if the only word that shows is "Fabulous"? Who wouldn't want to see what's fabulous? So that's how we came up with The Fabulous Beekman Boys and it was a fun play off the movie name.

Should we all go there?
J: We would love for people to travel to Sharon Springs (www.sharonspringschamber.com). The Harvest Festival (featured in the early episodes of the show) is September 18. It's an amazing small town festival day and then at night the American Hotel has that incredible dinner that was on Episode 2. I have to say it's a dinner experience that you would find in any great city. The meal is terrific and there are lectures about where the food is coming from. It's an amazing experience.

B: I've already booked a table.

[Published: July, 2010]

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I was booking a week in Monterey and making flight arrangements. All of a sudden it hit me like a goat cheese round! Beekman! Let's do it! Can't wait! One week to roam the area. And to think, we were going to go see the lonesome cypress. Then what?
- Lyn , Roseland, LA

Enjoy the show, the farm is beautiful. I think Brent's eyes say so much without words! Look forward to more...love Polka Spot
- Janet Hart , Nashville, TN - USA

Hello Brent and Josh, Love your show...please market toward children. As a kinder. teacher I see firsthand how they just absorb info. about planting, animals, etc. Also, perhaps Josh could write a children's book about animals (polka-dot)& life on farm?
- Patrice Althouse , Yukon, OK USA

I listened to the two of you interviewed on Rosie Radio and am looking forward to visiting the farm during this years Harvest Festival. See you in September!
- Cindy Glass , Brewster NY 10509

I love the Beekman Boys. Can't wait for the next show!The goats are soooooo cute. Love Ya'll!!!!!!!!!!!Cindy Van Geffen
- Cindy Van Geffen , Metairie, La USA

Don't miss your show. You are both so human and decent. It just makes me feel good to watch your interation and joie d vie. For your 1802 store, the Vermont Country Store carries a prodyct called Old Goat lotion you might want to stock. Best Wishes
- Mike , Pittsburgh Pa. 15213

I just like to tell you both the show is great.I try not to miss it and watch rerun after rerun. S o many on the things I can relate to as we have a farm also. We go to an auction place in Sharon Springs called Mcfaddens auction service. Thank You,Annette
- Walt & Annette , winsted,ct. 06098

This is by far my favorite show on television at the moment. I look forward to Wednesday nights and dvr every episode just in case I miss it. I love the humor between Josh & Brent. I also love the premise of the show. Good luck & happy farming! ~Kim
- KIMBERLY STRATTON , AUSTIN, TX

Your show is FABULOUS! Love you guys! Thanks for all the laughs. Where are the dogs, cows and gardens? Do you sell cheese and soap online? Would love to visit...
- Suzanne Gilbert , greensburg, pa, usa

It is nice to see a show about established gentlemen living in a sustainable environment. Keep up the good work!
- Rebekah , Corbin, Kentucky

I love the show. My partner and I have been together for 10.5yrs also and it is a riot watching and listening to you guys. We both wish you the best and wish we had the balls to do what you are doing. We would love to visit.
- Mark Sawyers , Tucson, AZ USA

The show is wonderful. You remind me of my brother and his lover. My daughter loves the show too.
- Beth Sanderson , Brentwood, TN, USA

I only live a few minutes away, but ironically just learned about the show. I grew up in Sharon Springs and I am happy to see that they have made a home there. The show is awesome! Hopefully the show will be available on Time Warner in this area soon!
- Karen , Cobleskill, NY

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love the show, love the goats and the llama, Polka Spot! I think it's wonderful that Farmer John and his goats have found a home at the Beekman. Josh and Brent, you are truly fabulous!
- Deborah , Elkhart, IN

This show is fabulous! love their relationship - they are real people with real problems/stresses - and they compliment each other! They make me laugh and I'm ordering some soap!!
- Amy , Boston, MA USA

Great show....lets us vicariously live the country life, the "escape" dream without leaving the couch...we enjoy it very much...
- TCADLP , Palo Alto, CA, USA

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