A mix of Growlr action and Sex and the City outrageousness, the BearCity film series is signing off with a third and final chapter. The original BearCity was released in 2010, followed by BearCity 2: The Proposal in 2012. The romantic comedies won over critics and fans alike with the sweet, sexy, funny, disarming tale of a bear tribe, their friends and lovers, and helped bring “woof” culture to a wider audience.
In BearCity 3, the gang deals with new loves, old flames and the joys of fatherhood. The original cast returns, along with appearances by Kathy Najimy (Veep, Hocus Pocus) and Daniel Franzese (Looking, Mean Girls). Flagrant chatted with Alex Di Dio, fan favorite, cub character “Simon,” ahead of the film’s wide (no pun intended) release on DVD and download.
When you started filming the original BearCity did you ever imagine you’d be making two sequels?
Well, let me start by stopping you right there. I first auditioned for the role of Simon in 2008. BearCity was being cast for a staged reading at QFest in Philadelphia that summer. At the time, the Simon character wasn’t even that big. I wound up playing like three or four other bit characters. Brian Keane (Fred) was also part of the original staged reading. We didn’t even know if it would get picked up in the first place, let alone making two sequels.
The first film was released in 2010. How has your life changed in the past seven years?
How hasn’t it changed? I was still living in NY with my parents and four seasons of weather. I was doing background work for TV and movie productions- mostly Gossip Girl and Law and Order– and, I played in a band with my friends from high school. Now, I’m living smack in the middle of Hollywood with my fiancé (gross word) and wake up to palm trees. I am a barkeep extraordinaire at one of the finest gay dives in the heart of West Hollywood, and I have the time and luxury of pursuing things that mean something to me.
Are there plans for more BearCity films? Or prequels? Origin stories?
Not as far as I know or have heard of. Somewhere along the way I think (writer/director) Doug Langway figured out it would be a neat and tidy trilogy. I’m not sure if it would be a *SPOILER ALERT* or an Easter egg, but there’s a thing at the end of the third one that calls back a thing in the first one that makes it come full circle. That being said, I would never be opposed to revisiting the Simon character. Especially if it’s all about him, and he’s the lead and the best.
Do fans of the film recognize you on the street?
Yes, sometimes. More than I expected. And, even more when those streets are in West Hollywood. It always catches me off guard, especially because I’m usually sporting a beard these days, but it’s always flattering, and I always smile and giggle and bat my eyes. Sometimes the high lasts for days.
Funniest or sexiest encounter with a fan?
One of my favorite funny encounters with a fan was actually after the first one premiered at Newfest in June 2010. My boyfriend at the time and I were walking up the stairs at the Eagle NY after-party and, these two guys go, “You were so funny in the movie! Great job!” to which I gruffly reply “Thanks, guys!” Our friends were following a few stairs behind us and reported to me later that the two stairwell fans both agreed “He isn’t as gay as he was in the movie!”
I’ve had a couple sexy encounters. But my sexiest would have to be Kelly Taylor, my fiancé, because even if he wasn’t a fan from the very first one, he certainly is now, and I’m afraid of being alone.
How has your character Simon evolved from the first film to the last?
Simon has evolved quite a bit in this trilogy. In the first one, he’s young and naive and has a very particular expectation of gay life. He’s the outsider that “doesn’t get the whole bear ‘thing.'” But, even when his best friend (and technically love interest) Tyler reveals that he likes bears, Simon is ready to help. He may be a little insensitive and awkward about this new world, but he is trying to understand it for Tyler. In the second one, Simon is more of a ‘new bear’ than an outsider. He’s part of the family, but also the butt of the jokes now. He gets thrown deep into the bear scene and struggles to tread water (or bear soup, as it were) during his stay at “Bearweek” in Provincetown, but he has a voice and a perspective that is truly his own. In the third one, Simon is his own man. He’s been a part of the family for a long time at this point. He’s comfortable enough being himself to MAYBE (wink wink) grow some scruff and date someone. But, when it comes down to it, he is a family man who provides his family with great strength- while still being adorable.
Their bear community is a niche group inside of a niche group. If, as an audience member, you are an outsider to the bear world, you are essentially viewing your introduction to that world through Simon colored lenses. As Simon grows throughout the movies, so does the audience.
In addition to acting, what are some of your other pursuits?
I’ve got a couple things. I’ve been recently developing and writing a couple of my own acting projects that I’d eventually like to shoot as web series’. Aside from that, I’m also a multi instrumentalist, singer/ songwriter and there’s always an album-in-the-making on the burner. And, also aside from that, one of my Gold Coast co-workers and I have been working on a street wear company- T-shirts, hats, that sort of thing. He’s a fashion designer with a background in graphic design and I’m a graphic designer with a background in brand identity and positioning, so it’s a pretty good match. I am also, as you know, a barkeep extraordinaire and (long term goal) would like to open a bar one day. I have a lot of big dreams.
What is the one question you wish we had asked?
I wish you had asked ‘what is my favorite food.’ This is a “bear” movie after all – the one sub-genre of gay, woodland creatures that actually like eating. And, if you guessed ‘bear butts,’ you’d be correct. Pizza and tacos are also correct.
(photo credits: Alex portrait, Rey Rey; film stills, BearCity 3 publicity)