Out performers take LGBT programming to the ‘Net

The Internet is becoming the place to see an increasing number of LGBT-themed programs. Just this month, Sherry Vine is launching a new web channel and Jonny McGovern is getting ready to unleash a new season of his talk show “Hey Qween.”

International drag darling Vine has teamed up with former Here TV executive Josh Rosenzweig to form a new queer digital TV network, gaySVTVworld, which draws inspiration from the traditional television model, but gives it a modern spin, with all shows under seven minutes.

“It’s taking my YouTube channel and rebranding it,” Vine explained. “We had an abundance of ideas and it just became, ‘Let’s just do it.’ And then instead of making it just about Sherry Vine, let’s do something bigger and involve other people and artists we like and be a destination for content. It’s a one-stop for all your gay entertainment needs. We have everything from comedy to documentaries to music. It’s all of the above.”

The network starts off with a slate of eight programs released daily, including “Sherry and the Greek,” an original talk series starring Vine and Chris Semers. Another show, “Fashion Puhleez,” will feature lead players in the beauty industry discussing fashion, club couture and styling.

Vine said that producing the shows for YouTube frees performers from a lot of the creative constraints that network and cable television impose.

“It is on YouTube so they can’t have nudity,” she said. “Aside from that, anything goes. We have a show called ‘EduGAYtion,’ where we’re interviewing established gay-friendly artists talking about their influences and what movies they would recommend to a young gay person. Then we have more of my music parodies, which are all filthy dirty. So it’s really a mix.”

Vine added that, while Internet television is becoming a force to be reckoned with, gaySVTVworld is more focused on establishing a brand that has financial gain.

“We don’t have a real business model to follow,” she said. “For this first one, everything has been out of our own pocket. It’s not a huge budget but the idea is, let’s get this up and running, then the next step would be let’s focus on the business side of it and how to get advertisers.”


There are of course other outlets for LGBT programming, including LGBT cable networks, but Vine said the kind of programs she’s interested in making aren’t necessarily right for networks like LOGO or Here. 

“I love that there is so much gay visibility on TV and, at least for now, it is great,” she said. “I’m only speaking for myself but it really doesn’t represent me. Anyone who is familiar with my videos will get that; they’re stupid, they’re about farts. But that is what I think is funny. I’m interested in the LGBTQ content that is not polished and homogenized. It’s dirty and you can see the strings and there’s gum holding the sets up. There are drag queens and freaks. That’s always been my world so I really wanted to have those people in it. But then there’s something for everybody. Some people don’t like fart jokes, but I think they’re funny.”

For actor, comedian and musician McGovern, gay cable networks weren’t an option either.

After his stint as a cast member of LOGO’s “The Big Gay Sketch Show,” McGovern found that getting any of the LGBT-themed channels interested in his talk show, “Hey Qween,” was an uphill battle.   

“I would get a lot of strange looks from people in a pitch meeting when I said I wanted to do a big gay talk show with drag queens and gay stars,” he said. “Everyone would go, ‘That’s not really going to work.’ So I just did it myself to convince people that it was something that is viable. I was hoping that all the LGBT networks would be gayer since they began. I guess a show like this needs to be shown to people. It’s also a matter of chemistry. It’s not something people are ready to throw money at until you show them what it is.”

McGovern is definitely showing them.

“Hey Qween” is about to start airing its third season and McGovern said he enjoys being able to write and produce the gayest talk show of all time.

“This is what I was meant to do,” he said. “I’ve been doing a podcast for the last 10 years and that really set me in motion for being able to be ready for doing this in this format. It’s been more fun. We shoot all of these shows and it’s all me behind the edit bay. I have a vision for it and I want to fulfill it. That’s the most difficult part, being on camera and behind it at the same time. The rest of it has been extremely fun meeting all of my favorite gay stars and the up-and-coming kids. It’s been real exciting.”

McGovern is known for his outrageous and comedic takes on pop culture but said his talk show can shift gears into serious territory when it has to.

“We’re a comedy show but we don’t shy away from serious topics if we know that is something people are interested in talking about,” he said. “We always leave room for real talk. If you are going to watch an interview with someone, you don’t just want fluff. We like to get into it. We like to have fun but we also want to get into the guests and all the things they experience.”

Like Vine, McGovern said the Internet has given performers more ways to get their creative visions realized.

“Now is the time when, if you have the resources, you can create anything you want and get it to the audience directly,” he said. “There’s a lot of power in that. I think we’re seeing that from Netflix and Amazon. People are taking more chances on different material so I think it is the wave of the future for sure.”

Both Vine and McGovern are busy with their respective shows and networks for now, but they have other endeavors brewing for fans off screen.

“When we’re in season, I’m 100-percent dedicated to ‘Hey Qween,’ because we also have all of our sister shows,” McGovern said. “In the meantime, I have a new video coming in the next month or so off my last album. The Lady Red and I will be performing and hosting Prides around the country.”

“I’m getting ready to do a tour called National Treasures and it’s me, Jackie Beat, Lady Bunny and Bianca Del Rio,” Vine added. “Also known as Antiques Roadshow. It’s a laugh riot and so much fun.”

gaySVTVworld programs can be seen at YouTube.com/MissSherryVine. The new season of “Hey Qween” can be viewed at www.heyqween.com

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