This week, Mint Male a Chicago-based website re-launches as thequ.co. Formerly known as “the gay male guide to living in mint condition” (which I take to mean packed in an Altoid container because I’m kind of obsessed with Altoids this week), in its new incarnation, The Qu will promote queer artists of all stripes, as well as feature original shows, blogs and commentary. (Side note: my version of Microsoft Word must be from 1972 because it still does not recognize the word ‘blog.’) Teaming up for the overhaul are local charity coordinator and hair stylist Joey Grant and star of Knee Deep in a Bottle, Tony Soto. (Another side note: Why do gay men always have the best names while lesbians get stuck answering to Rainbow or Gertrude?) Our Town spoke with the duo about both their solo projects and their sparkling new site.
Our Town Mint Male was initially geared toward gay, male professionals, what inspired you to tweak the site’s purpose?
Joey Grant When we re-conceptualized the site to showcase artists, [we realized] we needed to invite all Gays, Lesbians, Queer, Bi-sexual, Trans, and even those who just adore us. It was like an Oprah "A-ha" moment. Now we can be more progressive, and have an inclusive platform for the community.
OT Tony, how did you become involved?
Tony Soto As an avid Mint reader, I realized they were missing a theatre reviewer, so I approached Joey about letting me contribute. I’ve been involved since, and when Joey told me what he was doing with Mint I just loved the idea. Now I am a partner in its amazing evolution.
OT What type of original web programming will the new site feature?
TS Our intention is to create programs featuring queer people, but [accessible to] anyone. Our first baby will be a ten to twelve minute current events chat show, featuring a panel of queer people talking about everyday topics.
JG We just green-lighted an animation series based on living in the city, with local animators and voice-overs. We are also looking into "around the town" segments, and an interview series of featured guests.
OT You’re interested in promoting queer artists, what sort can we expect to see on the site?
TS Queer artists who aren't doing gay-themed work aren’t always noticed by our own community, so we are opening this forum to any queer artist even if what they produce isn't necessarily queer-themed. We want painters, photographers, musicians, directors, actors, aspiring producers and so much more, to send us videos of what they are doing.
JG Basically if you’re a passionate individual creating something interesting, mind awakening, beautiful or satirical, we want to showcase your work.
TS Let us help you promote yourself!
OT Why is Chicago a good place to be an artist?
TS The conservative Midwest doesn't always seem like the place to be for an artist, but there are so many open-minded people here, and amazingly supportive communities eager to help with the next big idea. We are a collaborative city and we know the meaning of ensemble.
OT Joey, you’re one of The Windy City Times’ 30 under 30. What was it like to discover you’d be receiving that award?
JG An incredible honor. I recall some chair dancing, and giggling. I am very proud to be one of the people that won this award. The timing was perfect; it gave me some much needed energy to jump-start our new project.
OT Tony, tell me about Knee Deep in a Bottle.
TS The show is a collaboration between myself and Darcy McGill, one of my besties and favorite drinking partner. [It’s] a vlog where we offer advice to people...while drinking. Darcy and I have always been quite opinionated so we thought, why not? The show ran a full thirteen-episode season and seems to be taking off. I find comfort in knowing that people still want crude and offensive humor in their lives.
OT Finally, the most important question. Joey, you’re a hair stylist at L'etoile Salon. If I gave you free reign, how would you cut my hair?
JG More layers and something a little shorter. You have awesome curly hair, and a more square shape would look great framing your face.
A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for a number of web sites and print publications. Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," is forthcoming from Counter Point Press. She is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
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