By David-Elijah Nahmod, October 2018 Issue.
What do you do after you’ve earned an acting degree, hit all the auditions, haven’t gotten the callbacks and still don’t see accurate representation of your community in the media?
If you’re Anthony Bawn, you start your own online streaming platform.
As the CEO of Bawn Television, he has not only created a service that offers programming that lends visibility to African American LGBTQ community, but he’s also responsible for much of the service’s content.
“We’re not properly represented in the entertainment sphere,” Bawn said. “When you see a black gay man on screen, in film or on TV shows, it’s always an overly dramatic portrayal. I wanted to create shows that are more realistic.”
The pilot for his latest project, “Conframa,” aired on Bawn Television Sept. 7. The term Conframa comes from the ’80s slang for confusion and drama and, in this case, fittingly addresses “throuples” – three-way relationships within the LGBTQ community.
As the story begins, we meet Angel (Bawn) and Bretton (Max Morten), a happily married African American gay couple living in Los Angeles. Both have just received promotions at work – Angel has an office job that appears to be in the tech industry and Bretton is the manager of a pet supply store.
Bretton is close friends with Keisha (Alexandria McGaughey), the daughter of the store’s owner. However, Keisha and Angel have an intense distaste for each other and delight in trading insults. The cause of their animosity is never made clear, but these scenes do provide the series with some humorous banter.
At a party, Angel and Bretton find themselves being cruised by Chase (Robert Love), a handsome, young guy, who they invite home with them. The next morning, to Keisha’s horror, Angel and Bretton invite Chase to return. He promises that he will.
Angel and Bretton are a sweet couple. Actors Bawn and Morten have terrific chemistry together onscreen and are absolutely believable as two people in love. It’s easy to see what Angel and Bretton see in Chase –he’s particularly good looking and sparks fly when the trio first meets.
McGaughey is also quite good as the show’s wisecracking comic relief. This is a woman who says what’s on her mind and doesn’t care what people think. She’s fast on her feet and quite funny as she delivers one zinger after another, often at Angel’s expense.
Production value is superb for a low-budget production. Shot entirely in real locations, “Conframa” pulls viewers into the world its characters inhabit.
One of the most impressive aspects is the authenticity of Morten’s portrayal of Bretton, a laid-back gay man who rolls with the punches and always has a smile on his face.
“I’ve always been cast in ethnic roles, being brand new in the industry,” Morten said. “I’m a freshman. This is my first lead role. I love my character, he’s very strong and comical. He likes to be able to make sure that everyone’s OK, he’s a caregiver.”
The fact that Morten identifies as straight may surprise some viewers, as he’s quite comfortable in his portrayal of a gay man, and his onscreen lovemaking scenes are passionate.
“I don’t think there’s a difference between straight and gay,” he said. “You have to be in touch with yourself, personally, and being introduced to a view I’ve never seen before has been nothing but an adventure. It’s a true blessing to work with this cast.”
According to Morten,the show’s portrayal of a three-way relationship is in line with his own sentiments on love.
“I believe that everyone should be able to love, and I don’t think it’s impossible to love two people at the same time,” he said. “I’d do another show like this in a heartbeat. Love is a powerful thing. It should be shared with everyone, it doesn’t matter who it is.”
As for the storyline, Bawn added that there’s a lot of truth to “Conframa.”
“It’s my story,” he said. “It’s a story that is real between my husband and I, though not all the details are true out of respect for the parties involved … This story is important to tell because it happens in real life.”
Bawn noted that his husband is on board with using their real-life experiences as inspiration for the new show.
“The message behind the series is that we shame something that we don’t understand,” Bawn said. “There are relationships like this … The message is to put it out there as normal, and it should be understood as human. Everyone is trying to search for love within themselves. If it happens with three individuals there’s nothing wrong with that.”
According to Bawn, there will be six episodes for the first season of “Conframa,”each running between 22 and 30 minutes in length.
“Conframa” is now available on Bawn Television. For more information, visit bawntv.com.