LOS ANGELES - Take two gay city slickers (one, an ex-drag queen), a herd of goats, a narcissistic llama, a 200-year-old farm complete with a ghost, and what do you have?
A tale ripe for a TV documentary-drama series aimed at putting fabulous back into farming while proving that people can still look immaculate surrounded by mud and manure.
"The Fabulous Beekman Boys", which premiered on cable TV channel Planet Green on June 16, follows a year in the life of former Martha Stewart Living executive Brent Ridge and New York advertising executive Josh Kilmer-Purcell as they revive a farm in rural New York and create a new organic lifestyle brand, Beekman 1802.
While their adventure may sound peaceful in a bucolic setting — and, in fact, Ridge does show a passion for washing pigs and each of the 100 goats has a name — it is anything but that, as the self-described "accidental farmers" ditch their big city habits for making goat's milk soap and cheese.
"I think people over-romanticize the idea of leaving it all behind and moving to the country. It is not all sipping lemonade on the porch. It is actually much harder work than sitting in an (office) cubicle all day," Kilmer-Purcell told Reuters.
The two men, who have been partners for 10 years, bought the Beekman farm and house in the village of Sharon Springs, New York as a weekend getaway three years ago. A few weeks later, "Farmer John" came looking for a place to house his goats after losing his own nearby farm, and Ridge and Kilmer-Purcell decided to give farming a try.
They inherited the llama (named Polka Spot) from another farm, managed to corral two slippery piglets into a pen, and started making and selling soap, black rind cheese, heirloom linens, black onion jam and other locally sourced goods.
But while Ridge moved up to the farm full-time, Kilmer-Purcell kept his city job to help pay the mortgage, returning for the weekends.
When they are not making each other laugh, laid-back Kilmer-Purcell (the former drag queen) and meticulous planner Ridge are yelling at each other, creating much of the show's tension and humor.
Looking good is a priority — no torn denim overalls or plaid work shirts here. Bright polo tops and cargo shorts are the order of the day, the pigs get scrubbed and the barn occasionally receives a shot of air freshener.
"We knew we were going to sell our products to a fashionable city clientele, so we knew we had to create a brand. Part of our brand is keeping things neat and clean and making it a vanity place where people want to be," Ridge said.
And behind it all, there is a serious purpose. The pair raise and grow on the farm about 80 percent of the food they eat — and they are not vegetarians.
Nor do they have a secret agenda to become TV stars.
"We are very passionate about small farming," said Ridge. "We hope people will think more about where their food is coming from, and that the show will inspire people to look for local treasures in their own community, whether they are crafts people or farmers, and support them."
(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)
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