OK, lots of people still aren't familiar with Planet Green, a well-meaning digital-cable channel. But how often do you get to meet a guy who's a poet, author, ad man and former drag queen, now a gay farmer with his own TV show? Here's the story I sent to papers; you can catch new rounds of "Beekman Boys" at 9 p.m. Wednesdays:
By MIKE HUGHES
In a burst of understatement, Josh
Kilmer-Purcell said: “I've had a lot of drastic career changes.”
Indeed. He started college as a
hotel-restaurant major and left as a poet. He became an advertising
man, an author and … well, a drag queen with goldfish swimming in
Now he's a cable-TV star and a
gentleman farmer who knows little about farming. “Googling is a
great friend to new farmers,” said Brent Ridge, who is his partner
in life and on a new cable show.
“The Fabulous Beekman Boys,” on the
Planet Green channel, has been dubbed a “gay 'Green Acres.'” At
it's core are two guys with little in common. “Opposites always
attract,” Ridge said.
He's a precise sort, with a medical
degree, an MBA and math skills. By comparison, Kilmer-Purcell
switched majors after his first college math test.
And there's another giant difference:
“I have a fear of clowns and drag queens,” Ridge said.
After they'd dated for a couple months,
Kilmer-Purcell gently broke the news: Until recently, he'd been
Aquadisiac, the drag queen with the goldfish breasts.
Yes, that was a drastic life changes.
Kilmer-Purcell was in 3rd
grade when his family moved from New York to Oconomowoc, a Wisconsin
town of 10,000. His dad worked in sales; the family lived in a
suburbia, surrounded by corn fields.
“I always had a feeling that the farm
people were more fun,” he said. “They had the animals and the hay
piles to jump into.”
He went to Michigan State University,
took a math test and switched to creative writing. After graduating
in 1991, he moved to New York and became Aquadisiac, a fact that was
readily accepted by his co-workers in advertising. (“New York is a
very creative place.”) He wrote a best-selling book about his
experience. He also met Ridge – then the vice-president for Martha
Three years ago, they bought the
Beekman manor near Sharon Springs, NY., thinking of it as a weekend
retreat. A week later, Kilmer-Purcell said, they got a handwritten
note from a man “who had lost his farm and he had a month to find a
home for his 80 goats and asked if he could be our caretaker.”
That's the guy now known as Farmer
John. With his help and a lot of Googling, the farm now has goats,
pigs and more. The guys sell everything from goat-milk soap to crafts
created by neighbors.
And now “The Fabulous Beekman Boys”
has a 10-week season that follows a year of farming. Ridge – a
full-time farmer now – stays home to run the place. Kilmer-Purcell
keeps his ad job and returns on weekends. He leaps between city and
country, forever experiencing drastic career changes.
– Cable: “The Fabulous Beekman
Boys,” 9 p.m. Wednesdays; the first episode was June 16. That's on Planet Green; one of
the Discovery channels, it's generally available via digital cable or
– Books: Josh Kilmer-Purcell wrote “I
Am Not Myself These Days,” “Candy Everybody Wants” and now “The
– Internet: beekman1802.com