The future is now--at least when Showtime's sexy sudser Queer as Folk is part of the party.
The popular drama, now in its fourth season, is bringing the music, energy and go-go boys of its edgy nightclub scenes to 18 U.S. cities for the Future Babylon Tour. It hits Houston's South Beach nightclub Sunday night, in conjunction with Gay Pride weekend.
The multimedia event simulates what Queer as Folk's fictional Babylon nightclub will look like in the year 2050. It follows last year's inaugural Babylon tour, which also included a stop at South Beach that drew more than 2,000 people.
The Future Babylon Tour features décor and a performance by the RKM Future Boys, a Miami-based duo known throughout the club community for its cutting-edge style. DJ Tracy Young, who spun at last year's Houston Babylon stop, is again scheduled to man the turntables.
"Last year...they picked out some of the props from the (Queer as Folk) set," says Rubio, one half of the RKM duo. "I don't want to let any cats out of the hat. It's a lot different from last year."
Also returning to Houston is actor Robert Gant, who plays HIV-positive college professor Ben Bruckner on the series. Gant will ride on the Future Babylon float during the Gay Pride parade on Saturday, and he will be at South Beach to mingle with fans and sign autographs.
"I didn't realize the extent to which this character would be impacting people," Gant says. "It's a fine line for me, because I am politically interested, and I have some similarities in that respect to my character. My work is to tell the story of this character and realize that those broader interests will be served."
Gant's ambitions weren't always of the small-screen variety, even if he did score Minute Maid and Capri Sun commercials as a child actor. He attended Georgetown Law School and moved to Los Angeles to take a job as a lawyer.
The firm he joined closed four months later, and the urge to act returned.
Gant's pre-Queer as Folk credits include a recurring role as a principal on the short-lived WB series Popular and guest spots on Friends, Ellen and Melrose Place.
It is his work on Queer as Folk, however, that has been the most significant, both personally and professionally. Gant chose to reveal that he was gay soon after joining the show.
"The standing advice in Hollywood is that you can't be openly gay and a leading man," Gant says. "I think I had some nervousness around the fact that playing this part would mean having to confront openly the fact that I'm gay. That was scary, but I think it was exciting at the same time. I got to a place in my life where I was really ready to tell my part of the truth."
Gant's honesty has helped him blossom as an actor as well. He begins shooting Queer as Folk's fifth season in September and is fielding film and Broadway offers. He's also started his own production company, Mythgarden, with actor Chad Allen (St. Elsewhere; Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman).
For now, Gant is looking forward to returning to Houston, despite his scheduled perch atop a parade float.
"I know the parade will be fun, (but)...it's a little embarrassing, I think, to sit up on a float," Gant says with a slight laugh. "It's fine. It's a little embarrassing, but it's OK."
Miami-based DJ Young isn't a Queer cast member, but she is an integral part of the Future Babylon Tour. Her hard-hitting beats provide the night's soundtrack.
Young wasn't initially familiar with the show, but a Queer-style makeover was soon in the works.
"I don't watch a lot of TV," she says. "I had them send me some DVDs to see if it was something I was interested in, and I was hooked."
Young immediately signed on for the tour, joining Manny Lehmann and Peter Rauhofer on the revolving lineup of DJs.
Music, it seems, has always been in Young's blood. From the age of 8, she was sure of her career path and followed it with precision, from jobs at record labels and radio stations to slapdash DJ gigs at friends' parties.
Now a seasoned mix-master, Young is sure to showcase some unexpected twists during her Houston set. She is quick to point out, however, that it's really up to where the groove--and the people--take her.