February Feature: Jack Tracy Talks About History

Photo By: Joey Sbarro Photography

Diversity Rules Magazine welcomes back Jack Tracy. This time he is talking about the debut of the 3rd season of his series entitled, History.”  

The third season of Jack Tracy’s LGBTQ series, HISTORY, premieres this Valentine’s Day. Executive produced by Tracy, and financed through him, the third season features six half-hour episodes and follows his character, Jamie, as he discovers how the examples set by his parents framed his expressions of love and what he values most in relationships. The story picks up a year after the close of season 2 when the gang is finally all coupled up. Jamie is with Mark, a sexually charged Brit, and they are considering the possibility of opening their relationship, eyeing Will’s ex as a possible candidate. Meanwhile, Will is deciding whether or not to give in to his new boyfriend’s insistence they move in together while Matthew has decided to look past the gang’s objections and accept his boyfriend’s flaws. Then there’s Ted, whose own hang-ups may destroy his burgeoning relationship with a local drag queen.

“The struggles all of these 30-somethings face are a direct result of growing up gay,” explains Jack Tracy. “They’re forced to confront complex issues such as gender roles, toxic masculinity, rejection, and loyalty. In the end, we learn what love is for each individual and whether the baggage from their past can ever be overcome.”

JRK: Before we get into the interview, can you tell us what “History” is all about?

JT: History is an LGBT story about love, loss and the family you choose. It follows 30-something gay men in New York and shows how one’s “history” impacts the decisions they make, how they form friendships and relationships, what they value and how they love.

JRK: What motivated you to come up with this particular storyline?

JT: The story is near autobiographical, with some dramatic license, with season one being the closest to a play-by-play of my life’s events. I had gone through a very rough breakup that included everything from losing the relationship, being temporarily homeless and losing all my friends. I wrote the scripts as a therapeutic exercise while I was going through the process of re-making my life and grappling with understanding how I got to where I was. There came a point where certain patterns in my life became clear and I sort of crossed over being stuck in them to seeing them for what they were and starting the process of navigating out of them. I thought that the story of growth, especially through an LGBT point of view, would be relatable.

JRK: This is the 3rd season of “History.” Can you recap the first two seasons for us?

JT: All seasons of History are six half-hour episodes and all center around flashbacks–juxtaposing the past with the present to show the audience the patterns that maybe Jamie (the lead character) can’t see himself at the time. In season one, Jamie has just gone through a bad breakup and is slowly putting his life back together by dating, making new friends, and finally closing all of his unfinished business with his ex. The flashbacks show how Jamie was in his relationship and the things he hopes to change for the future. Season two we took the basic framework and really went in a new direction. Now Jamie has an established life and group of friends, but one year after season one things aren’t well with his best friend. We use the flashbacks to show what happened over the last year and really highlight how so many decisions we make are based out of a fear of loneliness, and how those actions ultimately impact others. If you’d like full recaps and a whole lot of behind the scenes details, check out the season recaps I’ve posted on YouTube to help get everyone up to speed before we drop the new season on Valentine’s Day.

JRK: Are you planning subsequent seasons of the show?

JT: Planning? No. Do I have ideas? Yes. It all depends on the reception. To date, History has been my most widely watched production, with over 250,000 views for the season two finale on YouTube. But it’s not all about views, the festival accolades (over 50 selections and awards), the flow of fan letters and comments about how much the show moved them, the new channel subscriptions (over 1,000 new subscribers in a single month)–they all drove season 3 into existence. Based on the overwhelming love of season one, I made season two. Based on the huge growth after season two, I made season three. So let’s see if season three begets a season four.

JRK: Without giving away any details, what surprises are in store for Season 3 that you can titillate curiosity a bit?

JT: Well again we take the basic structure of the show and go in a completely new direction. Now all the main characters have boyfriends…to start. The flashbacks go WAY back to the 1980s and 1990s to explore Jamie’s youth and relationship with his family as the formative experiences that are surfacing in the present day storyline. That storyline includes a big family fight, opening a relationship, moving in together, a friend in a bad relationship, betrayal, a weekend getaway, a college town trip, a cat funeral and more! We really went big. Also, History fans get a TON of fun new characters and some old friends pop in and out to say hello.

JRK: Tell us about the characters, and are they based on real-life persons/experience?

Jamie Ford, especially in season one, is based on me. He’s a 30-something gay lawyer in NYC. He struggles with compartmentalization of his “real” life, his “sex” life and his “relationship” life. He is always poised to “jump to 11” in defense of his friends and doesn’t tolerate any bullshit. He’s fiercely loyal, but probably a bit too quick to step into other peoples’ business.

His best friend, Will Rosen (Will Cohen) is the heart of the show, a sweet Jewish guy in finance who is your “down for whatever” companion. He hasn’t been out as long as the others so he sometimes struggles with internalized homophobia, but he’s loyal to a fault and desperate to find love. Matthew (Jacob Seidman) is the oddball. He is in love with his cat (Food), enjoys saying the word “tilapia” whenever he can, and is happiest if he confuses the fuck out of whoever he is talking to. Will remains perplexed by Matthew’s existence but Jamie finds him hilarious. But more so, Matthew is deeply insightful and uniquely blunt and serves as Jamie’s therapist. As for the rest of the returning characters, Bianca (Samantha Nixon) is Jamie’s best girlfriend from years ago, Ted (Trent Stone) is the older wise guy who is dating local drag queen Darien (Erik Schneider). New characters include Jamie’s boyfriend, a horny Brit, Mark (James Evans), Will’s boyfriend, lifestyle gay Kevin (Matthew Kuyawa), Matthew’s boyfriend, socially inept Elliot (Corry J. Ethridge), gym hunk Brandon (Haulston Mann), Jamie’s therapist (Claire Kennedy), Jamie’s past nemesis Warren (JJ Bozeman), new nemesis Ray (Alexander Spears), Jamie’s mother Molly (Kathy Biehl), sister Julie (Jillian Sawyer), father James (Peter Walsh) and brother Mack (Nicholas J. Pollina). And as for the flashbacks, we’ve got Young Jamie (Aaron Drill) and Young Molly (Alexandra Rey), plus many many more and a few surprises. It’s a huge cast of extremely talented New York actors.

JRK: You utilize flashback scenes a lot in “History.” Can you tell us what the purpose is and how they tie into the storyline?

This season the flashbacks are meant to tell us what “love” is for Jamie. In exploring Jamie’s past, especially his relationship with his mother, we see how his ideas on how love is shown and received were formed by that fundamental loving relationship. Those ideas cause problems as Jamie attempts to love others but ultimately the discovery of Jamie’s true conception of love by the end of the season sets him on the right path of what it is he is really looking for.

JRK: Being a singer/songwriter, do you introduce material that you have written on the show?

JT: Absolutely! It’s also called being cheap. So since everything is self-financed, music was the biggest problem in season one, and I ended up licensing a few tracks and finding royalty free tracks for other parts. After deciding not to deal with that nightmare anymore, from now on if the gang is at a bar or a club or a house party, all the music are my own creations. In season two, I ended up falling in love with a lot of what I had made just as filler and so used those as the bones to create what became my first album “Older”, which came out last summer and got me as a performer at Jersey City Pride and the legendary Monster cabaret in NYC. This season you’ll be able to hear the bones of what will become the songs for my second album, tentatively titled “For You” and due in the summer.

But on top of that, I also score each season, and for that, I create a brand new original song that I then use pieces to influence the score. This season’s song “You Lose” will come out in full on YouTube the week before the season releases, and you can already hear pieces of it in the season three announcement that was released a few weeks ago. Season one’s “Take It All Away” and season two’s “Together” are available on YouTube and the entire “Older” album is on iTunes and Spotify.

JRK: You started a film production company called Necessary Outlet, which produces “History.” Can you tell us about the company and what motivated you to start it?

JT: There came a point in my life when I realized that a creative “outlet” was “necessary” to my life. It was the one thing missing. I had always tinkered with writing little scripts and making music, all throughout my 20s, but after my career in law settled a bit and I got more predictable hours, I decided that I needed to dedicate my free time and resources to creating LGBT content. The company motto is “Gay Characters, Universal Content.” I create art where LGBT characters are the leads and telling a story through that point of view, but the story itself does not rely on our sexuality. The stories are about love, loss, politics, regret, ambition, family, but never about our “gayness.”

I started off as doing volunteer-led projects and earmarking all proceeds for various LGBT charities, but starting last year I converted into a true production company and really invested into the productions. I’m still entirely self-financed but ran a successful crowdfunding campaign for season three which certainly helped. In addition to three seasons of History and a library of original music, I have four music videos (two of which received film festival nods), two award-winning comedy series “Big Law” and “Millennial Memoir” and my first feature film “Snowflake” which has already won a slew of awards and is set for its world premiere in March (details coming soon). Each project has inspired me to do three more and considering all of the love they have received and the exponential growth in quality with each new release (just wait until you see season three), I am now more motivated than ever to continue with my “outlet” as I wait for that one big hit to propel me into the next phase.

JRK: Is there anything else you want to tell us about your upcoming third season, the show generally, and what other exciting projects Jack Tracy has planned?

JT: This year is jam-packed. Coming up next I’ve got a serial dramatic podcast tentatively titled “Community” which takes place during the course of a shooting at a gay nightclub. After that will probably be new comedy web series “Dog Whistle”–a dark political satire starring my dog Maxi and Russian trolls–and then “Displaced”–a sci-fi dramedy that’s part Quantum Leap and part Dr. Who. My next album with a very current/mainstream pop sound comes this summer and I’m planning a visual album to match. And then I hope at the end of the year I’ll be starting pre-production on my follow-up feature–a lesbian-led mystery with a touch of the supernatural. Stay tuned…and by that, I of course mean SUBSCRIBE.

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