Alicia J. Rose's Benefits of Gusbandry

Alicia J. Rose, creator of 'The Benefits of Gusbandry'
Alicia J. Rose is a 40-something, Jewish, funny lady who is a bit snarky and a bit of a no-nonsense, free-spirit, Portlandia type who works with musicians to promote and sell albums. She calls her methods of doing so "momentum-based marketing," which I can't fully explain, but, much like momentum itself, Rose is a force. She is a creative force with the emphasis truly on force.

Rose said she did photography for 20 years, photography for musicians, for cannabis aficionados and for all sorts, presumably still photography. However, her energy even over the phone is such that I never would have guessed that "still" would even be in her vocabulary. The self-declared Yenta certainly has evidenced that she doesn't stand still when it comes to something she wants.

She doesn't stop or slow down for anything. The proof is the fact that she is the creator of a new web series called The Benefits of Gusbandry, a concept she had in April, which she started shooting in August and then premiered the first episode in September for the Portland Film Festival.

Yes, the first episode is only ten minutes, but she was also able to get the next two episodes under her belt. The third episode is a two-parter about 20 minutes in length. She also has the remaining episodes in the six-episode series written and virtually ready-to-go. That and with the actress she has, the funding and everything else, it's amazing how she was able to pull it all together in only four months. It can only be attributed to again the momentum and to the sheer force she must be.

Rose isn't herself a comedian, but she's inspired and patterns herself after women like Amy Schumer, Amy Poehler, Lena Dunham and Tina Fey, women who are all forces and who created their own series. In addition to Rose possibly being a juggernaut and her unstoppable will, what also helped to bring her vision to the screen is the mainly, autobiographical and titular aspect of her series.

Kurt Conroyd (left) and Brook Totman
in a scene from 'The Benefits of Gusbandry'
Gusbandry is gay husbandry or the relationship between really cool gay men and straight women like Alicia J. Rose that emotionally may be equivalent or even beyond the archaic institution but not as legally-binding. Rose has admittedly a lot of gay husbands or "gusbands," a term she didn't coin but might now be attached to her forever. She says her relationships with her gusbands have been more primary than with her boyfriends. These gusbands have been varied in occupations from lawyers to musicians, but all of them couldn't have been more supportive of her project.

As a result, this is something that she wanted to reflect in the project itself. The Benefits of Gusbandry is after all about a straight woman not unlike Rose and a gay man not unlike Rose's various gusbands. The series charts the two first meeting, their eventual friendship and subsequent dating lives, all within a haze of pot smoke. It's like a stoner version of Will & Grace but a bit raunchier, or a more hipster version of Violet Tendencies.

It stars Brooke Totman who plays Jackie, a self-proclaimed, serial killer of relationships who likes emotionally stunted sociopaths, stank weed and not exercising, ever. Totman had worked on the series MADtv and had been part of the Groundlings with Melissa McCarthy. Rose had happened upon her luckily and thought her perfect for the role of Jackie. Rose even describes Totman as a funnier Meg Ryan.

Her co-star is Kurt Conroyd who plays River, a self-proclaimed, avid cyclist who enjoys extra-dry martinis with three olives and basically anonymous sex. He's the aforementioned gusband for Jackie. Conroyd was recommended to Rose by her producer. She said she took a chance with Conroyd because he was too young for the role. Rose wanted someone who was 40 or older. Conroyd is in his thirties. However, she said he blew her mind in his audition.

Also working for Conroyd is that in real-life he's gay. She thought it might be politically incorrect to want a gay actor for a gay role, but Rose speaks so lovingly and so fervently about her sleuth of gusbands that employing actual gay actors seemed like the only avenue for her.

That being said, she also stressed that she wanted this series to employ her personal, feminist point-of-view. She wanted it to employ positive expressions of female sexuality, nothing pornographic but adult and contemporary, mature but not gratuitous. She also wanted to make sure she employed her love of marijuana as a regular and totally, normalized accoutrement to life.

The first episode is now available online. It was made available on Vimeo and YouTube after Labor Day. Flavorwire was the first hosting partner. You can go to Flavorwire to watch and subscribe for future episodes. For more information, you can go to Seed & Spark or the film's website, and you can follow on Facebook and Twitter.


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