The World Premiere of HBO’s “Looking” at the Castro Theatre

lookingauthorThe world premiere of HBO’s new series, Looking, took place January 14 at the Castro Theatre. The gay dramedy is set in San Francisco, where it was also filmed. Creator/Co-Executive Producer Michael Lannan says Looking is about “looking for authentic ways of being in the world.”

The show centers around three gay friends: Paddy (Jonathan Groff), a twenty-something video-game programmer looking for sex and/or love; Agustín (Frankie J. Alvarez), an artist moving to Oakland to live with his boyfriend; and Dom (Murray Bartlett), a long-time waiter approaching forty and deflated the first time his sexual charms fail him.

Before the screening, the cast posed on the red carpet for photographs. Those attending included Groff (whom I spotted taking selfies in the row behind where my partner Phil and I sat), Raúl Castillo, who plays Richie, the object of Paddy›s affections and fumblings; and O.T. Fagbenle, who plays Frank, the boyfriend with whom Agustín cohabitates.

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Frameline’s K.C. Price with the creator and cast of Looking on stage at the Castro Theatre.                                    PHOTO BY STEVEN UNDERHILL

The world premiere showcased the first two half-hour episodes of Looking’s eight-part, first season.

I was delighted Director/Co-Executive Producer Andrew Haigh captured the look and tempo of three friends living today in San Francisco, which is so very unlike New York or Los Angeles, where too many film and television productions seem to shoot stories supposedly taking place here.

I love all kinds of gay characters – from fabulous Stanford Blatch in Sex and The City to bewitching Jonathon in Were the World Mine – but as a gay man living in San Francisco, I especially enjoy the authenticity of Lannan’s characters struggling here to define themselves as friends, lovers and individuals.

Actors Raul Castillo, Jonathan Groff and O.T. Fagbenie at the Castro Theatre for the premiere of HBO’s Looking.  PHOTO BY RINK

Actors Raul Castillo, Jonathan Groff and O.T. Fagbenie at the Castro Theatre for the premiere of HBO’s Looking. PHOTO BY RINK

When Dom tells a co-worker he dislikes arrogant techies today as much as he did in 1999, I flashed back to my life then. It was a fantastic, rarely dull and sometimes grim era for my friends and me. I regret there’s no gay-themed film or television series set then in San Francisco to remind me of that time.

After my partner and I left the Looking after party, we crossed Castro Street and I looked back at the Castro Theatre. The red carpet was put away. Its marque was updated with the next night’s entertainment. And I was already feeling sentimental about that first hour spent with Paddy, Augustín and Dom.

I wanted to know what happened next to them in San Francisco.

Looking airs Sundays on HBO. For more information, please go to www.hbo.com/looking.

San Francisco resident Michael Denison produces videos for top fashion and lifestyle brands, and has been screenwriting for 10 years. He maintains a blog, “Male Models Vintage Beefcake,” featured on the Sundance Channel’s website, as well as the blog “Mike the Content Producer,” http://mikethecontentproducer.blogspot.com/.