Photography by Brian Kaminski
"What does Willpower mean to you?"
"Willpower" can seem like a mystical, superhuman quality, but, to me, it's about perseverance. Watching people around you achieve large goals can seem daunting in the macro sense, but when you zoom in, you see that it's about committing to the moment to moment. How hard can you focus for the next 30
seconds? How much can you accomplish? Willpower is the combination of every one of those moments in which you persevere.
When I was a little boy facing the daunting task of cleaning my messy room, my mom would say, "Don't worry about the big picture... right now, all you have to do is pick up ten things off the floor." Easy. Anybody can pick up ten things off the floor! But what about the rest of the mess? "Just take it ten things at a time," she'd say, "and then once that's done, do another ten." It taught me that I could do anything, no matter how daunting it seemed, if I broke it down to the moment-to-moment. That's willpower.
"A little bit about Ben Palacios"
I was born in Washington DC and grew up in DC, New Jersey, and
Switzerland. Like most queer kids, middle school hit me like a freight train.
I was artistic, socially unaware, and terribly uncool. I was teased for being gay before I even knew that's what "gay" was. When my family moved to Switzerland, I took the opportunity to reinvent myself. I could be
whoever I wanted to be, and it worked! I became outgoing, funny, and
brave. Looking back... that's where I first became a performer.
"Ask Me About My Gay Uncle"
Honestly, I am having so much fun with it! We launched with six episodes on June 26th (the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall Riots), and we're now in full swing with new episodes weekly.
Ask Your Gay Uncle is hosted by me and my uncle Tommy... both "guncles"! It all started because we were losing our minds cooped up during COVID. We're both collaborative artists. Quarantine was like our kryptonite, so we decided to create a podcast! On Ask Your Gay Uncle, Tommy and I use our intergenerational queer perspective to share advice, antics, tender moments, and tough love.
Tommy is a dancer, director, and choreographer. He has worked around the world; from the Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center to Tokyo's Setegaya Public Theater. I'm so fortunate to have such an amazing gay uncle. As a queer kid growing up in a conservative suburb, I was either misunderstood, out of place, or bored. However, every time my uncle Tommy would visit, he’d paint my world in vivacious color. He taught me that ‘different’ wasn’t just acceptable... it was admirable. This podcast is for anybody who wants a gay uncle, a good laugh, or a little more color. Our mission is to spread love, self-acceptance, and gay uncle magic across the land!
Listen to "Ask Your Gay Uncle" Here
It's been pretty exciting. We played at a bunch of film festivals last year including qFlix Philidelphia, Wicked Queer Boston, and Amazon All Voices Film Festival. We even won a jury special mention award at DGLFF in Durban, South Africa. We just got picked up by queer streaming service, Revry TV, also!
We're thrilled to be added to their lineup. I applaud them for their dedicated support for queer content.
Making Surfer's Paradise was a unique challenge because I not only produced and starred in it, but I also spearheaded an enormous Kickstarter campaign to raise money for post-production... and we shot in Prague, Czech Republic. I had a lot on my plate. Without my co-creator and close friend, writer/director Max Gold, everything would've come crashing down!
Surfer's Paradise is a queer sci-fi film: a love story that takes place 100 years in the future, after The Singularity. Humans dropped the ball, the planet is destroyed and at war, and benevolent AI are trying to piece the world back together. Watch on Revry TV or on Amazon.
"Your favorite place you've traveled"
You're going to make me pick my favorite?! OK, then it's a tie between Prague, where we shot Surfer's Paradise, and the Sydney Opera House. That's where I associate-produced my friend James Galea's magic cabaret, POOF! Secrets of a Magician.