LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • NOVEMBER 02, 2018 • 33
Odds are good that you have heard of the website Daddyhunt.com – even if you’ve never used it. What you may not have heard, however, is that there’s also “Daddyhunt: The Serial.” Yes, it’s true. The popular dating app and website, which has catered to older men and the younger guys who admire them since it was founded in 2005, has produced its own web-series – which dropped its third season on Oct. 24 – that provides exactly the kind of intergenerational gay love stories you’d expect, revolving around men who connect through the Daddyhunt app. It provides more than just romance, though; since its second season, the show has been co-produced by BHOC (Building Healthy Online Communities), a public-private partnership between dating sites and apps and HIV and STD prevention organizations, in a collaboration dedicated to promoting healthy and responsible sexual practices. The series – which consists of short (90 seconds) episodes – has proven to be not only popular, but acclaimed for its mission. Season two won numerous awards, including “Winner: Top Shorts Online Film Festival,”and the accompanying public service announcements have been viewed more than 5.7 million times since they were launched in April 2017. Dan Wohlfeiler, director of BHOC, says the organization started working with dating site owners after a friend told him, “You all in HIV and STD prevention are trying to do the hardest thing in the world – changing people’s behavior.” This led to a shift in focus toward harm reduction, and BHOC started developing strategies for disseminating information about HIV and STD prevention - especially on dating and hookup sites. Wohlfeiler had been talking for some time with Carl Sandler, the CEO and co-founder of Daddyhunt, about how the Daddyhunt website and app could incorporate these strategies. “He sent me the first season of ‘Daddyhunt: The Serial,’ and I was hooked. It had incredibly talented actors, terrific production values and a really compelling script. We started talking about how we could do a second series with a storyline about some of the big issues that gay men are facing when it comes to HIV – PrEP or condoms? Or both?” Sandler was eager to jump on board. “I immediately thought that this was a great idea,” he says, “because we want to educate our users about condoms, PrEP, the importance of routine testing and other safe sex practices.” The challenge, of course, was to write scripts that raised all the issues and gave enough information without turning the show into something that feels like a sex ed class. The solution was to create storylines that incorporated the issues while also including PSAs that could go into the details. Wohlfeiler explains, “Since we had all these great actors in one place, we filmed five PSAs that had much more specific information. Some are about very specific issues. It’s safe to say that the one called, ever- sopoetically, ‘Butt and Throat,’ is the first one to tell viewers that they need to get checked for STDs wherever they might have been exposed. Other PSAs in the series aim at helping people make the choice that’s right for them about PrEP, condoms and being undetectable.” “We wanted to make it clear,” he adds, “that there are a lot of options – and that the important thing is to have a sexual health strategy.” Sandler is proud of what they have accomplished so far. He says, “By working together with BHOC, we have managed to reach not only Daddyhunt users but millions of viewers, entertaining and educating them about these important topics.” He’s not exaggerating. The first two seasons have cumulatively received an incredible 5.7 million views, and the positive feedback online has confirmed that gay men are hungry for this kind of show and information. When they embarked on season three, the show’s team decided to create it with two goals. First, they wanted to have a more diverse cast, since HIV disproportionately affects African-American men. Second, they wanted to go deeper into other important issues that so many gay men face – what it means to have an undetectable viral load, for instance, and how to tell a partner that you may have inadvertently exposed them to an STD. They filmed a new set of PSAs, on these themes, as well as others. There’s even one on writing a dating profile, with an emphasis on informed decisions about your own health and the importance of keeping it friendly – such as avoiding the “no femmes, no fats” language used by many on dating and hook-up apps. With STDs at their highest level in decades, and new HIV infection rates rising, especially in communities of color, many people are looking for reasons why, and often point fingers at dating apps. Wohlfeiler states, “What this project has shown is that apps also are ready, willing, and dedicate resources to helping prevent new HIV and STD infections. It’s been the most gratifying part of my career - to build those partnerships that result in lasting change, and also deliver important information to people in a way that they can hear it.” All this work in the interest of public health is important and appreciated, of course – but is the show any good? “Daddyhunt: The Serial” is charming, funny, sweet, and sexy. It’s performed by a talented cast that’s also pretty easy on the eyes. There are countless shows like this depicting the romantic misadventures of heterosexual couples, but precious few of them that focus on same sex relationships. “Daddyhunt” would be a treat just on the basis of filling that need; the fact that it’s also good is a welcome bonus. You can see for yourself by watching “Daddyhunt: The Serial” on Facebook at facebook.com/Daddyhunt or on the “Daddyhunt” YouTube channel.
Daddy wants you to download this An app takes responsibility for HIV prevention messaging By JOHN PAUL KING
BJ Gruber and Jim Newman in season three of ‘Daddyhunt, The Serial.’ Photo courtesy Daddyhunt and BHOC
Losangelesblade.com, Volume 2, Issue 35, November 2, 2018