By Donald Fortenberry-Independent Southern Gay News
I was assigned to interview Seth Fornea, a GoGo boy/dancer living in Raleigh NC. That's a random/unusual place for a dancer to live I thought....however who am I to judge.
I flew into Raleigh/Durham RDU one Saturday morning and was impressed by the airport terminal. It was completely modern with high beamed ceilings and natural lighting from the over sized windows. I had never been to Raleigh...only read about it in the countless Business Week articles about the bountiful quality of life there. I got in my rent-a-car, punched in the address, and began driving to my subject's home.
After about 20 minutes of generic highway driving through rolling hills, I turned down a street into a little 60's style neighborhood not too far from downtown. I pulled up to the address, parked on the street, and gathered my voice recorder and a notepad. Here we go I thought.
The house was small, brick, and quaint. The landscaping was extensive, but seemed to be lacking care-it resembled an overgrow english garden with a bit of an amateur flare. I knocked on the door and heard footsteps approaching. I was greeted by a mid 20's young lady with blond hair. At her feet were two chihuahuas that scurried about with the energy of hummingbirds. She said don't mind them...they love visitors and attention. I told her my intentions and she seated me in the front parlor of the home.
The decor was very organic with browns, greens, and blues accented in white.
The decor was very organic with browns, greens, and blues accented in white.
Seth came in from the backyard. Not at all what I expected. He was wearing shorts with paint stains, a ratty old t-shirt, and a straw hat. He greeted me fondly, shook my hand and asked for a minute to wash up...he had been gardening outside.
He looked a lot like his photos, but much more comfortable and less styled in his own space. He and I actually had a lot in common...both redheads and a very similar build. He put on a pot of coffee and we sat down for the interview.
DF: How did you get started as a GoGo Dancer?
SF: I grew up and went to college in Louisiana. During college my friends and I made frequent trips to New Orleans for fun nights out on the town. I was in the closet then. I remember passing by OZ and the Bourbon Pub. The french doors of both clubs were open and I could hear the beating of the music as well as catch glimpses of the GoGo boys dancing on the bars. Their white underwear glowed under the black light and contrasted with their tan bodies. I was about 19 at the time. I always admired their bodies and watched in fascination. It was a early sexual memory that remains vivid in my mind. Fast forward to the age of 27 and living in North Carolina, a group of friends and I returned to New Orleans for Southern Decadence. Once again I was faced with those same bars and similar dancers. I began to think I could do it just as well. So at 27, I set out to begin dancing on bars. I started from scratch, promoted myself, and worked my way up the chain. I would find bars online in a city I wanted to work, email the contact on the website and go from there. I have taken that early sexual memory as a 19 year old, reclaimed it, and made it my own. I now work all the big bars and major parties across the country. It has been quite the ride :-)
DF: Are your weekend travels profitable, for example did you make money on your IML weekend or did you spend more on travel, accommodations, food, etc then you made dancing?
SF: Each trip is slightly different. If I am dancing on a stage for a large circuit party....those weekends are more or less break even/free travel weekends. Most promoters will cover either flight, hotel, and base pay or a combination of the three. If I am dancing on a bar for tips....it then becomes a highly profitable weekend. Most bars will cover or provide accommodations and provide a base pay. On top of that tips are really good :-)
DF: If you could rub a magic lamp, wish you were straight, and wake up the next day completely straight with all your memories of a hetero-sexual past....would you and how hard would that decision be?
SF: No and the decision would be very easy. I am completely at peace with my past and my journey to an out homosexual man. The only thing I would change about my past would be to apply more sunscreen growing up. My only true regret in life is my lack of sunscreen application as a teenager.
The percolator had stopped dripping at this point and Seth got up to fix us both a cup. I took a first sip...BOLD. "Chicory" Seth said. It was community coffee with chicory. Seth's mom still mails him bags of the coffee from home. Apparently coffee was a big tradition in the Fornea family which lead me to my next question.
DF: What do you miss most (besides your family) about where you grew up in rural Louisiana?
SF: My home town had 240 people....we drove the 4-wheeler into town, we went barefoot to the grocery, ate snowballs everyday in the summer with cream, rode horses, fished, bought shrimp out of the back of someones truck, spent lazy days shelling peas under the carport, had corn shucking parties as big family events.. I suppose I miss the connection I felt with the place. Being born and growing up in the same place for 18 years does allow you to make what feels like a connection with a setting. It may simply be the familiarity, but when I go home it always feels like home. So I miss the feeling of home.
DF: Was there a time in your life when it wasn't maybe as wonderful as it seems now....and if so would you share a bit about it?
SF: My life has been a series of mostly highs. I tend to find and activity I have a passion for, focus on it and really get into it. As an example when I was 16, I wanted to be a pilot so I took flying lessons and got my license. When I got to college I wanted to be rower so I tried out for the rowing team and really progressed in the sport. When I became a homeowner I buried myself in home improvement projects and got really handy. Right now I am delighted in being very social and traveling. But I have had sad phases. The one that stands out is my struggle to come out to my Mom and Dad. I think this is probably a common denominator with a lot of gay youth...the coming out story. Mine happened 8 years ago and it remains to be an on again/off again discussion with my parents. When you take your parents off a pedestal and see them as just people with shortcomings- it makes it easier to handle when they don't accept you right away. I could talk about this with you but that would be an entire interview in itself.
DF: Ok how about some easier questions....Are you cut or uncut? Top, Bottom, or Vers?
SF: Really? I thought they flew you in for this interview...
DF: Ok, I confess maybe I just wanted to know that for myself ;-)....moving on. What is your comfort food and drink of choice?
SF: I have many comfort foods....I really like peanut butter....especially on chicken or a banana. I love french fries covered in cheese, chili, sour cream, and green onions. I also love frito pie. As far as drinks...I can really order anything at the bar and sometimes will just order what other people in my group are drinking to make it easier on the bartender. But if I were to choose I would stick with a 7 & 7. Speaking of food...may I offer you something? I have a stocked pantry.
I kindly declined his offer.....although the thought of him making me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in an apron did make me blush a little. I thought about asking for a little show but wanted to keep professional boundaries. By this time the chihuahuas had calmed down and were quietly napping on their daybeds in the parlor. The blond girl that answered the door had turned out to be Seth's sister who moved to Raleigh to live with him in 2009. She said goodbye as she left the house headed to work. We now had the house alone.
DF: What do you do during the week when you are not traveling and dancing?
SF: I work as a chemist for the government.
DF: Oh that's interesting a Chemist/Dancer.
SF: It's a good combination.. It allows me to have a really solemn week, focused on work and fitness after work. By the time the weekend comes I am ready to be a slight exhibitionist ;-)
DF: A slight exhibitionist....that may be an understatement ;-). What do you enjoy doing in your downtime?
SF: I am a big gardener. Although, right now I am a little embarrassed at the condition of my landscape. I have been traveling a lot and its been hot and dry in Raleigh so things are not looking up to par. I am into perennials, herbs, flowering shrubs and I recently started planting some fruit trees.
DF: What do you want to accomplish in the next 5 years.
SF: Well I could answer that from a number of angles. From a personal standpoint, from a career standpoint, from a love life standpoint. I am going to go with the sort of dancer/public figure standpoint. I would really like to get in to acting and music videos. I always enjoy music videos and that's something I have not explored yet.
DF: Ok well...I guess that about wraps it up...I think I have plenty of material for my article. Hey I was wondering....I don't fly out until tomorrow morning and I am free the rest of this evening. Would you like to hang out...maybe grab dinner...we can definitely indulge in some chili cheese fries...you are both charming and handsome ;-)
SF: Thank you for your kind offer....but I have to decline....you see I am not into redheads ;-)