Catching Up With Josh Kilmer-Purcell
By Phillip B. Crook
Looking at your lives from before the show to now, it's not a stretch to say you and Brent are experts on reinvention.
But maybe not so much on purpose. We bought the farm as a weekend home. It was only after we moved in that we got a letter from Farmer John, who was losing his farm and needed a place for his 80 goats.
80 homeless goats.
It's hard to say no to homeless goats, I'm telling you. He moved in and we became accidental farmers. When we both lost our jobs in 2008, we had two mortgages and no income and that's when we decided we had to become real farmers and make money at this. The saddest time in my life was in the winter of 2008 when we couldn't afford to heat the Beekman house. After Christmas we packed up, left, and didn't know if we'd ever come back.
Having come out on the other side of that, how does your life now compare to, say, when you were a drag queen?
I think I'm probably the only drag queen turned goat farmer on the planet.
I don't know, New Zealand seems likely.
Eastern Europe seems like it might have a couple, too.
Do you wish RuPaul's Drag Race was around when you were still a drag queen?
I'm kind of glad it wasn't. The reason I finally stopped -- in addition to my choices being really unhealthy with drugs and alcohol -- was because I asked myself, 'Where am I going with this?' The only person who ever made anything of it was RuPaul and there didn't seem to be room for two drag queen talk show hosts at the time. There aren't 401Ks for drag queens.
Does Brent have a drag persona we don't know about?
[Laughs] He actually has a fear of clowns and drag queens.
So he never saw you perform?
Nope, he came along a year after I stopped. He's seen pictures but he doesn't like it.
And you haven't picked up the makeup brush since then?
I'm saving that for a big moment. When I finally storm out of the house, I'll be doing it in heels.
How would your 10-year-old self have reacted knowing that now you're a goat farmer/entrepreneur/advertising executive/reality TV star?
I would have been petrified. I was a scared little kid anyway growing up in the Midwest and being really different. My first awareness of gay people was from a Phil Donahue show, like 'A Real Live Homosexual' and he was behind a screen and his voice was changed. And as I came of age sexually, AIDS started. I really thought being gay was the kiss of death.
One thing that's so great about your show is that it portrays a real, long-term gay relationship. Is that something your conscious of presenting?
We weren't conscious of it filming the first season, but we were really surprised by the emails we started getting from families. I think the vast majority of our audience is families watching the show together. We get so many emails from parents of gay children who can put on the show and give the impression that two same-sex people can be in a relationship.
How has having a film crew in your relationship affected the dynamic between you and Brent?
At first it was tough because the first year we were in financial strain, so we were bickering a great deal. And having all that being film really pushed us to the brink. But having watched the season, it was kind of like public group therapy. We got to see from a third person point of view what our bickering looks like. Not that we don't bicker any more, but we know when we're crossing the line.
Maybe everyone should get their own TV show.
I think everyone will, eventually.