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Saturday, May 24, 2014

HAHAT 2014 - Jake Jaxson talks mentoring

Hey y'all. This is my last post for the HAHAT 2014, and I'm very pleased to have the second part of my Cockyboys 2014 interview on Mentoring. RJ has been swamped with filming and now the Grabby Awards in Chicago, but I did manage to wrangle Jake into answering some questions. So here we go.

~~Jake Jaxson ~ Filmmaker, artist, collector, hopeless romantic, and insatiable flirt. He lives in New York with his two loves and collaborators, R.J. Sebastian and Benny Morecock, & their four canine gaybies ~ Raif, Sebastian, Bailey & Jackson. Jake is also the owner/director of CockyBoys.~~

Hi Jake. Welcome back. 

Thank you for having us again -- I means so much to be asked back.

First of all, what does mentoring mean to you?

What mentoring means to me. I think most people think this is an older / younger dynamic. But I find that it's more of an energy dynamic, rather than age, profession, or skill set. It's more about a way of being.

A perfect example of this is, while I may have more life lessons than Ben, and I'm older, he often guides, pushes, and teaches me in how to quiet my mind and be more present to the ordinary everyday joys that often pass me by--he has the ability to help me slow down time.  So in that sense he is my mentor. 
Did you have any specific mentors when you were growing up? Were you more apt to look up to people you knew and had actual contact with or were your mentors public figures that you looked up to? Do you still have mentors or is that something you outgrow?

Yes I did. I was very fortunate to have a great experience in The Boy Scouts. I had several scout leaders who have had an impact on how I developed as a leader.  Out of college I had the amazing opportunity to work with and be mentored by the late Brandon Tartikoff, president of NBC and television revolutionary. 

In the scheme of things, he had nothing to gain by working with me, but he was always quick to get on the phone, advise, sit in on an edit and give story notes. The key, and most important thing, about a mentor relationship is mutual respect, and as long as I did not waste his time and he was inspired by what I was doing, it worked. He eventually became a consulting producer on a TV special I wrote and produced in New Orleans called TRIBE TV, and it went on to win a Emmy award for our efforts.

Shortly after, I moved to LA to work more with him, and he passed away soon after.  It was devastating--it felt like I lost everything overnight -- but I eventually rebuilt and many of the things he taught me are still with me. 

But there was one piece of advice he gave me that I live by to this day: "Never be dull and never be desperate."

In your opinion, why is mentoring important in general, and more specifically in the gay community?

Specifically to the gay community, we have a shared experience in that we will confront issues related to being gay. But more and more I find gay youth today are not dealing with the same acceptance struggles that I did growing up. I actually marvel at the fact that many of our models were even "out" in high school. In fact their pride and acceptance was key and helpful to my becoming more connected to my sexuality. 

Most of what I find today in terms of advice or mentoring has to do with being able to process and understand reality as it's happening, and the results of individuals not being present to a more positive way of being and living!  We live in a cynical, negative world where everyone wants to believe the worst in one another before even trying to know and understand context or reality.  So by living in possibility and positivity It's my hope others can learn from my actions --  living in possibility and nothingness is a  mission of mine.

There are a lot of online support groups that could be considered mentoring programs. Do you think such programs or even just individual online contact in a mentoring relationship, are as effective as meeting someone in person? Is sharing your private life with the public, for example the dynamic of your relationship, a form of mentoring as well?

I think any forum that allows for positive and constructive interaction is a good thing. However, I firmly believe in human interaction and communication when it comes to mentoring and guidance. Presence and energy--seeing someone think, engage and acknowledge--is vital to building a trusting relationship. Body language is everything.  So many things can be lost, misinterpreted, manipulated and confused via virtual or electronic contact alone.

I find that the most successful mentorships occur between two individuals that have a shared experience, where one strives to achieve a level of success, knowledge, or being, something the other has already achieved. They see something of themselves in the other.  It's by teaching and sharing that BOTH grow and thrive in the success of one another. 

Also I'm weary of anyone who claims to be "a mentor" "mother" or "father figure" to anyone.  That is usually a selfish declaration that seems more necessary to fill a void  . Some refer to me in that context  -- but it's a label I avoid. Since I also share in the success of my performers and staff I prefer to think of myself as more of a coach. All working for shared goals. When we Win it's together as a team.  

I've read statements by some of the young men you employ who consider the three of you to be mentors to them. How does that make you feel? Do you consider yourself to be mentor in that capacity or is all just part of caring for others?

Good question.

It's humbling to hear that anyone would refer to me, RJ or Benny as their mentor.  However, an important distinction to make is none of us have set out to create that dynamic. At our core, Ben, Adrian and I first try and live our lives in mutual respect. We act and behave toward each other just as we would want to be treated in return. As such, we also hold one another accountable for our collective actions. This way of being is also how we run our business. It's something I love and admire about our relationship and work. I say admire because this accountability is something that comes from Ben's way of being and RJ is always quick to put others before himself. And together they cause me to WANT to be a better Man. 

This same approach has now become part of our company dynamic--the guys now work to hold each other accountable so that we can have as much of a safe, productive and creative environment as possible.

My approach to the guys we work with is to trust them, respect them, and encourage them. I WANT them to be the best they can be!  I want them to be good people! I want them to be creative and sexy! I want them to be confident and proud.  When they are... I succeed, my business success, and my family succeeds.

This question isn't asked from my personal point of view, but even good deeds breed negativity so I'm going to ask it. Do you get any negative feedback about being called role models considering the work you do?

First I don't think or refer to myself as a role model. In fact, the creative process is such that I find the two to be in conflict. But that's my feeling.

I'm living "a life", one that I am proud of, and if others want to explore and connect to my experience I 100% welcome that--it actually humbles me. I know and understand that some may be inspired and others disgusted by my life and how I live it. Some will want to celebrate the best parts of it and others gossip and manipulate their perception into a warped reality. That said, I will always stay focused on the positive energy, but I will also acknowledge and use the push-off of the negative energy that comes at me, but I will not attach myself to it.

From time to time, with those who follow and know our company, I have been criticized for having "favorites", but often people don't understand the reality or context. It's a very simple process for me: if someone is giving, trying, and working hard, I will give that person just as much energy in return. If you see someone in the spotlight, it's because they have worked hard in mutually respectful way! But if someone just wants to take, and have expectations, and not put in the work, then they will not see the results they expect.  It's a very simple equation for me and I see it so clearly: Expectations = upset. Upset ignites jealousies and resentments, and from that place one's mind can create so much chaos, fear and hate that it will consume them. In fact this is exactly what the next part of ANSWERED PRAYERS is all about. 

There have been many times we have given and trusted others only to have it used against us. I used to take it personality and felt hurt. Often these upsets are the result of my saying "NO". Especially if it's a situation that has become more enabling than supportive. There are many times I have to say "NO" because it's the most healthy response, and I will always side with the well-being of someone I work with, even when I know they may lash out or try and hurt my business because of it. 

When this happens, our natural instinct is to go into a bunker and build protective walls. I do my best not to because I have a responsibility to many others.

For this reason, I will gladly take the slings and arrows of misfortune if it means being a positive caring influence in the life of another.  More often than not it fuels me even more to be better, stronger, and more self-aware.

Finally, do you have any words of wisdom about mentoring? What can people do to help and support gay youth?

I will tell you what I often tell my boys. -

Be nice.

Don't punch down -- focus on climbing up.

Being famous is not a goal -- it's the result of hard work.

It's ok to have your head in the clouds -- but keep your feet on the ground.

Stay in your own lane.

It's never too late to apologize.

It might be best to leave your phone home tonight. (That's usually for Levi).

As far as advice to gay youth. Personally, I first approach them as your--Gay second. Gay is just one part of us and more and more, THANK GOD, seen as a normal part of how we are. And anything we can do to help one another, no matter how we identify, the better.

Thanks for being here, Jake, but just like last time, you're not quite done. How about a few choices to lighten the mood? PS – one of these is a repeat, I want to see if your answers have changed – no cheating. ;)

Books or films? Film

Black & white or colour?  50 Shades of Grey

Yoga or running? Running

Cher or Beyonce? Cher (that's RJs diva so I have to support him on that one.)

Beach or mountains? Mountains

Tattoos or piercings? Tattoos

 The sun or the moon? Sun! Love sitting in the Sun. I think I was a dog in a past life. (or a cat)

Kisses or hugs? Kiss•Hug•Fuck•Love. (Sorry I had to) 

Romeo & Juliet or Hamlet? Damn this is a Hard one!!! I guess I'm in a hamlet mood at the moment. (See above)

Thank you, Jake. It's also interesting to hear what you have to say and I appreciate you taking time out to visit. You can tell RJ, I'll be sure to catch him for a one-on-one soon. Good luck tonight at the Grabbys.

My giveaway is open until Monday the 26th so do your thing on Rafflecopter, and Jake and I would really love it if you left us a comment here as well.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


This link will take you to the Hop Against Homophobia & Transphobia main page or you can click one of the links below to go to another blog. Thanks for stopping by. See you next year. 



  1. K-lee this is such an awesome blog you have. You did such a wonderful job with the interview, thank you. Loved the questions. Jake, you have a beautiful heart and seem to be a very caring and kind man. (I might have mentioned that to you before. lol) Both invaluable whether mentoring or being a role model. Love the words of wisdom. Wise words.

  2. Awesome article! I love every single thing about it :)

  3. Fantastic interview. Well done, K-Lee!