When The Advocate profiled partners Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell this past summer, their bold move from Manhattan to the 205-year-old Beekman Mansion on a 60-acre farm in upstate New York had become the focus of The Fabulous Beekman Boys, a reality series on the Discovery network’s Planet Green channel. Not much has changed in the months since the first season aired — except the weather, as viewers will witness on The Fabulous Beekman Boys Holiday Special, a festive one-hour package that unwraps December 8 on Planet Green. Ridge, who quit his job at Martha Stewart’s company to become a full-time farmer and Sharon Springs resident, reveals how he and Kilmer-Purcell keep warm and make their Christmas wishes come true.
By Brandon Voss
Advocate.com: I’ve seen pictures of your snow-covered farm on Planet Green’s website, and it looks like a postcard-worthy winter wonderland. Is it all cozy fireside hot chocolates up there, or is there a downside to winters at the Beekman?
Brent Ridge: Well, last year was my first full winter on the farm, and by the end of February, I understood why the suicide rate up here is so high. By the end of winter, you feel pretty miserable.
How do you and Josh warm up?
Literally or figuratively? [Laughs] It’s actually pretty hard to heat the house; it’s over 200 years old, so it’s very drafty. I pretty much confine myself to two rooms: the kitchen, where I can close the doors and start a fire, and the bedroom, where I can have a heated mattress pad on the bed. We’re also working a lot, so we try to stay active to keep the blood pumping.
What’s your favorite holiday tradition at the Beekman?
We have a long-standing tradition of going shopping for Christmas ornaments on the day after Christmas. Now we have a collection of over 1,000 ornaments. Our Christmas tree is a riot of color and styles with over 3,000 lights, so it’s a Christmas spectacular up there in our hallway.
Are the ornaments all one motif?
No, we don’t believe in having a themed tree. We like a cacophony of stuff.
I’m a fan of your farm-based Beekman 1802 product line. Out of all your goods, what’s the perfect stocking stuffer this year?
Probably our MilkShake, which is our goat’s-milk bath that comes with a dropper of an essential oil blend. It’s a great luxury that people probably wouldn’t normally buy for themselves, but it’s the perfect affordable treat to give as a gift.
Your holiday special promises previously unaired clips and bloopers. Can we look forward to anything especially embarrassing?
Well, Josh embarrasses himself a lot, no matter if it’s a blooper or not, so there’s plenty of that. Polka Spot, the llama diva, also has her own segment, because she’s really the breakout star of the show. Josh always had dreams of doing a Donny and Marie or a Sonny and Cher Christmas special, and I, of course, always had dreams of doing a Martha Stewart holiday special, so we tried to combine those things — on a much smaller budget.
The series has certainly increased your visibility. How has life changed in the four months since the first season aired?
Not a tremendous amount. We called our first season “our year of sacrifice,” because it was the first time in our 11-year relationship that Josh and I weren’t always together. But Josh is still working in the city to pay the mortgage on the farm. And for me, up at the farm full-time, it’s not like there’s paparazzi camping out. I still get up, do the chores, and go work in the shop, so life hasn’t really changed that much.
Surely you’re superstars up in Sharon Springs.
It’s funny, because nobody in Sharon Springs can get the channel. There are a couple places in the country where Time Warner can’t carry Planet Green, so a good portion of the people who live in our area haven’t even seen the show.
What can you tell us about season 2, which is scheduled to start in March?
We call season 2 “our million-dollar challenge.” I told Josh that if we can reach a million dollars in revenue over the year, that would be the cutoff point where he could quit his job and we could still cover our expenses on the farm. That’s what you’ll see us working toward. We’re filming season 2 through March 1, so we still don’t know if we’re going to make it.
Advocate.com, December 2010.