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Mike Enders and the search for queer stars beyond porn and RuPaul

Mike Enders wore drag, he kept his beard. The blogger's “bear drag” photos made it to the featured section on the Huffington Post's Gay Voices, sparking a range of opinionated comments about cross-dressing culture, gay bear stereotypes and the pitfalls of amateur drag.

Enders is no amateur when it comes to sparking discussion around queer sensibility, masculinity and the squeaky-clean boundaries of modern-day gay culture. In December 2010, he started Accidental Bear, a website that features the “part of the LGBTQ community that doesn't always get the attention it should in mainstream gay sites,” Enders said. “We like hairy, husky, bearded, awkward, nerdy, average real-sized men, odd, crass, crude, unusual art and music.”

Accidental Bear thus found a loyal following of individuals who feel excluded by the gay community's unbearable standards. And early in 2013, Enders took his online pursuits to the next level, jumping from running a media outlet to starting a publicity and management agency for independent artists who self-identify as queer.

“Some of the most incredibly talented people I find are the most struggling artists out there,” Enders said of his passion for helping out indie acts. “Then some of the ones that I meet who are well-known names are the least talented, they just have the money to produce an EP or a fancy video.”

A handful of agencies represent LGBT artists, such as Project Publicity and Out Loud Talent, but the roster is composed mainly of hairless porn stars, former contestants of RuPaul's “Drag Race” and DJs who could be or have been in porn.

No one can blame gay talent agents for representing this certain type of talent. After all, reality TV and sex tapes sell well across every market. But there should also be a conscious effort to support a variety of talent.

“Drag queens and porn stars are part of our community, but just a small part of it,” Enders said.

So his new A.B. Management works with musical acts that deserve to reach a wider audience beyond blog posts on Accidental Bear. Enders' venture also was fueled by his strong belief that mainstream audiences are ready to embrace artists with a queer sensibility.

“The queer music scene is exploding, with queer artists showing up in all music genres: death metal, rap, rock, you name it,” Enders said. It's his plan to pool them all together.

In December, the same night of Accidental Bear's two-year anniversary party, Enders started brainstorming his next live music event. After a conversation with Portland, Ore.-based artist Logan Lynn, he conceived the A.B. Queer Music Tour 2013.

He relied on Kickstarter to raise more than $6,000 for the tour, which features artists such as Lynn, Darling Gunsel, Big Dipper, Rica Shay and Conquistador. The tour comes to San Francisco on Friday, July 5, at Beatbox, then will head to Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland and New York City.

“I have always been a fan of live shows and always prefer to go see a band over going to a bar and standing around awkwardly small-talking to drunk dudes,” Enders said.

The queer music tour aims to raise money and awareness for mental health and suicide prevention services in each of the five cities. The beneficiary of the San Francisco show will be the Stonewall Project, a harm-reduction counseling center for gay men.

Oscar Raymundo is the head of marketing at a leading LGBT media company. Email him at oraymundo@sfexaminer.com.

A.B Queer Music TourA.B. ManagementAccidental BearBay Area NewsBeatboxMike EndersOscar Raymundo

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