HBO gets intimate in tonight’s new documentary, Americans in Bed. The film, which premieres at 9 pm, captures ten American couples in the comfort of their own beds as they candidly discuss love, sex, marriage, and all of things that draw them together or pull them apart.
One of those couples is Farid Ali and George Constantinou, Park Slope residents and owners of Colombian restaurant Bogota Latin Bistro. The men– active community members who have been lauded for their dedication to ethical business practices– hold nothing back as they talk about being partners in life and business. We asked Farid to tell us more about their decision to take part in the project and why they feel it’s important to share their story.
Park Slope Stoop: How did you get involved with the project?
Farid Ali: I saw an ad soliciting couples who were interested in telling their stories to HBO and I responded. There was an initial interview and they felt that we stood out among the numerous couples interviewed and chose us.
PSS: Why was it important for you and George to share your story?
FA: For numerous reasons. We’ve always been very transparent about who we are in terms of our business partnership. There is a very correct perception about who are and what we do as business owners and as members of the community. A big part of our story (as business owners and as parents to surrogate-bio twins) has already been made very public in the interest of helping and motivating others accomplish their dreams. Baring ourselves to HBO, I felt, would help dispel myths people have not only about the Farid and George that people know, but as gay men in general especially now that we are parents. We wanted people to see that we are just like anyone and everyone else.
With so much of our story having already been documented, we also felt it would be a great opportunity for us to document a snapshot in time of ourselves as a couple for posterity in order for our children to get a glimpse of who their parents were at this point in our lives.
PSS: You both are incredibly active members of the community. Were you nervous about potential customers having access to such personal parts of your life?
FA: In business, you work hard to build up a reputation and allowing people to see us so intimately, warts and all, of course was a cause for worry. Part of our appeal, we feel, is that we have not let our success go to our heads and that we remain with our feet firmly rooted on the ground always looking up. As successful business owners, we know what it feels like to have people either love us or hate us or just be completely indifferent to us as well. We’ve noticed that our honesty, our authenticity and realness is what’s allowed us to create very awesome relationships both in business and in our personal lives. People who love us will love us even more.
In terms of potential customers, we weren’t concerned about how the documentary would affect business. We love what we do and how we do it and it’s very apparent that we, and our business, resonate very strongly with people. I think more people will be drawn to us as a result of both George and I being intimate and real with each other and with others. I know that I’m drawn to those kinds of people and those are the types of people who are drawn to us too.
PSS: Was it difficult to open up in front of the camera?
FA: The producer of the HBO documentary [Philippa Robinson] had already done a British version of the show and was very skilled in helping us become comfortable, although that does not negate the fact that there were some moments that proved difficult. We had been prepped with lots of questions before the filming began only to have the actual questions asked be completely different from what was presented. In addition, having people know that all is not well in paradise was a cause for concern. As eye-opening as it may be for people to view us in such an intimate light outside of the professional spotlight, it was even more eye-opening for us as a couple to see where we needed to focus in order to strengthen the relationship once the filming was over. The filming left us both feeling very exposed to each other.
PSS: What is the best thing about running a business with your partner?
FA: The best thing about running a business with my partner is that we both get to chart the ship and its direction, and then celebrate the fruits of our labor as well as commiserate together as we regroup and continue moving forward with mutually agreed upon and aligned goals.
Catch Americans in Bed on HBO tonight at 9 pm.