Tyne Firmin and Charles Sanchez (Photo: Mark S. King)

Something struck me, maybe halfway through the uproarious screening of the new, second season of the musical comedy web series, Merce. I surveyed the packed room at the LGBT Center in New York City, the audience laughing, clapping, cheering on the characters and growing silent during the tender moments, and the thought hit me like a revelation.

How often, in the HIV advocacy arena, do we gather together for no other reason than to be entertained? The launch party of Merce had managed to bring together so many New York City-based HIV notables, and not for a lecture or workshop or panel. We came together to laugh and to celebrate a joyful artistic achievement.

The pictorial of the evening gives a taste of that joy. To experience some of it for yourself, I urge you to go check out Season Two of Merce. It is raunchy, hilarious, bittersweet, and it believes in love.

Congratulations to writer and star Charles Sanchez, and to his co-star and director Tyne Firmin. They have delivered a lovely, candy-colored gift to our community. Now go watch it.

All photos below are courtesy of photographer (and cast member) Linus Ignatius of The Elliott Collective.

Cast member Alex Lawrence works the front table and greets party guest Eric Mann

 

Charles Sanchez and Tyne Firmin greet the overflow crowd

 

Murray Penner and Cameron Kinker of Prevention Access Campaign (U=U)

 

Oriol Gutierrez, editor of POZ Magazine

 

Guest Sindy Isabel Castro samples the enormous food table provided by susan flanagan small parties

 

Mark S. King, PrEP advocate Damon L. Jacobs, and Prevention Access Campaign founder Bruce Richman

 

A typical audience reaction during the raucous screening

 

Feeling the love were guests Scott Kramer, Max Rosenberg, CJ Stryker, and Joey Valeriano

 

Cast member Bruce Ward with A&U editor Chael Needle

 

The cast of season two of Merce

 

Gino Tranchero brought the Keith Haring-themed wine while cast member Ben Dawson brought the partial nudity to sell raffle tickets

 

Charles Sanchez with scene-stealing cast member Amanda Bruton and director Tyne Firmin

 

Cast members Colleen Hawks-Pierce and Alexander Tomas

 

Cast member Randall Taylor

 

Season One cast member Rob Laqui

 

Above: The final moments of the season two screening, with Tyne Firmin and Charles Sanchez taking a well-deserved bow.

Did I mention you can binge-watch every ten-minute episode of season two in the time it takes for lunch?

Thanks for watching, my friends, and please be well.

Mark

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