Oscar Moreno star of Shadowlands series

Shadowlands series starring Oscar Moreno

The second episode in the Shadowlands series is titled Mating Season.  In the early 1950s, a couple explore the idea of opening their relationship while on a remote camping trip when they encounter a mysterious stranger.

Colombian born actor Oscar Moreno stars as Matteo opposite Nicolas James Wilson in the Shadowlands series.

Tell us about your story in the Shadowlands series.  What were the main challenges and fears you had in your role?

Oscar Moreno: In our episode , Will and Matteo negotiate the terms of their relationship while on a camping trip. This was my first leading role in a TV production. So initially I was concerned with the filming process.

As for the role, I was very excited to be exploring a gay character that was dealing with complex issues. For a long time mainstream gay media has focused on coming out stories. I’m glad to be a part of a story that brings to light issues that arise in relationships through a gay perspective.

Oscar Moreno in Shadowlands series

How much of yourself goes into a character?

Oscar Moreno: I think that in order to create a meaningful performance, part of yourself has to go into every character that you play. For me, it was about about exploring my own emotions and thoughts with regards to open relationships. I believe that powerful performances comes when an actor is able to find the emotional truth of each moment.

How much were you able to relate your own experiences to create your character in the Shadowlands series?  And how much did you have to research or imagine?

Oscar Moreno:  Philosophically I relate more with Nicolas James Wilson’s character of Will. Since I believe that open relationships are usually more progressive. This however was a conclusion that took me some time to come to.

So in order to give life to Matteo, I had to think back to how I felt before the idea ever entered my field of view. Ultimately the experiences and emotions Matteo goes through are betrayal, self doubt, reconciliation and love. These emotions can be very visceral to most so allowing myself to connect to these emotions and apply them to Matteo’s circumstances was a wonderful challenge to tackle. 

I also enjoyed learning about artists like Tom of Finland. I was familiar with some of his work but really enjoyed learning about his life and what drove him to draw such magnificent men in a time where homosexuality was condemned.

Shadowlands series Mating Season episode
Nicolas James Wilson and Oscar Moreno in the Mating Season episode of the Shadowlands TV series

What aspects of the Shadowlands series are you excited for an audience to experience or discover?

Oscar Moreno:  The Shadowlands series offers a unique twist to conversations around sexuality and identity. I hope that the audience will get a chance to reflect on their own experiences and learn something new about themselves in the process.

The themes brought up can sometimes be challenging but ultimately it’s all about humans in different sorts of relationships. Allowing the audience to get a peak at how others live, we can hope to continue the conversation around sexuality and identity.

Each story or episode in the Shadowlands series is unique and has its own world of characters, time and place.  And yet there are connections between them. Were you aware of these connections while filming or was it a surprise to learn later?

Oscar Moreno:  During filming i was only aware that we were matching the lying down shot from Pygmalion Revisited but now I’m happy to be learning more though here.

Shadowlands series
Matteo (Oscar Moreno) and Will (Nicolas James Wilson) in Shadowlands ‘Mating Season’
Shadowlands series
Xavier (Marc Devigne) and Rudy (Charlie David) in the Pygmalion Revisited episode of the Shadowlands TV series.

Romance between men and between women was common place and written about in Greek and Roman mythology.  Why is it important to continue sharing these types of stories today?

Oscar Moreno: Romance, sexuality and identity aren’t just for the Greeks and Romans. These are universal themes that should continue being explored. But the exploration is only beneficial if we take different perspectives from our own. As humans we tend to fear what we don’t know.

So it is up to each and every one of us to share our stories so that others may learn from it and thus fear it no more.

What was the hardest scene for you in the Shadowlands series to do and why?

Oscar Moreno: The most nervous I got during filming was when we were doing my monologue. Not only was it a lot of text to recall, but the subject matter of meeting Will through means of getting the shit beat out of me was really difficult for me to justify.

Who is a major influence for you and on your creativity?  

Oscar Moreno: I have been a fan of musical theatre since high school, so I take major influence from that.  I admire other actors that are able to seamlessly create captivating performances on stage and screen.

Is there a type of role you dream of playing but haven’t had the opportunity yet?  

Oscar Moreno: I would like to continue to explore queer characters dealing with their lives.  I’ve watched enough gay films to say that it’s about time we go beyond the unrequited love story of a suicidal gay teen.

Queer people have some of the most fascinating and unique stories. I look forward to being a voice for those stories that are told less often.

In addition to acting, tell me about the other areas of entertainment you’re pursuing.

Oscar Moreno: Stay tuned for the launch of my Youtube Channels Totesom and Cuddleom. Totesom will focus on fun entertaining videos that will give you feel for how musical the world is through my eyes.

Cuddleom is a channel that is be devoted to spreading love and exploring the benefits of touch.   These channels will uplift and empower viewers to take full advantage of their lives while having some laughs along the way.

With so much going on in the world today, what’s your motivation to be a performer? Do you act to explain?  To get away?  To move past? To widen our knowledge? To incite a conversation?

Oscar Moreno: Originally I started acting to find a safe community where all my quirks would be accepted. Now it has developed into an exploration of what it is to be human.

With the works that I’m part of I always look for the opportunity to give the audience a reflection of themselves while at the same time challenging their conventions. It is only through discomfort that we can truly grow.

What’s next for you as a creator/actor/performer?

Oscar Moreno: This summer in Toronto, I will be making my Drag Queen debut in this years Fringe Festival in a new musical called The Ding Dong Girls. Come check it out July 4- 15 at the Factory Theatre.

I am also a Professional Cuddling Practitioner in Toronto. If you are a career driven individual who notices they are lacking affection in their lives, take the initiative and reduce feeling of stress and isolation by contacting me for a consultation and cuddle.

Learn more about Oscar Moreno’s professional cuddling company:

cuddleom.com

Originally born in Bogota, Colombia Oscar Moreno moved to London, Ontario (A.K.A Londombia) with his family in 2003 after having lived in New Orleans for three years. While in London, he participated in the prestigious High School Project at The Grand Theatre where his passion for the performing arts was awakened and fostered.

This lead him to Ryerson University in Toronto to study Theatre Production. After graduating in 2013, he was cast as Ritchie Valens in a production of The Buddy Holly Story at Theatre Northwest which started his professional theatrical career. (He later reprised the role in his home town at The Grand Theatre).

Since then he has been cast in leading roles in short films and will be making his feature debut with the Shadowlands series. You will also see Oscar in the upcoming season of Second Jen as Diego.

If you enjoyed this interview, explore other chats with cast members of the Shadowlands miniseries.

Sean C. Dwyer (Alex in episode 1 ‘Narcissus’ of the Shadowlands miniseries)

Nicolas James Wilson (Will in episode 2 ‘Mating Season’ of the Shadowlands miniseries)

Natasha Balakrishnan (Thalia in episode 1 ‘Narcissus’ of Shadowlands)

Brian Woodford (Drew in episode 1 ‘Narcissus’ of Shadowlands)

Learn about the hidden ‘Easter Eggs’ in the Shadowlands miniseries

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Testosterone therapy after testicular cancer

Testosterone therapy

Testosterone therapy is a consideration for many men and their doctor’s after the removal of testicles due to cancer, torsion, injury or in an extreme STI situation.  Testosterone is the primary sex hormone found in men and is also an anabolic steroid. It is paramount in the development of testis, the prostate and sperm production.  As secondary sexual characteristics, testosterone helps promote growth of body hair as well as denser muscle and bone mass.  Sex-drive and mental health also go hand in hand with healthy testosterone production, but like Dr. Dean Elterman says in our Balls documentary, “There is a range of normal for everything, and too much of a good thing, is a bad thing”. More is not necessarily better.

Dr. Dean Elterman discusses testosterone
Dr. Dean Elterman explains testosterone’s function in the male body.

Body builders might use anabolic steroids to help increase their muscle mass, and it works. That said, prolonged and overuse of anabolic steroids can lead to a complete shut down of natural testosterone production in the body with the end result being testicular atrophy, thus forcing these men to rely on testosterone hormone therapy for the rest of their lives. The damage is irreversible.

Bodybuilding with steroid use.
Many bodybuilders use steroids in pursuit of their physical ideal.

Interestingly enough, testosterone is also produced in female ovaries, but to a lesser extent.  The average adult male will produce about 8 times more testosterone compared to the average female.

A bodybuilder administering a self-dosage of steroids.
A bodybuilder administering a self-dosage of steroids.

Some might even venture to say that testosterone therapy is the fountain of youth for aging men. After the age of 35, men lose about 1 percent of testosterone production every year.  This is a natural part of a male’s physiology.  As a result of declining testosterone, men might experience: reduced sexual desire, sleep disturbances (like insomnia), physical changes (like increased body fat, reduced muscle density and strength, hair loss, gynecomastia, lethargy and changes in mental health (like depression, low self-confidence, trouble concentrating and memory loss).  Though testosterone therapy can help reverse the effects of hypogonadism (an actual hormonal disease that effects testosterone production in the testicles or the pituitary gland), there is little evidence that testosterone therapy for older men, who are otherwise healthy, is of any benefit.  Quite frankly, until we can actually reverse the effects of aging, the degradation of the body and mind is a natural function of being alive.  Instead of chasing the fountain of youth, as a culture we need to accept and prepare for the process of death.  It will happen to all us.  This is a healthier and much needed approach.

Shawn discusses testosterone therapy with Dr. Dean Elterman.
Shawn discusses testosterone therapy with Dr. Dean Elterman.

Shawn, who has suffered through hypogonadism, cancer and erectile dysfunction, needed testosterone therapy on his path to healing and recovery.
 
Shawn is very courageous to share his long and involved testicular journey with us.  Like Peter, not only has Shawn had BOTH his testicles removed (replaced by 2 prosthetic testicles) because of cancer, but he has also had a penile implant.  Because Shawn is now unable to produce any testosterone, he is using testosterone gel.  Though testosterone shots are covered by OHIP (Ontario Health Plan in Canada), he found them painful and inconvenient.

Instead, he opted for the gel (at a cost of $150/month), which is easier to manage and as simple to apply as body cream.  Shawn jokingly calls himself the bionic man.  His openness and honestly to reveal his process is beautiful, especially that his story ends on such a positive note.
 
I don’t want to reveal too much about Shawn’s fascinating story.  Instead, sit back and watch the documentary episode about him.  It’s quite inspiring.

WATCH the unblurred, unbleeped, balls out version here:

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/balls

Amazon: http://a.co/2F4txPh

Border2Border Entertainment: http://bit.ly/2xoSpjW

~ Nico Stagias, Balls documentary director

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Testicle Implants

Testicle Implants

After losing a testicle (or two), due to cancer, infection, injury or torsion, do you consider getting testicle implants?  What if you are a trans-man?  According to our documentary subjects, the opinions vary and are split down the middle.

To replace, or not to replace.  This is the question.
 
In the case of Matt Perry, who lost his testicle to testicular torsion, he has no interest in replacing the excided ball with a testicle implants.  Now in his fifties, Matt had his ball removed in his early twenties because the twisted testicle had cut off all blood supply to his left nut rendering it dead.  Not only is testicular torsion a medical emergency but it is also very difficult to diagnose.  If the diagnosis and “un-twisting” is not made within the first 8 hours, the testicle will likely be lost.  

Matt’s trauma of undergoing an orchiectomy over 25 years ago is so great, that the thought of having to undergo surgery once again to have testicle implants is even further traumatizing. Besides, he is much older now and in a long-term committed relationship with a partner who is comfortable and supportive of Matt’s body.  Matt jokes, “If you could click your fingers and have testicle implants with no effort required, I would probably do that”. Sadly, it is not that simple.
 

Siavash, on the other hand, who also lost a testicle to torsion in more recent years, is definitely considering re-balancing his body with testicle implants.  As a younger man in his late twenties, he would like his body to look more symmetrical.  At the moment, he is researching clinics and doctors.
 
For Peter Bovolaneas, who lost both testicles to cancer, it was a no brainer.  He was thankful for the modern day medical technology and elected to get 2 prosthetic testicle implants.  Peter is a remarkable human being who has such a great sense of humor and amazing coping skills.

Sometimes when he is out at the bars, he will approach acquaintances (who do not know his testicular history) and ask them to flick his balls.  If he doesn’t flinch, they buy him a drink; if Peter flinches, he buys the drink.  It’s a win-win situation for tipsy Peter, leaving the “flicker” scratching his or her head.  

It should also be noted that Peter, who presents as a VERY masculine/muscular man, can no longer produce testosterone because both testicles were removed due to cancer. Because of this fact, Peter must inject himself with testosterone every 2 weeks to maintain sex drive, bone mass, muscle mass and mental health.  He humorously accepts this shot in the buttocks as his “pain in the ass”.

Peter takes testosterone because without biologically intact testicles, as a man he needs it.  This is different than when men with functioning testicles take testosterone for purely aesthetic reasons.

The decision to get testicle implants after the required removal of one or both balls really comes down to choice and comfort.  And as Maggie Cassella jokes, “I’m not going to judge a guy for getting a fake ball any more than I’m going to judge a woman for getting a fake boob. It’s your choice and we have the technology!”

testicle implants sizingDifferent sizes of testicle implants are measured against the patient’s real testicles to get as close a match as possible.
 testicle-implants-sizing-indianapolis-dr-barry-eppley
There are different types of prosthetic testicle implants.  The ultimate goal is to match the prosthetic as much as possible to the remaining, natural testicle.  Testicular prostheses are made of silicone gel or saline (salt water) with a silicone rubber covering.  The surgeon makes a small incision in the lower groin where the prosthesis is inserted and then placed in the empty scrotum and secured with a stitch, or suture. You can usually go home the same day of the surgery.  Often testicular prosthesis surgery can be done at the same time as the orchiectomy, or during a later surgery.  It all depends on what the patient wants.

As a trans-man, Carey is not interested in getting prosthetic testicle implants.  His genitals do not define his masculinity, though he jokingly claims to have “psychic balls”.  Interestingly enough, once Carey started to take testosterone, his genitals started to change.  His clitoris and labia started to grow, so much so that he often feels as though he has a penis and balls.

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