The teaser for the new current-affairs program goes like this: "Let us show you the world the way you've never seen it before."
Log onto http://www.NakedNewsDailyMale.com, and you'll soon see this is the proudest of understatements. A show touted as "best watched naked," Naked News Daily Male, which officially launched yesterday on the Internet, is tailor-made for gay viewers. And its news stories are brazenly fleshed out by a team of rock-hard male anchors who drop their skivvies the moment the cameras start to roll.
Lead anchor and producer Lucas Tyler says audiences were clamouring for a gay-themed version of its popular predecessor, Naked News, which launched five years ago, features 11 nude women newscasters, and is currently seen in 135 countries, reaching a TV audience of 25 million weekly viewers.
Tyler, 34, says this spinoff show's mandate is to "report the issues and news that any one, but especially gay men, want to know about. Our program will reach gay men around the world, and create awareness of certain issues that the mainstream media doesn't cover."
Both are the brainchild of Toronto-based Naked Broadcasting Network Inc., an upstart that in 1999 media pundits predicted would fail. Instead they've attracted a cult following worldwide, with Time Magazine recently toasting Naked News "as the best international news west of the BBC."
"We have a lot of gay viewers from all over the world, and they wanted to be updated on news and entertainment that related to them and their community," says Taylor, who expects to attract a strong following of female viewers as well. "We looked at that and thought there's a void in the media related to the global gay community."
News reports will be from a gay perspective, and include controversial topics such as same-sex marriage and "laws that restrict gay life around the world," Tyler says. Features are entertainment and lifestyle-focused, including regular segments on fashion, health, gay travel, the movies, video games, the best clubs and parties, and a rather unpalatable food segment called Cooking in the Raw.
"What people are telling us they like is the camaraderie between the guys," adds Tyler, who has been broadcasting on the Web the last few weeks, but only officially launched yesterday. "The chemistry really works."
The anchors are pure Canadian prime beef, including Montreal-born Tyler, a former banker. Other cast members include Toronto's Raoul Santos (another former banker), Calgary-born Cole McQuade (a one-time advertiser), London, Ont.-born Jack Lange (former bartender), Malcolm Matisse, a Montreal-born motivational trainer, and Jeremy Chase, a Torontonian who used to work in PR.
Naked News Daily Male also has guest anchors and correspondents, including correspondent Enza "Supermodel" Anderson, the popular Toronto drag queen who in 2000 made a left-field bid for the city's mayoralty.
"She's a special correspondent," explains Tyler. "She doesn't get naked in the studio with the rest of us." Naked, on-the-street, interviews are another highlight the show offers.
He sees the program as a maverick that will turn heads. "Sure we're targeting the gay community but the issues we cover are issues for everybody.
"Right now everyone is so scared to touch or tackle anything that is even slightly controversial. Let's not even talk about the Janet Jackson nipple affair," he adds with a sigh. "Our show steps on all those issues. And because of who we are and what we do, we're not afraid to go where other networks would absolutely never go."