Dual Current

By Christopher Lisotta

Originally published on Advocate.com April 27 2009 11:00 PM ET

Charming doesn't
begin to describe Max Lugavere and Jason Silva. I meet the
original hosts of Al Gore's cable network Current TV at a
trendy restaurant close to their apartment in Los Angeles, and
soon the pair have convinced me to try a Belgian white beer
when I had planned on keeping it professional and sticking to
bottled water. I quickly get the sense that best friends and
roommates Silva and Lugavere have this effect on everyone.

For the past four years
they have been mainstays on Current TV, which Silva describes
as "the HBO of the YouTube Generation." Besides being
hosts, Silva (the one with the lighter, shorter hair) and
Lugavere (darker, longer hair) produce their own content for
the 50-million-household (and growing) cable network, which
relies on video submitted by viewers as its main source of
programming.

Silva and Lugavere have
an easy manner that belies their intense drive
to explore challenging subjects and get to the bottom
of big issues. But for viewers hoping to find them on the air
on some sort of regular basis, there was a challenge.

"We were the
omnipresent default guys," Lugavere explains, noting that
it was difficult if not impossible to tell anyone when to tune
in to find them on air since the network lacked a dedicated
schedule. But after four years of popping up everywhere, Silva
and Lugavere have finally gotten a regular slot, airing their
show
Max and Jason: Still Up

Monday through Friday at midnight on the East Coast, 9 p.m. on
the West.

"They are finally
turning to appointment viewing," Lugavere says of the
network, which is airing a
Max and Jason

gay rights special April 30. Segments include a look at the
2008 marriage amendment fight in Wisconsin, the phenomenon of
white gay men adopting black children, and monogamy among young
same-sex couples in the wake of Prop. 8.

Many of the
special's segments have aired on Current
previously, but the "libertarian techo-optimists," as
Silva and Lugavere call themselves, say they were inspired to
put together the hour after seeing
Milk

screenwriter Dustin Lance Black accept his Oscar on this year's
Academy Awards telecast. "We loved his speech," Silva
said.

"We picked the
segments," Lugavere explains. "We basically set the
context for each piece."

"We're
conversationalists and curators," Silva adds. "There
are a variety of different perspectives."

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While the two have done
pieces (called "pods" in the network lingo) on a
variety of subjects, from the secret 20-something party scene
in Muslim countries to the booming counterfeit ID business
spurred by illegal immigration, the flamingly heterosexual
Silva and Lugavere have nearly always had a big gay following
thanks to their detailed pods on issues affecting LGBT people.
Their good looks and friendly banter haven't hurt their
standing with gay viewers either.

"Our first fan
mail ever was from a guy named Vern," Lugavere explains.

"He wanted to know
if I was gay," Silva adds seamlessly, displaying a trait
the two share, making the interview more like a conversation
with one very attractive entity rather than a three-way
discussion. "We get e-mails all the time asking if
we're lovers. Max and Jason, we're the gayest straight
guys ever."

Although they bristle
at its overuse, the
b

word --
bromance

--

has been utilized more than once to describe their
relationship. "That phrase is going to be cool for 10 more
minutes," Lugavere says, but he jokingly admits he and
Silva are "the Matt and Ben of Current TV."

"He has a
super-good energy," Silva says of his friend, while
Lugavere adds, "I'm type B to his type A."

The pair, who met as
students at the University of Miami (which Silva calls
"the hedonistic sandbox of South Beach") and quickly
became best friends, have plenty of personal gay street cred.
Lugavere grew up in New York City and went to high school in
the heart of Chelsea, where he interned at the Boston-New York
AIDS Ride as a teenager. Silva, a Venezuelan, was raised by an
English-teacher mother he describes as "ultra-gay
affirming" in a country "that is not the
gayest-friendly place in the world."

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While in college, Silva
and Lugavere produced and starred in a video documentary titled

Textures of Selfhood,

which took a look at, as they describe it,
their hedonism and spirituality. Timing was definitely
on Silva and Lugavere's side; soon after they made the
documentary, it attracted the attention of David Neuman, who
was looking at thousands of submissions as the newly minted
president of programming for Current TV. Neuman dubbed their
documentary "the
Citizen Kane

of the applicant pool" and promptly flew Silva and
Lugavere to L.A. to offer them on-air and producing gigs on the
network.

Current TV may not
exactly be must-see TV for most viewers, but
the network's steady growth and the pair's growing
body of work has gotten them noticed. Last year Silva and
Lugavere took part in clothing giant Gap's fall
"Icons" print ad campaign and hosted Pangea Day, a
four-hour concert and film event broadcast in 150 countries and
watched by 500 million people.

Their notoriety has
also provided some face time with their big boss, the Nobel
Prize-winning Gore himself. "It's like getting a bear
hug," Lugavere says of meeting up with Gore.
"He's big enough to hug both of us at the same
time." Gore has also been something of an inspiration to
Silva and Lugavere; they are developing, independent
of Current TV, a feature-length documentary taking on the issue
of sustainability.

While Silva and
Lugavere are interested in presenting a thought-provoking look
at the subject of gay rights, their personal views couldn't
be more clear.

"We believe
religion, dogma, and morality that comes from Judeo-Christian
thinking has no place in legislative government," Lugavere
says before referencing another cable opinion maker who one day
may find himself eclipsed by the rising stars on Current
TV.

""Bill Maher
said to be tolerant of intolerance is not a good thing,"
he says.

"You can't be
a moral relevatist," Silva states emphatically. "When
you're imposing your will on someone else, that's crossing
a line."