Shining Bright: The Real Stars of LA

by Our Editors
Queer Los Angeles

Whether in the form of hilarious standup, stunning artwork, unflappable activism, tasty cuisine, or physical and spiritual enlightenment, these five LGBTQIA individuals are leaving their fabulous mark on the City of Angels.

Jason Heidemann

BRANDON ANTHONY
There’s yoga that’s tough and then there’s yoga that’s hard. As in rock hard. We’re talking about a nude yoga and tantric workshop where men practice erotic expression through the slow building of heat and energy. So yeah, that kind of hard.

Naked Men’s Yoga + Tantra is a workshop created and taught by Brandon Anthony, a fitness instructor and wellness expert based in Silver Lake, a neighborhood on LA’s East Side that is second in queerness only to WeHo (think artsy bears and daddies). During pre-pandemic times, Anthony’s erotic yoga classes in LA and elsewhere might include up to 70 GBTQ men coming together to shed clothes, release inhibitions, and explore every inch of their bodies together.

Brandon Anthony, Queer Los Angeles, LQBTGQ LA

Brandon Anthony
Photo: Pavel Denisenko

“The Tantric stuff is really about kind of pretending like it’s your first time,” says Anthony via Face Time. “Like you’re 12 and it’s the first time you touched yourself and everything is new again.” Participants engage in flow yoga entirely in their birthday suits and build internal and external heat that translates into erotic expression. Workshops advocate self-love (all ages, races and sizes are welcomed), bodily exploration and the release of inhibitions within a Tantric framework. “We can find pleasure everywhere if we slow down, if we’re not in a rush to get to some type of finale,” he says. Teaching Tanta isn’t the only way Anthony is able to express himself. Like many of LA’s top fitness and wellness gurus, he wears lots of hats, make that headbands.

Anthony was born and raised in Indiana where he performed professionally and choreographed musical theater before receiving his BFA in theater, music, and dance at DePaul University in Chicago. One fateful day, he walked into an Equinox looking for a part-time front desk job and discovered a love of fitness that transformed his life. His career brought him to LA first in 2009. “Moving to Southern California I just became the person I always wanted to be because it’s just so easy to be connected to Earth here,” he says. Then it was onward to NYC for two years and also Vienna (where he met his husband who lives there presently) before returning to the City of Angels in 2015. Along the way, Anthony has pioneered numerous fitness classes that have earned him features in Self magazine, E! Entertainment and the LA Times.

For example, there’s Brandon’s BodyROCK, a high-energy dance class linking movement to music and where participants get to feel like they’re starring in their own Beyoncé video. “I always say, you’re a pop star,” says Anthony. “I want to see that it factor, your fire.” There’s also CannabisFIT, a class where students utilize the benefits of CBD and THC. Yes, people get high and yes, the class is intense. “It’s just as hardcore as it would be if I were teaching at any other fitness studio,” says Anthony. But each class includes a pre-party where vendors teach participants how to consume for activity and walk them through what strands are best for them. (Anthony also teaches a non-Tantric clothing optional yoga open to all genders.)

The pandemic, however, has been a huge disruptor. While Anthony is accustomed to being apart from his Austrian husband for months at a time— it’s never for this long. “I’m in this kind of big space by myself and want to be sharing it with him and that’s definitely hard,” he says. Then there’s his work. Anthony is in demand all over the world and those opportunities are gone for the time being, as are the studios he relies on for his classes and workshops.

In the meantime, he has been teaching limited classes out of his home with limited participants and including mandatory temperature checks and social distancing protocol. “I was surprised by how many folks were ready to be back in the space,” he says. “Its shown me we all feel like we need this.” Aside from the benefit of now having the cleanest apartment on the block (Anthony concludes each session with a full disinfect), having men of all ages and body types baring all in his home reminds him to forget about his own flaws and insecurities. “I could write an essay on the things I don’t love about my body,” says Anthony. His safe spaces for radical self-acceptance are good for the rest of us, too. “What I do is important. This isn’t just a hot naked yoga class. I actually really help people and it re-inspires me and reminds me to be thankful I get to do it.”

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