Why This Comedian Wants to Be Every Instagay’s Gay Fat Friend

"When it comes to attraction and sexuality, there’s a lid for every trash can."

Todd Masterson is a Los Angeles–based television writer and stand-up comedy veteran of more than 10 years, but this fall he managed to cut-and-paste himself into a new space: the world of #Instagays.

On Instagram, Masterson is best known by his alias @GayFatFriend, under which he uploads photos and videos of himself Photoshopped onto group shots of muscly, conventionally attractive gay hunks. The posts and their captions are all in good humor, says Masterson. In fact, the gay comedian lays out his mission statement point-blank in his Instagram bio: “I’ve always wondered what it’d be like if these gays had a fat friend, so I added myself to their pics. See? Still havin’ fun!”

NewNowNext recently caught up with Masterson for a chat.

Why did you launch @GayFatFriend?

I started doing it as a joke. I see these guys in West Hollywood… I just found this group of friends who take all these silly pictures, so I used their pictures to start. They’re always together and always taking these goofy pictures, and there’s never a fat person in sight. And none of them have any fat friends. They don’t really socialize with fat people ever. I just thought this joke would be funny—it’s kind of ribbing them, but also just showing them that, look, there’s a fat person in your picture. It’s still fine.

When did the page pick up steam?

[Originally], I was just going to upload maybe one picture a week, and just as a little hobby. And then my friend Eliot Glazer, who was on Broad City, reposted it, and it started blowing up. I got, like, 1,000 followers in one day. So I was like, Oh, this might actually be a thing. Then I started posting like every day—which I was only going to do for like a week. Because I got so many followers all of a sudden, I was like, Oh, I should probably keep making content. Which is the grossest word ever, by the way.

Have you managed to keep that momentum going?

Yeah. That’s what I do now. I post a picture every day, but it’s been really fun. It doesn’t feel like a chore. I’m never bummed or scared that I have to make a picture to post. I’m always like, “Yay, I get to make another picture!”

How do you find photos to Photoshop yourself into? I assume you’re a frequent peruser of the #Instagay hashtag.

Oh, all of these muscly, traditionally gorgeous people send me their pictures because they want to be a part of it. Or [followers] send me profiles they found that they were like, “This picture would be really funny for your page.” There’s not really a shortage of muscly guys on Instagram. They’re fairly easy to find. But I try to only use ones that are just extra-ridiculous.

Walk me through the making of a @GayFatFriend post.

Usually, inspiration strikes daily. So, at around eight every night I’ll pick my picture or whatever I’m going to [spoof], and then I’ll grab my husband. His name is Rob; he’s my photographer. So I’m like, “Come on, we’ve got to go take a picture.” And then we run to the bedroom because that has the best lighting. I’ll usually strip down and put on a bathing suit of some sort, and then we’ll take pictures.

How has the reception been to your posts?

I will say, besides the original group of guys whose pictures I used, [the feedback] has been 100% positive. Everyone loves it. I have not had one troll comment. I’ve not had one person make fun of me or be mean—not one. And I get, like, hundreds of messages a day, and I’ve gotten 7,000 followers in a month. [The page is] really active every day.

I’m never mean. That’s a point I like to make, too: I’m just being silly. I don’t think these guys are stupid. I don’t hate these guys. I literally do want to be their friends! So I’m like, “This is what it could be if we were friends, you guys. Look at us! We’re having so much fun.”

What do you make of the overwhelmingly positive response?

I honestly wasn’t expecting it. It kind of blows my mind every day that everybody is so kind! It’s funny because for me—I’m going to be 40 next year, and I have pretty much been a never-nude my whole life. I don’t even take my shirt off at the beach. But, I don’t know, something clicked in the last year, and I was like, I’m married. I’ve been married for eight years! I guess I just feel like I have nothing left to lose.

It’s weird, feeling almost like, You know what? I’m going to take my shirt off and show people [my body] now. I’m half-naked in all these pictures, on the internet, for thousands of people to see. It’s just so crazy to me. But a lot of people message me and are like, “You’re the hottest one in the picture,” or, “You’re the cute one.” It made me realize that when it comes to attraction and sexuality, there’s a lid for every trash can. My body is hot to a lot of people. Just because I’m maybe not attracted to my body doesn’t mean there aren’t a ton of people that are. And that’s been really fun—to become this weird, kind of funny sex symbol to a lot of people.

Wow! So has running this account boosted your confidence?

Oh, yes. I’m feeling more confident in everything I’m doing now, even when I’m on stage doing stand-up. I used to always worry, Am I standing the right way so that my stomach doesn’t look so big? Now I’ve been so much more casual and relaxed on stage, and I’m really liking where my stand-up is.

If you could do sponsored content with any brand, which would you choose?

Oh, my God. I mean, it would have to be candy of some sort because I have a huge sweet tooth. I called out Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups [on my Instagram Story highlights]—I would totally love to work with Reese’s. That would be so funny.

What’s the biggest thing you hope your followers take away from your posts?

Not to sound cheesy, but just laughter. I hope they laugh. A lot of the messages I get are people being like, “Oh, I was having a really shitty morning, and I found your page. It just totally made me laugh. And now I’m not so sad.”

You can follow @GayFatFriend on Instagram.

Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Probably drinking iced coffee or getting tattooed.
@_sammanzella