Paolo AndinoPaolo Andino is that good looking guy from the Big Gay Sketch Show on Logo. Actually, he’s the extremely good looking guy. Oh yeah, he happens to be funny too. Nice combo! This first generation Cuban American from Miami is a rising star amongst his troupe members but off set he’s a solo entrepreneur making dough with his mixing bowls. Read on to learn about his whole wheat and high fiber cookies. In between batches, I got personal with him about acting, baking and making a living doing the things he loves.

1. How did growing up as a first generation Cuban American influence your views about money?
We grew up very mindful of the value of what we had, and not to waste anything. Eat all your food, there are people starving in other countries, that sort of thing. Both my mother and father started from nothing when they came to this country as teens. Castro only allowed women to take two dresses and a pair of shoes out of the country. My parents didn’t believe in an allowance, I mowed lawns from the age of 10 to earn some spending cash. My favorite thing to buy was a half-gallon of Heavenly Hash Ice Cream for the family — I always liked to splurge!

2. Has being openly gay helped or hurt your career?
Right now it’s definitely helping. I wouldn’t have this dream job on the Big Gay Sketch Show were it not for being gay. I have never felt like it has pigeon holed me in any way. I have an audition Monday for a pilot and the character is in love with a female co-worker. My agent sends me out for everything I’m right for, gay or not.

3. How long have you and your partner, Matt been together? Do you always see eye-to-eye on finances?
We’ve been together for four and a half years. I think we have very different perspectives on finances, because he makes more that I do, but he understands that I can be rich one year and poor the next. He’s forever telling me to save my money because I am like my mother who always says, “Money is like manure, you have to spread it around and watch things grow!” I believe in paying the bills, but also spending a little on yourself when you have it — the bills will never go away!

4. How did money first come up in your relationship?
Probably after the first year, I had been doing very well from residuals from a commercial and matching him dollar for dollar. Then I entered a dry period and we talked about what I could afford and not afford, he’s very understanding and it doesn’t get in our way at all.

5. What are some of the financial challenges that come with being an actor?
The inconsistency of the income is a huge challenge. Also the limitations of what you can do to earn money and still be available to audition for acting work. It’s a constant struggle. Sometimes I have to work on weekends and that can take time away from social plans which can be stressful.

6. Are there any financial perks with being on a gay comedy show?
I have been flown to several cities for events like gay prides and such. It’s been fun to party on the network’s dime in exchange for autographs and picture ops! We were also invited to go on Rosie’s R Family Cruise this March, very fun – it was my first cruise!

7. How did you start selling cookies from your kitchen? I feel like I’ve always been looking for a small business of my own, that way I could do what I love when I’m on camera and off. I love cookies but all the ones I had were either too oily or too dry or didn’t have enough chips, so I set out to make the perfect cookie. I created the tag image from one of Matt’s Elementary School pictures where he had a bowl cut and wasn’t smiling. I called them “don’t touch my cookies!” because it was what his expression seemed to say — a cute little boy that might not be so harmless if you touched his cookies. The whole thing has a 70’s throwback feel.

Then I sold some to a girlfriend who gave them as Christmas gifts to her son’s teachers. A few days later one of the teachers came up to her and smacked her on the arm and said, “Why didn’t you tell me those cookies were so good? I opened them in front of my mother in law and I had to share them!” That’s when I knew the product lived up to its name!

8. What’s the most valuable thing you’ve ever won?
Definitely it would have to be our first anniversary experience. Matt and I found a video camera in a cab and recorded our adventure getting it back to the owners. We didn’t leave our last names and after figuring out the couple was on a cruise to Bermuda and getting the camera to the ship we forgot about the whole thing. A few weeks later we end up in the New York Post, which was searching for “Do-Gooders Matt & Paolo” with photos lifted from our footage. It snowballed into a media frenzy culminating with an interview by Diane Sawyer (gorgeous and amazing!).

A few days after that the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce contacted us and said we handled the situation like any good Bermudian would and offered us a free 5 day/4 night stay at the Mandarin Oriental. We stayed in a beautiful cottage with 6 rooms and a private patio overlooking the ocean. They also gave us private tours of the island, jet ski rides, $100 lunches and $200 dinners. I only spent $60 on a sweater the whole time we were there. It was magical and it made us feel like we were meant to be together forever.

9. Do you remember the first time you got paid as an actor?

It was summer my first year of grad school and I made $200/week playing Tranio in Taming of the Shrew. He has more lines than anyone in the show second only to Kate! Of course I was over the moon to be getting paid to act!

10. Which rich celebrity would be the most fun to impersonate on the show?
I’ve done a few this season that were a lot of fun. I would love to play someone completely out of my comfort zone next time. Maybe someone older or a woman would be great. I love to hide behind wigs and makeup; there is a greater freedom to play when the character is further away from yourself.

More about Paolo Andino
Paolo Andino, a theatre major from UMKC, shot the independent film Choking Man which played at the Tribeca Film Festival. Shut Up & Do It – another indie film – received an American Latino TV Awards nomination. You may also know this first generation Cuban American as Naldo on Logo’s Big Gay Sketch Show.

Just before that Paolo had a recurring role on One Life To Live, as liver specialist Dr. Harrison, until the hospital blew up – true story line! Luckily he survived with a faint heart beat and lived to operate again. Paolo has appeared on Ed, As The World Turns, Guiding Light & Law and Order. He can be seen and heard in commercial spots for DHL, MTV, United Way, McDonald’s, the video game True Crime II and the audio book Heat.

Paolo also sells his deliciously hip little gourmet treats “don’t touch my cookies!” from his kitchen in Greenwich Village.

Read other Queercents interviews in the Ten Money Questions archive.