Once upon a time, a trainer and a beauty expert joined forces to battle health issues, start a business and endure the punishing glare of reality TV.
Picture it: You’re a gay guy unhappy with how your pecs look, and you have it checked out only to learn that what you assumed was a cosmetic issue could be breast cancer. Add in that your husband (who is also your business partner) has offered to help your sister get pregnant, only to discover his little swimmers might not be up to the task. Finally, have all this drama captured on camera for a series documenting the stressfull early days of marriage called Newlyweds: The First Year.
What you’re picturing is the life of stylist-to-the-stars Brandon Liberati (pictured above, styling) and his husband, fitness expert Craig Ramsay (pictured above, training ). Now that their season of Newlyweds has aired, the couple is embarking on a series of ventures that combines their talents and turns the pair into a single business juggernaut.
Life in the spotlight is not new to the pair. Liberati has shared beauty secrets with celebs heading to the Golden Globes, Oscars and Tonys, including clients such as Heroes’ Jack Coleman and Desperate Housewives’ Nicollette Sheridan. Meanwhile Ramsay has helped unleash the inner athletes of notables like club diva Kelis and Queer As Folk alums Sharon Gless and Peter Paige. But rather than compete over who can snag the biggest star, Liberati and Ramsay prefer to complement one another.Find LGBTQ-Friendly Resources
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The Worst Pick-Up Line of All Time
Ramsay and Liberati‘s love story began, appropriately, at the gym. “I spotted Brandon when he walked into Gold’s Gym in Hollywood back in 2010,” Ramsay recalls. “He was this tattooed, mature, bad boy, and I wanted to meet him right away — and turn him good.”
“What he didn’t know was that I was a good guy all along,” explains Liberati. “Being from Utah — a state that was hard for me growing up — the tattoos were just a shield. They were my armor and a way of keeping people at arm’s length.”
“I did have what he says was one of the worst pickup lines of all time,” Ramsay adds with a laugh.
Liberati groans. “He tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I was ‘interested in a pre-workout shake.’” Nevertheless, it was the beginning of a partnership that has endured tempests, trivails and television.
As Seen on TV
Newlyweds caught up with the couple just as they were about to tie the knot, but they can easily sum up the five years between meeting and marrying: They got serious quickly and never looked back.
“We went on a date the night we met,” says Ramsay, “and a few other times all in that first week. I was on Connection — a site that was a very fluffy way of meeting people back then.” But after meeting Liberati, he says, “I immediately went home and erased my profile.”
Liberati agrees. “Craig didn’t play any games.”
Their choice to wait to wed was largely about wanting to do so with all the rights their straight counterparts enjoyed. “We didn’t want to settle for less,” Ramsay explains. But once they decided to proceed, TV came calling. “The execs at Bravo got word of us getting married and presented the opportunity,” Ramsay recalls. “We thought it would be beautiful to share not only that, but [also] our lives and the people who are close to us: family, friends and clients.”
Getting married while umbilically attatched to a production crew was taxing. The Newlyweds shoot lasted close to a year, during which cameras followed them almost everywhere. Additionally, Liberati says, “We had what they called a ‘Couples Cam’ for us to use when the crew wasn’t there to film.”
“No one should be thrilled to have all their most private moments recorded because it’s not always pretty,” Ramsay says. “The frustration for us was that this wasn’t our show. … This show was for the production company and the network and we were giving up control to them.”
Contrary to their initial concerns however, the couple did not feel that attempts were made to ratchet up their personal challenges in the hopes of creating good TV. Plus, Ramsay and Liberati decided to be open and honest as possible. “We knew that as long as we were being our authentic selves, it wouldn’t matter how the editor put our story together, “ says Liberati.
Between Liberati’s cancer scare (which included surgery to address a breast tissue condition called gynecomastia) and Ramsay helping his sister-in-law get pregnant, they offered the show plenty of material to work with. “I had sperm fertility issues,” admits Ramsay. “I had to provide samples; so it was filmed,” he explains, “with Brandon – ahem – helping, if you get the idea. It’s all there, and we had no hesitation in showing it. And I’m sure they aired everything the law would allow.”
After Liberati’s surgery, Ramsay returned the favor by finding unique ways to encourage his husband’s recovery: “I wanted to make it entertaining for him; so I took off a layer of clothing for every exercise he did without complaining.”
Fit & Phab
After years of referring clients to one another, Ramsay and Liberati decided to more actively build on the signficiant overlap in the nature of their work. “Craig’s clients would find out about my work in beauty, and they’d hear about Craig’s training programs from me; so it was only natural that we’d start cross-promoting,” says Liberati.
That’s how their business Fit + Phab (fitandphab.com) was born. Phab stands for “Pure Health and Beauty,” and Ramsay is enthusiastic about how it combines their expertise. One example he points to is a program, “where we pair sleeping beauty secrets with Brandon’s ‘Beauty Muse-ic,’ which is an iTunes playlist that inspires a beauty journey from within.”
Though they’ve found success as openly gay life and business partners, the couple have had run-ins with homophobia. “I’ve seen it many times,” Ramsay confides, “especially in the fitness industry. I’ve been pulled from the cover of magzines after the photo shoot was complete and they learn in the interview that I’m gay.” In recent years, however, such slights have become somewhat more subtle. “What I’m seeing instead is that — even in these ultra-straight enviromentments — they’re calling me ‘a wonderful mix of Richard Simmons and Jillian Michaels.’”
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Now Ramsay and Liberati find themselves obsessively brainstorming new ideas for Fit & Phab products and services, such as a nail enhancer for men called Male Polish and Workout’s A Drag, a video workout program featuring Pandora Boxx of RuPaul’s Drag Race fame.
And though they’ve left the the documentary film cameras behind (for now), fans who just can’t get enough can check them out on YouTube (search #fitandphab) including “Inside Scoop” videos about their lives and outside-the-box fitness advice — even how to squeeze in some extra workout time during your morning bathroom routine. Ramsay promises: “There’s never a time when we’re not entertaining!”
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Last modified: July 10, 2019