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On Location With Frankie Alvarez

The star of HBO’s upcoming series Looking talks San Francisco—on camera and off

If it looks like Frankie Alvarez and Jonathan Groff are at some sort of BDSM street fair, well, it’s because they are.

“We filmed scenes live at the Folsom Street Fair while it was happening,” Alvarez, who plays Agustín on HBO’s Looking (premiering January 19) says. “Everything you see on the show, we filmed in one day. So, whenever we weren’t filming, we’d be out and about. Nobody knew who we were, so we tried to blend in and were just horsing around.”

Frankie Alvarez, Jonathan Groff and Murray Bartlett

Frankie Alvarez, Jonathan Groff and Murray Bartlett

Alvarez says shooting in San Francisco was integral to the show, which follows the lives of three gay men trying to find their places in the world.

“What we were trying to do as get a naturalistic glimpse into the lives of these three guys,” he explains. “Doing in it in San Francisco, which has such a rich culture and is so unabashedly itself, was a reflection of them. San Francisco is what it is, and no other city can compare; in the same way these guys are unabashedly themselves.”

Even off camera, the actor found things to love.  “What I like best about working in San Francisco is that the culture here is so specific and exciting,” he says. “No matter where you go, no matter what corner you turn, you’re bound to come across a jewel.”