Long before he founded the LGBT TV network Logo, Matt Farber dreamed of getting into the entertainment business.
He was obsessed with music, television and pop culture. And, like most young LGBT people, he knew he was different, but struggled with his sexual orientation.
“I had a tough time accepting it and fought it until I was 29,” he recalled. “Growing up a suburban Jew, there were cultural expectations of me. It was the ‘70s and ‘80s and that was a different time.”
Farber eventually left New York to study finance and accounting at the University of Pennsylvania’s elite Wharton School of Business, but he never quite outgrew his love of music. After graduating, he knew he would have to make a difficult choice.
“I was still obsessed with music, so I was simultaneously interviewing at investment banks and knocking on the doors of record companies, looking for opportunities. On some level, I knew I was gay and Wall Street didn’t feel like a safe path at the time,” he said.
His first job in the industry was marketing director at a local Philadelphia radio station, the first of a whirlwind nine jobs in seven years.
Eventually, Farber landed his dream gig as the head of music programming for MTV, responsible for the music videos and VJs. As a teen, he had spent every spare minute watching the groundbreaking cable network that was now transforming from music videos to a youth lifestyle format.
The self-described workaholic spent the next seven years as an “intrapreneur,” charged with developing and operating complementary businesses that could sustain MTV’s music brand, including the launch of MTV2, MTV.com and an MTV radio network.
Eventually, Farber moved to the West Coast with his then-husband. He served as the CEO of a music industry dot com when the idea for Logo finally hit him. He decided to incubate it inside Viacom, the parent company of MTV, where he had worked for eight years. He spent the next three years as a consultant developing the business and creative plan while tirelessly pitching it to senior management.
“There were so many times that the plug was about to be pulled because it was deemed too risky or corporate politics got in the way. If it were today, I don’t think I’d have the persistence and tenacity I did at the time,” Farber said.
Farber stepped aside shortly before launch when he realized it would be hard to be a “nanny” for something he felt he birthed, especially when he questioned the direction the new parents at Viacom suggested.
“My name is forever attached to Logo as founder, so I want it to be successful,” he said resolutely.
After nearly a decade as a media consultant, Farber is again producing entertainment, this time as the founder of the Outlandish performance series. A sold-out season in Fort Lauderdale two years ago led Farber to expand his series to Palm Springs for the first time last year and Provincetown this summer.
Outlandish returns next January with eight shows, including the South Florida debut by Fran Drescher (“The Nanny”) and returning fan favorites Coco Peru, Pam Ann and Leslie Jordan (“Sordid Lives”). He’s also managing several acts including Miss Richfield 1981, sexy cirque troupe AirOTic and the cabaret duo Lee Squared, a Liberace and Peggy Lee tribute act.
“It’s hard for me to turn off, but a little bit of healthy anxiety keeps me motivated and on my toes. I think I’ve gone from being a type A+ to an A-,” Farber chuckled.
When he’s home in South Florida, he enjoys spending time with his husband, serving on the board of the Pride Center and running with the Frontrunners—at least until the next show.
For more information and tickets for the 2019 Outlandish performance series at the Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale, go to OutlandishFL.com.