By Denny Patterson
Look out Andrew Christian. There is a new underwear fashionista on the rise.
The highly anticipated second season of Putting On, starring Israeli-born underwear model, actor, and entrepreneur On Mekahel, is now available to stream on the queer virtual cable TV network, Revry. Binge-worthy, addictive, and full of drama, this reality show follows Mekahel’s journey to build and maintain his clothing and cosmetic empire, Mo Underwear. The six-episode mini first season explored Mekahel’s trials and tribulations in starting the brand with his ex-boyfriend, but the full-length second season dives deeper into his personal and private life all while to further establish himself professionally. From hot models to wedding bells, Putting On has it all.
Mekahel was able to step away from his busy schedule to answer some questions with OutClique.
Denny Patterson: Hi, On! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me about the second season of your reality TV show, Putting On. What do you have in store for viewers this time around?
On Mekahel: We have so much this season! Last season was basically a pilot. You got to see me go through a break up, start my own company, but so much has happened since. I got married, and you will get to know my husband this season. We filmed when we were still engaged, so you will get to see some of the wedding ceremony prep. We had an amazing ceremony in Paris. You will see everything leading up to it because my husband just got out of prison when we met. He didn’t do anything too bad, nothing crazy, but you will see the drama around that on top of the stress of building my company, working on my new collection and planning my move to California.
DP: Since the premise of Putting On is following your journey of building your brand Mo Underwear, let me ask, what goes into building a fashion empire?
OM: Wow. Basically, I gave my whole life to it. It’s so much. People think that underwear is just a small amount of fabric and that’s it, but there is so much that goes into designing a boxer, what people like, etc. Two years ago, people wanted something different than what they want right now. You always need to think about constables and what demographic you want to sell it to. Obviously, I am gay and proud, so my first clients will always be gay. Guys who are very into their body and look sexy, but at the same time, I have a lot of straight friends, so I want to sell to them. I need to combine the sexy tiny boxer to something this straight guy can also wear. There is a lot of thinking in it, and you’ll see in this season that I was collaborating with a lot of consulting people from the fashion industry. I am the voice of the gays, but I want to hear the voice of everybody else. There’s just a lot. At the same time, it’s not just underwear because you can’t build an empire on underwear, so I am trying to add a cosmetic line and fragrances. You need to basically create something that is desirable.
DP: You started your career as an underwear model at the age of 14. Why has underwear always been your forte?
OM: It’s very simple. I’m short [laughs]. I am like 5’8’’. I started to do modeling and acting when I was like a baby in Israel, and as I grew up, I realized that I wasn’t going to be this tall person. I couldn’t be a runway model or do modeling big time, but I would always still book for underwear. The smaller the model, better it is because then you can see the boxers, the abs, and the chest in the same picture. So, I just did underwear modeling for literally every brand out there. Like, every brand you can imagine. At some point when I was in New York, I moved to New York about five years ago to study acting. I was doing underwear modeling and commercials, too. My parents came to visit. My dad is a businessman and he was like, “Just start your own brand because I don’t want to hear that you’re going to auditions and these people are saying no to you.” Honestly, that is our industry. You hear “no” a thousand times, get one “yes,” start working, but then what’s next? So, my dad suggested that I take money and start my own. He asked what I wanted to do, and I said I’ll do what I know best. Underwear.
DP: What do you hope viewers take away from Putting On?
OM: Obviously, I love this world. I love cameras, but this wasn’t why I decided to bring cameras to my most personal moments in life. I am so lucky to live my life as an openly gay man. My family accepted me, the entertainment industry accepted me, and there are so many people out there who are not that lucky. They have all these dreams and they don’t believe that they can do it because they are different, because they are not from here, they’re scared, etc. Everybody can do it. I came from middle Israel to America, to New York, started my company, started my show, and I am happily married. You can do everything you want, and I want people out there at home to watch Putting On and get inspired. I’m not perfect, but just follow your dreams. This is my main message to my followers on social media and the people watching the show. Just believe in yourself. People will ask how I can be a model because I am so short, but at the same time, look at everything I did. Google me. You can do everything, and it doesn’t matter if you’re gay, straight, male, female, black, or white.
DP: You have accomplished so much in your life. How do you stay motivated?
OM: Every day, I have a different dream. Everything I dream about at night I want to achieve it in the morning. My husband is so tired of me [laughs]. I am never resting; I am never just taking a break to chill because I am always thinking about doing more. Obviously, I want my business to be as big as possible, and one day when I have kids, give it to them. I want to have a legacy, and it will take a long time, but I also want change. I want to change the game. I want to help these communities that need this push. Everything in fashion, everything in the acting world, I have so many things that I want to do, and I need to be successful at it. If I’m not, then nobody will listen to me.
DP: Were you and your ex already broken up when you began Mo Underwear?
OM: We started the company about three months before we started filming the first season. When we started it, we were together, then we broke up before the cameras started. So, basically what everybody knows is that we were already broken up, but it was a really bad breakup because I thought he was, like, my forever. He was going to be my husband, then suddenly one day he woke up and said he doesn’t want this anymore. Just out of the blue. So, when the cameras arrived, you see me trying to understand what was happening. I believed that in the first season I hoped that we would get back together, but now I am so thankful we’re not.
DP: Is he at all still involved with the business?
OM: No. We were working on it and then about a year after the breakup, we just realized that it’s not really working well. At the beginning he kind of stepped away because obviously I invested all the money in the company, so he didn’t have much to say about it. So, we kind of pushed him away. Like, we gave him a percentage, but we led him away from the creative side because I just didn’t want to be involved with working together. Then when I met my husband and everything, we realized that it just can’t be.
DP: You and your husband started The OD Foundation last year. Can you tell us more about that and how it’s progressing?
OM: We came up with the idea last year because we both wanted to do something to help gay and trans people in prison. My husband was spending a good amount of months in and out of prison for selling weed. People go to jail for little crimes and experience things they should never have to. So, the plan for the whole thing is to collaborate with a lot of therapists and prisons and offer some sort of therapy sessions to basically help the LGBTQ+ and trans community. They suffer the most in prisons. For me, I also wanted to bring this therapy to young kids from cities that are not really as accepting as New York or L.A. I wanted to not just focus on prison, that will be my husband’s side of the foundation, but I am concerned about the youth and want to help these people, too. It sounds super easy, but it has been very complicated because everything has to go by the book here in America. It has been taking forever, but it’s something that we are working on constantly with everything else we do. We want to use our voice to help change the way things currently are.
DP: Do you currently have any acting projects in the works?
OM: No because of COVID-19, but I just joined SAG-AFTRA (The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists). It took me a while because I’m not from here, so to become a part of SAG, it takes a long time, but I became official right before COVID-19 started. I am excited about that opportunity, and I just signed with an acting agency. So, it is very exciting.
DP: Before we wrap up, is there anything else you would like to add?
OM: Please watch the show, and I hope you like it! Honestly, people will get to know me so well after this season because the first season was very short and edited. This time, you will see everything. I just hope people watch it and like it.