By: Adam Kelley
Soap Opera Digest Magazine
June 4, 2002
Oh, he's a dirty bird, this Ben Masters (Julian) from PASSIONS: Not five minutes into the conversation, a casual mention of Maryland prompts fond memories of half-Irish, half-Cherokee identical twins from Baltimore whom he once, uh, knew.
"They were hairdressers, these two girls and really perverted," he recalls, exhaling lasciviously. "It was beautiful. I met them because another guy I knew was dating one of them, and I said, 'Jesus, I wish you had a sister,' and she responded, 'As a matter of fact, I do.' True story. I won't even tell you what happened, either."
Talking with Masters, you get the feeling that such adventures once befell him with some regularity. "Of course, I was 23 then, as young as some of the fellows on this show," he says wistfully. "I look at these young people now and think, 'God, they're having all this fun,' and of course it all has to do with sex. But then I have to remind myself that I've done that stuff already. Living in New York in the 1970s, before these terrible diseases came along … none of us can throw stones. I've had that fun." Indeed, when the actor was 27, not even a broken neck and full body cast kept him out of the sack. ("She wore a football helmet," he jokes.)
These days, Masters runs on fuels other than lust. To a certain extent, he has been domesticated. "I share a lovely home with a lovely woman in Palm Desert ," he reports. Moreover, he suspects he's just too darn old to revisit the sexcapades of yesteryear. "I'm 55," the actor sighs. "That isn't even middle age. How many 110-year-olds do you know? And as I tell the people in the cast, you don't even want to think about old-people sex. It's too frightening. Push it from your mind!" He pauses briefly. "I guess when you're one of the old people involved, it doesn't matter as much. As long as the tools are working properly, it's all good."
Luckily, his character shares his prurient proclivities, and Masters can live vicariously. "Julian has his fun," he observes, alluding to the shenanigans with handcuffs, cowbells and Theresa Lopez-Fitzgerald, just this side of jailbait. Hilariously, setside sources say that Passions's scripts actually direct Masters to stare at Andrea Evans's (Rebecca) ample bosom. That's fine with him; he'll gladly play King Leer. "Have you seen the women on this show? Makes a bulldog break his chain."
Of course, part of Master's – and Julian's – appeal is his Benny Hillish need to be naughty. That has, in the past, made for some comical highlights. "One time, I got to my dressing room, and there was a note on the door saying I had to go down to wardrobe to try on diapers," he laughs. "I thought they must have had too much Diet Coke, but I went down anyway, and they were like, 'Are you ready?' And I said, 'For what?' They replied, 'You're being fitted for a diaper.' Apparently, it was one of Julian's sex games with Reboinka. So, I stood there in my underwear, and they put different-sized diapers on me."
Despite the injustice of having to appear shirtless on national television with washboard-abbed hunks like Galen Gering (Luis) strutting around near naked in the very same episode, Masters survived the Pampers plot with his ego intact. "Honestly, I'm not humiliated by anything like that," he says. "That comes from the theater. I've played animals on-stage. I've been nude on-stage. It doesn't matter to me. Of course, when you [do nudity on-stage], you have special people to help you out in certain areas, which I can't discuss now. Soap Opera Digest is a PG magazine. The point is, if I'm changing my clothes and someone walks in, it doesn't bother me at all."
Nor do Passions's preposterous storylines irk him, even though he has the resume of a "serious" actor (and has done Chekhov with Meryl Streep, for heaven's sake). "It's a very crazy place," he says lovingly, as if "crazy" were a term of high praise. "The craziness makes it exciting. You never know what's going to happen. Sometimes they're like, 'We're fitting you with contact lenses so you can have flaming orange eyes for a few episodes.' Or, you know, 'You're going to be in hell with Hitler, Kruschev and John Wilkes Booth.' That was the best. I have to say, it was fun being in hell. I loved morphing into the demon."
"Again, I think the fact that I come from the theater helps," he muses. "I did a lot of Shakespeare when I was a young fellow, and there are a lot of Shakespearean overtones to [Head Writer] James E. Reilly's ideas. As an actor, you just get used to these things. Especially in doing this show. I'm not surprised. I just don't stand in disbelief anymore. One time, I was walking by the soundstage, and the costume designer was fitting a goat in a Timmy outfit. I stopped and said, 'What are you doing?' The costume designer said, 'I'm fitting the goat.' And I said, 'Oh, okay,' and I walked on, and it sort of seemed normal."
Just The Facts: