from The New York Times

CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. — Robert Reeves, 78, spends most days lounging by the pool, taking in the low-desert sun with his friends and neighbors. The four of them talk about what’s new — recovery from a recent corrective foot surgery, some chronic inflammation issues — and record videos for social media, where they’ve amassed millions of followers as the Old Gays.

GrandInfluencers5-150x150On a blistering afternoon earlier this month, Jessay Martin, 68, headed across the street for the usual poolside confab, stopping to grab a Bud Light Seltzer Pineapple from the fridge on his way out to the patio. There, he sat down in a stuffed armchair beside a well-endowed wooden sculpture of the male form and rubbed sunscreen into his bald pate as the group discussed the day’s video concept: an outfit transformation set to the rapper Jack Harlow’s single “First Class.”

“I need to wear my pretty underwear for this,” Mr. Martin said. “I need to have my ruffles on my rump.”

It wasn’t like the first drag video they did, Bill Lyons, 78, said as he took a sip from his milk chocolate Ensure. He raised his eyebrows, then said in a stage whisper: “Bob didn’t wear any underwear.”

“Oh, no,” Mick Peterson, 66, said under his breath.

Mr. Martin laughed and said: “Well, he had on a full skirt!” Mr. Reeves, the Bob in question, widened his eyes and played innocent, looking out at the shadows of palm trees glistening in his cerulean pool.

The Old Gays were running behind schedule. They still had to learn a dance and film a usable take before Mr. Martin’s Tina Turner cover concert that evening. “My music is all I’ve ever wanted to do, but these videos are like a big dessert in my life,” he said. “I live for them, I really do.”

Most of the TikTok influencers living in so-called collab houses — mansions where they film content together — are barely old enough to legally sign a lease. But the Old Gays and their fellow “grandfluencers” are proof that recording viral videos under one roof isn’t reserved for the young. And while these senior influencers may very much be performing for the camera, they’re also sharing a new vision for what it means to live meaningfully with age.

So, what do you get when you give six elders and two young producers a ring light and a platform on TikTok? The Retirement House’s videos are more silly than shocking: lip-syncing trending songs, playing practical jokes on each other. And though the scenes are still a bit scripted, they’re a departure from the actors’ previous roles.

“I’ve been acting for 30 years, and I’ve done a handful of stuff,” said Monterey Morrissey, 71. “And here I am doing 10 seconds on an iPhone, and three and a half million people watch it.” (The group has 3.6 million followers on TikTok and 184,000 on Instagram.)

Gaylynn Baker, 85, started her acting career at 19, when she moved from small-town Texas to New York City and joined the chorus on “The Steve Allen Show” in the 1950s. Sixty-five years later, she’s finally found her big break, performing goofy stunts for six-second videos watched on smartphones around the world, at a time in life when most people no longer want to be working.

“The irony, of course, is that we’re in Retirement House, but I don’t have anything to retire from,” she said. “I’m having a great time.”