For Paul Florez, puppy love brings confidence, compassion, and unconditional adoration
By Renee DiNino / Photography courtesy of Paul Florez
Imet Paul Florez at a charity event a year ago and we instantly connected over people watching, Hollywood and glamour, and pets.
Florez was the auctioneer at the event and he not only looked fabulous but raised a lot of money through his personality and glitzy gavel. “SOLD to the highest bidder!”
Florez has been the head auctioneer at HUNT Auctioneers for five years. His first auction as a professional auctioneer was for an animal rescue in New York City’s meat-packing district, of all places, where he broke a record for fundraising. His opening statement, he recalls, was “I’m the proud dad of two Pomeranians who are currently mad at me for not being home.” There was an instant connection and an auctioneer was born.
His energy and passion for life is contagious. He lives in the New York City area with his husband – Jeff Florez-Taylor, who is a director for Live Nation – and, until recently, their two fur babies, Victorius and Apollo.
In addition to his life as an auctioneer for high-end celebrity events, he’s a published author and writer/contributor for many publications, including The Huffington Post, The Advocate, Slice Magazine, HelloGiggles, Queerty, Gay.com, Marvel Pulse Newsletter, Burrow Press, Liar’s League, Dead Rabbits, and Wizard magazine.
This year he was to be a writer-in-residence at The Rockvale Writers’ Colony in Tennessee as well as The Betsy Hotel in Miami Beach. Covid-19 changed those plans just a bit, forcing him to move them to later dates, but he’s hoping to keep them both before the end of this year.
His book “Flaco,” about his relationship with his father, is being shopped around to publishing houses. He and his father share more than their love for people; they’ve also shared the experience of anorexia. Now under control, his father’s experience stemmed from coming to this country and starvation was a way of life. He’d rather let others eat than himself. Florez says he watched his father and learned some of his behaviors, using them as coping tools when he was being bullied as a child. The book explores their complicated relationship as father and son. While the men have endured many challenges both, as individuals and together, Florez says his father has always supported his life as a gay man. In fact, it was never an issue or discussion once he came out to his father – they celebrated at The Cheesecake Factory.
Back to the pets. Paul grew up around many animals; his sister Cindy, who suffers from petit mal seizures, had a menagerie of pets. A family doctor suggested animals as a means of therapy that proved to not only help his sister, but the whole family. At one time, there were five dogs in the home who formed bonds not only with Cindy, but with Paul, who admits it helped him through years of bullying.
He feels his love for animals has given him the perspective and courage he needs to be in front of hundreds, if not thousands, of people. It’s what makes him connect on a personal level.
He met his husband Jeff when they were 12 years old. They were internet pen pals for seven years before they met in Florida in 2003. On a date early on in their relationship, they were walking through a mall in Miami, saw a Build-A-Bear store, built two stuffed puppies, and recorded their voices in little boxes inserted in the stuffed pups, declaring their love for one another. They still have the pups to this day.
Florez’s first pets on his own were actually with his husband. They adopted Victorius (yes, spelled that way) as a puppy. They loved him endlessly to the age of 15. Florez categorizes the loss of their first pet-child as the most catastrophic experience of their lives.
“The loss of Victorius has shown us how grateful we were to share our lives with such a lovable soul,” Florez says. Caring for another being taught them a sense of family, “a pack” as they called themselves. They learned how to love each other unconditionally, without judgment and with complete innocence.
Apollo is a blind Pomeranian they adopted as a puppy a year after they adopted Victorius to add to their pack. Even though they were raised as brothers, Apollo actually is Victorius’ nephew. He loves belly rubs, people, attention, the couch, the bed, the chair – and being blind doesn’t slow this daredevil down!
Paul finds himself in Connecticut for various reasons, mostly work for charitable events. In fact, one could say he devotes his life to charities, to people, and pets.
Balancing his eclectic and exciting lifestyle is easy for this rising star: he puts his husband and Apollo first. (Although he wouldn’t say in which order.)