Theater-trained actor Randy Harrison makes his television debut with Showtime's provocative new series Queer as Folk — and what an initiation it is. In the pilot episode, airing Dec. 3 on the cable network, the newcomer's 17-year-old alter ego, Justin, loses his virginity with a 29-year-old in a scene so sexually explicit that even the predominantly gay audience at last week's premiere screening in New York were squirming in their seats.

"It actually wasn't as much of an adjustment as I thought it would be," Harrison tells TV Guide Online of his transition from the stage to the small screen. "The cast is amazing and it's such a great environment up in Toronto (where Queer is shot). We all get along really well, which you sort of have to given the intimate nature of a lot of the stuff that we have to do. It's been really idyllic."

Although Queer as Folk delivers on its promise to be as racy as the British series on which it is based, Harrison points out that the show is not all skin and no substance. "If it were badly written, then I wouldn't have wanted to do it," he admits, "but the characters are so well written you want to play them."

Case in point: While the much talked about one-night stand between Justin and resident man-eater Brian (Gale Harold) may be graphic, it triggers a major awakening for Harrison's sheltered character. "It completely shakes him up," he says. "He's sort of thrown into this whole new world and quickly learns to adapt and play the game. It's really great to watch him become empowered and become more confident."