Some were skeptical a little over a year ago when club kid/go go boy Kirk Calvo announced the creation of his own event production company, LAVENDER UNDERGROUND. “He’s too young!” “He’s a GO GO BOY!!” “WHY do we need another event producer in Gay Seattle?” were some of the catty comments.
But, Kirk quickly proved he had an talent for creating a funky, retro DIRTY night of late night adult fun that consisted of more than your usual glitter ponies standing and posing on a patio with local “gaylebrities” and their foreign born sex toys. Kirk had a mission to provide welcoming space to ALL gay/queer men regardless of age, body type, or personal aesthetic. Yes, his parties are enthused with an air of debauchery and eroticism, but that’s what male gay culture is all about…or, at least it’s a huge and necessary component in the eyes of many.
Mr. Calvo has a HUGE line-up of events for Seattle’s June Pride month including a unique “Sissy” party at Re-bar and a massive collaboration with Ruff out of Vancouver BC at Fred Wildlife Refuge…not to mention he’s bringing back the hugely popular “DJ Mr. Smith” a beloved icon from the glory days at The Eagle before glitter balls, drag queens and “scene queens” took over. We decided it was time to have a long, juicy chat with Mr. Calvo. Enjoy!
SGS: When did you realize you wanted to produce HomoSpecial Events? As a wee gay baby? Were you standing around on the back patio at the Eagle one night and suddenly thought, “I could produce a sexy night of debauchery, too!!” Was there a trigger for you to create your production company Lavender Underground a little over a year ago?
Kirk Calvo: Haha! Well, I think what I do now has kind of always been in the making for me, though probably not in the form of “throwing parties”. I’ve always wanted to be a role model for our community, and once I became more familiar in my 20s with the existing problems in the gay scene surrounding femphobia, ageism, racism, etc., being a positive role model within nightlife seemed like a good fit. So I decided to start producing events in an attempt to remedy these issues.
SGS: Lavender Underground is now a bouncing baby one year old. How would you grade your first year of event production?
KC: I’d say a B… I’ve had a steep learning curve since I started what with all the great producers & diversity in our local nightlife, and I think I’ve found a way to distinguish myself quite well. I went from debuting AREA 2181 last year during Pride month, to throwing 5 different parties this Pride month, which is a pretty crazy accomplishment… and very overwhelming, to boot! But I’m incredibly proud of the work I’ve done, and every single party is an opportunity to perfect the balance between giving my crowd what they want while making nightlife accessible for ALL gay men – not just some.
SGS: What event are you proudest of? Area 2181?
KC: This Pride, the event I’m proudest of is a tie between AREA 2181 and Sissy. AREA 2181 I’m incredibly proud of because of its success and how much its evolved and changed since it first started. RUFF PRIDE I’m proud of because it’s going to be my biggest endeavor yet, and so it’s been quite a challenge – I look forward to taking things to the next level.
SGS: Which leads me to….GURL. YOU’RE DOING FIVE DAMN EVENTS THIS MONTH.
ARE YOU CRAZY?!??!?! THAT’S A LOT OF WORK!!!
KC: LOL. I know. It’s fucking nuts. I hadn’t anticipated this at all last December – I figured I’d just be doing AREA 2181 and Black Friday Reloaded, I was like, “Meh, I’m not ready to take on Pride in only my first year.” But then things started accumulating and I partnered with Michel for RUFF in January, Eagle for Pride Sunday a couple months later, then Rebar commissioned me shortly after that… and soon enough my plate is overflowing. I guess it’s the Aries in me, biting off way more than I can chew.
SGS: Ha! You’re gonna have a mouthful this month!
Pun fully intended…
Let’s go over’em. You’re starting early with Black Friday Reloaded, happening (TONIGHT) Friday, June 5. That’s your harder edged, leather/bdsm event.
KC: Yup, so I’m kicking things off with Black Friday on June 5th – this month we’re going to be inviting guys to experiment with nipple play. We’ll have ice cubes and clothespins sitting out the entire night to use, so we encourage guys to come take their shirts off and have fun.
SGS: You went to IML this year in Chicago. Did that give you ideas for Black Friday Reloaded?
KC: IML was an incredible learning experience for me – I think it inspired all 5 of my parties, oddly enough, because it gave me a chance to really see what the best of the best could throw down. So I came back with a lot of insight on the mechanics of a great, big room party.
SGS: You’ve now done a year of your signature event Area 2181. What can we except from the anniversary party on June 20th?
KC: The anniversary party will be my way of returning to the party’s core message, which is to bring gay men together of all shapes, sizes, colors, etc. It will still retain the cruisy character that the party is known for, but I want to be able to make the crowd realize the point I’m putting across.
SGS: Which ties in with your new party, at Rebar, during Pride Week: Sissy: The Fempowerment Party is happening on Thurs June 25 and it’s for…well, the opposite of your typical “Eagle Bar Party”….instead of big, beefy, hairy “he-mens”, Sissy will celebrate the femme man.
Where did this idea come from and why is this important to you?
KC: I’ve always wanted to lift up fem guys because I know that I’m fem in a lot of ways myself, and I actually draw a lot of strength from that. But I didn’t feel that The Eagle was the right venue for that, obviously. So when Rebar commissioned me for a Pride party, it felt like the perfect time to branch out from the masculine-oriented parties I’m known for to a celebration of fem guys. There’s a lot of hatred and shame around being fem among gay men – I hope that Sissy will flip that on its head and make femininity as powerful, sexy, and desirable as masculinity.
SGS: I’ve actually wanted to do a similar party, and I’d call it “Nellie” and hire Alison Arngrim, Nellie from Little House on the Prairie to be the hostess!
Except, do young gays KNOW who that is?
KC: Hahaha, that would be fabulous. That’s the struggle, though, is that the young’uns don’t know their history – or, with the exception of myself and some others, don’t bother to do the research. They have so much information at their fingertips, but stop short of educating themselves.
SGS: I know there’s some young ‘mos out there who HAD to have watched “Little House”!!
KC: Totally! Or at least The Brady Bunch. Marcia was a stone-cold diva.
SGS: “Marcia, Marcia, MARCIA!” would be a great name for a party! You could probably hire Maureen McCormick to host!
Or a drag queen dressed like her….
Your next big party is a Canadian co-production.with Ruff Pride out of Vancouver BC. How did you hook up with them? What can we expect from our friends from O’Canada Land?
KC: Haha, indeed.
I was approached by the creator of the RUFF franchise, Michel Nadeau of MN events, back in January – he had proposed to bring RUFF down to Seattle for 3 dates this month with my assistance, and I agreed to spearhead the production. The RUFF experience is a lot like AREA 2181 – it’s a bona fide gay men’s party, but I would say it’s more “Big Room” than 2181, which is intimate and cruisy. RUFF is like a circuit party without the attitude. It’s a celebration of gay men, their sexuality and their power.
SGS: Are they bringing down a bunch of hunky, uncircumcised hockey players to dance semi nekkid for us? (I hope)
We could always use some fresh go go meat!
KC: Haha, close! There will be three hunky Vancouver “MENofRUFF” coming down to perform naughty, unspeakable acts that I can’t divulge here. They’ll surely meet their match in our local Seattle “MENofRUFF” hunks. Who will come out on top? We shall see.
I agree! I’ve been pulling from Vancouver since March – they’ve got a lot of ready and willing hotties up there!
SGS: Good! BC can send us their hotties and we’ll send up some from here that we’ve worn out!
Like a cultural hotties exchange between nations!
KC: LOL, totally. I’d love to see more of an integration between gay nightlife in the northwest, and I like to think I’m helping that along with this collaboration.
SGS: Finally, you’re doing a Sunday Pride Night wrap up party at the Eagle and for those of us a bit older, you’re bringing back a beloved Seattle DJ well known for his turns at the table in the 90s and 00s, Mr. Smith. How did you lure him back?
KC: I’ve known Tom (AKA “DJ Mr. Smith”) for a little while, so he was a natural choice for the concept of Lance’s House. He’s got such a legacy with the bar, and Lance’s House is all about legacy – it’s about reviving the “old days” of Seattle Eagle Tavern for one night… perhaps more. Tom has an enduring respect for The Eagle, so he was happy to bring back the rock ‘n’ roll edge that was the cornerstone of the bar’s vibe since its inception. The party will be an exciting resurgence of The Eagle that older men know, and younger men didn’t get a chance to know. It’s a powerful affirmation of leather/cruise bars.
SGS: I think he’s the cornerstone of that party! People adore him and his style of djing! Get word out that DJ Mr. Smith is back at the Eagle and you’ll lure lots of fans into the Eagle who might not venture out as much as they used to!
The Eagle could be FULL of hot daddies that night!
KC: Absolutely. That’s one of the goals of the event, to remind those guys that the bar is still here, and it still cares about them. We want, and expect it to be chock full of hot men that night. A big “climax” to Pride 2015.
SGS: We’ll be exhausted by then….smart Pride partygoers take that Monday off!!!
You need it to recover!
KC: Totally… I will be sleeping all day Monday, I’ll tell you that much.
SGS: And, then Tuesday, you’ll be working on your next party….
KC: Yup, no rest for the weary. Tuesday will be launching right into July’s AREA 2181, Black Friday Reloaded, and also a special collaboration with Seattle Men in Leather that is yet to be revealed.
SGS: Great! Can’t wait to hear about it….Thanks Kirk!!
KC: Thanks so much Michael!
Here’s ALL the poo on Lavender Underground’s events this month: