by Raj Rudolph and Jordan Muckley
Here at EQ, there is nothing more we love than to go out and revel in the masterful beats of our martyrs of music. Standing within the confines of a dance floor surrounded by the elegance of electronic euphoria with a quadruple vodka & coke in hand sounds like a cunning plan indeed. Yet for the duo behind FV Events, Tony Fornabaio and Brandon Voss, clubbing isn’t just about having a good Saturday night out. For them, it is a culture in its own right.
Revolutionaries of the New York City queer clubbing scene, they dominate the weekends with popular club nights Rockit (Fridays) and Club 57 (Saturdays), each pulling in over 1,000 guests per night. Club 57 in particular has been working its magic, acclaimed by Next Magazine to have “done the seemingly impossible and resurrect the gay dance party”. Well, with world-class DJs on board and persuading the likes of Kylie Minogue, Kelly Rowland and Kelis to perform, no wonder why gay New Yorkers have a reason to go party on a Saturday night.
We caught up with Tony and Brandonto see what all the fuss is about and to learn about some of their club polices, how hard it is to stay ahead and which popstar they found passed out on a sofa…
EQ: Hey guys, you have been touted as the hottest gay club promoters in New York City. What traits must you possess to become the best?
You need to be able to bounce off people and the promoters and to engage with everybody making sure every clubber you get through the door is having the time of their life. You also need to have an obsessive eye for detail from every single light fitting, to the decoration, to the DJ’s and the performers. It’s all about attention to detail and knowing what the scene is like.
Being club promoters is tough; you’re always on-the-go trying to spread the word. What do you find to be the hardest part of club promotions?
I would say the toughest part is trying to stay ahead of the competition. I come from a business background so you’re always trying to keep your wits about you; whether you’re out in the public eye, throwing parties or not, everything you do is a constant burden because we are successful. You find a lot of people trying to do what we do, so we have to stay ahead of the game and try to constantly reinvent ourselves.
There’s a great line in Sex and the City when Samantha tells Smith “First come the gays, then come the girls”, why do you think the gays are the best at starting trends and spotting future superstars?
If you look at all the superstars in the past, you always get gays to identify with them first; they want to be embraced by the gay community. As we know, gays are notoriously picky and not easy to please, so if we are capturing that audience then we are doing something right!
Kylie, Adam Lambert, Lil’ Kim, Ke$ha and Kelis have all performed at your events, who has been the funniest to work with?
The answer has always been Ke$ha! She was just a dream. She was probably the most fun - we actually lost her in the nightclub! Her manager came up to us in the VIP lounge and we were running around the nightclub to find her. When we did we found her passed out on the sofa with a bottle of Jack! She came on stage at 3am and then partied on till 6.
Truly life imitating art there! We are going to get controversial now, recently in London, it was brought to light that G-A-Y have a door policy that basically says that we will only let members in first. They book really popular acts that cater for the mainstream and you get lots of straight boys and girls that want to see the act turn up, only to then be turned away. In terms of door policy, what is your own policy on turning people away based on their sexuality?
We tend to split it down the middle. Our parties have a healthy balance because we don’t need segregation. We do exercise some discretion though. For example, if tengirls show up and cause chaos at the door and show signs of disrespect toward our gay patrons, we would have to turn them away. But we mainly do it on a case-by-case basis. We like having them around as long as they are not annoying! So we don’t really have a door policy.
I think a non-annoying door policy is the best way to go. The music is the main staple of any club night, when it comes to picking out music for your own brand, what do you generally look for?
We have two different DJs on both Fridays and Saturdays so we try to cover all bases and with each crowd. We try and get different music to appeal to each demographic. We tend to look for happy vocal music rather that the dark after-hours type because we have so many different abilities to showcase different types of music – it works in our favour because we play so many different types.
How do you guys enjoy your downtime?
We never do! The question I always get asked is "what do you do in the week?" – It’s like I don’t just show up at the club at the weekend and it doesn’t involve any leg work! We both have our 9-5 job in the week and a 9-4am job on the weekends. We get our sleep when need be, but we still have to show our faces. One down fall with other promoters in our city is that they do like their parties but they are not publicly out and one part of the successful parties is being available so people know who you are, you’re part of the party, and you’re friendly so people know where you’re at and not just behind the scenes.
Where do you guys seeing FV Events going in the future?
Definitely international! We have had offers from Germany to do something over there and also, hopefully in the summer, we are planning to open up a "gay Disneyland" with a nightclub, hotel, restaurant and spa!