Another Pride sets sail, and while all involved should take well-earned time to rest and bask in their accomplishment, I have found that a fairly quick debrief while things are fresh is undeniably helpful in planning your next mission.
For good, bad and maybe worse I have been producing live events for over 30 years. From the Santa Barbara County Bowl to Carnegie Hall, it has been both diamonds and dreck. On July 5, 1981, I produced a live TV and radio simulcast of the Beach Boys’ 20th Anniversary from the Queen Mary in Long Beach. Jack and Tuna were the hosts. Both the band and the show were dreadful that day. Cut to last weekend—there I was sitting in the Hollywood Bowl watching the Beach Men on the occasion of their 50th and they were wonderful. It took a village—I counted almost 20 people on stage to hit those notes—but at the end of the day, it is all about the music and that concert was marvelous.
A couple of weeks ago I produced a benefit for AHF Pharmacy at the Greek Theatre called A ‘70s Boogie Night and it was awesome. The acts, crowd, energy and spirit all united to create a truly magic moment.
My point is, putting together a show of any kind is a bitch. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it sucks.
I have both known and liked Sam Borelli for years. Sam is a dedicated community servant who wears many a hat. One of them is the PR guy for our gay Pride. If you read this column with any regularity, you now likely suspect I am a word or two away from trashing—ah, yet this time you would be wrong.
There is enormous effort that goes into our gay Pride each year and last weekend was no different. Just like the Beach Men, it takes a village to pull off all the events, the parade and the festival. I can argue over aesthetics (I loathe flatbed trucks and chain link fence), yet I’m fully cognizant I need to stand down on some issues as I have beat that horse blue.
But the reason I called Sam the other day was to grumble about the caliber of talent. Not only in the festival, but the parade Grand Marshal as well. Molly Ringwald seems like a nice lass who likes us, but we certainly have yet to exhaust queer celebrity types who have lived the life that led yesterday or today a gaggle or two to stand up and be proud.
The performance stages are where we really need the improvement. Sam exclaimed and explained the tough row to hoe when trying to please everybody. That is why there is a Latino Carnival, Country Pavilion, Hip-Hop and R&B Pavilion. You just can’t please everyone; hell, I can barely please myself! Before you shoot me, that was not a shot at diversity. I believe the prideful potentates do a terrific job covering our diverse ass with green grass. Sometimes crab, sometimes Bermuda. Yet can’t we shoot higher?
My pitch to Sam was breaking out of the closed ranks of Pride and reaching out to the entertainment community to assist in talent. Hell, it is the entertainment capital of the world! There are agents, attorneys, managers, even artists that if asked on a volunteer basis would certainly step up to assist. I know times have changed. For years I produced AIDS benefits at the amphitheatre and no one ever turned me down. Streisand, Springsteen, Diamond, Brooks, Elton, Madonna, Jackson: No one ever turned me down or charged me a dime. Those days are gone, now you have to work it. But it can be done.
For the AHF show a couple weeks ago at the Greek, we partnered with K-EARTH radio and they helped deliver talent. Do you think artists perform at Clear Channel’s Wango Tango because they love it? Nope, CC has what those artists need. If indeed our Pride were anywhere close to the 400,000 participants they claim, the right partners, if asked by the right people, would jump at that exposure. The record biz is in the toilet; asked properly, some would love to be involved. TV shows need exposure. Go to The Voice or Duets and use their cast, promote their show and ask real stars to come on and sing just one song with a contestant. I told Sam the studios are ripe. Warner Bros.’ Rock of Ages opens soon, how about stars of that movie singing songs from the soundtrack and promoting the movie with both a performance and a float?
I’m not saying this is easy. It will take a village. But if you can get the correct people asking the right people, you will have a much better chance at creating one of the best, most talked about shows of the year. Something truly to be proud of.
So Sam et al, take a well-deserved nap. Then get to planning. Every new Pride is yet another chance to get it right.