Mr. Bush Reveals All the Beans About Mario Diaz and their Film, “Club King” Screening Saturday at SLGFF

Subject and director of the documentary CLUB KING, Mario Diaz and Jon King are both scheduled to attend the SLGFF screening/after party on Saturday, Oct 11. Photo: Outfest

We’ve been VERY excited about the documentary CLUB KING ever since we first got word about its existence last year. And, why not? It’s a fun profile of Seattle native MARIO DIAZ, who over the course of a 20+ career, has become one of the premiere queer nightlife producers in the country. Mr. Diaz cut his teeth in his hometown “back in the day” before heading to NYC and establishing his career. But, it’s his deliciously naughty events in Los Angeles that have earned him the title “Club King”. Mario’s fans line up outside the door to attend various weekly, monthy and seasonal parties like B.F.D., Full Frontal Disco, Big Fat Grunt and Brutus, which always feature Mario’s trademark line-up of the beefiest, hottest go go boys in town. (For more on Mario’s rise to Kinghood, check out his interview with our own L.A. Kendall done back in June of this year prior to his appearance at this year’s PrideFest celebration.)

And, since we JUST chatted with Mario, we decided to talk to the documentary’s director, JON BUSH to get the nitty and the gritty on the making of this film which screens this Saturday, October 11th at 9:15 pm at the newly re-opened Egyptian Theater as part of the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival. Mario and Jon (and other guests) are scheduled to be at the screening as well as at the hellaciously fun after party at Re-bar (media sponsored by SGS). To get tickets to film and party, go here, but first check out our chat with Mr. Bush.

Mario and some of his BFD crew....

Michael Strangeways: I sort of assumed you must have been a long time friend of Mario’s and you decided he’d make a great subject for a documentary, but that’s not the case apparently. How did Mario Diaz come to your attention?

Jon Bush: It’s true that I did not know Mario personally before I sat down with him over a Thai food lunch to pitch him this project in the summer of 2012. I first became aware of him when my dear friend, Justin Vivian Bond, moved from San Francisco (where I was living at the time) to New York sometime in the mid 1990’s. V would occasionally report back on the goings-on in the Big Apple, and it wasn’t long before we started hearing about some sexy, daring new club promoter who was tearing up the Queer underground with what sounded like a crazier version of what we were up to in SF (at the time, I believe we doubted that was possible).

MS: And, WHY make a movie about him? He’s been around for many years but he’s not old…it’s not like he’s out of the loop and ready for a retrospective. He’s still a viable and hugely popular party producer in LA. WHY did you want to make this your first feature film?

JB: Around 2010 or so, Mario and I became Facebook “friends,” which means at the time I became one of his thousands of followers. The pics and posts that flowed down my feed from him were incredible; hot shots of go-go boys, incredible portraits of his talented friends, borderline offensive but always hilarious memes, updates on his many fun projects and acting or artistic pursuits…I thought, “if his feed is this entertaining, how fun would it be to follow him around with a camera and capture some of this amazing life on tape?” Some of my favorite documentaries are cinema-verite, fly-on-the-wall examinations of current events or living entities that allow the viewer inside this incredible life, to see how it works. There are plenty of docs on living subjects – we don’t have to wait until someone’s dead to feature them. Some of my favorites are Hiro Dreams of Sushi, No Direction Home and Truth or Dare. Also, Mario’s contribution to NYC’s 90’s queer nightlife turned out to be very historic and significant – a special time to capture. So we did get to do a bit of the historical doc kind of thing with someone still living.

MS: Which leads to the question, how do you make a documentary about a living person, and one who’s still a viable and successful artist without it coming off as self-serving or overly pandering to the subject?  Were there challenges to overcome in the editing to avoid it from coming across as a vanity project or as a commercial for Mario, even though it was YOUR original idea/project and not Mario’s. He apparently had to be convinced.

JB: Of course there were some concerns about this coming off purely as a vanity project or a big commercial for Mario, but most of that stemmed from my early creative decision NOT to feature naysayers, or competitors, or interviews with enemies. Thanks to reality TV, viewers expect gossip and shade. That wasn’t the style of story I wanted to tell. I’m sure I could have dredged the gutters of LA or New York and found plenty of haters who would shape the tale in a way that some would find a more balanced approach, but I wasn’t interested in rumors, gossip or, frankly, what any of his supposed haters were doing or what they thought. To me, Mario is an inspiration. I personally was and remain amazed at all the things he can do. Successful club promoter, producer, actor, dancer…he does everything with a level of professionalism and artistic acumen that blows most normal human beings off the map. I find that people take that 2 ways, generally: Either they’re amazed and inspired, or they’re jealous, envious and bitter. It’s a very human reaction. I chose to be inspired, and it honestly made me a better filmmaker, living up to his level of perfectionism. The other thing I did was create a very pronounced line between subject and filmmaker; Mario was allowed to suggest ideas, of course; it’s his life – there would be no way to figure out a story without plenty of interviews and meetings with him off-camera to figure out what or who to film. But he understood right away that for the documentary experience to be pure, he’d have to relinquish control and not interfere with the filmmaking process. This film is my baby and every final decision in the cut is mine. While at times that may have been difficult for someone who’s usually so in control of everything at all times as Mario, he early on learned to trust my creative instincts and let go.

MS: Does the fact that Mario is surrounded by a group of highly talented friends/collaborators (Jackie Beat, Selene Luna, Justin Vivian Bond, to name a few) and all those GORGEOUS male go go dancers make it easier, or in some ways, more difficult to make a film about his life? That’s a lot of talent and a lot of beefcake. Is it a challenge to balance all those charismatic personalities while remaining true to Mario’s story?

JB: The original idea for this project was a web series about Mario, where I had the idea that we could sort of break off from focusing so much on Mario into segues about his amazing friends, who are all so smart and talented they each deserve their own documentary (and, in the case of Jackie Beat, she has one). After a long-ish rough cut based on that original series idea kept falling flat at certain points in screenings with test audiences, I went back in and carved out a more traditional “arc” that focused more intently and solely on Mario, with his friends now contributing to that story, rather than telling (or showing) their own. It works better as a movie this way. And all those incredible personalities were eager to talk about Mario and what he does, so it didn’t take a lot of persuasion and cajoling to get them to fess up. I do have some incredible B-roll of performances and interviews with his friends that I hope will end up on the DVD extras, eventually. Real gold.

MS: Is a huge part of Mario’s success due to the fact, people LIKE Mario? In the nightlife world, a lot of party producers are tough cookies with tough reputations but Mario seems….beloved. Is he proof that a “nice guy” can be a success in a cutthroat world like nightlife production?

JB: Mario IS an incredibly sweet man – that really was a revelation working on this, since I didn’t know him going in. It could have been a nightmare, but I honestly lucked out. He has a huge heart and is very sensitive and smart, and watching him work at his clubs I could see a large part of what makes his parties so fun and successful is his incredibly positive attitude he brings. You can’t really throw a good party (in my opinion) if you’re a bitter human spreading hate and fear. That being said, he’s also a powerful personality, with a sharp artistic vision and a wicked-smart grasp of the business of nightlife. A perfectionist could be annoying to those who are a bit more lax in their execution, but with charm and determination you can sway those folks to see it your way. Mario and I share this kind of OCD perfectionist trait – it’s something we bonded over immediately. But we also share a fundamental optimism. I think his success is very much based on his personality, but also his gumption: He hasn’t stopped in over 20 years. And he’s very, very good at what he does.

MS: What’s next for this film? Where does it go from here? What do you hope it achieves?

JB: We’re winding down the 2014 LGBTQ film fest season (we’ve been in 15 fests so far) and are looking into submitting the doc into “straight” film festivals next. We’re finding that some of the most enthusiastic audiences are people who know nothing of gay club life or what it takes to be a promoter, so that open-minded heterosexual people of all ages and types are kind of glamorized by the exotic factor. Of course the Gays love it, too, but if you did the club scene in any metropolitan era in the 90’s some of it may feel familiar to you, a dirty waltz down slutty memory lane, if you will. We’re curious how it’ll play to a wider, mixed audience. We also still have not played in NYC, so, we’re thinking of producing a screening there and after party independently. There are so many friends and fans of Mario’s in NYC (and, a large part of our movie contains vital history of the mid-90’s East Village halcyon days) that we’re sure it’ll be a hit. Finally, we’re in talks to self-distribute via iTunes and other online platforms, perhaps as early as summer 2015.

MS: What’s next for YOU? This is your first directorial feature…do you have new films in development/production? Do you have a “dream” project?

JB: I’m a fictional narrative filmmaker first and foremost, so next up will be something I write and direct myself . I’m currently re-writing or developing 3 different projects, all very low budget, all wildly different subject matter, and would love to make any one of them next. I suppose I should do what most normal people do and focus on one, but they’re all really fun ideas and I guess I’ll just throw them out there and see what sticks. People have been asking me to make another documentary – I was just approached by people involved in the LA underground vogue scene to film something – but while I love docs, I’m really looking forward to directing a narrative next. It’s such a stupid, insane, expensive and complicated “artform” that – even after decades of doing this – I sometimes wonder if it’s worth all the intense work and added stress (I work full-time at a very intense job as well), but in the end I always realize: Yes. Yes, it is.

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Thanks to director Jon Bush for answering all our probing questions!

We hope this interview gets you excited about checking out this terrifically entertaining film about a fascinating subject. You’re strongly encouraged to grab tickets to the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival screening of Club King happening at 9:15pm on Saturday, October 11, 2014 at SIFF Cinema Egyptian on Capitol Hill. Jon Bush and Mario Diaz are scheduled to attend the screening (expect a Q&A after the film) and the after party at Re-bar produced by Qulture Qreative and Kendall’s DJ & Events. DJs Kendall, Skiddle, Julie Herrera and Stormy Roxxx will be on the board and a buttload of local glitterHotties will be on hand. (Plus, I think Mario might be bringing some LA hotties with him….).

You can just see the film or buy tickets for film and the party over HERE. Proceeds benefit Three Dollar Bill Cinema and Seattle PrideFest and Seattle Gay Scene is the official media sponsor for the event. (More info on the party HERE!)

SEE Y’ALL ON SATURDAY!!!

http://www.seattlegayscene.com/2014/10/mr-bush-reveals-all-the-beans-about-mario-diaz-and-their-film-club-king-screening-saturday-at-slgff.html

Vancouver Queer Film Festival 2014: Club King delves into hedonistic royalty

Vancouver Queer Film Festival 2014: Club King delves into hedonistic royalty

The “King of the Clubs”, Mario Diaz Brings his “BFD” Back to Seattle for PrideFest

So zexy he makes lesbians melt with desire...the Club King himself, promoter/actor  MARIO DIAZ!

Let’s get this out of the way right now: Mario Diaz is a sexy sonovabitch!  The smile, the hair, the eyes, the body. Dude has it goin’ ON! This might sound strange coming out of the mind of an ol’ lesbian, but it’s true and undeniable. Just because I am a lady lovin’ lady, does not mean I cannot appreciate. What makes all of this even better is that he’s also undeniably talented, funny, and a sweet, sincere soul. He’s a magic maker, a trail blazer, and a Club King.

I remember back in the early ‘90s when I was a young lesbian working the scene, following around the Tasty Shows crew. I’d hear Mario’s name bantered about. I can’t remember the first time I actually met Mario, as my 20’s are a blur of party times. However, I CAN remember the first time I got to work with Mario. It was for one of the last HOT MESS parties that David Richey and I threw at The War Room (95 Slide for you youngin’s). We brought him to town with JerBer Jones. I instantly loved him. Funny, lovable, handsome, talented. What’s not to love? We worked together again when David and I brought Dirty Sanchez (the band he was in with Jackie Beat and DJ Barbeau) to Chop Suey a few years later. Both of my working experiences with Mario left me with an incredible fondness, and a deep respect for him.

In the sometimes irritating world of social media, where people constantly post their innermost thoughts and feelings, vent about their break-ups, or fill the feed with spoilers about the latest RPDR drama, I look forward to Mario’s posts. Especially those posts where he includes pictures of what’s going down at one of his regular club nights. Especially the BFD ones. There’s always sexy, beefy guys, who you can tell Mario has whipped into shape with his meticulous styling. Makes you feel like you are right there in the action. So you can imagine my extreme joy when I saw that there was a documentary on Mario’s crazy life.

Club King (directed by Jon Bush), is a journey behind the scenes of Mario’s 20 year career. It’s a dizzying journey from New York to L.A., full of candid interviews, archival footage, and cameos by LGBT legends like Jackie Beat (who happens to be one of Mario’s best friends). This year, in honor of Club King, we at Qulture Qreative and Seattle PrideFest are SO PROUD to be bringing Mario and the BFD crew to headline the DJ Stage (Sunday, 6/29 3:00 – 4:30PM). You better believe it’s going to be CRAZY.

Mario was kind enough to give me a few moments out of his busy schedule, and indulge me with a little Q & A for Seattle Gay Scene.

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L.A. Kendall: So Seattle is your hometown. When did you decide to leave Seattle and why?

Mario Diaz: Growing up in Seattle was so much fun. I feel like the nightlife, music and art scenes that came out of Seattle in those days really had a sort of organic nature about them. They weren’t bogged down by expectations if that makes sense. The creativity felt less influenced by say the industry or history like some other cities. These kids were just expressing themselves freely and not trying to fit any category they felt they needed to be a part of and it wasn’t about the money either. In turn there were some really fresh, freaky and amazing characters and music back in those days. I loved being a gay goth teen hanging out on the streets of the U district and on Capitol Hill. It was a great time, lots of friends and fun. We were wild, fruit looping around the streets of Seattle. I used to go to The Monastary, Scoochies and City Beat…these were my formative club years. My early days where I found my extended family and really sowed my oats. I started throwing parties while still in High School in the late 80’s in fact. My first few events were some one off clubs and a few rave parties. I guess I was kind of known for merging the bar scene and the rave scene at the time. We had a blast but I always knew I’d end up in New York City…ever since I was a young boy first learning about the underground artsy gay and leather scene in NY I knew that was my destiny. And soon after I graduated High School I found my way there. But starting in Seattle was the perfect launching point in my trajectory.

LAK: In New York, you opened The Cock. Mid 90’s, right? That seems like such a massive undertaking. Tell me about that experience.

MD: Well the plan was to move to NYC, wait on some tables and as soon as I found my footing, to throw a few bad ass parties. Which I did muster faster than I thought. I felt like when I got there things were already starting to change. It was gentrifying and homogenizing quickly in NY, mainly due to Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and his “quality of life campaign.” Not my quality and not my life that’s for sure. The decadence that I read about and the sexual freedom that was being celebrated was slipping away and I felt cheated. I’ve always felt, as a gay person especially, that being able to accept our innate sexuality without the shame so many of us carry with it, to be of great importance. So I made it sort of my mission to bring back the sexy, wild NYC that I moved there to be a part of. There were so many amazing clubs and parties that were a great inspiration to me at the time. Squeezebox, Jackie 60, Dean Johnson’s “Rock and Roll Fag Bar.” the list goes on. I started promoting my own down and dirty, dark and loud, retro porn inspired clubs that were reminiscent of the 70’s gay scene that I dreamt of. I put a back room at my party. The back rooms had just recently disappeared from the nightlife in NYC. I didn’t necessarily need a back room for my own uses but I always felt they deserved a place. My point is no matter what your urges, thoughts and desires were, they were OK…NORMAL. We are ALL sexual beings and it’s good. Unfortunately that is not the story forced upon most of us growing up. We carry shame like a backpack and it slowly destroys us. Makes us sad, angry and delusional. So I made a point to be IN YOUR FACE nasty, but with a sense of humor and great style. I wanted our sexuality, no matter how “weird”, to feel fun. Because it should be! This has been my mission ever since. I did this wild party called FOXY, probably my greatest party to date. A real amateur exhibitionist scene where we gave everyone play money or “foxy dollars” and whoever ended up with the most at end of night would be crowned “the foxiest person alive.” The sexy and weird things people would do for that money on stage would blow your mind. I loved it so much…nothing has ever compared. It helps that it was just before cellphones took over so people were more free to make a dirty fool of themselves. It was hosted by many of NYC’s finest. Dean Johnson, Justin Vivian Bond, Jackie Beat and the World Famous Bob were a few of my regulars.

Sorry…I’ve gone off point. So yeah…this party is what finally led me to open THE COCK. There was a little bar in the east village and I needed a place to throw Foxy since it had been kicked out of it’s then 3rd venue for one thing or another. The owner was very impressed by my ability to bring people and we soon after became partners in the business. I was given free range with the venue, which at the time had non painted dry wall and no customers, so I was working with a blank slate. I called it THE COCK, I promoted 7 nights a week, booked amazing talent, staffed it with all my friends and we painted it midnight blue…blew glitter everywhere and the rest is history. It was GANG BUSTERS every night for years. If those walls could talk you probably wouldn’t understand their drunkin’ babblings. It was a special time in naughty New York history and I’m blessed to have been a part of it.

Best buds...Mario Diaz and Jackie Beat. BOTH are coming to Seattle PrideFest 2014.

LAK: What led you to L.A.?

MD: I always knew my time at The Cock had a shelf life. I mean how long could I go that hard? Not to mention that my then “silent partner” was a shady bastard and I knew eventually would be an issue. So after a few years, when it wasn’t fun anymore, I left. I’ve always been a performer and acting was my path of study and true dream, so Los Angeles seemed the obvious place to make a living as an actor. Plus I LOVE the sun and it’s in abundance here. I wanted to move to LA, get some TV roles, get a dog and buy a house. And that’s what I did. Not to mention my Tranma, Jackie Beat, had moved here to write for a TV show. She’s my wife for god’s sake…can’t really live without her. LA has a bad reputation and many cities love to trash talk it but I couldn’t be happier here. I love it. The amount of creative brilliance here is astounding and I get to have coffee on my sunny deck with my Joanie every morning. She’s my terrier dog and my girlfriend.

LAK: When did you throw your first party, and what was it like?

MD: I was in high school and it was called “Mario’s Beer Bath.” I did it at a club called The Underground….I think. I had shows pop up everywhere without any announcements, “fashion police” running around writing people bad fashion tickets, a drag fortune teller, “peachy Puff Girls” running around giving out candy grams, body painted go-go dancers. I just knew I could throw a better party than the ones I was going to so I did. And I made a SHIT LOAD of money. Then I was hooked.

LAK: You currently have several parties that you work on. Full Frontal Disco, Brutus, and BFD. Tell me a little about these parties. What makes them different? How long have you been throwing them?

MD: Full Frontal Disco has been going for over 5 years and was inspired by the New Disco sound. I wanted to be one of the first to bring that style to LA. It’s a mixed monthly dance party and I showcase some of the most amazing local choreographers and bands. The shows at Full Frontal Disco are what makes it particularly special in my eyes. Dance has been a great passion of mine and being able to bring it to the nightlife scene and show these kids how many brilliant, inspired artists that are creating work here is a pleasure. Brutus is my monthly man party at Silverlake’s Faultline, a leather bar. Lots of adorable beards and sexiness. My hosts are some of LA’s finest queens and super chicks such as the incomparable MATHU ANDERSEN, Raja, Detox and Vicky Vox…to name a few. And then there BFD (or Big Fat Dick) “LA’s longest running weekly boy party” I’ve been throwing it since I moved here. Every Thursday night at Fubar for OVER 12 YEARS and counting….and it’s still a blast! It’s really all about the music and the hottest go-go crew in town! I style them all myself. Oh and we do a weekly photo contest where we hang pictures of your naughty parts on a clothesline and at end of night…the crowd picks a winner. It’s real sexy n fun.

LAK: What’s your goal when you are planning one of your events? What are the top marks that you try to hit when booking DJ’s, talent, go go dancers, performers, etc?

MD: It’s simple. I try and throw the party that I want to go to. It seems to have worked so far. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years for goodness sakes. Damn I feel old now. Thanks a lot.

ClubKingPoster

LAK: Oh honey, aging like a fine wine. Not old! How did Club King come about?

MD: I was approached by this guy and he wanted to sit with me to discuss a “reality show” project. I have always had an aversion to the idea of a reality show and have been asked in the past, but this guy, whom I knew of, seemed to have a real smart and artistic perspective. His partner at the time, not so much. I was hesitant but took the meeting none the less. It quickly became clear that the director was the one I should work with so that’s what happened. The reality TV guy was no longer in the picture and Jon Bush, the director of Club King, took on the project by himself. Thank goodness for that. We have become good friends and now have a feature film that I’m the subject of. It’s the strangest and most amazing thing. I was resistant and wasn’t sure I was worthy and now feel so blessed to have what I think is the most amazing scrap book of my life I could dream of.

LAK: I’ve only seen the trailer, and can’t WAIT to see the full thing! You recently attended the world premier in Miami – what was the reaction to it?

MD: The reception was amazing. It was my first time seeing the film with an audience and they really liked it. The Q and A after was filled with some really heart warming sentiments. What I think many thought was going to be some fluffy, maybe sexy movie about nightclubs and go-go boys, although it is, has a much more honest and real story. I’m really proud of it.

LAK: The movie debuts to L.A. audiences in July…now THAT is going to be a party! Any special plans you care to share? Are you SO excited?

MD: I’m thrilled to be screening at OUTFEST! So many of my friends and family will be there. It may be one of the most special nights of my life. To be able to share some more of myself and my history, both family and work related, means a lot to me. I can’t wait!

(Strangeways Note: To our L.A. readers, Club King makes its West Coast debut on July 14, 2014 at 9:30pm at the Director’s Guild of America, 7920 Sunset Blvd as part of OUTFEST, the Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival…grab tickets HERE!) (Note Part II: Little birds tell us that it’s HIGHLY likely CLUB KING will be popping into Seattle in October…)

The men of BFD...But, be careful, You'll poke an eye out with that...

LAK: We are beyond happy to be bringing you and B.F.D. to the DJ stage at Seattle PrideFest this year. I know what to expect – but for those NOT in the know, what can they expect?

MD: I’m so psyched to come back to Seattle for Pride! I’m bringing some of my BFD crew with me. Two of my star dancers Dick Day, Jonny Tattoo and one of my favorite adorable DJs James Cerne. Basically we plan on putting on our polka dot speedos and making out with each and every one of you! My home town! Let’s do this.

All Hail the Club King!

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MORE about the Divine Mario Diaz at his website, MARIO DIAZ PRESENTS.

Check out MORE from the equally Divine L.A. Kendall at Qulture Qreative and Kendall’s DJ & Event!