What does it take to become a club and party promoter...blow jobs? Connections? Sheer determination?
James Steck is one of my favourite Vancouverites. People throw the word "genuine" around these days like hipsters drink Pabst beer, but in this case, it's definitely deserved.
It's my pleasure to present James Steck:
1) Who the hell are you and what do you do?
name is James R. Steck, (AKA Bubbles Von Steck Aka Mama J). I am the
Co-Owner of CruiseyT Productions Ltd. / LLC and work at Celebrities
Night Club in Promotions & Marketing. I also sit on the board of
Directors for the West End Business Improvement Association. I have
been a long time member of the Davie Street businesses and have worked
many years to improve the look of the street and to assist in Marketing
Davie Village and the Vancouver's Queer community towards tourism.
2) How long have you been promoting nights at Celebrities? CruiseyT?
have been with Celebrities Night Club since May 2007. Prior to joining
Celebrities I have been Managing / Co-Owner of some of the Davie
Street bars for a number of years.
founded by my dear friend Randy Newburg 18 years ago. I had joined
forces with him 5 years into the production. CruiseyT only sailed
during pride back then. In 2001, we started sailing from May - Sept.
doing regular GLBT Party Cruises. By 2007 we started the CruiseyT
parties in Seattle, and the hope is to expand that further down the
3) What motivated you to get into promoting and what’s characteristics do you need to be successful?
question is one of my favorite stories. I was leaving the Oasis &
Sugar Daddy's in the winter of 2007 and was taking a month vacation to
unwind, plus I was a little burnt out. I had needed a long rest away
from Vancouver. Ross the General Manager of Celebrities had asked
where I was going and what I was doing. I had said that I had no
plans, but I was heading to California and was going to be expanding
CruiseyT. I wasn't going to entertain any invitations until I came
home on April 1. Ross called my on March 27, he was also out of the
country and said that he would like to schedule a meeting with me to
discuss an opportunity at Celebrities and wanted to meet on April 1.
our meeting he had mentioned that it may not be a position that I would
be interested in (Marketing & Promotions) as at that time I was
General Manager of two bars. At that time it was prefect for me, and
really Marketing & Promotions is what I loved most about my job.
That is how I came to where I am now!
think that really answers your question. I kind of just fell into my
position I hold now. What characteristics do you need though? You
need to be very flexible with your time, and prepared to work 24/7! I
am in the office 5-6 days a week every morning. Then often back in the
club at night. Often you are running around getting entertainers,
making sure that there needs are met! One night for a 5 hour party can
be a 18 hour work day! Then you are back at it in the morning at your
desk. You have texts & phone calls at all hours of the day from
people trying to get on guest list, last minute hiccups, and then the media. When you have a media request, you just drop everything! So in
reality you are always on and working. If you are looking for that 9-5
Mon - Fri job, you don't want to be in Marketing and Promotions.
4) How difficult is it to promote nights for a gay club?
isn't hard to promote a gay night, but what I find most challenging is
to promote a club the size of Celebrities and to ensure it is full all
5) Why has Celebrities been voted #1 Dance Bar in Vancouver for 5 consecutive years?
is a very hard question to answer cause I don't know what goes through
everyone's mind. I think we just continuing doing what we do best,
bring in top acts, present a product at fair value, and ensure that we
are giving the best possible serving to our patrons! It has been 6
consecutive years though!
There is a fair amount of criticism in the community about the fact
that Celebrities openly promotes mixed nights and isn’t gay-only. What
do you have to say to your detractors?
question of straight patrons joining the GLBT community in its bars is
a complex one. First let me say that, as a business, our mandate is to
provide the best possible atmosphere for our guests. I can tell that
few, if any of our patrons wish to party in a men only or GLBT only
environment. As a community, we like to party with ALL our friends and
we bring them to the bars too. Also, it is important to point out that
almost all the businesses in the Village are mixed. Indeed the few LGBT
only(ish) pubs and bars that exist today are more sexual in nature
(Pumpjack, The Eagle in Seattle, Remington's in Toronto) and are almost
always smaller venues. Large clubs like Celebrities, The Odyssey, The
Cafe in San Francisco, Neighbours in Seattle and the Factory in LA all
operate as mixed clubs which have some "Straighter" nights than others.
is not to say that we are not appreciative of the fact that GLBT
spaces are too few to begin with and that we must safeguard those
venues. That is why we VIP the GLBT community, invite those same
patrons to be on guest lists, we do not except stagettes and ALWAYS
feature GLBT staff, entertainment, visuals Drag Queens and DJs at our
promotional evenings. It is not a perfect system, especially when the
straight community is willing to come to clubs hours before the GLBT
community does, but it seems to be working for us.
We are proud
of the role we have played in this community. In the last year we have
featured Boy George, Amanda Lapoure, Bingo for life, gay porn stars,
Lady Bunny and almost every Vancouver LGBT artist performing today. And
by the way...you haven't lived until you see the straight boys make out
with the trannies on Tuesday night!!!!
7) What has been your best event to date and why?
is a very hard question cause I have had so many great parties at
CruiseyT & Celebrities. Daedmau5 which is coming back, Tiesto,
Pimps & Ho's Anniversary Party! There are really too many to
choose from. The one that comes to mind first though is when we launch
our RELEASE Saturday Party. We had taken everything that we had tried
and worked. Our threesome DJ's Zach Shore, Dan James & Ryan
Bazeley, our amazing and costumed Go Go Boys, Choreographed Drag
Performances, amazing decor, plus our hosts Vegas & Fusia. We had
taken bits & peices of great things and put them together in one
night. It has turned our Saturday's into our best weekly party that
8) What’s the best party you’ve attended?
think the White Party in Palm Springs is one of my fav's. One anyone
that really knows me knows I love Palm Springs so the setting is
already there. Jeffery Sanker's White Party is amazing, it is the one
party that has really inspired me in so many different ways I can't
explain! I look forward to my return there in the spring.
9) Who’s your favorite DJ right now?
favorite DJ is Zach Shore. Zach is like my baby, I have worked Zach
for a great many years on CruiseyT. Zach is the type of DJ that can
read the crowd and play to what they are enjoying. He is also the type
the wants to learn more things and do it all! He reminds me alot of
myself in that way. As far as International DJ's I really enjoy the
Perry Twins from LA. They have that "All in one Package"
similar qualities to Zach in a way. They DJ, produce their own
re-mixes, and entertain the crowd at the same time. They are
passionate about what they do and enjoy it at the same time.
10) Your dream booking?
To book Boy George to DJ again at Celebrities.
11) Any recent big changes at Celebrities people should be aware of?
of the reasons that I really enjoy working with Celebrities is because
we are ALWAYS adding new features and upgrading our equipment. When
things are old or wearing out it gets fixed or improved. We don't wait
for the day that it needs a complete overhaul. So BIG changes, I don't
seeing anything happening until after the Olympics. We will continue
though to improve our equipment, and bring the Vancouver GLBT community
the best performers possible.
This year was a big year for you branching out. Celebrities threw a
night in Whistler for WinterPRIDE and another for Pride in Winnipeg.
This summer you also took CruiseyT to the Seattle market. What’s next
personally love to travel as said earlier, and to take Celebrities
& CruiseyT to other cities has been fun for me and well as the
patrons in other cities. I continue to look for new locations for
CruiseyT to sail, and am more then happy to take Celebrities concept
and entertainers to other clubs. Celebrities is going to be in
Whistler for 2010 WinterPRIDE, and CruiseyT is planning to be in
Seattle again in 2010. As far as what's next, time will tell! *wink*
And for the record, about charities:
James Steck: "Celebrities supported over 33 different Charities on 2008, I haven't
had the chance to look at what we have donated back to the community in
2009 to date. Trust me when I say Celebrities and its owners are very
generous with the amount of $$$ and cheques they donate to charities
compared to others."