Here's the deal with Daniel: he's an honest, real, upfront, and super-smart guy. Aside from my partner, Alan Picus, Daniel is the next most inspirational dude I know on the scene.
Recently, Daniel wrote a post for the Village Voice's Michael Musto called "The 10 Lamest Things Party Promoters Do." (You can read it here.)
It's true! I'm even guilty of some of them! For shame, Justin Luke! Regardless, my ONE problem with Daniel's post is that it was too short. I can definitely come up with another 10 lame things that gay promoters do. And that's exactly what I'll be doing here.
NOTE: As I said, I have, at times, been guilty of a few of these. They're easy traps to fall into! So don't fall over yourself telling me how I'm a hypocrite. I'm aware that I've made a few of these mistakes. And I'm WORKING on ABSOLVING my sins. Trust.
Anywho... do you think 20 is STILL not enough? Well feel free to leave additional ones in the comments section. If we get enough of them, I can ALWAYS write a third post.
10. CRAZY LINES!
I can't take it when a promoter is throwing a relatively brand new party, and they promise NUTZO PSYCHOTIC LORD OF THE FLIES-STYLE LINES! Arrive early! Or the line will be so long it will stretch to the Bronx and you won't get to the door until you're forty and far too old to be allowed in!
One: I'm calling BULLSHIT on you. No party has lines that long. And the ones that do don't mind if you arrive late and have to wait to get in - it makes them look good. Two: this is Risky Business (without Tom Cruise, or underwear). If you promise BATSHIT FUCKAZOID LINES and I show up to your party and the only people inside are your paid (or, unlucky them, unpaid) staff, then I will never trust you again.
Saying there will be lines will not guarantee you lines. So stop saying it.
9. LADY GAGA WAS HERE (I THINK?)!
If some huge celebrity stopped by your party to ask for directions on how to get to another location, you really shouldn't milk the fact that they were there. But a lot of promoters do. KATY PERRY CAME LAST YEAR! MISSY E STOPPED BY TO USE THE BATHROOM! JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE TRIPPED OUTSIDE WHILE JOGGING BY!
No. Just. No. I care if the celebrity WILL be there TONIGHT. That's cool! I want to go to there and see them being there and maybe hear them sing. But if that celebrity happened by a few years ago, what the fuck do I care about that? That doesn't tell me that the party you're throwing tonight is any good, it just tells me you're fresh out of ideas when it comes to marketing your event.
I mean, would you eat at a restaurant that said "APPROVED BY THE BOARD OF HEALTH FIVE YEARS AGO!" No. No you wouldn't. You want to know what the Board of Health said about it THIS YEAR.
The far worse version of this is when a promoter CLAIMS a celebrity came to their party, but no one except said promoter can vouch for their presence. Just because whatever drug you were doing made you THINK that you saw the cast of Glee doesn't mean they were actually there.
8. FEATURING A LIVE PERFORMANCE BY A COMPLETE NOBODY!
Oh my gosh! Marianna MoreCock just came out with a new EP! She recorded it in her basement and her dad totally sold three copies to some of his co-workers. Does anyone care about Melissa Mellancamp, or whatever her name is? NO!
But man, some promoters might! You get the promo and it's all MARLENE MISSISSIPPI ALBUM RELEASE PARTY! Featuring a live performance of her new hit single, "THIS IS MY NEW HIT SINGLE (BITCHES!)" She'll stay and sign autographs! She's REALLY REALLY HUGE!
These parties never work! Why? Because nobody knows who Mileena Merryweather is, so you have to spend the whole week CONVINCING them that she's a huge celebrity, and that her upcoming album "I Edited This On Garageband (BITCHES!)" is the must-have of the year.
It isn't! Nobody cares! Now, I'm not saying you shouldn't feature new talent, we do that all the time at BoiParty. But we don't give them a full promo and scream about them. We include them as entertainment and build a larger theme apart from them. Don't make a mountain out of a Maria Molehill.
7. OPEN BAR... I MEAN KINDA OPEN BAR... IS THERE AN OPEN BAR?
Open Bars are one of the greatest inventions in nightlife... when they're done honestly. In a city where a thimbleful of turpentine-flavored well vodka can be priced at nine dollars, a chance to drink for free (even if it's well!) is something any penny pinching (or economically minded) gay can get behind.
But only when done honestly. And, from what I hear, a lot of Open Bars are NOT done honestly. If you're going to throw an open bar, do it the right way! Don't say it starts at eleven, and then instruct your doorman to start letting early arrivals in at eleven thirty. Don't hire a solo bartender, break his legs, tie one arm behind his back and make him serve drinks with his eyes closed to limit the amount of booze he pours. And don't add a sudden rule that's not stated upfront (Did I say open bar? I meant Open WELL Bar. And ONLY Tylenol-flavored Traveler's Club vodka. And ONLY until the first bottle is half-way empty).
If you advertise an Open Bar, make good on your promise. NO ONE likes being lied to.
6. WE'RE RE-INVENTING NIGHTLIFE FOREVARRR!
Okay, we're selling parties. I get it. So we're going to use LOTS OF SUPER-AMAZING GAME-CHANGING OVER-PROMISING COCK BLOWJOBBING effusive language.
Fine. Go ahead and do it. But there's one thing you should NEVER do: claim that your party is going to CHANGE NIGHTLIFE FOREVER. That you're going to COCKFUCK THE ASSHOLE OF NIGHTLIFE AND MAKE IT A BRAND NEW BITCH FOR THE REST OF TIME!
Because, in all honesty, that's not going to happen.
Is your party at a place where booze is served? Is there a DJ spinning some kind of music? Will people be there drinking and/or dancing? Well, then, you haven't really reinvented nightlife, now have you? You're following all the rules by the book. And there is nothing wrong with this! These are tried-and-true formulas that bring in people and make a party fun!
Until you throw a party on a zeppelin featuring a live performance by a group of dancing penguins and music played on a bunch of classic Coke bottles, you haven't re-invented nightlife one bit.
5. FREE GIVEAWAYS! I MEAN ONE FREE GIVEAWAY! I MEAN HALF A FREE GIVEAWAY!
Giveaways are AWESOME! Nothing beats going to a party and learning that there's the possibility of us getting free shit. Whether it's porn DVDs, CDs, passes to another party, whatever! We LOVE that!
But be smart about what you're offering, and make good on your promises. Don't tell me there will be ALBUM GIVEAWAYS when you really only bought a single copy of the Kelly Clarkson CD at Best Buy on your way to the party. And DON'T promise ALBUM GIVEAWAYS if you really only have a single copy of Katy Perry's "Firework" radio edit that came attached to an old Billboard Magazine you found in your bedroom. And don't say you're having PORN GIVEAWAYS if you only have one expired, no-longer-functioning "FREE MONTH OF PORN" coupon you got at someone else's event.
Imagine if someone invited you to a buffet, and you and your friends got there to find a single hamburger on a plate. You'd be pretty pissed, right? What are you going to do? Cut the hamburger like it's a pie?
Of course not.
Be smart! Look at the cost of your giveaway, and the size of your crowd. Either have a LOT of cheaper giveaways, or a few higher-value ones.
4. WALL INVASION!
There is space for promotion on Facebook. Namely, groups, fan pages, your own profile, and event invites. What's NOT cool is when a (usually amateur/newbie) promoter starts copy-pasting TO YOUR WALL.
That's NOT okay, folks. That's about as dictionary-definition as you can get where SPAM is involved. It's like someone knocking on my apartment door and then screaming in my face with a megaphone "HEY SEXY WANNA COME TO MY SUPER HOT PARTY TONIGHT? CRAZY LINES! MARYJANE McGILLICUTTY PERFORMS! FREE PORN GIVEAWAYS!"
... Before he slams my door, walks down the hall to the next one, and does the same thing all over again.
Keep your promoting to your own pages/groups/profile. That way, if people don't care for it, they can un-friend you, leave the group, etc. It's just the right thing to do.
3. TONIGHT'S GONNA BE PACKED!
If promoters were telling the truth, every party on every night of the week at every bar and club would be so fucking packed that the lines outside (CRAZY LINES!) would never go away and the people inside would be forcibly pushed out of the windows and up through the ceilings.
Listen. Stop saying your party is going to be packed. Unless you stumbled upon a time machine and stopped by the future to check out the state of your event, you just can't be sure about that.
UNLESS it is: Pride Weekend, Fourth of July Weekend, Halloween Weekend, Thanksgiving Weekend, New Years Eve, you pre-sold hundreds of tickets, or a housewife is coming to perform at your party.
Other than that? You have no basis on which to prove this statement. Just because your party was bumpin' last week doesn't mean it will bump again this week. And the worst thing that can happen is a bunch of people stopping by only to find a big gay grandpa graveyard.
2. ALL CAPS! ALL FUCKING CAPS! AHHHHHHH! ROFLOLBBQBRBOMG!
God almighty. GOD ALMIGHTY. Enough with the caps! Please! I beg of you! Notice how I'm using exclamation points and NOT all capital letters!
Maybe back in the days when web pages had animated cats and MIDI songs all caps were cool. Back when you were awesome because your MySpace page was such a fucking mess that it took twenty minutes to load.
Not anymore! All caps means all ignored. I'm not going to read all those big letters, they make my eyes, and Baby Jesus, cry. Put some thought into your promoting and write in full sentences.
HOT SEXY SUPER COCK BALLS BUTT TWINK PARTY! VIP! FREE! SEX!
Doesn't work. It just doesn't. It's the equivalent of an unhinged lunatic screaming obscene and confused things in your face.
Rather, might I suggest that you selectively capitalize CERTAIN WORDS. It works much better. It draws the eye. It doesn't stab that eye and cause lots of blood to flow all over the place. Give it a shot!
I have developed a quote since I started working in nightlife: "Lying works, but only once."
If I tell you my party is hot and that Lady Gaga will be there duetting with the resurrected cadaver of Michael Jackson, you will (most likely) come out in droves. But when Gaga doesn't show, and MJ remains dead and buried, you will never trust me, ever again.
Nor should you.
This is why I refuse to lie when I promote. If someone asks me how a party will be tonight, and I think it might be a slow night, I won't tell them it'll be SUPER PACKED. Because I won't promise something that I can't deliver on... because that puts your trust in me in jeopardy, and if I don't have your trust, I don't have anything.
This goes for ALL promotions.
Don't say the club is closed for renovations when the truth is it kicked your party out (especially when you can WALK BY THE CLUB AND SEE IT'S OPEN).
Don't say the party was packed with hot 20-somethings when there are easy-to-find photos from the night and the bar is empty with no more than 20 guys, all who are over the age of 50.
Don't say you or your party is the #1 blank blank blank in a blank blank, because you cannot prove it. And in order to tell the truth in that scenario, you'll ultimately end up with a line like: "The Hottest Monday Night Party At A Mid-Size Bar in New York City in the Past Three Months!" And, really, how impressive is that? (It's not impressive).
And there you have it! Thanks to Daniel Nardicio for the inspiration, and the permission to write this. And thanks to my big boss, Alan P for teaching me the ropes, and what not to do.
xoxo Justin Luke