Black Party 2011 :: Love Your Self, F*ck Your Self
No one phones it in for Black Party. Arguably, the biggest party on the circuit calendar, Black Party demands preparation and training. In the weeks before Black Party, health clubs and leather stores are second homes - and Roseland becomes a little city of production and tech people, costume and props departments, all working together to mount a theatrical extravaganza that lasts more than eighteen hours, while hosting more than four thousand leather queens, porn stars, drag queens, bears, seals, deejays, twinks, and fetishists from all around the world - all dancing together in the name of dick.
The party that dick built. And Bruce Mailman, of course, creator of the original Saint. A party that is now beautifully orchestrated by Steve Pevner and Mike Peyton, with a cast of creative wunderkinds who fine-tune this party over the course of a calendar year in order for its birth during the weekend of the vernal equinox.
This year’s edition of Black Party occurred during what the media called the "super moon," the largest full moon in over twenty years and more than 30,000 miles closer to Earth than in other years. Maybe it was the super moon’s impact, but everyone connected with Black Party 2011 raised the bar on this beloved bacchanal to create a mind-blowing, pelvic-grinding, ecstatic event that was fueled by music, sex, desire, and appetite.
Dancing on the Edge of Apocalypse
The 2011 Black Party invitation was a stylized rendering of the letters BP, which evoked a molecular structure, and which was accompanied by a photo of a quadruped man, with arms instead of feet: in other words, a mutant cloned in his own image. The accompanying Black Party Expo Zine, a beautifully realized, 52-page collectible entitled FUCK YOUR SELF, further examined the idea of cloned selves and narcissistic lust through the provocative and sensual work of eleven New York artists.
Inspired by a four-day-and-night, sexual free-for-all, New Year’s party at Berghain in Berlin, production designer Adam Koch ran with the concept of dancing on the edge of apocalypse and transformed Roseland’s enormous dimensions into a power plant fallen into desuetude. Neon tubing framed the massive dance hall, with black and white directional scrims, and plastic sheeting billowed by steam and smoke. A surfeit of multi-colored lasers fanned the room like intergalactic searchlights - and the overall effect was an amalgam of the worlds depicted in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner coalescing to form a New Weimar Republic in the middle of New York.
Working Their Junk and Shaking Their Booty
8OR15 from Berlin was this year’s opener - and by two am, the line to get into Roseland ran all the way down 52nd Street. Once inside, one was greeted by a packed house of some of the world’s more pulchritudinous specimens, redolent of leather and sweat, working their junk and shaking their booty while outfitted in every leather, latex, and rubber accoutrement imaginable.
At the risk of stating the extremely obvious, this Black Party was truly a sexual celebration. Boys at the lip of the stage knelt for those in front of them - and on the risers and boxes, dicks waved and rose like a night forest of mushrooms. Porn stars roamed the stage, while a corps of hardcore aerialists soared above the crowd in a series of overhead (and over-the-top) tableaux that, over the course of forty minutes, depicted the insemination, consummation, conception, and rebirth (including the breaking of water, which rained over the crowd) of one’s very own clone. You had to be there to grasp the surreal concept - but when climax was achieved and the aerialists were released, post-orgasm, the thunderous cheers around the club made it clear that the point was made. Love your self; fuck your self - what could be more basic?
Where Extremism is Celebrated
For those of us who’ve been around for a while, on this planet, and at numerous Black Parties, this, then, was the world to which we gave birth: a world where the exceptional is now the norm, where transsexuals are free to be, where extremism is celebrated and raised on high: in short, a world where you can fuck your self - and be born again.
And when Manny Lehman took over the booth, the renaissance metaphor was completely apt. This was the Manny who grew up at the Paradise Garage, where every Friday and Saturday night was a full on, complete symphony of sound. This was the Manny who worked at Vinyl Mania where the Garage boyz headed to grab the tracks that Larry Levan had played the night before. This was Manny, the connoisseur of rhythm and beats, who was relentless and hard as he threw down a masterful big room set of tracks, including "The Only Girl (In the World)," "Born This Way," "I Will Survive," "Release Me," and "Pushin to the Top." Multi-layered, seamless, and rhythmically complex, this was a peak hour set that pushed the energy ever higher, keeping the sexually charged crowd on that blissful precipice preceding orgasmic release.
The Well-Known and the Well-Hung
Perhaps the most emblematic line of the night came from a stunning specimen who saw our cameras aimed in his direction and said, "You want to take my photo? Okay, but I got to take off my harness - because my mom sees all my pictures."
That’s the kind of crowd it was: a roomful of well-loved boys, the light in their mothers’ eyes, all raised with the confidence in their right to be here, wearing and doing whatever their dicks desired.
And everyone was there, from the well known and the well-hung, to the well-connected, and the well-loved, and yes, also, the well-worn - but this was, for the most part, also a very well-behaved crowd, who knew enough to be respectful of each other and the party. It isn’t easy keeping this party in New York, at Roseland, and no one wants to be the fool who killed Black Party.
United in Honor of Priapus
For this is the one party that pulls them all in, from every demographic, every walk of life, every age group, every profession - and you’d have to be completely jaded not to marvel at the breadth of our community and its manifestations. And then marvel again to realize that we were all united for one night in honor of Priapus. The party that dick built. There it was again. Everywhere you looked: so many fine...boys. And men...and women...and more.
And let’s pause here and give a shout-out to the incredible sound engineers who insured that the music at Black Party was as crisp as a new Benjamin and clear as cut crystal - and to lighting operator Darren Kawa who worked the lights into a highly choreographed, hallucinogenic frenzy.
It was nearly seven am when Danny Tenaglia took over the booth with a hypnotic choral march into the galaxy of after-hours. His beat was as deep as it was ethereal, and immediately resonant with the packed house, which, if anything, was even thicker on the floor. For years, Tenaglia has been as masterful as was the Pied Piper in leading his crowd and lifting them higher with carefully constructed sets that are as inventive as they are reflective of Tenaglia’s vast knowledge of dance music. Apart from Main Event at Black and Blue in Montreal, Tenaglia has played no other circuit event - and yet he read this Black Party crowd perfectly, hitting their g-spots over and over, and leaving them grinning and sweaty as they worked it out hard until late Sunday afternoon.
Now thirty-two years old, this year’s Black Party fucked itself - and came out smiling, bigger and better, and ready for more.
LINK: The Saint at Large