This New Year's Eve, Jonny McGovern will redefine the phrase "ball drop."
On Dec. 31, the bicoastal party promoter known as the "Gay Pimp" returns with Cake, his new weekly party at West Hollywood's premier sleaze shack, Fubar.
"Cake is really a celebration of strippers," McGovern explains, his deep baritone resonating through the WeHo living room of one of his former go-go dancers. He is decked out in a flannel shirt and full lumber-sexual beard, reinforcing the Daddy Bear persona he has cultivated since he relocated from New York to Los Angeles in 2010.
Cake marks McGovern's return to nightlife in general, and Fubar specifically, following the yearlong hiatus he took from his last party, Saturday Night Slut, to focus on his web-based talk show, Hey Qween. "I love to be in charge of nude gentlemen," jokes the nightlife maestro. "After so many years of having so many go-go boys around, you miss them when they are gone."
Making up for lost time, Cake promises all the party elements McGovern developed at such NYC events as the Rambles at the Park in Chelsea and Boys Gone Wild at the East Village's Boysroom: shadowy lighting, amorous crowds, electro-clash beats and chiseled go-go jocks. The small, dimly lit Fubar makes a better setting for it all than its bright and shiny WeHo neighbors.
"I think there is glamour to be found in the dingiest places. There is a charm and easiness to a place like Fubar," says the party pimp, who likens Cake's weekly home to New York's the Cock, the notorious East Village go-go dive. "Everybody at the end of the night would end up at the Cock between 3 and 4. Not just for sex but because that was the place to chill, hang out, get down. That’s kinda what Fubar is like in West Hollywood."
Queer NYC expats should be pleased to notice a number of similarities between Cake and the debaucherous bacchanals that graced Avenue A during the apex of Manhattan's gay nightlife.
"I like to take a little tiny space and give you tons of fun visuals," McGovern explains. "What we like to do in the middle of the night is do a blackout. Then we have the spotlight dance, where all the boys come out in aprons. It's like a more legal version of the towel dance back in the day." He's referring to the scandalous choreography featured during 2004's Red Party, where a troupe of Adonises clad solely in towels performed a tantalizing terrycloth peek-a-boo. Think Gypsy Rose Lee's fan dance but with a dirty gay locker-room twist. "You get a little of that underground, Magic Mike moment. Sitting around in a black box is fun for a while, but you want to keep the visuals moving and changing through the night."
To McGovern, variety is the spice of nightlife. Although Cake offers an obvious contrast to more traditional WeHo fare, such as Flaming Saddles' Fresh Fridays or Revolver's Flashback Saturday, he is quick to point out that it isn't really a competition.
"I feel like nightlife has so many facets that are all good. You can be, ‘West Hollywood is boring.’ Not if you’re 22. Then, West Hollywood is the most magical place on Earth. I think in different phases of your life, you want different things. And you need to see a variety of different things. So say you’ve only gone to West Hollywood and never experienced a different kind of club — you need to get your ass downtown to Queen Kong and check out all that. It's great that so many more diverse and interesting and weird things are popping up. I mean, fluff marshmallows with sugar crystals are fun to eat, but not every day."
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As the "Gay Pimp," McGovern first garnered a queer fan base with a series of comedic music videos, such as "Soccer Practice" and "Lookin' Cute/Feelin' Cute," which mingled his phalanx of go-go twinks with irreverent humor. By 2007, he graduated to cable television on Logo's Big Gay Sketch Show. There he channeled his experience with New York drag culture into such characters as the trans hooker Chocolate Puddin'. His most recent project, Hey Qween, a drag-themed talk show, echoes the same themes found in everything McGovern produces, including Cake: "Go-go dancers, the fierce queens and the whole gay camaraderie."
Cake returns to Fubar on Saturday, Dec. 31, for a no-cover New Year's Eve bash. More info.