Mother Nature’s vexing warnings of heavy rain did not deter the gaggle of gays from attending White Party 2016 in Palm Springs this past weekend.
I read somewhere there was an attendance of 30,000 homos spreading themselves thin (literally) and doing a balancing act to try and hit up as many of the seven events that party promoter Jeffrey Sanker lined up all weekend long.
I also heard there was a human sacrifice at the top of San Jacinto Peak, which overlooks PS, to ward off the rain. Whatever the Powers That Be did to keep my coif set and dry for the weekend worked, because aside from a tiny sprinkle here and there, the heavy showers were a total dud.
I got caught in the rain one White Party weekend some time back in the late 90s. We had no choice but to skip the first pool party because there was thunder and lightning and heavy winds making them pretty palm trees lean back over the streets. We stayed at our cheap hotel miles and miles away from The Marquis and we crammed into a jacuzzi full of other thrifty/thirsty boys who were guests at our motel no-tell. We were lucky we didn’t get struck by lightning.
I remember the rain didn’t last. The sun kept poking its head in and out of some dark clouds when we attended the second pool party that Sunday morning. The sun would shine and queens would scream and go nuts and bust some dance moves from wherever they were standing. Then there was darkness upon the face of the earth and human groans filled the dark skies. It was wild. I loved it.
This year, I attended White Party with some fetish and kink royalty from the leather community, which included Mr. LA Bear 2014 and 1st runner up (meaning the 1st to lose) of the Mr. Los Angeles Leather 2014 contest, Gabriel Green, as well as the 1st and 2nd runner-ups (yes, 1st and 2nd to lose—just kidding–too soon, I know) for this year’s Mr. Los Angeles Leather contest, Mr. SoCal Leather Eric Slayton and Mr. Sister Leather Joe Gregory (he got a super cute one-of-kind leather crown that I was dying to snatch for a selfie).
The so-so weather was good enough for some slipin’ and slidin’ at the Wet ‘N’ Wild water park, which was exclusive to WP guests not too far from the Renaissance Hotel. We didn’t really make it out of our luxurious La Residenza San Lorenzo flats (visit rslpalmsprings.com) until the last hour of partying at the water park on account of we didn’t want to get wet. The water park was pretty much closed, but the dancing was still in full swing when we got there, so we got the gist of how the shit went down and we could say that we did it.
Then there was the White Party: There was no up-and-coming or quasi famous headlining performer at this year’s main event, which has featured the likes of Lady Gaga, and J-Lo in the past and in more recent years, Ariana Grande, but no matter, the production was en punto (meaning on point). I mean, the screens were massive. It was like you were in a different planet, or inside a video game. There was thunder and lasers and lights and half men/half beasts on stage. The setup was incredible. The most impressive White Party scenery I have ever experienced.
I thought I was letting bitches HAVE IT with my 2-xist mesh tank top that I embellished with stencils and studs, but my see-through getup was conservative compared to the over-the-top creations that were meticulously planned that night. Bitches straight up gave you costume. You had white beasts and angels and drag queens and of course some guys walked out in their white underwear…because, well, they could. Oh and you had pretty buff boys wearing fanny packs to make a statement that they could make anything look cool, but that lesbian accessory looked like the opposite of cuteness or coolness–even on their perfectly sculpted bodies. I’m sowwy.
And speaking of cool: Was it me, or was the crowd younger this year? It used to be that only the grown folks could afford WP. There were moments when I felt like the old bitch at da club, but let’s be for real here, there is no such thing as one ever being THE old bitch at da club where the gay community is concerned. You can only be AN old bitch at da club amongst MANY old bitches at da club. That’s just how we roll.
Then the moment we were waiting for was upon us. Offer Nissim finally happened. The entrance was pretty ferocious. The bitch rose from the ground like an extra terrestrial promising to let us have it with a set of dance music that was hell bent on making our backs hurt (and knees for those of us with more mileage), however the impression I got from the crowd was that they were not impressed. The buildup was so high for weeks that there were bound to be disappointments.
Honestly, I don’t claim to know what DJs do nowadays in their DJ booths. They don’t spin records anymore, do they? I imagine they have a bag full of tricks where they pull plugs, mix beats and sounds depending on the crowd’s response to the music that particular night, and if they get the mood right and keep the flow going, then that’s how they get their following and DJ star status and hefty paychecks. Or so I imagine. I’ve never been a DJ groupie, so I’m not certain.
I saw a guy make his fingers like a gun and pretend to blow his brains out after a good twenty minutes of Nissim. And people stopped dancing when the Pet Shop Boys came on singing about being Pop Kids.
However, the biggest complaint I heard regarding O-Nissim is that he basically popped in a mix-tape and waved his hands in the air to a pre-recorded set. He has himself to blame for this assessment, because well… his hands were in fact up in the air the entire time he was on that stage when he should’ve been spinning or pretending to scratch a needle on a record. I don’t know what the deal is, but if you’re gonna lip sync, then you should probably move your lips–especially on account of I hear his presence there did not come cheap.
He played Madonna’s Living for Love, the Offer Nissim mix we’re all familiar with, of course, so I wasn’t mad at him.
Let me leave White Party 2016 at this: It did not disappoint. It was a scene. There were all shapes and sizes and races and mixes and ages and a far cry from the cookie WeHo cutouts I used to stack myself up against many, many moons ago and walk away never feeling like I was enough. It’s a whole different ball game. I fucking loved it.
The next day I showed up starved and spray tanned at the pool party on Sunday with my leatheriti royalty in tow. There were enough sunny patches throughout the day to strip down to a Speedo. The music was jumping, but I kept my shorts over my bikini the entire time, because I was not in the mood to partake in the cocks-on-parade where poor penises get strangled, manhandled and forced to bloat into bulging proportions that only deflate when the cock-rings are removed. I let my huevos be and didn’t lose my shorts.
If I had to pick one party out of the seven parties for White Party weekend, I’d definitely choose the T-Dance without a doubt. T-Dance has to be the most fun event of the entire weekend. You get your second wind. The drugs have either worn off or they are kicking in again. You get to wear whatever you want. The mood is casual. Shirts don’t stay on for very long. And then you add two ferris wheels a dance floor, great music and performances. I wedged myself up close to catch party legend Inaya Day sing Movin’ Up, one my ultimate favorite songs from when I loved to get high–“Take me high, take me high, take me higher. I take my problems to the dance floor and let the music make my spirit soar…”
T-dance was the best way to waive goodbye to WP in Palm Springs. I didn’t stick around to catch Erika Jayne of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills do her song and dance. I swore I was gonna do the Farewell party this year, but I know my limit. I know when I’m asking for it. I was supposed to stay an extra night at La Residenza San Lorenzo, but I decided to jet my ass out while my sobriety was still intact.
I told my leatherati royalty that it was nice meeting them and hanging out with them, but things would have to go back to normal once we went back to Los Angeles. “I’m West Hollywood and you’re Silverlake,” I informed them in the cuntiest tone I could muster. “The two worlds can’t co-exist. I’m sorry, but I don’t make the rules.” I was just getting back at them for selfie-shaming me the entire weekend.
I told them not to get mad if I pretended like I didn’t know them when I saw them in WeHo, but I was kidding of course. I’ve known Gabriel for almost 15 years. Eric is part of The Fight magazine family, and Joe, I met that weekend and he was a lot of fun. His was the only live penis I saw that entire weekend on account of he shamelessly undressed in front of us facing forward, instead of modestly turning his back like a lady. Que puta, no?
Anyway, this blog was supposed to go up much sooner, but after I got home, I woke up the next morning with THE most massive cold/cough/flu symptoms ever. All that threat of rain, one moment it was hot, the next moment it was cold, and lack of sleep caught up to me. It was like the consequences of boozing and using without the pleasure of using and boozing. Ain’t that some shit. My entire body hurt. Like. Hell.
I’m glad I went to White Party 2016. I’m happy I can do it sober.
Here are some pics I took this past weekend. Gabriel took a lot of these as well–mostly of me.
And by off the chain, I mean Larry Paciotti–better known to common folks as porn director, DJ, and drag personality, Chi Chi LaRue–continues to lay off of the drugs and the booze.
Chi Chi made headlines last year when she found herself on girl interrupted status (more like girl intervened) after she posted a video on Facebook to let her friends know that she was on her way to rehab (ooohhh, I felt her pain). Evil queens salivated, but for the most part the public was supportive and sympathetic…that is until one of Chi Chi’s friends started a Go Fund Me account asking for money to help pay for the remainder of her rehab tab at the Hazelden Betty Ford Center in Minnesota. You best believe the evil queens judged and inventoried accordingly. The comments on social media were ferocious.
When you’re new in recovery and you’re in pain and you’re in rehab, you don’t know which end is your ass. It’s possible to have money and not have money. My guess is somebody like a business partner pulled the plug on her funds. It’s hard to say, because she will not say, but that’s all old news anyway. She lived to outlive another public scandal.
The having money, but having money reminded me of when I was in rehab and I had a friend smuggle me a hundred dollar bill so I wouldn’t have to panhandle for chump change at the meetings. I stashed that bill inside a hole in the bottom of the lamp by my nightstand and I felt like a mighty rich bitch—HOWEVER…the phones and the vending machines only took quarters, so that bill was useless to me. All I had to do was find some poor sucker to break my Benji, but then funny story: It turned out this guy named Miguel saw me stash that bill–I don’t know how. I came back from a meeting one night and my Benjamin and Miguel were long gone (you best believe I dismantled that lamp and put it back together all tweaker style).
There is no doubt in my mind that Benjamin Franklin got Miguel mighty high that week. To make matters worse, I couldn’t say a word to staff, because then they would ask me where the money came from, and I wasn’t about to unravel all my secrets, lies, and manipulations–at least not then, that came later in the show. So fade/flash to me asking random strangers if they could spare a dime…
But enough about me…
This past weekend marked 9 months of clean and sober time for Larry Paciotti a.k.a Chi Chi LaRue and I could not be happier. Larry has managed to keep Chi Chi in check and Chi Chi has managed to continue DJ-ing at bars and she is somehow making it work with her sobriety intact these past 9 months. We all have our own journey, our own experience and we’re all fighting our own fight. It took what it took and hopefully she’s had her take and will stick around for a long, long time…as in till the end of her time, because the goal here is to ride and die clean and sober.
Anyway, I wanted to interview Larry for The Fight magazine this past September for Recovery Month, but Chi Chi wouldn’t let me speak to Larry. So here is my Q&A with Chi Chi LaRue in case you missed it.
CONGRATULATIONS ON 9 MONTHS!!!
Every day we wake up sober is a fucking miracle. Keep fighting the good fight. Surrender to win. To keep it, you gotta give it away. And la-di-da-di.
BY PAULO MURILLO | PHOTO BY JOSE A GUZMAN COLON
In an exclusive interview with THE FIGHT, Larry Paciotti—widely known as gay porn director, drag personality, and DJ, Chi Chi LaRue—speaks out about his struggle with addiction, being a slip sister, the recent intervention that led to rehab where his journey in recovery began, and how it gets better sober.
How do you feel at this very moment?
Right at this moment I feel happy, joyous and free. That may be a little cliché, but it’s true.
How much sober time have you accrued as of this interview?
Today is 65 days.
Have you tried to get sober in the past?
I have tried everything from white knuckling it, to doing 90 [12-step] meetings in 90 days. I went to Florida and spent 30 days living in a hotel and immersing myself into the sober community. I thought I had it after a year, but when you stop working the program, the disease grabs hold. It’s always waiting, cunning, baffling, powerful and patient.
What happened during your previous attempts at sobriety and why is this time different?
I was lying to everybody, including my amazing sponsor Greg, all my sober family, my friends, my business partners and more importantly to myself. This time I had a horrific bottom and I was screaming for help silently on the inside and hurting myself on the outside. Thank God my higher power brought some much needed love my way in the form of an intervention.
Was your intervention anything like what you see in the television show?
Exactly like it. My friends and family had to go through a pre-intervention, which I’m sure was tough. They already had letters asking me if I would take this gift offered to me and my answer was yes-yes-yes to every letter. I was so ready and willing to go.
What was life like for you before you decided to get sober?
My life was complicated, or so I thought. I drank a lot and did drugs—mostly cocaine—before I had my gastric bypass surgery, but it didn’t hit me like it did after I had it. I came to find out after I had the surgery that it happens a lot where people compensate and replace food with other addictions like shopping, drinking, etc. I was diagnosed in treatment as cross-addicted, so really anything in my life can become an addiction, like my addiction to Starbucks.
I was and am a chronic relapser. I call myself a slip sister. Things would be going really great for a while and I guess I would self-sabotage. I screwed up a lot of gigs and spent and lost a lot of money. I was falling down and hurting myself and hurting other people more and more frequently. I broke my thumb, my nose, and hurt my legs and my face a lot.
Being a female impersonator a.k.a. a drag queen—hell, being a goddamn 55-year-old grown-ass man, you would think I would get a hint that the last thing I wanted to do was keep fucking up my face, body and health.
What is life like now that you’ve had some clarity?
The moments have been amazing. Going into treatment was the best thing that’s happened to me in a long, long time. This is a lifelong commitment and I plan on keeping that commitment.
Is there any conflict between Larry Paciotti the person and Chi Chi LaRue the persona?
That was a big problem, because the two started to become one. I was losing the best of both of those people even though they are just one person. I truly love being both of those crazies.
How do the two of you co-exist in the realm of recovery?
One day at a time.
What was the public response like after you announced you were going to rehab?
Mostly, the response was positive, with a lot of love and support from many. Of course I had the people that said nasty things because they can and that’s okay though, because everyone is entitled to their opinion. What other people think of me is none of my business.
What happened to you financially that made you decide to start a gofundme campaign to help pay for rehab?
I didn’t open that up; my friend Kevin from Minnesota did. There’s a very long story that I don’t want to go into, that involves other circumstances on why I didn’t have the funds to finish my rehab. I want to thank everyone who donated to the fund. It meant a lot and you helped me more than you’ll ever know.
What does the future hold for Larry Paciotti and Chi Chi LaRue now that Larry is sober?
I can say I’ll be a better man sober. I’ll be a better director, a better drag queen, a better friend, a better business partner, a better DJ: a better human being all around.
What would you tell someone who thinks they may have issues with substance abuse and wants help?
Anything is possible. Look at me, I tried so many times to get sober and I hope this time it sticks. If you want to get help, help is waiting for you. Go to a [12-step] meeting and try it out. It can be very scary, but you’re definitely not alone in this mixed-up world of addiction. I hope that anyone out there that’s struggling with addiction of any kind will seek help. If my story provides any comfort or help to even one person, then this journey I’ve taken was meant to be. I love a good God shot.
I gotz to admit that I dragged my ass to the pop-up free Elton John concert that took place today on the parking lot of the “historically significant” Tower Records building on the Rock-N-Roll side of Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. I told myself I was there mostly as a reporter, because this event is an ideal item for The City page of the next issue of The Fight Magazine where I contribute.
I’m a fan of his music, don’t get me wrong, and I know that he gives back to the community with his Elton John AIDS Foundation, and he’s a legend and a husband and father and whatnot, but Sir Elton John the shit-talkin’ crab ass, I can do without. I’m talking about all the mad smack he’s shot at other people in the music biz–and by other people, I’m mostly concerned about the wretched things he’s said about my homegirl Madonna over the many years.
I know, I know, I read somewhere that he and Madonna buried the hatchet. He approached her at a restaurant recently, apologized for being a wretch and he bought her dinner, or so the story goes. Not that he needs it, but his peace offering made headlines during a time when he’s pushing a new album and he’s out on tour to back it up. I’m happy he apologized to M, but that just means he’ll aim his venom to other umm…singers… like… Janet Jackson. I read he recently said that he’d rather see a drag queen show than watch Janet Lipsinc. It’s like, seriously? What did drag queens ever do to Sir Elton for him to go there?
Anyway, I braved the heat to get my photo of Sir Elton singing for my City page. I wore my black mesh Madonna Rebel Heart Tour tank top to let everyone know what gang I was in, which got me clocked and called out by one of my friends who spotted me in the crowd.
Getting my shot proved more challenging than I expected.
The street was packed with people. It was impossible to see over all the bobbing heads–not that there’s much to see at an Elton John concert, lets-be-for-real-here, but I wanted to get a picture of him. I thought I saw him standing on stage, so I aimed my zoom lens and started snapping away, only to realize the man was the umm…wrong size. There was that, and he was playing a guitar. Then I heard the distinguishable piano set and I knew I had the wrong guy.
Ugh! I couldn’t see him. I moved up Horn Avenue, off of Sunset Boulevard and wiggled my way towards the front of the side gate overlooking the Tower Records parking lot. People parted for me when they saw my professional camera, which I thought was funny.
And there he was. Facing me. Sitting behind a grand piano. Playing for free to a crowd of thousands.
According to reports, those of us present owed this live musical treat to the City of West Hollywood for all their support of Sir Elton during his annual Academy Awards viewing party at the Pacific Design Center on San Vicente Boulevard, which raises funds for the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The event takes place every year on Oscar night.
I don’t have to, but I’ll admit it: there is no arguing with the happiness that I witnessed on the street today. The crowd was very mixed, with children and dogs and grandmothers enjoying the music. It’s not the frisky gay scene one would’ve experienced back in the dayz when Elton used to shop at this very Tower Records store, but I have to give up, his music made the people come together (evil grin). The crowd and their response to his classics were something to behold. The sound was on point. He did not miss a beat or flub a note. I was impressed. It made my rebel heart melt. OK, so the mood was contagious. I was happy to be there.
I got my photo. I got several shots of the crowd and as I much as I enjoyed listening to the sounds of my generation and the generation before me, I decided to cut out a little early, because I had an article to post.
It was on my drive home that my phone started blowing up. Turns out I left right before Lady Gaga came on to do a duet of “Don’t Let the Sun Come Down on Me,” which is my favorite Elton John song (the one with George Michael, of course)–again, I’m not the biggest Gaga fan, but I wish I had been there to witness that.
It was an amazing show. People will be talking about this for at least another day. But you know what the very best part about this concert is? We got the Tower Records concert experience for possibly the very last time. I believe the building is scheduled to be demolished for retail in the bottom and condos on top, on account of this is still West Hollywood, like hello.
Elton John has a new album called “Wonderful Crazy Nights.” In all honesty, I probably won’t buy it, but maybe you should. I’m sure it’s good.
A source tells me the Tower Records building is not being demolished. It has a new 15-year lease with Gibson Guitars. Not sure if they’ll keep the Tower Records logo on the building, but at least it has a lifeline for another 15 years. Thank you Jerome Cleary.
Here’s a Throwback Thursday / Flashback Friday to the time I graced the cover of a The Fight Magazine exactly 5 years ago this month. Yep, I was on the cover of issue #01. In that first issue, I wrote about being sober back when I had a whole four years of continuous sobriety.
Now here we are, The Fight Mag is at a five-year milestone, and I recently celebrated 9 years sober, which makes one look back in complete wonderment. Seriously, where does the time go? How did we get here so damn fast?
I know better than to ever say never, but the odds were stacked against me and no one believed I would stay sober in the beginning. At least that’s what I was told by those who knew me in early recovery. I ran around with two guys who were my trudging buddies back when I was on newcomer status–Brad and Orlando (aka La Flaka), who were both about a year ahead of me in sober numbers. I was definitely the weakest link where spiritual principles were concerned, and I was most likely to end up eating a dirty shit cake before I ever reached year one.
La Flaka was the first to relapse, which really ruined any ideas I may’ve had about being able to drink without getting high. The bitch didn’t have a drinking problem, so he took a drink and ended up getting high. The PNP ended when he got busted with a DUI while he was driving to, or from his dealer’s house, which sort of sealed the deal that drinking was not an option for me if I wanted to lay off of the meth, even though drinking was not necessarily a big problem for me either.
Then Brad relapsed and that’s when the shit became real for me, because Brad was the sensible one with his pretty big blue eyes. I always thought of him as an example of sobriety who worked a solid sober program, but alas, the bitch had a weakness for them Latino boys who got him into nothing but trouble. Relations with a Latino boy went south and I found myself fishing him out of a bathhouse after a bumpy three-night run. Those Latino boys took him out again and again during these past nine years, but I hear he is back on the sober wagon and I’m rooting for him and hoping he sticks around this time.
Both of them “dropped the baton,” which was our cute way of referring to a relapse.
I know time is not a tool to stay sober; I’ve seen people with a ton of time take that first bump or drink, but you best believe I held on to my baton for dear life. My sober days turned into sober years. I never forgot something that La Flaka said to me one night when we were sharing/comparing our war/drug stories. He said he could not believe that out of the three of us, I’m the one who stayed sober continuously. He couldn’t believe I refused to let go of the damn baton. He said he wanted to snatch it from me. I didn’t think it was fair. His assessment was that I was the meanest and most arrogant (his exact words were, “Eres mendiga!”).
What La Flaka failed to understand was that ego and resentment and a desperate desire to make a point is what kept me sober those first couple of years. My ego was so bad, that I was afraid if I went out, my pride would never let me back in. I didn’t want my ego to take me out and keep me out. My reasons for staying sober have evolved and are way different today. Writing about being sober all these years has helped, but I definitely did NOT do it the easier, softer way. It took what it took. For whatever reasons, I stayed.
And speaking of busted egos: I remember I absolutely hated my photo on the cover of The Fight when it first came out. I don’t know…there was something about the darkness and the shadows over my face and the fact that I look like I got into a nasty chola claw fight–all bruised up with a cut lip, and then writing about being sober, which didn’t sit well with me back then. A fierce-looking boxer facing head-on, all badass in the context “The Fight Magazine – a Queer Revolution,” is hot as all hell, but a beaten bitch talking about recovery—not so much. I wanted the shit to look bright and happy and pretty because I was selling happy, joy and freedom from drugs and alcohol. Or so were my expectations when the mag hit the streets. I had no kind of gratitude. I spun over it for months and could not get past my picture to look at the big picture: They put me on their first cover. And they let me share my sober story. How many LGBT magazine take that sort of risk–especially on their debut issue? I didn’t see that then, but it’s all crystal clear to me now.
The odds were stacked against The Fight magazine as well, when it first hit the streets five years ago. It was not looking so hot for the future of print media back then. The Advocate had gone digital and Frontiers Media LLC (I’m talkin’ about the real Frontiers magazine– not to be confused with the current mess of the New Frontiers Media Holding LLC) was struggling, and on the verge of a bankruptcy (New Frontiers Media Holding distanced themselves from Frontiers Media LLC when it came to paying their writers –myself included — who helped keep the magazine afloat while the bankruptcy settled, but they have no qualms about dipping into the vaults to take credit for what Frontiers Media did 20 years ago on a throwback Thursday–but let’s not go there … different blog for a different day). Yet The Fight Magazine has held its own and managed to flourish these past five years. They managed to not only give real people in the community a voice that stretches past the city of West Hollywood, but the magazine has been able to maintain its luster. It continues to be thick and bright and beautiful and stand on its own as a monthly queer publication. And they maintained their loyalty to the recovering gay community. They don’t have to, but other gay sober men have graced the cover of this publication and shared their stories of recovery since I first did it five years ago.
They told me to give it a few years and I’ll feel differently about that picture on the cover. And shit, shit, SHIT, they were right. I look back at that picture of me five years younger and I can’t believe it’s me. It’s perfect. What was I thinking?
Esthetics aside, I’m elated and grateful and proud to be a part of The Fight Magazine as they enter their 5th year of publishing. It’s been a learning experience. It’s been fun. It’s taken me out of my comfort zone and it has challenged me to write in a way I didn’t think I was capable this past many years.