John Wojas - Mayan Resolution

headshot

John Wojas is the creator of Resolution, an event which for four years has entertained the boys of Los Angeles and takes place this December 30th at The Mayan featuring DJs Victor Calderone and Alex Lauterstein, and then again on Martin Luther King Weekend (Sunday, January 19th) with DJs Junior Vasquez and Peter Rauhofer. Webmaster John McHugh-Dennis recently interviewed Mr. Wojas.

Resolution Info:

Mayan
1038 S. Hill Street
Tickets: ticketmaster or LASC


JMD:

Most of us know you as the Resolution/Mayan guy today. How did you get started in this business, and how did Resolution start?

JW:

I have been a Vice President of talent at House of Blues concerts for 9 years. As a talent buyer I'm responsible for booking the concerts for our company and making the deals with the agents. I started at Bill Silva Presents, which was bought by Universal Concerts, and subsequently by House of Blues Concerts. I always loved dance music, but most dance acts never tour so I asked my boss if I could do a one-time only gay dance and he said yes. I did my first party 4 years ago the Sunday of LA Gay Pride at House of Blues. We did 20 people (10 of which were my friends) and closed at midnight. I made the big mistake of going up against the Probe's Closing Party with Susan Morabito which was a tradition at the time in LA. I remember my boss calling my cell at midnight and him asking how we had done and I told him 20 people, lost about $5,000, and maybe I should stick to my real job as a concert promoter. My boss told me to pay the dj, close early, and go to my competitor's party and figure out how to do it right. So I did that and two years later I was doing the Closing Party in both Los Angeles and San Diego. So I'm very thankful to my boss for not only allowing me to do my dance parties but for believing in me when I didn't believe in myself.

 

JMD:

Most promoters (at least promoters of large events such as Resolution) promote for a living, but this is a second (side?) job for you. Is it difficult juggling both?

JW:

Sometimes... but I'm used to handling a lot of projects as I book concerts in Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, and Las Vegas. I also book a concert series for an Indian casino in San Diego as well as the Del Mar Fair and have my Mayan Theater parties and San Diego Pride. Also things pop up here and there like synergy or Mass San Diego. A lot of people who meet me think my real job is a party promoter. Resolution is just a small part of what I do as my real job is a concert promoter.

JMD:

Some of your detractors fault you for living in San Diego, yet promoting L.A. events which obviously sometime step on the turf of the local promoters. Do you see a disadvantage to living in San Diego, yet having to organize L.A. Events?

JW:

No, I've been booking concerts in Los Angeles and living in San Diego for 9 years so the parties are just an extension of my company's business. I think people believe all the promoters hate each other. Some of us do, but believe it or not, some of us are actually friends. I've done parties with Gus (Mass San Diego) sandy (synergy) and Rich (LA Pride Closing Party) and consider all of them friends.

JMD:

When I spoke to you recently on the phone, our main topic of conversation was some of the negative remarks that went up on Sidewalk Talk about Resolution closing early. I asked this same question of Will Gorges in a recent interview: How does an after-hours promoter determine the closing time for an event? Do you typically not advertise a closing time? If you do, are you obligated to remain open to that time? We all understand that there are cost issues, but aren't the costs fixed based on the closing time?

JW:

this is old news can we skip this topic?

JMD:

Speaking of Sidewalk Talk, we all realize that many of the comments are probably posted by promoters, their friends, their foes, etc. I typically let most comments go (though I am re-thinking this) - I think most of the readers are intelligent enough to figure out underlying motives when they see them, and promoters shoot themselves in the foot when they attack other promoters without basis. What would your advice be for me, and for these other promoters?

JW:

I think people see through the BS and karma comes back to people. But it never feels good to read nasty things about you whether they are true or not.

JMD:

You also mentioned during our phone conversation that you can be a bitch to deal with, and it was actually kind of refreshing to hear the honesty. Do you think it takes a bitch to be successful in this business?

JW:

No, because you can be a stupid bitch and lose a lot of money quick doing parties. What I meant by a bitch is that I can be a tough competitor if I have to be.

JMD:

What makes a John Wojas event special in your opinion? How do you distinguish yourself and your events from all of the other promoters?

JW:

I try my best to give people a quality event. Hopefully a great space, great lights, great sound and a great DJ. I also try to be unique by bringing in DJ's that do not play LA that often or by doing shows that really surprise people like the levitation and snow trick I did with Flava at the Memorial Day Mayan. I'm constantly learning though. People need to realize none of us went to promoters' school 101 - we live and learn by the mistakes we make and hopefully do not make the same mistakes twice.

JMD:

Are you re-thinking the frequency of Resolution events? Labor Day was a HUGE success, but the prior event had a much lower attendance than you had hoped for.

JW:

I only do the Mayan 7 times a year and less is definitely more. The gay community gets tired of things so quick that even doing the Mayan 7 times a year I still struggle with how to keep it fresh. Last year I had an entire year of sold out events but then I did July 3 and 4 back to to back and my July 4 party bombed so you learn from your mistakes and on Labor Day I came back with my biggest Mayan party yet. Next year I'm not doing July 3 or 4 as it is too close to my LA Pride Closing Party (only 2 weeks later) and most people, myself included, left town and did not want to go to a circuit party on the 4th of July weekend. I'm adding a Halloween Mayan in its place but still keeping the number of Mayans to 7 per year.

JMD:

Any plans for other events in the works?

JW:

I'm excited for people to hear the $100,000 in additional sound that the Mayan installed in October. The sound was already great at the Mayan but now it is going to really blow people away. I'm also putting the dj booth in the balcony for the next two Mayans so the dance floor will be bigger. Ross Berger, one of the best lighting guys in the business will also be doing the lights at all my parties and he really blew me away with his lighting on Labor Day.

Of course I'm looking forward to Victor and Junior's first appearance ever at the Mayan. I have always been a fan and lover of dance music and Victor, Peter, Junior & Susan were my inspirations in the dance community growing up so to have had all of them spin a Resolution event for me has been a big thrill as these dj's still inspire me today. It was only a few years ago that I used to get to Probe right at 10PM when Rich Campbell would bring Susan to town, or be one of the first persons in line at Orbit when Jeffrey brought Victor to LA. Even though I produce these parties now, I'm still a huge lover of dance music. You can always find me on the dance floor at some point in the night at one of my events.

I love to see other promoters dancing at my events, as they know how much work goes into producing a big party. I'll never forget when I did Junior for San Diego Pride 2 years ago: I recall never having seen so many dj's actually dancing at a party in my life. I saw Tracy Young, RA, Kio Kio, Susan Morabito, Alex Lauterstein, Paulo, and Manny Lehman all on the dance floor that night, and those were just the dj's I remember seeing! It was great to see because I know how hard these dj's work behind the turntables it was great to see them having fun and dancing.

JMD:

What are some of your Resolution highlights you can share with us (we can talk about the ones you can't share offline)?

JW:

President's Day Mayan - seeing the change over from Phil B to Susan Morabito when Phil ended his set and Susan started hers. It took me 2 years but I had finally gotten two of my favorite dj's on the same bill - it was great to see Susan and Phil on the dj stage at the same time

Junior playing "last dance" as the final song for San Diego Pride

Watching Paulo's intro on labor day from the Mayan balcony as the disco ball slowly descended from the ceiling and Paulo played his mix of "elements" and seeing the whole floor erupt. I remember thinking "wow 2 years ago I had never even heard of Paulo until I heard him at White Party Grand Finale"

On Labor Day I did not want to do a theme party but Anil (Chanelta) who helps with all my parties kept on bugging me to death about his concept of Peepshow. Finally I caved in and said fine and let him plan the whole thing with the dancers, uplit go go boxes, etc....Well Anil was 100% right with his ideas and I was 100% wrong and I loved the fact that he turned it out on Labor Day for all of LA to see. Because Anil is usually the first to arrive at the Mayan to set up and the last to leave packing everything up. Always a supporter of the music scene in LA, but often behind the scenes. It was his night to step up to the plate and take a bow and I was really proud of him. Peepshow returns Labor Day 2003 to the Mayan.....

Watching Flava's levitation show on Memorial Day. When I first met Flava 2 years ago I told him I don't do shows at my parties because no one cares about them. Well he showed me and I loved it!

Seeing Tomer's last 30 minutes of his set from 7:30-8PM at the Mayan on Labor Day. This kid is only 22 years old and he was turning it out for over 1,000 people. No one knew that I had only met him 3 months ago on my first trip to NYC when I heard him spin a tiny side room in a club and there were only 2 people in the room. Most dj's would have just spun anything with 2 people in the room but he was attacking the turntables like he was playing the Roxy for 2,000 people. He had no idea one of the two people in the room was a promoter. I remember looking down from the balcony and thinking "wow from 2 people to over 1,000 people and on the other side of the coast - and to top it off the little bitch is turning it out at 7:30PM." I was really proud of him.

On Labor Day at the Mayan Peter played a dance mix of Depeche Mode's "Behind the Wheel" an hour before we closed. The song seemed to come out of nowhere, was at the perfect time, and everyone loved it and was taken by surprise. I remember running up to the dj booth and asking peter whose mix it was. Peter said it was Shep Pettibone's mix and he had found the record when he was at home in Austria going through old records in his attic and did I like it. I remember thinking, "Do I like it? The entire crowd, myself included, was floored, because it is a classic song, a great re-mix, played at exactly the right time, and the best part was that it came out of nowhere and threw us all for a loop. It was classic.

Some Resolution Memories:

RESOLUTION