Circuit Chat - Will Gorges

willgorges

Will Gorges

Webmaster John McHugh-Dennis interviews Will Gorges, the man behind HOOKER the Sequel, Get It!, Latin Fever Puerto Vallarta, Ski Daze, Independance, and no doubt others we've missed.

Will talks about his formula for a successful event, his views on forums on the Internet, and how it all started.

John:

You've been in the promotions business for a long time... When and how did you get started?

Will:

It started around 1995. Jeffrey Sanker was just starting to expand and I had come to Los Angeles from New York via Canada, and was at a point in my life where I needed to stop wandering around like a nomad, and start a career. I brought the idea of doing something in Vancouver to Jeffrey, and told him that I would do all of the legwork. The first event I ever did was a partnership with Jeffrey called the Loveball in Vancouver. It went over really well, and it was like a drug for me after that. I thought "Wow! I can do this!". It was exhilarating for me, and very fulfilling; I felt I had found my calling.

John:

What would you say is the formula for a successful event?

Will:

Jeffrey and I had this discussion over the weekend in Laguna. I look for places where I would like to spend my time, and that have a good vibe. I choose those places, and then I build an event around it. Jeffrey's a little smarter than I am, because he goes into places that already have thousands of people coming, like Orlando Miami Mine are a little bit more difficult. I go into places that don't really have anything going on at the time, and I have to start from scratch and build it, and I've been doing that with all of my events. It takes a lot of time.

So I look for a good vibe like Latin Fever in Puerto Vallarta. I just love the place; I love to spend my time there, so I decided to do something there. Ski Daze, for obvious reasons - I like to snowboard and ski.

John:

What would you say is the most difficult part of being a promoter?

Will:

Probably dealing with the gossip that goes around. People don't understand what goes into producing. The upfront cost that is involved can be nerve-wracking. You could put up $50,000 and have nobody show up! People want to know: "Why is he charging so much?" Because that's what it costs! I understand why people make the comments that they do - they just don't understand. I wish everyone could take a course on what it takes to produce an event.

The business can be very profitable, but only a few make that profit, and it's hard to get to that point.

John:

What do you enjoy doing when you're not planning your next party?

Will:

I have a home in Laguna, so I spend most of my weekends there with my lover. I surf, snowboard, play tennis I'm active. I like to have a good time with my "day" stuff. I love to meet up with friends and go out for dinner, hang out at my house in Laguna. When I'm not entertaining, and not producing I really like to get as far away from that world as possible because it's important for me to have a really good balance, because with that balance I'm able to bring back into the events that I do produce a sense of grounding, and I don't think that a lot of promoters do that. They don't take time out to smell the roses and just enjoy themselves. This business is constant it's like working in the film business it's 24/7 you could be working on this 24/7 there's always something that you could do. My time off is important. I may not do as well as the other promoters, but I like to take time off; that's important to me.

John:

For the past several years, you've had a strong association with Garrett Kimball. Just recently, that relationship seems to have been severed. What happened?

Will:

Let me start by saying that I've been in the business since 1995. 2 years ago, Garrett was working at Tahiti, and he had his thing going on called Tiki Lounge. I saw an opportunity to do a late night venue, because I saw the lineups at what used to be the Probe, and I thought there should be another after-hours that people could go to where they don't have to wait until 5 or 6 to get into. I needed somebody to work with on this, because it's hard for me to sell something where I have to get up at 2:30 in the morning and go to this party at 3. I have no problem selling something from 9 until 5 or 6AM, because that, I think, is easier to sell. I needed somebody who work it, and who could be the face, and the mouth on the street for that. I thought Garrett was perfect. Garrett was hired by me, and was working for me. He wasn't a partner - I made him feel like a partner, and even decided to call it "Will and Garrett Presents" because I wanted him to feel a part of the team; he was part of the team. It was always understood that I was the President, and he was an employee. Garrett was very good at what he was supposed to do, which was talking it up, and getting the word out. I started to include him on other things, because I wanted to give him the opportunity to take over the bigger responsibilities, and maybe take the company further. He knows why we separated. I wish Garrett all the luck basically what I've done is create another competitor.

John:

Garrett has had a lot of positive things to say about you in past interviews I've done with him.

Will:

He's a good guy, and I wish him luck!

John:

Do you see there being any future Will and Garrett productions?

Will:

No. I'm going back to the way it was before, and that's Will Gorges Presents. If I do any other partnerships, it will be with partners with whom I've thought well of, and hard about whether I can work with them.

John:

You have a new event now, with Manny Lehman and Rohan Bissett. Tell us about that.

Will:

Rohan did HOOKER several years ago, and he had the name trademarked.

John:

Did he approach you? How did the new HOOKER come about?

Will:

I found the L.A. Entertainment Center venue for an event called "TOGETHER" which we did together during L.A. Gay Pride. After TOGETHER, I was thinking I should do something once a month, and my experience working with Rohan over gay pride weekend was very good, so I asked him if he was interested in doing that.

John:

How is that relationship going to work?

Will:

Rohan is more like me; we're both about the same age, so we're ready to take the back seat and deal with the business end. The reason I chose Rohan was because he did have this great idea called HOOKER, and we all know that HOOKER was very successful, and it makes sense to me to bring back something that had a good run.

John:

In terms of DJs, is Manny going to be a regular DJ?

Will:

He's going to play about every other month. I think he's scheduled for one of the October dates. He's pretty busy himself. When we decided to do this, we started to look into the dates, and he was available for a few of those we were planning.

John:

I've never been to the L.A. Entertainment Center. Could you tell us a little bit about the space?

Will:

Sure. It's huge. It has 4 or 5 different rooms, and can hold up to 5000 people. It has a rooftop parking lot that we can actually use for outdoor events, and we are going to utilize it. It used to be the old Glam Slam, which is Prince's old club. It has a great outdoor patio that looks downtown with a great view of all the buildings. It has another lounge called The Penthouse which also has a great view of the city. It has its own dancefloor/bar, and the main room has a veranda or terrace at the mezzanine level and the main downstairs area has a stage and a huge circular bar.

John:

What is parking like?

Will:

There's lots of parking across the street. It's on Boylston and 3rd. It's well lit, and you can just drive down 3rd all the way to Boylston right before the 110 freeway. It's protected, it's gated it's very safe.

John:

How much does it cost?

Will:

I want to say $5.

John:

We've had a lot of comments recently on Sidewalk Talk criticizing promoters who close after-hours events before the advertised closing time. Obviously, if an event is supposed to close at 7AM, and there's 5 people in attendance, it probably doesn't make sense to keep it open.

Will:

You just answered your own question.

John:

One of the people who posted equated an event to a contract. If a promoter advertises an event as closing at a specific time, and the ticket holder pays a price based on that closing time, isn't he entitled to an event that closes at that time even if he's the only person there? What is the advantage to the promoter of closing early? It would seem that there wouldn't be a cost savings for you, since you must have the venue and employees paid based on the set closing time. If you're not sure about when you're going to close, why not just not put the closing time on the event?

Will:

I've tried that before, where I haven't put the closing time, and then you're inundated with emails asking when the event is closing. Some people think that we do it because we actually have to close earlier because we can't go any later. You're kind of damned if you do, and damned if you don't. There are some people that want to stay until 9AM, and there may be only 3 other people. What I would suggest is that they come up to me and say "Look, we want to stay until 9". We can make that judgment at that time.

John:

So it's not for financial reasons that you close early?

Will:

It is a financial reason, because the club owners don't want to stay open late, and we are kind of at their mercy. Sure, there are contracts that say we have until x time, but they (the club owners) are the ones that are going to say "Look, let's shut it down." And I agree with them. Yes, you are going to get the odd person that's going to complain and say "the ticket says until 9." I would just rather give them a $10 rebate if they're really upset about it. I think most people understand that not every party is going to go until the very end. Some parties go later than the advertised time. I've often done that where I've had a party go later than I advertised. I don't have people coming up to me and saying "Should I pay extra?", or "You weren't supposed to stay open that late!". I never get, well sometimes I get a thank you for staying open later, but rarely.

John:

Another event, Get It! is at The Ruby. A familiar location for you. Does this mean that Red Eye is no more?

Will:

I own the name Red Eye, and I've taken it off the market. I wanted to start with a clean slate, and that's why I changed the name.

John:

You mentioned earlier that you're not really an after-hours guy

Will:

I have somebody helping me out with it.

John:

The Internet has brought with it an amazing way to promote through forums like Sidewalk Talk. These forums can be a great way to spread the good word, but they can also be a mechanism for spreading ill-will and gossip. All things considered, do you feel that overall the Internet has proven to be a good tool for your business?

Will:

Yes. I think it's a really important aspect of my business. Just one click of the send button, and I can send out 5,000 emails. That's a big savings, and it does directly target people who are interested in going to those events. There are drawbacks to everything. I don't listen to the gossip; I have no problem receiving constructive criticism, but when it's unwarranted, and it's not factually backed up, I take offense. I try not to listen to it because I'll get too distracted from my focus, which is to give good, quality events.

The forum that you have, Sidewalk Talk, is important. I think it's fine. Am I going to listen to it, and take it seriously? It depends on what kind of criticism I'm getting. I would be silly to say that it's all nonsense. I want the negative comments to be valid, well thought out negative comments. I respond personally to people who email me and ask what happened on any particular night.

John:

Any final comments you'd like to add?

Will:

When you think of a Will Gorges event, think of all of my events in the past, and think twice about how you're going to judge me. Judge me on the event, and on the person that I am, not on the gossip or what you hear or read. I pride myself in giving a good party and something that is very affordable.

I want people to realize that the feeling that you come away with after a Will Gorges event is different from other events. They may not be able to put their finger on it, but people do know that there's a difference. There's conversation at a Will Gorges event, which doesn't normally take place at other events. I pride myself in that, and I just want people to make sure that they understand the facts before they make any judgments.

 

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