Club King, directed by Jon Bush, is one of three world premieres at this year's Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (MGLFF), and it is sure to get a global party started.
Bush's film grants viewers a behind-the-scenes peek into the life of Mario Diaz, the club king known for organizing some of New York and Los Angeles' hottest queer parties during the past twenty years. Diaz was also founder of the East Village bar the Cock, and hosts Big Fat Dick, the longest-running boy-party in Los Angeles.
Bush asked himself how Diaz could keep that level of partying going so long and so successfully, and Club King was born. The film director, who has been making movies since the age of sixteen when he bought a Super-8 camera out of the JC Penney catalogue, is no stranger to nightlife. He produces electronic dance music as Beatfreaque, mixing beats by night, but by day, he is art department coordinator for the television series New Girl, starring Zooey Deschanel.
He took some time to answer Cultist's questions about his new film, his fondness for South Beach, and how proud he is to be premiering Club King at MGLFF.
Cultist: What inspired you to make a film about Mario Diaz?
Jon Bush: He quite literally has dominated the gay L.A. nightlife scene for over 12 years after ruling New York for almost ten. At the same time, he's a successful actor, an accomplished dancer, and is in an electro-dance band, Dirty Sanchez, with drag luminary Jackie Beat, among many other things. How the heck does he do all that? I was initially inspired to shoot kind of a "behind-the-scenes" cinéma vérité peek into how he does it all and makes it look so easy. Also, as an ambitious, successful gay man who has crafted a wild dream-life out of "alternative living," I was eager to showcase someone who could be a role model and an inspiration for younger LGBT people, or, really, anyone seeking to take the reigns of life and forge it to their liking regardless of the status-quo, as Mario has done so well.
Tell us a bit about the film.
Mario has become an icon of sorts. He has this very public persona that is exquisitely crafted. We start off there, on the sexy surface, and slowly dive deeper into his life and incredible history; kind of like un-peeling an onion one sliver at a time. Part cinéma vérité, part historical doc; it's fast, fun, colorful, hilarious, occasionally intensely deep, and - one hopes - enormously entertaining. Did I mention it's sexy as hell?
Is there any shocking behind-the-scenes footage?
Oh yes, but out of respect for the perpetrators, we will not divulge details here. You may have to wait for the DVD extras, but they will come out, eventually.
What was your favorite moment during filming?
Shooting Mario and about ten of his friends dressed up as a rowdy band of post-Apocalyptic Little Orphan Annie hooligans, as they march through a crowd of around 500,000 on the streets of West Hollywood during the annual Halloween Party, on their way to a massive club Mario was promoting. Imagine A Clockwork Orange mixed with Little Orphan Annie.
How do you feel about Club King being part of MGLFF's line up this year?
Elated. I was fortunate enough to be flown to Miami for my very first time in 2007 by HBO, after winning their LGBT screenplay contest called SHOUT. The prize consisted of production funds to make it into a short film. That film, Donny & Ginger, debuted at that year's MGLFF.
Miami, and particularly, South Beach, cast a spell on me then. I love your town so much - the multicultural vibe, the friendliness, the weather, the food, the smells, the colors, the architecture, the sexiness and freedom. And of course, the film festival itself - a world-class affair that always treats the filmmakers so well. The competition was incredibly fierce this season, so we feel so honored. I'd always dreamed of debuting Club King in Miami and was over the moon when I got the call that it had been accepted to premiere there. I really can think of no better place.
Will you be coming to town for the festival? Any plans?
Mario and I are coming out for the premiere and will be staying through the following weekend. We are so very excited and a little nervous, mostly about the post-screening Q&A. We'll probably be slightly drunk, so expect hilarity. I may or may not attend without pants -- stay tuned!
I plan on seeing a few films, attending a few parties, hitting a beach or a pool or three, and soaking up everything your gorgeous city has to offer. Personally, I love to dance to techno, deep house and breakbeats - a genre Miami is famous for - so I may seek out your underground-esque electronic dance offerings while there.
What will audiences take away from the film?
Lots of things, since the film will take you on a wild journey, perhaps deeper and farther than you might at first expect given our sexy promo materials. I guess the biggest thing I hope people take away from the film is the inspiration to live their lives to the fullest. Kind of like - this is not a dress rehearsal, people. What are you waiting for? Live!
While at the very beginning, I may have wanted to create a sexy, light, fun behind-the-scenes with gogo-boys movie, I think I may have captured an important piece of queer history in the attempt to portray the life of a single man. This is all Mario's doing - once I gained his trust, he steered the film into deeper realms than I could have ever guessed before going into it. Of course I hoped he would, but he surprised even me on many occasions. I think he was excited and inspired that I was prepared to go on this trip with him. This is the kind of film that will be studied in 20, 30, 40 years as an important historical archive of a very special, certain era in a very particular place, and starring some very creative people who have influenced our culture. Straight, gay, black, white, I think it will appeal to the humanity in everyone and demand repeat viewing.
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In short, without sounding too presumptuous I hope, since I really have been enormously humbled by the entire experience: I think we may have something special on our hands. I can't wait to share it with all of you.
MGLFF presents the world premiere of Club King on Thursday, May 8, at 9 p.m. at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Visit mglff.com.
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