King of the Circuit, Jeffrey Sanker talks to resident socialite 'drag' queen Teriyaki Temple about: secrets, drugs, discovering Lady Gaga and White Party Palm Springs
by David Nguyen -
aka Teriyaki Temple
SGN Contributing Writer
It was Shakespeare who wrote, 'A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.'? Whether you call him the Godfather of the Party Scene, the Premier Empresario of the Club Scene or the High Priest of the Circuit there is no doubt that Jeffrey Sanker has rightfully earned his titles and accolades.
TT: Correct me if I'm wrong but 2017 marks 29 years of the circuit scene's marquee event, White Party Palm Springs (WPPS). Would you mind sharing with my readers how White Party got started?
JS: You added a year - actually we are celebrating our 28th year this year, and I couldn't be more happy! Time truly does fly when you are having fun! White Party got started as an homage to my jaunts to Fire Island when I was younger. We used to leave the city, and just really come together as a group, having fun, creating memories, and supporting each other's dreams. When I moved West, I missed those times, and wanted to recreated them, but this time, in a desert oasis! I really envisioned a 'Summer Camp for Boys,' and little did I know how much fun it could be, or how it would grow!
TT: So much for the stereotype of Asians being good at math! I'm just too excited and wanted to get closer to 30 aka XXX (Roman numerals) (*wink*)
TT: With nearly three decades of White Party Palm Springs memories, what is your all time favorite? I know there are so many to choose from, some of my favorites include: JLo, Mary J Blige, Robyn (Headliners), Carley Rae Jepson, Deborah Cox, G.R.L., and Leanne Rymes (T-Dance), Janice Dickson, Erika Jayne, Kelly Osbourne as Queen of White Party and who could forget heart throbs Jaymes Vaughan and Jai Rodiguez.
JS: You brought back so many memories with all that you have mentioned! It is so hard for me to think of just one but I would be remiss if I didn't mention that one of my favorite memories was that of deciding to debut an amazing performer at one of my daytime pool parties, only to move her to headlining White Party the following year& then to see her flourish, bloom, and explode! Staying true to always being an ally to the Gay community, but also becoming a cultural icon, a legendary performer, and a true inspiration to all: my good friend, Lady Gaga!
TT: What I've come to expect each year is more and more fabulous than the previous year. In addition to Kyle Richards and Belinda Carlile, what else can attendees expect?
JS: We are bringing all of our parties back to within walking distance of our host hotel! My daytime pool parties are being rebranded as 'Day Clubs,' and will be sensory overload experiences for our guests! I am bringing the DJs and performers closer to the party, having my famous go-go boys front and center, and creating truly immersive themes! And our nighttime parties are getting extra added bonuses with our Friday Night Party being co-branded with Eliad Cohen's PAPA Party as a sexy, fetish ball, and our Closing Party being co-branded with Madrid's WE Party in a show unlike any other as 'Showboys' takes the stage& and who can forget our Military-themed White Party, and our crowd-pleasing Circus T Dance. There is literally something for everyone& but I am not going to give too many surprises away!
TT: You are often referred to as the 'King of the Circuit.' It's obvious your longevity will continue to reign for at least another three decades, but have you ever considered who would take your place should you ever choose to abdicate? What qualities will it take to be the next Prince or Princess of the circuit? Till at least 2037, Long Live King Sanker!
JS: Thank you for that. I truly look at myself as a storyteller and an artist. With this party, I am able to express myself in a way that is not only visually and aurally stimulating, but also in a way that brings people together and creates memories. If you want to look at this as a monarchy, then I am thrilled to reign over one such as this. There are so many great groups doing great circuit events all over the world, but I do think that I have always stayed true to my mission: to provide entertainment that is fresh, exciting, memorable and life-changing. All in the vein of acceptance, celebration, and creativity. But to answer your question, I am not even close to abdicating the throne yet!
TT: One of the buzzword's we hear on a daily basis since (cough) President Trump's election is 'diversity.' Some critics of White Party would say that the event promotes unhealthy stereotypes of beauty and glorifies substance abuse as a social norm. What would you say to those critics?
JS: The fantasy of beautiful people celebrating in a party-like atmosphere is definitely one facet of White Party; however, it is in no way meant to promote any sort of self-deprecating behavior (whether it be aesthetic or otherwise). In fact, one of the tenets of White Party is to be inclusive, and to celebrate and honor everyone, no matter their age, sex, orientation, or journey. We have early morning yoga for our fitness minded guests, and have 12-step meetings every day for those celebrating sobriety. White Party is a place for every single one of my guests to feel comfortable, valued, and included. It is meant to be a well-rounded experience, and one that celebrates people from all walks of life. I would ask my critics to come experience White Party to see all its layers and facets. All is not what it seems.
TT: As we grow and evolve we learn so many lessons along the way, what advice would 2017's Jeffrey Sanker give to Jeffrey Sanker from the late 90's early 2000's?
(I'll say that my hair was a mess for most of the 2000's and who ever decided overalls were cute should be shot.)
JS: I would tell myself that life is short, to not stress over the little things, and to always enjoy the moment.
TT: I know that WPPS is a 'working weekend' for you and your team but undoubtedly you've made many friends and have some routines/rituals along the way. Would you mind sharing some things you have to do while you're in town for the weekend?
(Ours is always have brunch at Sherman's and gathering with my besties to dance and reminisce as the fireworks light up the desert sky. Sometimes, when I've been single, I've snuck a kiss or two on the Ferris wheel.)
JS: I love that you have rituals that you do year after year! While I do work during White Party, I always find time to gather my closest friends and some of my team together at Trio the Thursday evening before White Party begins. We catch up, tell stories, and tie up any loose ends. I also have a fireworks ritual. I am extremely busy hosting during T Dance, but I design the fireworks to not only be choreographed to the music playing, but to also mean something personal to me, as well as to the guests attending. It is my secret message to my guests, my special thank you for being such loyal guests of White Party set to the hottest music and lighting up a gorgeous sky. This year is especially special to me, as there is also a secret message in the fireworks show to a very special someone in my life. Every year, I am backstage at this moment, celebrating with dear friends and our headliner, but this year, I will also be joined by that special someone. It is always such a sweet moment. And one that I look forward to every year.
TT: A lot has changed over the past few decades. There are so many events available to attend such as Matinee in Las Vegas, Atlantis/RSVP cruises, etc. What sets WPPS apart from these events? Why should a young Gay guy and his friends attend White Party instead of one of these other events?
JS: I think that the circuit has expanded so much that there is literally something for everyone. I am a huge fan of attending many of the other events, not only for the professional relationship I share with these promoters, but also the immense respect and friendship I have for them for what they do. I like to think that White Party is a little different than other events, because it has become a rite of passage for so many young Gay guys. White Party combines glamour, fun, sun, top notch DJs and performers, and amazing production/staging set against the backdrop of a beautiful desert oasis that is Palm Springs, all tied up in a big, gorgeous, WHITE bow! It is the ultimate escape into your wildest fantasy surrounded by people that share a singular vision: togetherness.
TT: It's evident you have a gift for discovering talent. You are credited with discovering a lot of DJs who have amassed huge followings through the years. Is there a formula you use to figure out if someone has that 'it factor' or is it purely instinctual?
JS: I have been lucky to have worked and been groomed in some of the most innovative nightspots in the world. In that, I have learned that no one person is ever what they seem, and talent is something that sometimes lies below the surface. I listen, I watch, and I try to keep my finger on the pulse of what is hot, what will be the next trend, and who has 'star quality.' I scratch below the surface, and I trust my gut. I admire a performer or DJ who is driven, is not afraid to take chances, and who is able to market themselves&. all qualities I admire in myself! And luck - never underestimate or discount luck!
TT: Lastly, in one word, how would you describe White Party Palm Springs to the next generation of party-goers?
For more information about Jeffrey Sanker's White Party Palm Springs 2017, May 5-9, visit www.jeffreysanker.com. visit: www.erikajayne.com and follow me @TeriyakiTemple on Twitter or add me at www.facebook.com/teriyakitemple
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