Martin Luna used to be a go-go dancer at various bars on Halsted Street in Boystown, and he often made his own costumes to help spice up the parties where he performed.
He's still designing costumes, just now on a much bigger stagesuch as for the Pride weekend festivities associated with Neverland Events. For instance, there is a pool party on Saturday, June 27, from noon to 7 p.m. at Deuce's and The Diamond Club. On Sunday, June 28, there is the Neverland "Bougie Ball" at Metro; and the Sunday night Pride closing party at The MID. ( Tickets for all events, or weekend passes, are available at www.showclix.com/event/neverlandpride ). A portion of the Pride weekend proceeds will be donated to the AIDS Foundation of Chicago.
"My work is a dream come true," Luna said. "[We] started Neverland three years ago, and never knew it would grow to become my career. I get to design these crazy, elaborate costumes every day that come to life in our photo shoots and on stage at our parties.
"I want to keep growing Neverland and get more gay tourists to come to our city to check out our parties. I also want to create bigger, better parties in Chicago."
Luna said the best part of his job is simply seeing the faces of people in the crowd when they see the dancers and performers come on stage wearing costumes he's created.
The worst part is, the pressure the week of an event, though Luna said he thrives under pressure.
"Neverland is about fantasy and sex; that's the rule for our costume design," Luna said. "Everything has to be about fantasy, but needs to be sexual at the same time. That's why our models are never fully covered up, and you don't see them in wigs or anything that would take away from the sex appeal.
"Even when designer Kyle Krueger turned Carlos Tejero and Richard Matthews into Yoshi and Donkey Kong for our party [that was titled] 'The Arcade,' they were wearing jockstraps and were mostly nude. I love how Victoria's Secret does their fashion show. They create these elaborate wings, but the women are still in lingerie. That's our inspiration at Neverland."
The first costume Luna ever created was a harness for IML several years ago. Someone at that IML actually bought it from him on the spot.
"We did a photoshoot for our 'Arcade'-themed party at an actual arcade in the suburbs," Luna said. "We started shooting before it was open to the public, but were running [late]. When the arcade opened, all these kids came in, and our models were still running around in underwear and costumes. It was a funny scene."
Neighborhood: Lake View
Background: Originally from Campeche, Mexico. Moved to Chicago at age 16.
Hobbies: Traveling, reading fashion magazines, seeing fashion shows, working out
Job title: Co-Owner and costume designer for Neverland Events
Orientation: Gay and in a relationship
Favorite drink: Sidecar martini
Fashion "in": "Buying at thrift stores"
Fashion "out": "I'm not so much into shirts with prints anymore."
Little-known fact: "I'm about to enter college; I just got accepted into Columbia College for fashion design."