It never ceases to amaze me that the month of June in Chicago's LGBT life goes by in such a mascara-smeared blur, particularly as a member of the press, and particularly-er as the editor of a magazine which focuses on nightspots (oh, I just got that!).
I started with this company in January, 2001, and was hired solely as an ad salesperson. The top brass was quite specific that I was being taken on to sell ads and nothing more, but I was up front with the fact that I aspired to do something more for the paper. What that was, I really had no clear conception, but the following year would help put things into focus.
My first ad sale happened on my third day at the paper. I sold a 1/15 page ad to Julie Mai's Le Bistro, which as some of you may know, formerly occupied the space we now call T's. Selling had always come easily to me, as long as I truly believed in the product and I have always believed strongly in the quality and scope of our work at Windy City Media Group (then Lambda Publications). And the more I sold, the more I became invested in the product: the look; the attitude; even a little of the delivery duties.
So when Nightlines Magazine merged with another publication and Nightspots was born in November, 2001, I saw a host of new opportunities. Nightspots had a definite vibe to it. Kinda bratty, a touch of snarky and just a soupcon of sluttiness. Being a snarky slut-brat, I gravitated more toward Nightspots, and I began to throw my energies into photography and some graphic design.
The editor at that time, one St. Sukie de la Croix saw the snarky slut-brat in me and took me under his wing ... or kilt, as the case may have been. Under Sukie's tutelage (and not so much under his kilt), I learned the ins and outs of Chicago's nightlife scene. On the surface, one might think it's all drag shows and drink specials (which are all well and good, mind you). A deeper look reveals loyalties, friendships, mutual support and the fostering of an artistic, exciting and innovative community. This is how we celebrate our lives, and this magazine is and has always been a celebration of that factor.
And this is what keeps me going. Every year since 2001, when Pride season crashes into my ever-expanding lap, I brace for the endless hours of picture taking, ad designing, meticulous laying out of pages and, yes, even this column. By the end, exhausted and frail and hoping to never see another drag show or drink special again (for a week or two, anyway), I remember that my job as editor of Nightspots is to celebrate YOU and YOUR FRIENDS and YOUR LIVES. And I live to edit again.
Alright, now that the mushy stuff is out of the way, let me tell you a bit about this very special issue of Nightspots.
The inspiration came to me during a sublimely drunken conversation on a resort island off the south tip of Brazil. I was joking about the mag and somehow the idea came up to do a Highlights-themed issue. Pride felt like the perfect time.
So here's a brief user's guide to this Highlights-esque Pride issue:
Page 18 - The A-"maze"-ing New Parade Route: Nothing says fun like a maze, of the type you'd get on a diner placemat or at your dentist's office as a child. And if that maze can educate you on the new parade route for this year, all the better. Don't get lost in Wrigleyville or fall into the lake. We'll help you get where you need to go.
Page 34-35 - Jay Fernandez and The Bonobo Boys: I wanted an animated cover and there is no more animated group of guys than the Chicago Bonobo Tribe. I knew Jay was working on a series of cartoon strips based on the Bonobos, so I enlisted our amazing photographer Dave Ouano to capture their madness on digital film (I know there's no such thing, but I'm going for a moment). Jay then animated the photo and, voila! Our Pride cover.
Page 46 - Hidden Pictures: Everyone's favorite Highlights feature has been thoroughly perverted by artist David Hilborn. What a distinct pleasure it is to have access to such strange minds!
Page 50 - Deep Tissue: There was always at least one longer story for the more mature readers, so what's more mature than a masturbating masseur? Our new columnist C.J. debuts his "touching" new column in this special Pride issue.
Page 54 - What's the Diff?: It's a Devil In the Details special feature. Can you spot the six differences. One is pretty fucking easy.
Page 60 - Dumb jokes: Pretty self-explanatory. Relax, they're jokes. So what, who cares?
Page 64 - Bitchslap Flipbook: It started out as a craft project, but it seemed more fun if I just did the crafting for you.
So have a happy and safe Pride, Pride North on Glenwood, Backlot Bash, Dyke March, Black Pride, Rocks and everything else celebratory this gay summer!
And to my friends at The Call, hope you enjoy the Britney pictures, this time actually credited to The Call (sorry, guys)!