Structured Mess: Tyler Clarke & Saladin Khireche’s GayBash
“Everybody is the show” at Tyler Clarke and Saladin Khireche’s GayBash events. After years of salivating over their party photos, we learn how it all started, and what keeps them going. (Original photos by Daniel Payette)
- Hottawa: Pride edition
- Bring on the House of SAS: Cirque Bizarre storms the Capital
- New Year’s Eve (and “Day”) à la Tom McGraw
TONIGHT (Sat. Sept 1): Lady Miss Kier DJ set w/ Still not Famous and DJ B’UGO, $10 @ Le Belmont (4483 St-Laurent) 10:30pm-3am
When Bruce LaBruce Facebooks you to ask if he can host one of your parties, you now you’re doing something right. Four years after embarking on their mission to bring underground glamour back to Montréal’s homo nightlife scene, Saladin Khireche and Tyler Clarke’s GayBash is having a banner summer. Kicking it off with LA up-and-comer AB Soto in June, the pair co-hosted the official Apocalipstik afterparty with LaBruce for Divers/cité. On Aug 24 they’ll bring a busload of party people to Ottawa for the Cirque Bizarre GayBash with Cazwell. And, luckily for us, they aren’t letting up.
Reading an event description for a GayBash party is like a look at a twistedly funny lexicon from a couple of gay boys who live for irony and pop epithets. In a good way, as evidenced by their helpful outfit suggestions for last May’s Supermodel-themed party at favoured gay-ish venue Le Belmont. “Kate Moss @ 5 am, Thierry Mugler naked on Manhunt, KATE MOSS @ 9AM, Cindy Crawford’s mole” read like an incantation, a kind of spell of references that the pair rely on to encourage party-goers to become the party, and not just attend it. “The name of the event intrigued me because it’s very politically incorrect,” iconic Canadian queer filmmaker Bruce LaBruce told 2B, explaining why he asked to host their Aug 3 party. (Make no mistake, Tyler & Sally were the real hosts; LaBruce’s DJ set was wicked.)
Their almost-monthly events have become de rigueur for the fashion/queer/art-fag set who were like orphans in the long, sad years after Joffrey Dumas’s Overdose nights ended at Parking. Held in umpteen different venues since 2008, GayBash can attribute its staying power to a sibling-like friendship between two zombie-loving party-artists and their extended network of DJ’s, videographers, MC’s, performers, and, of course, all those pretty faces that make it into photographer Daniel Payette’s coveted albums.
Sitting on Khireche’s quaint plateau back porch, Clarke arrives and pulls out a faux-plaster trophy urn that looks like it’s either going to make one bad-ass pendant, or perhaps an award for one of their next theme nights. “I don’t know yet,” Tyler says as he hands it to Sally nonchalantly. The two reminisce on the night they met, at Stereo Bar five years ago. “I was dressed up in exercise outfits like Jane Fonda, but I was the Exorcist girl ‘exorcizing’ the demons, with all these back-up dancers dressed as nuns,” Tyler recounts.
“It reminded me of ten years prior when I was in London, when I used to perform for Torture Garden and a party called FIST,” Sally says as he looks at his partner in crime. “I told myself I need to know this kid who was puking all over these nuns, and right away we knew we had to do something together.” (The ‘puke’ was a mixture of vegetable soup and oatmeal, Clarke explains.) The two quickly realized they were falling in Platonic love – “we were attracted to each others’ brains,” they both agree – and set about planning parties for themselves and 400 of their closest friends at a loft on Montcalm. Their first party (which was BYOB), was entitled “Trash Fuck Dumpster Fun” for the occasion of Sally’s birthday in 2008, and it contained the seeds of the duo’s thematic obsessions with gore, the grotesque, and a mischievous rejection of the masculinist/prep/jock aesthetic that dominates so much of the gay-boy mainstream. “People wore garbage bag couture, with pieces of cabbage on their heads,” Clarke recalls. “When the cops showed up I would come down in my underwear drenched in fake blood with a Jason mask on.” They realized then and there that they they had to work together.
“The way we always hold our parties is the ridiculous. We like to take the piss out of ourselves,” Khireche explains. Originally from France, Khireche moved to Montréal for love in 2000, after spending the 90′s in London. It was there that he cut his teeth on the fabulous and fickle ways of big-city nightlife. “My best friend in London gave me my girl name, Sally,” Khireche says, nodding to the camp habit of gay men christening their younger protégés with women’s names. The embracing of camp femininity, fashion, and the grotesque is part of almost every party they throw, as seen most recently in their “Butch Queen” night – not to mention the anti-fashion caricatures Roze and Rhonda, their “Still Not Famous” alter-egos. Always playful, the two keep their high-low aesthetic properly mixed up (evidence: Olivier Lessard’s exquisite video for Butch Queen).
Unlike Khireche, Clarke came to Montréal from Vancouver in 2001 to put a bad relationship behind him, and found a vibrant city that had all the appeal of Europe without the hassle of immigration. Before he started collaborating with Sally, he was known to make an entrance as “suicide girls” with scene queen Jordan Fox, (now the host of New York City’s VAN DAM weekly). “I think that the grotesque is beautiful,” says Clarke. “You can take a construction worker, which is generic, throw some lipstick on him and make some blood come out of the helmet and you’re glamourous, darling!” As if they didn’t have enough going on, look out for Tyler & Sally’s less ironic OCHO events, in collaboration with DJ favourites A-Rock and Shaydakiss in September. Whether or not you can tell they’re joking, these boys are up to something seriously, homosexually, hot.
GayBash w/ Chris Rilly Guilty + Shaydakiss + Still Not Famous
@ Royal Phoenix, 5788 boul. St-Laurent
Cirque Bizarre presents GayBash
w/ DJ Cazwell
Ottawa Jail Hotsel, 75 Nicholas Street (Byward Market)