Stardust: Like bees to honey
Scott Cramer is quickly becoming one of Chicago's best known club promoters, gaining notoriety with the wildly popular Outdanced series and continuing with Stardust, a queertastic debauch-a-thon held Thursdays at Berlin. His parties, largely catered to the "alternative" side of the queer community, have received press in Spin Magazine, Time Out and gay.com and in his young career, the 27-year-old has already worked with some of the industry's brightest gems including names like MIA, Peaches and Sammy Jo (of Scissor Sisters fame). Cramer recently took some time out from his packed party itinerary to answer some questions from EDGE.
EDGE: First tell me about your background, what originally brought you to Chicago? What got you into the party "biz"?
Scott Cramer: I grew up in corn field right outside of Chi, called Elgin. When I turned 20, I was spending more time in the city than I was in the suburb where I lived so it made sense to get the hell out. When I first moved here, I started as an intern at the Abbey, it was awful - a couple hours a week where I'd put up posters and such. I got to see some shows for free and got a complimentary beer here and there. I stuck with it for a while and then got crowned the Abbey's publicist, which I have been with now for six years. In the first year I was there, I learned a thing or two, and branched out into nightclubs to do independent events. It kind of snowballed from there.
EDGE: And now your events have been featured all over - how does this notoriety feel to you?
SC: Its pretty rad, it's like like I'm Brangelina or something, right?
EDGE: Outdanced at Funky Buddha closed its doors last fall - could you tell me about that event and what led to the decision to end the project in that incarnation?
SC: Well, Outdanced the event was the brainchild of myself and Jillian Valentino. In August, Funky Buddha [Lounge, Outdanced's hosting venue]'s owner disappeared on a spiritual journey through Bali, and in a twist of fate Jillian was accepted to a prestigious clown college in NYC and decided it was time to pursue the circus arts she had always dreamt of. Outdanced now is used as a production name only, the event has been put to rest indefinitely.
EDGE: And how did Stardust come about? Why Berlin?
SC: Stardust came about as Outdanced the event died, Berlin approached me looking for something new, and Berlin happens to be my favorite place, so it all came together. My two friends Andrew and Shaina created a sweat lodge in my office. We put animal masks on just huffed glue in there for several days. The name and concept kind of materialized before our eyes. It was highly spiritual. [See photo above for visual evidence of the moment of conception.]
EDGE: What have been some of the biggest challenges you have faced in promoting a niched event to a niche community?
SC: I don't like the word challenge. I like to think of it more as an opportunity.
EDGE: Are you concerned that, especially with the current recession, the queer party scene has a risk of oversaturating its market?
SC: Not at all, we haven't seen much of a difference, people seem to be drinking a little less but we have not had any drop in attendance. It's kind of like Gays to Booze the same as Bees to Honey. And hey if you are suffering in this recession, you can always just pound a 40 right before you come by, right?
EDGE: What's the best part of your job?
SC: Gettin' drunk and gettin' laid. Oh, and I meet some pretty nice folks, too.
EDGE: Of all the people you've met, who's a bitch and who's a bigger bitch? Kidding. But seriously, any meetings stand out in your mind as particularly life-changing?
SC: I've met a lot of interesting people, but the one that stands out to me is Cody from SSION. He's a very talented artist but his every time he comes in town he needs me to bring a bunch of 16-year-old tranny hookers to his hotel and I'm tired of scraping their gum off the interior of my car.
EDGE: In a recent interview with gay.com, you pointed out that you didn't like many of the gay bars in Boystown and also referred to "gaybots" when talking about the scene at FKA. What's a gaybot?
SC: As far as the gay bars go, it's not that I don't like them, they just aren't my bag. Gaybots, funny you ask, being asked that made me question it too. I found some pretty great definitions on urbandictionary.com. I was more referring to the flock lemmings that lack originality, style, taste or any sense of the word art. They are easily spotted by their square-toed leather shoes, outlet store shirts and less than discreet weaves, tans and frosted tips.
EDGE: What do you feel is left to be desired by other bars in the 'hood? Does that play into how you promote your events?
SC: I'm just trying to provide my friends a place to meet the kind of gays they wanna kick it with. It's hard to find them in the other bars in Boystown.
EDGE: What does the future hold for Stardust?
SC: Sex, hugs and rock 'n roll.
On tap for Cramer's Stardust this week: JD Samson (Le Tigre) and Jobot this Thursday evening at Berlin, 954 W. Belmont, for Tantrum's birthday party. In addition to the entertainment, the night comes complete with some sparkling drink specials: $2 PBR, $3 Berlin Bombs and $5 Absolut cocktails. For more info on this and future parties, visit www.myspace.com/stardustberlin