The year was 1992. I was under 21-years-old and still living with my parents in Inglewood when I first hit up Jeffrey Sanker’s White Party weekend in Palm Springs. It was the early years for yours truly, and it was also the early beginnings for White Party, back when the event was a modest-sized affair held at The Marquis Hotel. If I remember correctly, the weekend offered a pool party on Saturday, the actual White Party on Sunday night, and a pool party the following morning, which seemed too much at the time.
We were so damn innocent–practically kids. My friends and I had not discovered drinking and we wouldn’t dare do drugs, but we were boy crazy as all hell and we were hell bent on getting some at this party where people wore white.
I remember I lied to my mother and told her I was going camping with a bunch of my straight high school friends for that weekend. In reality I was escaping to the hot desert sun in a car full of flaming ‘mos. Six of us made the three-hour drive to Palm Springs in two separate cars. We drove with the windows (rolled) down and belted Madonna, Janet and I think Paula Abdul was still hot at the time.
I made sure to pack my secret weapon, which was something called the X-Skinny that I proudly purchased at International Male in WeHo where everything they sold was tight, sheer and cropped (that place is a throwback in itself). The X-Skinny was a slutty number with two straps that crisscrossed around the waist. You had to be skinny or tight to pull it off, because the straps cut into you in a way that wouldn’t be flattering if you were prone to a muffin top. It was basically a glorified jockstrap, so you best believe I buried that fucker under the floorboards of my parent’s home.
I remember the energy when we approached the Marquis. It was fun, exciting and very gay. A lot has changed at the White Party, but that sinking feeling I got in my gut when I heard the loud dance music and the heart-pounding thumps of the bass coming from that pool party back in 1992–that feeling was still there the last time I did the pool party in 2016.
The male form was different in the early 1990s. The bathing suits were not that flattering, tattoos were considered tacky, and the guys didn’t walk around in padded Rounderbum underwear, or rigged underhung bikini bottoms from Andrew Christian.
Alas, the only camping we did that weekend was outside of the actual White Party event. We weren’t old enough to get inside, so we just watched a parade of glowing gay men dressed in white, disappear like ghostly figures into a room that exploded with bright lights and loud dance music. They didn’t go all out with crazy costumes back then like they do today.
The city of Palm Springs had a bad rep as a party city at a time when straight college students went ape shit and tore the city up during Spring Break. White Party weekend fell on that same weekend, so it was an interesting mix. The gays kept to themselves in a more private affair, where the same-sex fun under the sun was tightly kept within the confines of the Marquis. The pool parties were open and free to everyone. They didn’t serve alcohol, so there was no danger of being carded. Hanging out by the pool was probably the most memorable part of our trip, but that’s only because it was the only area where they wouldn’t shoo us away.
This story is already out there, but here it goes, in case you missed it: I will never forget how my thirst for attention almost got me and my friend Steven killed that weekend. My dumbass decided to leave the safety of the Marquis to go buy a pack of gum down the street. I asked Steven to join me. I thought nothing about walking out into the open streets in my X-Skinny, with flip-flops and a mesh crop top—also courtesy of International Male. I figured Palm Springs was a party town and no one gave a shit about rules and you could basically walk out into the street naked.
I was wrong. Palm Springs was not that gay friendly in 1992–not many cities were–especially during Spring Break. Traffic came to a complete halt when I walked out to indulge in my X-Skinny greatness.
“FAGGOTS,” I heard guys scream from their cars. “FAGGOTS!”
Women on the street gasped. And I recognized some gay guys from the pool party, who turning the other way and distanced themselves from this crazy naked queen when I walked past them.
“Fuck you faggots,” they screamed angrily from all directions.
We only made it half a block before turning around and making a mad dash back to the safety of the Marquis. Today, they would have rushed at me to take my photo, so they could post it all over social media, which is way worse than getting your ass beaten. Steven will never forget or forgive how he almost died that day. Good times.
Of course, I would grow up and go back to experience the actual White Party a few years later. White Party had grown into a full-blown festival of massive proportions. I’ve been to WP nine times in my gay career, which I guess is a lot. I’ve had some great White Party moments and a some fuzzy ones in between. I’ve gotten into a shit load of trouble and I blamed everyone under the hot desert sun for my ratchet behavior. And I also proved that you could enjoy the weekend completely sober.
I’m due to go back this weekend. Outfit is going to be on point and I can’t wait to get a closeup view of Kylie Minogue at the Circus T-Dance. It’s gonna be epic.
Anyway, I will never forget my first White Party weekend. I was never the same after that summer (just kidding). I had no kind of game, so I didn’t get any, but I had the time of my life.