5 min

En-raptured Pride

Hot parties by Michel Nadeau and Toy Box Boys Productions

Credit: Jacques Gaudet

Michael Venus: Why don’t we start off with you telling us about all the fun stuff you have planned for Pride this year?

Michel Nadeau: This year we have seven events throughout Pride Week, starting on Friday night at our host hotel, the Delta. The welcome party is organized to let the out-of-towners meet and greet other people from all over who will be participating in Rapture over the weekend. At the party, we have local artist Scott Bolton doing a live performance. He is very energetic, sexy, and all that, and it will all take place in the ballroom and is sort of a happy hour thing from 5 pm ’til 8 pm. At 10 o’clock, we have the Rapture Black party which is the leather party that keeps getting more and more popular. We want lots of dark areas for that party.

MV: Dark areas for what?

MN: To do whatever you want. Like, other big cities often have fun areas where you can mingle with other people.

MV: Oh, is that all?

MN: That’s all I can say (chuckles). The best way to find out is to check it out yourself!

At the Rapture Black party we have a performer from Los Angeles named Pumping Velvet who is an openly gay professional bodybuilder who has worked with stars like Janet Jackson, J-Lo, Britney, and Justin as a video editor. We also have Derreck Daniels, an entertainer from Hawaii who has worked with Grace Jones for over eight years, travelling all over the world with her.

He and his best dancer will be performing with Circuit Mom from Chicago-who has pretty much done all of the big circuit parties in North America-and they will be performing at The Commodore both Saturday and Sunday.

On Friday, we have our first after-hours event, which will be held at The World, with Montreal DJ Serge Duchesne. On Saturday, it’s The Vancouver Pride Society’s annual Pride Ball, which we are doing for the second year now.

Since we have two events that night, we are changing up the format so we are not competing against each other. This year, we have changed the time of The Pride Ball from 8 pm until 1 am, and it will be at the Vancouver Law Courts for the first time. We have Los Angeles DJ Mike Duretto, Scott Bolton again, the Tropicana Girls, and Carlotta Gurl. It will appeal to everybody: the girls and the guys, the older people who don’t go out much but want to attend an event over the weekend, etc.

So, we also have Rapture 5 that night, which is the main event for the weekend, and it is at the Commodore with DJ Roland Belmaes from LA and tons of different performances. This goes until 5 am with alcohol service ending at 4 am. People can still keep dancing till 6 am though, and at 6 am the party moves across the street to the Plaza Club. At the Plaza, the morning event goes until noon and is the closing event of the weekend. We have one of the best DJs from Montreal playing that party-Stephane Grondin, who is very loved here in Vancouver. Stephane is making a special engagement here because he also is doing a big Sunday night in Montreal along with Manny Lehman, who will come here and play a tour-recovery party. All those big DJs are really busy this weekend.

MV: As are you; how are you going to get through it?

MN: We have a lot of people helping us. We have two very good co-producers who are handling the entertainment side of the events: taking care of decor, supervising everyone, making sure everyone is on time. We have a few event managers taking care of things as well, and we will be on site just in case, but we will have more time to be able to mingle with people that come down. So, it will be less stressful for us since a lot of our work is done.

MV: What instigated you throwing parties here in Vancouver?

MV: We sort of started out by accident. At the time, Out on the Slopes Productions were doing the big New Year’s Eve events, but Brent Benaschak decided to take a year off to go to Miami. So we asked him if he’d be all right with us doing something. He said go ahead and gave us his blessing and the response was quite overwhelming. We had about 700 people at the Vancouver Public Library Dec 31, 1999 and it really gave us a buzz. That summer came along and we did three events. In 2001 we decided we needed a name we could carry on from year to year so we had a discussion with some of our best supporters and one of our friends came up with the name Rapture.

It’s been a really great learning experience. To get our sponsors, we did surveys with our audience and the results showed what power our events had on the tourist industry here in Vancouver. With support from Tourism Vancouver, Air Canada has signed on for the first time as our airline sponsor. Labatt’s has been very supportive for the past few years and Interactive Male is probably our biggest sponsor by far, and has always been with us. It’s been quite good.

MV: You keep saying we…tell us about the ‘we.’ Who are your partners in crime?

MN: TBB production isn’t just me; it is also Mr Randy Palmer, who is my life and business partner. We have been together for almost eight years now and we started this company together. TBB means Toy Box Boys because we were always going out to parties bringing toys and lights and we sort of adopted that name as a pet name. We share the work and work as a team.

MV: You are also involved in some other community-based organizations; tell us about that.

MN: I just became a director of the Gay and Lesbian Business Association since April of this year and one of our mandates for the year is trying to get more recognition in the community. So in the fall we are doing a big tradeshow in September at the Hyatt Regency and we are expecting 7,000 people from all over to check the exhibition. At the show, there will be different themes: a live fashion show, a live performance by the Vancouver Men’s Chorus and a wedding isle. At the wedding isle, we will sign up around six couples who are interested in getting married and then have a live wedding. Even though it will be at the convention centre, it will still be totally private with a minister and we will handle all the decor, the flowers, the reception: all of it. One of the lucky couples will then get a honeymoon provided by Fairwits, which is a resort on Vancouver Island. This is the trade show’s third year and it is very exciting.

Randy, on the other hand, is doing work for A Loving Spoonful, which has always been our favourite charity, and we have been donating money to them since the beginning. On average, we donate about $4,000-$5,000 a year and we are recognized as gold sponsors for them. Randy joined the board a couple of years ago and has been really busy with them and recently did their big 15-year anniversary party, which was very successful. Since 2000, we have given over $71,000 to charities in cash and in kind.

MV: Wow, that is incredible. So tell me-how do you see the future of events and parties here in Vancity?

MN: I think because of the Olympics, Vancouver will be booming, and put on the map for having great parties like other big cities. I definitely feel that there will be more tourists visiting, and we’re definitely going to take advantage of that situation as more people know about our great city.


Pride Rapture parties.