4 min

Ultra cool scene

Stingray's Martin Klovan dishes about clubs

Credit: Kevin Teneycke

With his recent new Thursday hotspot, Stingray, Martin Martini tells me his secrets for maintaining a positive attitude in a business that can get very tiresome. This handsome playguy gives us the juice on where the gay club scene has been and where it is heading.

Michael Venus: Tell us about Stingray and what you have been up to.

Martin Klovan: After the year-long hiatus when Electrolush ended I was looking for a club to do a great evening that wasn’t going to be Electrolush but more in the spirit of it. I finally came across the management at Atlantis who were very excited and very gay-positive. Several bars that I had approached told me they didn’t want drag queens in the club when I told them I was a gay promoter.

MV: Who? Tell us so we can spit on their windows.

MK: Crush, the old Lava Lounge-they had the most alarming reaction. Atlantis is great: all the straight bartenders who just love the gay crowd. They are very polite. What I am trying to establish with Stingray is a night in Vancouver that you wouldn’t expect in Vancouver. I want it to be a uniquely Vancouver experience. I want great music, conversation that then moves into music that you don’t hear at every other club. You know, a sophisticated environment with wacky visuals, interesting guests, art shows on the scenes that’s really just a showcase of what this town’s got.

MV: With the lack of actual gay clubs, do you find it hard to bring the gays out to a straight club?

MK: A lot of clubs are hesitant to have a gay crowd coming in on a particular night because they fear that it will reflect how their other nights will do. Luckily, Atlantis is thrilled! I don’t see why it wouldn’t work considering it happens in every other city. People don’t realize that Atlantis is the old Mars/Wett Bar/Saturno (it’s gone through a few incarnations) and when they do come down for the first time they are always amazed at how beautiful the club is, how nice the staff is, how amazing the light and sound system is, so I think it is something we need to embrace.

MV: How did you first get into doing events?

MK: It started back in 1990 when I got involved with the Gay Games, which were in Vancouver then. I played water polo and I met a bunch of fabulous men from all around North America and when a contract ended I did my tour around America. I attended a water polo tournament and drove to San Diego, then went through Arizona to Louisiana for a Jazz festival. Drove down to Key West, Florida for Memorial Day Weekend, and spent some time in Atlanta and New York. I got to see what was going on in America and I am a dual citizen and spent a year of high school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I found that in Canada, people are a little more complacent and they expect things to happen for them-which is okay, but I always wanted to be a person who makes things happen because there is a lot of great things out there to do and somebody has to get it together. So in ’91 we had to figure how to get the water polo team to New York. I started throwing underwear parties for the water polo team at Graceland. The second party, Thunderwear was famous and one of the wildest parties this town has seen and we really developed a great following from there. I was later chair for the Pride Society and sort of helped that grow from having 20,000 at the parade to 80,000. I was a part of that whole movement. In January of ’96 Michael Shea and I began Electrolush Lounge which ran for five-and-a-half years. He has hung up his headphones since. I had previously worked with DJ Quest before and I love his enthusiasm not to mention his bang-on music, so it all worked out.

MV: You have been involved within the gay club scene for over a decade now and it had been an up and down one, especially during the last few years. Where has it gone and where is it going?

MK: I find it rather alarming that the clubs that are left in Vancouver have the same decor since the ’80s and are charging such outrageous cover charges. When you go to places like Montreal there is competition and you have to be on it and keep it exciting. You have to put some effort into it. I really am alarmed at the way these clubs treat their clientele. With the gay clubs that have more recently opened, after all the effort they went through with city hall, you’d think they would at least use one of the many talented designers in this town. One club hosts horrid, really vile artwork on the walls, with the decor that makes it look like you’re on a Carnival cruise-ship. What about Numbers? That could be one of the coolest multi-levelled clubs, but look at it! It’s a shit hole.

MV: Being involved in the clubs as well it almost seems like doing a night in a gay club is out of the question. Yes? No?

MK: Yeah, exactly.

MV: So is it all about gay nights at sophisticated straight clubs or what, Mary?

MK: Why not? What are the gay clubs doing for us specifically? Outrageous cover charges and we are still offered the same plate, you know: five day old piss. And that’s not all.

MV: What else should we know about Martin Klovan?

MK: I am almost a 40-year-old gay man who has a lot to be grateful for and I’m always searching for …

MV: Mr Right? Mr Right now?

MK: Mr Right On! (We giggle like two queens drinking at the local very Santa Fe gay pub, Oasis.) My interests are my friends, the two baby girls that are a part of my life, the women who my ex and I helped bring these special girls on to the planet with. That is totally way exciting. Getting to know these lesbians and watching them create this family, and my dog Jasper who I adopted from the SPCA. I cherish the time I spend with the people who are close to me, my family and friends. I still can enjoy being around a stranger once a week but love to spend quality times with loved ones.