With American gay bars shuttering left and right, a weekly gay party approaching its 16th birthday is downright impressive. Of course, with a name like BFD (short for “Big Fat Dick”) and a winning formula combining equal parts booze and sleaze, how could a fête such as this not become one for the record books?
Billed as “a party for drunk homos and those who love them” and taking place every Thursday night at West Hollywood watering hole Fubar, BFD is the brainchild of nightlife impresario Mario Diaz (pictured above, center). A well-known fixture of L.A.’s nightlife culture — indeed, in many ways he helped mold it into what tourists and locals find today — Diaz has over the years become synonymous with the sexual energy his parties spawn. They’re brilliantly conceived, well-produced and — most importantly — are perpetually attended by L.A.’s most gorgeous guys.
Diaz’s résumé of parties is rather lengthy, including events throughout L.A., NYC before that (where Diaz opened infamous gay sleazepit The Cock), and Seattle prior to that. But none of his nightlife creations — nor those of other L.A. party promoters — can claim the 15 years of BFD. In fact, BFD is most likely the longest running weekly gay party in the country.
So what is it exactly that has cemented the party into the lexicon of L.A. nightlife? Well, its notorious photo contest certainly helps.
“I like to incorporate an interactive element to my parties so our guests can be more involved and show off a bit,” Diaz says of the contest, which sees party patrons make their way to the back of the bar, drop trou and have a photo snapped of their naughty bits. (Though, in some cases, “bits” seems quite the understatement.) Near the party’s close, the evening’s pics get numbered and are placed on a clothesline for the entire bar to see. Before last call, a winner is chosen from the ranks.
Diaz indulges us by discussing the birth of his raunchy idea.
“This photo contest is something I started in NYC back in the ’90s just before I opened The Cock,” he says. “It was at a party I called CREAM that was brilliantly hosted by Justin Vivian Bond. Back then I used Polaroids that we hung from the clothesline. I’ve got stacks and stacks of dirty pics of people’s naughty parts dating back 20 years in my closet — cock and titty shots of some pretty high-profile entertainers, I might add.”
With tales like those, it’s no wonder Diaz was once nicknamed L.A.’s “King of Sleaze,” a title one can’t help but cherish.
“I’ve been approached a few times to publish a book with them all,” Diaz adds. “I should make that happen. Some light reading for the john?”
Another element of BFD that keeps patrons coming back week after week: Diaz’s carefully selected and brilliantly decked-out go-go dancers. Every recognizable go-go god in L.A. has hopped on a box for Diaz at some point, and these sexy guys — typically sporting costumes with a retro kick — are a hallmark of BFD.
“I’ve been casting go-go dancers since I first started in this business,” Diaz tells us. “I just follow my gut and pick the boys I’m most attracted to. Honestly, that has so much more to do with personality than just their aesthetic. Some of the hottest men just aren’t sexy to me sometimes. Usually because of their attitudes, the way they move, their energy. Sexy is something you can’t really teach.”
Diaz has always been hands-on with the styling of his go-go dancers, dressing them from head to toe. “If I didn’t, they would look like all the other go-go dancers around, and I prefer my crew with a little more edge and style than your average guy,” he says. “I like to keep it retro, usually. I just look at a guy and bring to life whatever fantasy I want from them.”
Check out this gallery of BFD’s go-go dancers throughout the years:
Of course, no one can truly pinpoint what makes any party a 15-year success. Diaz’s contest and his squad of ever-rotating go-go dancers surely play a part, but so do his skills on a microphone (“Drink and tip, y’all!” is something you’ll hear him say throughout the party, along with an end-of-night command to “pick your tricks and leave the bar”); Fubar’s cozy setting, which forces guys to rub up on each other when the narrow bar reaches capacity; strong drinks, along with BFD’s “cock for a shot” policy at the back bar; the music, made up of electro-clash beats provided by DJ Riley More.
“I guess the formula works,” Diaz says. “A dark, loud, smoky, sexy, retro porn-inspired, non-judgmental, good ol’ fashioned queer romp with strong drinks. That’s a little rough around the edges, just how I like it.”