When local promoter Juan began his event service Beatbox seventeen years ago, he never imagined that he would one day become the entertainer and musical selector of the party. "Honestly, it came out of necessity," he says. In 2004, he began his journey from being behind the scenes to being the DJ, which has helped him understand and book the most suitable selectors for many events. You can also find him behind the decks of local parties at the Powerhouse like STANK or mustache party Mister, playing genres from '90s house to bass-driven funk. We spoke with Juan about the origins of Beatbox, his favorite part of Pride, and his DJ idol. He plays this Friday, June 27, at Monarch for the 7th annual Mister party.
Give us the history behind Beatbox.
Beatbox events began about 17 years ago. It was actually a party at 26 Mix in the Mission right when it first opened. Chip McClure and David Michael from Spundae played breaks and we showed graffiti art by my favorite artist, Damon Soule. Funny story: a coworker at a talent agency I worked at had a bedroom DJ boyfriend that wanted to come play out at a bar. He was actually really good. His name was Paul Hemming and he went on to buy the old DV8 space and turned it into Temple Nightclub. The party pooped out, but Beatbox became a company for me to produce for promoters and designers that wanted to do something more elaborate than a normal club night.
What's the craziest party you've ever thrown?
Typically I produce events for promoters and event planners, so I can't take full credit for most of the events that I work on. One big crazy thing I did was take Heklina's Trannyshack pageant from the clubs to an actual ballroom. It took Heklina some convincing, but we ended up throwing some wild, gigantic shows at the Regency Ballroom and Gift Center that made many local stars. Also, a few years back I was designing events for the tattoo and jewelry shop Braindrops, and they allowed me to go crazy on a pretty big project. I secured that crazy, Where the Wild Things Are children's indoor playground in the Metreon and we threw a legal all-ages, all-night rave party over Pride weekend. It was pretty exciting to bring in a ton of lasers, lights, underground DJs and a giant sound system in that wacky space. The movie theaters had to keep coming up to tell us to turn it down because their seats were shaking.
This year, you'll be celebrating seven years of Mister. How did this party start?
It actually started when I was managing Clubcard Printing in the Castro. I had been producing events for them to feature the different types of high-end printing that they do. We had an annual trading card event where I would feature 30 or so local artists and DJs on their own trading card that they could trade with the other participants. As that project was wrapping up, my event colleagues, the Fag Fridays boys, asked me and some other promoters to work on another party project with them. Since I was hooked on the deluxe printing we were doing on the collectible trading cards I wanted to keep the momentum going on art directing cool marketing materials. Clubcard came up with the wearable mustache idea. I came up with the name and everyone got behind it. It was a no-brainer. The last trading card party was the pre-party to the first Mister event at Mighty, and we've been doing it on Pride Friday ever since.
What's your favorite part about Pride weekend?
I like that I can give back to my friends and our Mister fans every year with this sexy party. Monarch is such a sexy space with the best sound. My partners, David and Jose of Fag Fridays, are such pros. We all have such a good time working together on this party that it makes Pride exciting for me. Plus I get to play the music that I like.
What do you think differentiates the music at SF Pride from other cities?
I'm scared to answer this. I just think that there is so much fun shit to do at our Pride now matter what you like. If you like hip-hop you have to check out the Swagger parties. Powerhouse and Truck have your the deviant and sexy "socials." If you want house you can win at the Honey shows. Juanita More throws the most stylish fundraiser of the weekend. All this packed into a tight little pretty city, over one gay-ass weekend.
Who is the artist you've think you've played in the most in your DJ sets?
Oh god. I love Popof. I'm a huge Dirtybird fan. All the new Cajmere makes me crazy.
Why are these artists to special to you?
The deeper the vocal and the funkier the beat, the better. Tech House is my favorite. I like it sexy, dirty and kind of creepy (laughs).
Tell us about your latest and greatest DJ mix.
Lately I have been getting booked at a lot of SOMA leather events and parties that are more on the darker sexier side of nightlife. They like it funky. This set is from a leather night I play sometimes at Powerhouse called, BLACK SATURDAY. I got pretty nasty in these mixes.
If you could DJ alongside anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
Yikes. I mean, I'd love to stand behind Carl Cox and watch him work. I think his approach to playing music has set my expectations of what I consider a DJ. I love how he keeps so many things going and will just drop in a vocal from a third record just to fuck with the crowd. I'd probably pee on myself if I could watch John Aquaviva too.
Three words you can use to describe Mister party on Friday would be...?
Mister is a meaty, slutty, treat.