A lot of balls in the air

ATTENTION, SPORTS FANS | Despite his reputation for flamboyance, Steve Kemble is a huge sports fan and expects a lot of other gay people are, too.

How a straight guy decided the gay community deserves a Super Bowl party to rival the biggest mainstream events

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

Jason Hutchins has attended the last eight Super Bowls with his limo business, so he’s had the opportunity to see a lot of successes — and failures — in how events centered around the big game are staged. So when he decided to put on a weekend of parties, he had some very specific ideas about how to do it right.

But one thing he hadn’t seen enough of was huge parties targeting the gay community.

“There wasn’t one, and I thought there needed to be,” he says. “I felt it would be a good way to get the [gay] community involved in the Super Bowl without it being centered on the clubs. Or all about sports.”

Maybe most straight guys wouldn’t expect to see a gay sports-centered event, but Hutchins isn’t most straight guys. He was sure that there are plenty of gay sports fans … and plenty more who would simply get caught up in the excitement of having the Super Bowl in their hometown and wanna party during Super Week.

Certainly Steve Kemble numbers himself among them. You might not expect Dallas’ most flamboyant style maven to be a beer guzzling gridiron junkie. But you’d be wrong (well, OK, he probably sips more cosmotinis, but you get the idea).

“I come from a family of seven football coaches … then me!” he says with characteristic enthusiasm. “I told my dad, ‘OK, I’m older now, you can tell me the truth: I’m adopted.’ He said, ‘No, you’re one of us.’ But I do love sports, so I guess that proves it.”

It’s also what made Kemble, the self-described “Hostess with the Mostest,” a natural choice to emcee the event, manning the red carpet and introducing all the acts. And Kemble agrees that gay sports fans are an underserved market. After all, you can love touchdowns and upswept hair in equal parts.

“There are a lot of gay people who love sports, don’t you think?” Kemble asks. “I probably go on ESPN once or twice a month now, and after the first time, this producer came up to me and said, ‘That was a fabulous segment, but quit trying to butch it up. We want you gay — you play to that demographic. We have a lot of gay men and women who watch.”

(Try to get the image of Kemble “butching it up” out of your head.)

Coordinating the concerts has been a staggering undertaking — one Hutchins has built up to over his years in the entertainment field.

“I started with small parties — 75 to 200 people, growing to 500 to 1,000,” he says. But the weekend of the Super Bowl, he’s throwing three parties, all on the field of the Cotton Bowl, and he expects 5,000 to 7,000 attendees for each of them. And only one is targeted to a niche community (which probably has the best line-up of any of the parties).

Jason Hutchins

Hutchins has been thinking of the event ever since the Metroplex was announced as home of Super Bowl XLV, and has been devoted to it 24/7 since last March. He mirrored the event after the after-party at the Phoenix Super Bowl, which he deemed to best he’d attended. The field of the Cotton Bowl is being covered by a floor and covered in a climate controlled tent.

“The best parties are all tent parties,” he says. And while he always wants live music, he says DJs are essential to keeping the attendees dancing.

Hutchins researched a lineup that would appeal to a wide spectrum of gay fans, as well as straight people who like to party with us. That necessarily included Hector Fonseca, the No. 1 gay DJ internationally last year, and Cazwell, whose infectious “Ice Cream” song became a sensation last summer. T.a.T.u. singer Lena Katina has also proven to be a popular choice. Then there are the more established groups.

“I’m so excited about seeing the Village People!” exclaims Kemble. “Didn’t you have a fantasy about one of them? I love them all. And I love love love Lady Bunny! She is just amazing. I use her for parties all over the country.”

You can even vote to put Kemble in a Village People costume.

Hutchins and Kemble both think, though, that the Thursday concert will attract people outside the gay community.

“I think we’re gonna attract a huge demographic that draws everyone together,” says Kemble. “That’s one of the things that’s so cool about Dallas — I think this event is gonna be great. Fair Park is gonna be abuzz — P. Diddy is having his party there, too, which makes it a hotbed of activity.”

The all-inclusive Feb. 3 party runs from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m.; a portion of ticket sales and proceeds from the silent auction above the minimum bid benefit DIFFA. For tickets, visit XLVParty.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 21, 2011.

—  John Wright