Utah partiers know and love D.J. Pete “Jester” Savas, a native New Yorker who had made a name for himself not only in Utah’s gay clubs and Pride Festivals, but at hot venues in such cities as LA, San Francisco, New York and Vancouver. But if his latest appearance on Gay Internet Radio Live is any indication, Savas — whose nickname comes from his lively dancing in the DJ booth — is about to get even more popular.
This month, Savas beat 139 entrants in G.I.R.L.’s GayDays DJ Competition, an American Idol-style radio show where gay and gay-friendly DJs compete for judge and listener votes until only one is left spinning. When Savas’ 90 minute set of uninterrupted tunes as their favorite, the Jester said he was “really surprised.” Although Savas had placed 12th during last year’s competition (the station’s first), the DJ savvy he had to beat out (including his friend, Pittsburgh’s Tony Ruiz) was staggering.
“There were some really, really stellar talents in this competition,” he said. “I would sit there every week going, ‘Oh I’m gonna get cut!” and every week it was a surprise to see my name show up in the ads on Monday.”
In the last few rounds of the competition, the radio station asked the remaining 12 DJs to create two 30 minute sets (voted on by judges). The six remaining then put together hour-long set for listeners to vote on. Finally, the last three DJs put together 90 minute slots. The overall theme for the music: fun in the sun.
“The idea was to give them [the sets] a pool party music feel,” said Savas. “It needed to be light and fun and the music you’d hear at a pool in the afternoon while sipping cocktails and having fun with your friends.”
The pool theme is appropriate not only because of the approaching warm months, but because of the grand prize: DJing at the pool party for Gay Days, a week-long party in Orlando, Fla. Including parties, cocktail hours, concerts and, of course, visits to Disneyworld where Savas will be playing. The radio station will also cover his airfare and accommodations for the bash.
“It’s pretty much I get a chance to go to Florida and play at Disneyworld during the day and at Gay Days at night, and [I get to] attend some other parties,” he said. With Gay Days expecting 100,000 partiers this year, the opportunities for exposure and connections are “phenomenal,” said Savas.
The station will also give him his own show on G.I.R.L., which listeners can stream online or listen to on their iPhones (after downloading the proper application). As if all of this wasn’t enough, Savas will also get a turn behind the tables at an upcoming party at the Blue Moon Resort, Las Vegas’ only gay men’s resort. He will spin on a Friday night between the prime hours of 10:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.
Although Savas regularly travels the country to DJ at clubs and parties (including LA’s Lazy Bear Weekend, San Francisco’s REAL BAD XVII and LA’s Leather Weekend) he says that he sometimes has to struggle to be taken seriously, thanks to Salt Lake City’s reputation as a dull little town.
“A lot of people don’t take you seriously because Salt Lake City is not considered a major mecca for DJ. You’ve got to be from New York or Los Angeles or San Francisco or Atlanta or Chicago to have people really look at you and go, ‘Wow you’re a serious DJ and we’ll book you.’ I’ve had more than a few promoters not want to book me because they don’t perceive Salt Lake City to be a hip enough place to be from.”
So will that change a little now that a DJ from ‘sleepy’ little Salt Lake will be spinning for one of the country’s biggest gay parties?
“I hope it’s changing. I hope it’s changing a lot,” he said. “I’m hoping people are starting to take Salt Lake City more seriously not only for DJs to come out of but for DJs to play.”
Visit Savas on the Web at dj-jester.com. His Web cast “Press Play” is also available through Apple’s iTunes store.