From twink-offs to club news and scathing commentaries on go-go dancers to local gay celebs and even a dash of charity work, there’s usually a love-hate relationship with SaltyGossip.com and its followers; either they love the site or love to hate it.
SaltyGossip launched in 2009 and has been the undisputed “TMZ” of Utah’s gay scene, outlasting other gay blogs and socialite sites. Think Perez Hilton, with a Utah spin. Despite their undisputed reign of control over the gay club scene, the contributors behind the site, Salty Gossip and Salty Jesus, have managed to fly under the radar. Leading many other traditional media outlets with various stories, SaltyGossip is on the frontline of true guerilla warfare in gay blogging. Yet, no matter how many party photos they post, or how many club feuds they became embroiled in, the identities of Salty Gossip and Salty Jesus elude most Utah gays.
However, in a rare, exclusive interview with QSaltLake, Salty Gossip and Salty Jesus shared tidbits to their true identities and backgrounds. From their reasons for starting the blog to their favorite drinks and bars, the bloggers dished all the dirt on themselves (except their real names).
“A lot of people who want to know who we are, are able to find out,” Salty Gossip said. “Our friends know and the people that don’t like us know. It’s out there and some people know, but I don’t want to be a public figure. I have so much going on in my life, and I don’t want to make the site into a bigger deal than it already is.”
The speculation behind the identities of the bloggers has turned the characters into almost mythological creatures, Salty Jesus said. Many of the readers don’t even want to know who is behind the blog posts, he said. The site, which started as a simple hobby for Salty Gossip has morphed into something much bigger.
SaltyGossip’s reputation as a place to find out what is going on this weekend and what happened last weekend is often superseded by its (undeserved?) reputation as a bitch-fest and is considered by many as a destructive tool to the community. But founder Salty Gossip doesn’t see it that way.
“There are a lot of sites like SaltyGossip that have come along, but they are even crueler than we are,” Salty Gossip said. “But I can sleep at night because I know I am trying my best and that I am trying to be a little more socially responsible than other sites. We also post a lot of really great information. We’ve got charity information, HIV-testing information, drug information, a lot of different resources.”
“People come for the gossip, especially young people, and end up finding a lot of other information,” Salty Jesus added.
The site has gone through many bloggers but the posts are somehow able to attract the young gay demographic. With photos and dirt-dishing and comments, the site is the time-absorber before starting a shift at work or while on a lunch break, Salty Jesus said.
Although the site has only been in operation for a few years, it has changed drastically since its inception.
“I can honestly say I realized that what I post can affect people. What you say and what other people say can affect them,” Salty Gossip said. “I never do anything to intentionally hurt people. But sometimes a single comment that we miss is posted and it can really hurt someone. We kind of realized we had to start to be really careful with what we said and what we posted.”
SaltyGossip has always had the standard that when people ask to have their photo or a mention about them removed from a post, even through a simple email, it is automatically removed, no matter the reason. However, even that policy is no consolation for one local junior high school math teacher. While he enjoys going to local clubs, bars and parties, the idea of being found out via the site is an honest concern.
“I always make sure to check the blog after every weekend, just to make sure I’m not a featured item of the week,” the teacher, who preferred not to share his name, said.
And while the removal policy is some solace for the teacher, the damage could still be done before he catches it or before the administrators of the site have time to remove it, he said.
“When word started getting out about who we were, I started to see the affects it had on others,” said Salty Jesus. “I remember one post where we mentioned someone and drugs and I later found out he was being drug tested at work. I could see how something I posted will actually impact others.”
While no benchmarks have been established the tone of the site has morphed to be more socially conscientious, Salty Gossip said. The life-blood of the site, gossip and photos, is still posted, but charity events, concerts and other information are also featured and readers will most likely laugh more and gasp less than they used to.
“I know that we’ve done some things in the past that we’re not all that particularly proud of. But we’ve grown a lot and we’re going to keep growing,” Salty Gossip said. “I love the gay community. I am an open book. Anyone can talk to me. I am nicer in life than I am on the website. I really do have a heart of gold and I’d love to help anyone that needs a friend to talk with.”
“We realize what we post will impact others and that can be in a positive or negative way. But we’re not malicious, we’re not trying to hurt, we’re trying to make some laughs and we are such a different blog than when we first started,” Salty Jesus said. “We’re the unofficial voice of the gay community because we don’t have to be as careful about what we say. Because this website is a hobby for us, we’re not brought down by financial or social reasons.”
To help provide background on the true identities of the queens of Salt Lake gossip, QSaltLake posed some questions about some of the standings of Salty Gossip and Salty Jesus.
QSaltLake: What’s your favorite bar or club that has ever been opened in Utah?
Salty Gossip: PÜRE – in its early days, because it was the only 18-and-older venue and it was where everyone met everyone else.
Salty Jesus: Babylon, in its early days. I loved the space and it was always packed.
Who is your favorite Salt Lake City drag queen?
SG: Nova Starr – she is fierce and knows how to entertain.
SJ: Vega Starr.
Who are your favorite club promoters in Salt Lake City?
SG: Paul Sanchez.
SJ: Rob and Tim.
What’s your go-to drink?
SG: Gin and tonic.
SJ: Raspberry Long Island.
How many times a week do you go out to the bars and clubs?
SG: Just once or twice.
SJ: Once a week – usually to Fusion.
Lady Gaga or Madonna?
SG: Lady Gaga.
SJ: Lady Gaga.
Favorite local DJ?
SG: Craig Robin.
SJ: DJ Lishus – he’s new but he’s so damn sexy.
What are your favorite places to visit for food and recreation in Salt Lake?
SG: I love the Thai Lotus, Bombay House, Café Trang. I love hiking around in the hills during the summer. Oh, and I eat Chipotle like every day.
SJ: I know it’s so cliché, but I love the Coffee Garden.
Where do you shop for clothes?
SG: Best Deal, Fashion Place Mall, Abercrombie and Fitch, Zumiez and Nordstrom.
SJ: Nordstrom and Buckle.
Your favorite gay movie?
SG: I am so glad you asked this question! My favorite gay movie is definitely Ma Vie En Rose – it’s a foreign film.
SJ: The Birdcage.
Your guilty pleasure music?
SG: I wouldn’t tell anyone this, but my guilty pleasure is definitely Paris Hilton.
SJ: Kelly Osbourne – I have her albums and I’ll plug it in all the time, “shut up, when I’m talking to you!”
Chinese or Italian?
SG: Oh are you kidding me? Chinese.
Favorite Mexican restaurant?
SG: Frida Bistro.
SJ: Garcia’s in Layton.
Who’s on your iPod right now?
SG: House and trans; Tiesto, Skrillex, Stevie Aoki and Armin Van Buruen.
SJ: Mine is a bit more eclectic. I’ve been obsessed with Rene Fleming, Paul Van Dyk, Cascade and the soundtrack of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
If you could change one thing about Utah’s club scene, what would it be?
SG: I wish there was a bigger venue with more sophistication. We need a bigger, classy venue. I want to see the nightlife expand.
SJ: I’d love to see a nice club east of State Street.