Any time you attend a Voss Events production, you know that you are getting outstanding talent, massive production value & surprises galore. From Werq The World events worldwide to RuPaul’s Drag Race Live: Las Vegas, Voss has cornered the market on new and inventive ways to present some of the brightest talents in the world. As the country begins to emerge from its momentary pause, I sat down for a chat with the brains behind the artistry on these productions, Brandon Voss. From his beginnings behind the bar in some of New York City’s most legendary haunts to his newest turn popping a different kind of bottle, Voss continues to add his own distinct kind of sparkle to any event he produces.
Michael Cook: Brandon, you have gone from late Saturday nights in nightlife to early Sunday mornings with dad life. So take me back; how did you end up starting producing events and become one of the biggest producers in the business today?
Brandon Voss: I actually started my career as an investment banker, that’s what I moved to New York to do. While in graduate school working on my MBA, I worked as a bartender at the original XL on 16th Street. I also worked at Splash, G-Bar, and Bowery Bar, to name a few, so I knew everybody from the nightlife industry from my time bartending. I was working for Lehman Brothers during the mortgage crisis, so I obviously lost my job. I took some time off as banking jobs at the time were impossible, and started working with one of my buddies who had a lounge in Hell’s Kitchen and we started throwing parties just as a hobby and it sort of took off from there. Our first party was called Rocket and then we started a huge Saturday night club party called Club 57. Then we opened the new XL on 42nd street and from there I eventually formed a creative agency and began to exit nightlife and focus more on touring and production. I think people’s interest has shifted away from nightclubs; it’s just not the current generations culture. I guess I’ve evolved with the times.
MC: What has it been like developing work life balance as one of the most prolific nightlife producers in the nation?
BV: I try as hard as I can to separate the two, but really it is a non-stop twenty four hour job! You always have to keep creating and thinking outside the box to stay ahead of competition
MC: You launched the Werq The World Tour and now have relaunched your legendary Drag Brunch. What have these monumental accomplishments been like? What is different this time around for brunch?
BV: Werq The World we grew from a small eight city European tour to a worldwide brand that now visits over one hundred cities across every continent each year. It really something I enjoy and I love the creative aspect of creating the show each year. Drag Brunch has grown to several cities also. We’ve been operating it for six years now and I like to think we were somewhat pioneers in the space as you see most everywhere has some version of a drag brunch now. With the move to Sony Hall we introduced a new atmosphere, a new show with the same great cast, of course with the added addition of the one & only Tina Burner.
MC: Drag queens are so much a part of the fabric of your business. What do drag queens mean to not just your own life, but what do you think they mean to the community as a whole?
BV: I’ve always enjoyed drag talent. I’d sneak out of my fraternity to see drag shows before I was out of the closet. I think they represent a part of the community that brings unity amongst all of us; and lets not forget who threw the first brick…
MC: Ok, now I know you got some of the best baby gifts around for your new son Luca. Any that really stand out that you got from anyone really amazing?
BV: My son is gift enough, I still can’t believe when I get home there’s this little tiny person thats so happy to see me. My favorite gifts are his Gucci shoes. Luca somehow knows that they are expensive and gets so excited when he wears them.
MC: Event producing is a challenging business; what are some hints and tips that you follow for yourself and that you would offer to others who are looking to produce events?
BV: Focus on what you are doing, not what others are doing. And imitation is a form of flattery…
MC: What life lessons do you want to give Luca the most?
BV: “If you aren’t tipping a drag queen, you’re an A$#h)*@“ (just joking! ). I want to give him the lesson of a hard days work and nothing is just handed to you.
MC: After entering the world of parenthood, what are you finding to be the biggest joys and the biggest challenges?
BV: I mean, I used to be able to party and rage all-night, Luca apparently inherited that from me because bedtime isn’t always easy. The joys definitely outweigh any challenges because there are so many.
MC: What’s next for Brandon Voss and Voss Events? Summer/Pride season is around the corner and it is going to be truly an interesting one…
BV: Given the pandemic, it’s been a huge blow to the event industry. We’ve essentially canceled all our events including the Vegas residency, all our tours and closed Drag Brunch locations, for what could be the entire year. We’ve shifted to live digital versions of our shows. Check out Werq The World Season 2 kicking off Tuesday, June 2nd on WOW Presents Plus!