In just two years Daddy Issues has become a big deal in the United States. Founded by Oly Innes and Borja Peña as a London basement party in July 2016, the growing nightlife brand hasmade a name for itself since it touched down stateside in 2017. But now, the monthly party in Los Angeles that’s been the jewel in the company’s American lineup, hosting the likes of Valentina, Aquaria, Naomi Smalls and more as headliners, has closed.
“I’ve been doing Daddy for three years and I have so many ideas,” Innes told Out days after the final LA party where Milk headlined. “I’m not just this guy that does one thing—when I started the party it was about who I was then but I’ve had different life experiences and have traveled so much of America doing the party everywhere. I’m excited about doing new things.” Those new things include continually expanding his new party Evita, which recently received historic recognition from the famed Life Ball in Vienna, as well as a new party.
Innes came to the U.S. in 2017 to help head up Grindr’s then in-development editorial platform, which eventually became the now-defunct Into. At the time, Daddy Issues was initially launched in the US with a popup party in San Francisco, after becoming a success in London, but by June 2017, it became a monthly fête at The Lash in Los Angeles.
“We were able to launch it super successfully when it came to LA because it had super good brand recognition,” Innes said. Much of that brand recognition came from the party’s Instagram account and a line of merchandise featuring illustrations by Brooklyn’s Andy Simmons, known online as Hey Rooney. “I kind of believe in keeping things at their very best so even though we are closing it, the party was still really, really strong.”
Part of that strength has to do with inclusion of RuPaul’s Drag Race alum as the featured performers of the night. As a bid to keep the party fresh, in mid 2018, Innes began to recruit the queens to perform. “Naomi Smalls was the first Ru girl I ever booked in my life, and now I basically have one every week,” Innes said. Smalls was the first queen to headline Daddy Issues but now Evita, which is weekly, hosts many. “I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for her because she really took a risk and believed in me.” The risk paid off for Innes as the party became a must-attend, bringing in Drag Race fans by the hundreds. There, he prized diversity in the staffing of the party, particularly in positions of authority, putting people of color at the door and hiring women as DJs. Tokeyo Peterson serves as the resident emcee of the event, traveling with Innes to pop-ups all over the country.
He also kept a rotating cast of the requisite muscle-y go-go boys. The result was a melting pot combinging sex applea, creativity and fun into an experience that kept fans coming back. The success spurred pop-ups, some of which are recurring, in other cities — at last count Daddy Issues has had parties in around 20 cities with six new cities in the coming weeks, Austin, Denver and Cleveland among them. The success has also caught the eye of other LA organizers like Andres Rigal who partnered with Innes on Evita. In June, that downtown blowout will be the first LA party to ever host a room at the Life Ball according to Innes. But with all the success and notoriety, things have changed for Daddy Issues LA.
“I know every person here because now it’s my home town,” Innes admitted. “So now I’m like comping every one, which is cute and makes a good party, but it’s not good for me to put loads of work into something and then not be rewarded.” So, the producer will turn his attention to other endeavors, focusing on Evita as well as another to be launched party.
That latter event will also be organized with Rigal but will focus on music. “Evita has become a party that focuses on performance talent,” Innes said. Last week they hosted The Vixen and have hosted many other queens. “[The new event] is sort of everything that Evita is not. The money that we would spend flying in a Ru girl, we are spending instead on really amazing DJs.” The tactic is a reverse of what has become standard now, which has been to use the notoriety of the show to fill a space. Innes hopes to revert the focus back to DJs and cultivate some great talent.
But for those West Coasters who haven’t had their fill of Daddy Issues, no worries. Though it will no longer have a residency, the LA iteration will be revisiting its most successful party from last year: a pool party with the Impulse Group. The event hosted more than 700 attendees and allowed any guest to get in for free (and enjoy the free food and drinks) if they underwent a sexual health test. Around 200 attendees underwent the test setting a record for Impulse and the affiliated AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
“This year, I’m hoping we can beat our own record.”