Jared McKinley (aka Kitty Kat) is a co-founder of Powhaus Productions, an organization responsible for some of the biggest and boldest events in Tucson. In only two years, McKinley has made his mark, producing not only events, but also videos, a TV show and a live magazine. The latest project is "Tulle: A Tribute to Alexander McQueen." The event takes place on Friday, Aug. 19; doors open at7 p.m. at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. Advance tickets are $10, or $15 for VIP; regular tickets, if any are left, are $15 on the day of the show. For more information, visit www.powhausproductions.com.
What is Powhaus all about?
Basically, our mission is all about promoting the arts. We always take a pop-culture reference as a springboard, and we start building a show around that. We're doing more than building a show; we're building an excuse for people to create. And that creation could be art, video or music, set design, music videos or making outfits. We're also educating people about undercurrents in pop culture that influence everything.
How did Powhaus get started?
We—Nadine Ruiz-Carlson, Omer Kreso, me and a few others—started off having rock 'n' roll dance parties. We also encouraged people to dress up. We said, "Whatever you do, do it to the extreme." ... Our first event was in November 2009, called Khandy. ... It was a rock 'n' roll event, and we encouraged people to dress up.
How are your events different from other ones happening in Tucson?
We have the kind of parties in which anyone can come. I wanted to get rid of the whole hipster, cool thing—but the hipsters are still invited. I like hipsters. But I didn't want it to just be hipsters; I wanted it to be drag queens and everyone. What we are doing is not only fun for people who are normal, but also for people who are on the edge. The hallmark of our parties has always been the mix of people. When we really started getting big, when we were breaking 1,000 for our audience, I noticed we had a lot of frat boys and stuff. Some people complained about it; the hipsters were like, "Oh, there's a bunch of rich frat boys." And I was like, "Yeah, there are frat boys, and they're dancing with drag queens! That's fucking cool!"
Why the interest in Alexander McQueen?
He was a creative genius. I wanted to throw this show, because a lot of things that Alexander McQueen did are things that I'm inspired by with Powhaus. He took runway and turned it into performance art. He made it rain on the stage once; he made it snow on the stage. He one time had this woman who had this beautiful dress, almost like a ballerina doll, and these two robots came out alongside of her, and they spray-painted her dress. And they sold it like that, and that dress is worth so much money. ... He turned it into an art form, rather than a shallow thing.
Can you talk more about the "Tulle" event?
There will be lots of dancing, guerilla performances, fashion displays, cool scenery and music. We have four bands—Treasure Mammal, Diana Gen, El Hanko Dinero, and Leather Clutch—and also two DJs: Matt Elliott and Roberto Lopez. There will be a red-carpet entrance for VIP, just like a big city. We want Tucson to be proud of being Tucson, but to also think bigger. It's also an excuse for people to dress up. One kid contacted me, and he said he's making these armadillo boots that look like hooves. People are going to town on this with their outfits. One woman, Paula Taylor, is actually going to wear some real McQueens. It's a 21-plus event and is likely to sell out, since it's at Plush, which is a much smaller venue.
What's your next show?
"Glitterball" is the next show. We're doing it twice: once at Rialto on Sept. 9, and on Sept. 16 in Austin during Austin City Limits, at Club DeVille. It's our first out-of-town show, and it's not the last.
What does the future hold for Powhaus?
The big news for this year is that we're increasing our output. We're going to do shows in different venues, both small and large, in different parts of Tucson. And we're increasing our video output. ... We're going to have a lot of stuff on the Web, because we don't want to be censored. DragVision is one of the shows we're working on. It's kind of like The View, but with drag queens.