June 24, 2024 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

LA Pride Interview: Sean Gaynor Discusses Booking Star-Studded Lineup for LA Pride’s Annual Concert Event

LA Pride in the Park to Feature Ricky Martin in an Electrifying Headline Performance

Pride Month is nearly here so we had the opportunity to speak with Santa Monica-native Sean Gaynor (she/her), who produces the LA Pride in the Park concert event each year. Gaynor has been instrumental in booking renowned music acts for LA Pride’s music festival – LA Pride in the Park – which is taking place on June 8 and will be headlined by Ricky Martin next week. Previous LA Pride in the Park performers include Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, Megan Thee Stallion, and Anitta. LA Pride in the Park will return to the Los Angeles State Historic Park on Saturday, June 8. 

Photo credit: Wes and Alex

You can purchase General Admission tickets and VIP Passes at https://lapride.org/.

Ricky Martin, headliner of 2024’s Pride in the Park said, “I am thrilled to be headlining LA Pride in the Park because it’s an incredible opportunity to celebrate love, diversity, and equality. LA Pride is a testament to the power of community, the power of visibility, and the power of standing up for our rights. Being part of this vibrant community fills me with pride and purpose.”

Photo credit: Emmanuel Sanchez Monsalve

Sean Gaynor was born and raised in Santa Monica and attended Grant Elementary, John Adams Middle School, and Santa Monica High School. Gaynor then went on to get an undergrad at Loyola Marymount University. She co-founded the independent concert, festival, and special event production company Mixed Feelings in 2012, and have booked and produced shows at every major venue in LA. The company is known for discovering future superstars and booked debut performances for Anderson.Paak, Doja Cat, Troye Sivan, Kali Uchis, Willow Smith and more. Additionally, she has produced concerts and festivals in partnership with Live Nation, Goldenvoice, LA Philharmonic, Quincy Jones among others.

Gaynor is on the Board of Directors for the Christopher Street West Association, the non-profit organization that produced LA Pride each year. 

Dolores Quintana: Tell me little bit about this year’s LA Pride concert and what you have planned.

Sean Gaynor: It’s an exciting time of year for us coming into Pride season. We’ve just working super hard and are excited to share with the world what we’ve been doing. 

Dolores Quintana: From what I understand you were actually born and raised in Santa Monica, correct? 

Sean Gaynor: That is correct. Born and raised my whole life. Santa Monica through and through. I’m actually third or fourth generation, both of my great grandparents on both sides, emigrated, and landed in Los Angeles, and then grandparents, parents and me.

Dolores Quintana: You co-founded Mixed Feelings and you’ve been working on booking and producing shows since then. 

Photo credit: Wes and Alex

Sean Gaynor: I sort of fell into the music industry in some ways. I’d always, even back in school, I would produce the pep rallies at school. When I was at SAMOHI, at the Greek theater there, which is the 4000 seat amphitheater, I would produce the pep rallies. The rallies were 45 minute concert for 4000 high school kids. I got some experience in those days, producing large scale events, with the help of the teaching staff and whatnot. 

After that, I went to Loyola Marymount University here as well. I did some concert and rally producing at LMU as well. I’ve always been a avid music fan going to concerts almost every weekend with friends. I’ve been to every Coachella since I was 17. so I’m a big big music person. After college, a friend of mine’s family owned a small theater in Hollywood called The Lyric. They had been operating it as a playhouse and they had a nonproft that supported the venue and ran everything. They, asked me if I’d be interested in producing concerts there. They had only ever done theater there before. I said, I had only done this as a hobby before, but, why not? Let’s try it. So I did and we got a couple of hundred people there. The bar sold a few thousand, They were, wait, why are we doing theater? Music does great. Let’s keep doing this. 

That was in 2012 and we ran with it. We did more and more shows and, before we knew it, it was a full blown music venue while still being operated by the nonproft. We hit this lucky moment in time where I was able to produce the first ever shows for Anderson Paak, Kehlani Doja Cat, Troye Sivon, Moses Sumney, G Eazy, and all these people that have become these huge stars now but were just starting out in the infancy of their careers and doing their first shows in Los Angeles ever. 

That’s how I really like got going and that’s when I founded Mixed Feelings, my promoter company. Since then, I just started to grow the business into bigger venues around town and partnering with Live Nation and bigger companies. In 2018, I started consulting for the board of directors for LA Pride on when we were still in West Hollywood. Then in 2021, I was formally elected to the Board of Directors and that’s when I took over the Pride in the Park event and started booking for the, for LA Pride. Basically. 

Dolores Quintana: Awesome. I understand that you got a great slate for this year’s Pride in the Park. Would you like to tell me a little bit about that? 

Sean Gaynor: We’re super excited. We have headliner Ricky Martin and his first ever Pride performance and we’re just absolutely over the moon about it. He’s our frst openly gay Latin performer as well as his first ever Pride performance. It’s really gonna be a moment for the culture. It’s something that I think that everyone’s really, really excited about. On top of that, we’ve got an amazing band called MUNA who’s plays queer, indie pop. Really, really great. They sold out two nights at the Greek last fall that were just completely raucous and amazing. Then we have the up and coming Dominican rap artist named Tosha who just collaborated with Madonna and has been just absolutely blowing up on the scene. I think this is one of her frst performances in LA. I know I saw her perform at a Grammy event this season, but it was private. I don’t know if she’s performed much in LA but she’s got hundreds of millions of streams already. Tosha has collaborated with Madonna and Rosalia and some other huge artists. We’re really, really excited and she’s openly queer as well. Miss Jojo Siwa, who’s very much of the moment right now is gonna be playing too and performing her new single. We really feel we’re, stretching across different communities within the LGBT community, from age to background, to different identities and whatnot that we’re really excited for. 

Photo credit: Wes and Alex

Dolores Quintana: It sounds like you have a lot of firsts and in particular, it’s exciting that you’re able to scoop up this talent. But that’s something you’ve been doing for your entire career because you were booking the debut performances of a lot of people who are superstars now. 

Sean Gaynor: I call it my talent my spidey sense, if you will. It’s something where I just kind of get this like tingle and pain in my stomach when I know that somebody’s got it, and, it’s guided me well. We were able to get Mariah Carey and Meagan Thee Stallion in their first ever Pride performances, which was really exciting. and last year was a huge success as well. I think it’s only natural that we were able to continue that success into this year. 

Dolores Quintana: I think it’s great that you not only have that ability but you are able to listen to it and let it guide your decisions and that’s why you’re so successful. 

Sean Gaynor: Thank you. I sit on the LA Pride Board of Directors as a nonproft so it is a volunteer position legally.  My company, Mixed Feelings, is my day job to support myself and we just did a partnership with Live Nation to basically grow and expand our presence with their help. A lot of the conversation was that they saw and respected my ability to see talent in the beginning and work with helping develop those folks into larger artists over the years.

Dolores Quintana: So is there a theme to the Pride in the Park concert overall? 

Sean Gaynor: I would say for us it’s all about celebrating our community and overcoming struggles and adversity. Our theme this year, generally, is Power and Pride. To me, that means showing up and taking up space. Sharing with the world and spreading love and pride for our community. I think that we’ve definitely done that year over year and this year especially kind of highlighting different communities, especially the Latin community with Ricky as our headliner. I think is a really important moment and message that we’re we’re sending out. 

Dolores Quintana: That’s true and it’s especially important because the times are not so positive right now. 

Sean Gaynor: Yes. Showing the world that headline talent of the caliber of Ricky Martin, Mariah Carey, and Christina Aguilera that are these global superstars want to get out there and support our community and our movement with Ricky, obviously being a member of our community. We work with the same production company that does the Super Bowl, so we put on a really high level and professional show. The LA Times said last year’s was on par with any major music festival that’s produced by a corporation. The difference is that we’re able to do it as a volunteer group of nonproft board members. It’s all because of the community and our team really coming together to put on something that is magical and amazing even without the sort of expertise and experience of a AEG or Live Nation.

Dolores Quintana: The fact that LA Pride, as a group of volunteers is putting on this caliber of a professional show, that’s even more impressive. 

Photo credit: Wes and Alex

Sean Gaynor: To be fully clear, we hire a production company and an agency that is paid, but the board of directors is an all volunteer group that oversees and produces the event as a whole. 

Dolores Quintana: Is there anything anything else like that you would like people in the community to know? 

Sean Gaynor: Tickets are on sale now and that it’s gonna be a really special day. We’ve got some surprises in the works that are gonna be really fun and cool and it’s a great way to come out and celebrate, even for allies as well. We want to be really clear that Pride is for everyone. Obviously, we’re celebrating the LGBT community, but we’d love our allies to be there to celebrate with us. We’re also family friendly. We’re going to have, for the first time ever, a sports center where we’ve got the Lakers, the Rams, and basically all the major L A sports teams will be doing activations at the park and with lots of fun activities.

It will be a really great full day and with sponsors and activities for the whole family throughout the day. We’ll have Community Park Partners in The Pride Village where we will have different nonprofts and activists and people with booths and community organizations. It’s really going to be an all day family friendly fun affair that goes into the evening.

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