There is a universal post-Pride feeling on the streets of West Hollywood, a buzz you hear at LGBT events all over Los Angeles and online that this year’s LA Pride was perhaps the best ever. Euphoric is a good word to describe the praise. And that’s not even over the top.
What is everyone so gaga about?
It seems to boil down to outstanding execution, record fundraising that should make the event cash-positive for years to come, terrific communication and unbelievably excellent advance, day-of and lingering post-event press.
The crowds were larger than in many years, back to levels not seen since the early 2000s and the festival was completely sold out both days, with a topnotch, world class entertainment line up and staging and attracting several hundred thousand people.
LA is rightly head over heels in love with LA Pride’s new President, Estevan Montemayor and new Executive Director Madonna Cacciatore. What their team pulled off was nothing short of miraculous, pulling an event that appeared near collapse back from the financial brink and making the LA Pride organization one of the world’s most well-financed and successful Pride organizations.
But there is another aspect of Pride people are raving about.
Jeff Consoletti’s intricate festival design and substantial festival staging, the lighting, the seamless professionalism of the staffing, the ambient look and feel of everything, everywhere throughout seemed inspired.
Consoletti, founder and principal of the events production company JJ|LA, has worked with LA Pride for 10 years, making him an indispensable and seasoned hand that Estevan and Madonna’s team can depend on, freeing their brains and hands up for promotion and sponsorship engagement and major organizational details. He is nationally known for his executions, working not only in LA but also in New York and Boston, where he has offices.
When Consoletti first came to LA Pride, it was struggling with corporate sponsorship engagement, lagging ticket sales and a lackluster entertainment program. Yet, his efforts were still inspired and not impacted by the hurdles of the past few years.
“We revamped the guest experience to create a clean, accessible and inviting event with eye-catching design and decor that got guests excited,” he said. “We took a deep dive into the entertainment program, identifying supportive allies and out and proud artists that could help to drive ticket sales and publicity opportunities to the shows. As audiences grew, so did corporate engagement. We looked to on board brands that wanted to showcase their support toward the LGBT community rather than billboarding, by encouraging immersive, guest-facing activations that got consumers excited.”
Consoletti first got involved with LA Pride as a volunteer during the financial crisis of 2009, one year after being laid off from a high-paying job. He parlayed the clients he had worked with into a consulting practicing and soon formed his own company. “In 2010, I approached LA Pride with a suggestion for a contract position to help them with their special events, entertainment booking and sponsorship as they began planning their 40th Anniversary, and they bit, birthing JJ|LA.” Since then his roster of clients, from big brands to nonprofits, across industries from sports and entertainment to fashion and consumer products has grown. His goal, he says, is the same with all of his clients, “reinvention, re-establishment and consumer engagement.”
“We have high client retention because we are hands on partners with our events. We immerse ourselves in our clients’ brands becoming a true partner to help shape their success.”
He says his formula for success is simple: “A great event starts at the core with great relationships. I’m lucky to have built a business that celebrates that and am so proud that shows in our work. I wouldn’t trade my life in events for anything else.”
And in 2019 that approach certainly paid off.
Meet Jeff Consoletti.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I came out at 19 (18 years ago!) to my very Boston, very Italian, very Catholic parents and I. Was. Petrified. Picture walking into a room with Tony and Carmella Soprano as the oldest boy in the family. That said, my family was instantly loving and supportive, as they always were, and immediately embraced me. I’ve been fortunate to always have an amazing family by my side my entire life.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Hands down Troy Perry. He founded the organization and client that is the foundation of my career and I think he is one of the most modest, kind and humble advocates within our community. I’m so fortunate to have a close relationship with him.
What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present?
I LOVED Cherry Pop! One of my favorite nights out in my early days in LA. And remember “Hot Dog” at Club 7969 – lots of trouble had there too! These days you’ll be more prone to find me cozied up with a martini in hand at Cecconi’s or Tower Bar!
Describe your dream wedding.
I’m in the middle of planning it actually! My amazing partner, Rob, and I are planning an incredible weekend retreat at an estate in Indio this November. I’m having the time of my life planning it! You can count on incredible food, a star-studded concert, elaborate lighting, gorgeous scenery and, of course, confetti!
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Special Needs. One of my sisters is learning disabled and I have learned so much about patience, advocacy and acceptance throughout her development. I’m a huge supporter of special olympics and ensuring children with special needs get the care and attention they deserve in the classroom and into adulthood.
What historical outcome would you change?
Um… November 8, 2016 would have been a much better day with a much different result.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
For some reason the Britney, Christina kiss during the VMAs immediately pops into my mind.
On what do you insist?
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
I shared a fun story about me and my team from Los Angeleno about the 27 Hours Before PRIDE!
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
If You Don’t Know, Now You Know
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
I couldn’t be happier to be my big, gay self. I’d say, “Well, isn’t that something,” and go back to what I was doing.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
That those I’ve lost are just as much with me each and every day.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Your persistence is key!
What would you walk across hot coals for?
My amazing dog Rilo, or anything Louis Vuitton.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
Rainbows that don’t fit! (inside joke!)
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
The Devil Wears Prada
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Not drinking before 5.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
“Emmy or Tony Award Winning Producer…” has a nice ring to it! I’d love to be an EGOT!
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That it just keeps getting better!
Why Los Angeles?
All of my dreams have come true here. I set goals that LA embraced and I have been able to create a life rich in friendship, work, love and creativity – what’s more to ask for in a place to call home?