Excess. Indulgence. Debauchery. Pleasure as a way of life. Sounds like Vegas, but it’s actually Shedonism, “the feminine art of being sinful.” The official girls’ party series of Las Vegas Pride is in its fifth year, and founder Lisa Pittman doesn’t just want to bring the good times—the self-proclaimed “Pride junkie” wants to make Las Vegas a can’t-miss destination for the annual celebration of LGBT culture.
A longtime local and veteran DJ, Pittman is also known for her work behind the booth, spinning across the Valley—with residencies at Marquee and the Sayers Club—and traveling across North America to play at nightclubs and for special events, like last month’s gay-pride celebration in Vancouver, Canada.
For Vegas’ rendition, she’s secured a Shedonism lineup including star-studded entertainment—with performances by Lil Debbie, Da Brat and Nina Sky, and slick sounds from local ladies on the decks, including Alie Layus and C.L.A. She pressed pause on her crazy schedule to talk about her hometown’s gay scene, the enduring power of Pride and the beginnings of Shedonism, which she affectionately calls “New Year’s Eve for lesbians.”
What motivated you to found and produce Shedonism? At the time I threw parties for women, and [I knew] there was an interest in not only weekly parties, but yearly parties. When Pride would come around girls would say there’s nothing for girls, or everything’s always driven for the boys, or the Pride board is all guys so they hire [talent] that the guys like. … Pride is an event that tries to be fair and all-encompassing, [so] I reached out to Pride and I said, hey, why don’t I be the spokesperson for the women and create an event for them?
The LGBT community has made significant strides in recent years, with marriage equality, non-discrimination legislation and more. Why is Pride still important? Every time I attend a Pride, it’s just as important as when I was 21 and I was going to my first Pride. … It’s really important for the young generation. It’s really important for the 18-year-olds, for 21-year-olds, for people who are tourists that happen to stumble upon the Pride Parade. It offers visibility to the community, and it offers visibility to people who are still young. They’re looking for people who are like them, you know? … It’s a great visible recognition of the community for people who might not find it, see it or be exposed to it [by] any other means. … And that next generation has to be proud and really celebrate the accomplishments that we have made.
You want to establish Las Vegas as a “destination Pride” city. Where are we at with that goal? As conservative as Las Vegas has been for such a liberal city (laughs), we’re getting there. And we have some really cool elements to our Pride that are unique to Las Vegas. We have the only nighttime parade, you still see the glitz and the glamour and the city lights. … We do things different in Vegas because we’re a nighttime city, so of course, our Pride is a little different. But that’s the uniqueness. … It’s just a matter of people coming here and expanding our Pride.
You DJ all over the country. What’s the major difference you notice between Las Vegas’ LGBT nightlife scene and those in other cities? We’re just such a transient town. People live here for a short period of time and then they move away, and because of that, I feel like it’s hard to establish a really great gay community. … And the fact that there’s so much great entertainment on the Strip, it’s hard for gay bars, gay clubs, to compete with that. In this day and age, with it being so liberal, there’s no reason why you can’t go to Wet Republic to meet someone that you’d want to meet.
How has the scene here evolved? I’ve seen it change. … I’ve seen gay club nights [and] events being promoted in [the] mainstream, I’ve seen [gay] events being hosted by places like Marquee, which is a major nightclub in the city. So the thing that’s amazing to me is the acceptance of the gay scene in [mainstream] nightlife.
You DJ at some of the hottest clubs around town. What do you like to spin? What can clubgoers expect from a Lisa Pittman DJ set? If I’m in the hip-hop room at Marquee, then I’ll play an amazing hip-hop set. And if I’m at the Sayers Club, I will go more into indie-rock and funk and what I feel like the room needs. A more eclectic vibe, because the people who are there are music lovers. … The overall feeling is that what you can expect is a really dope set! (laughs)
You also DJ on the radio. What’s the appeal of that medium? Radio is a very powerful tool, and I love it. I actually love to play live in the studio and live interaction, people call in and they talk to you on-air. It’s just a different element. Because I’m a DJ, I don’t get to talk to that many people and you don’t necessarily get great feedback right away … but when you’re on the radio there’s an opportunity for people to interact with you and give feedback, so it’s a great tool.
Shedonism September 17-21, times, covers and venues vary, shedonismvegas.com.