King of Clubs
Florida native Steven Rogers honed his nightclub skills in Manhattan, during the reign of Studio 54, and celebrity restaurateur Mr. Chow, for whom he worked. He rubbed shoulders with the likes of Truman Capote, Mick and Bianca Jagger, and Lauren Bacall, while doing lighting for Gotham clubs. Then he said goodbye to all that, headed west, stopped in Phoenix, and never left. He's owned clubs in Scottsdale and Tempe, and now has a whole block of them downtown on Central Avenue, including Club Dwntwn, Palazzo, Amsterdam, and his newest one, Miami. Together they form a destination zone for party people of all stripes, gay and straight, Hispanic and goth, you name it. An adult Oz, with Rogers as its genial, wire-pulling wizard.
Pansexuality is cool: If you look at what I do, it's never gay-themed. I'm a big believer in the pansexual. In catering to people who are beyond these categories. If you go into a blue-collar gay bar, those people are just as bigoted as a blue-collar straight bar. I can't tolerate those people, gay or straight. I like the pansexual attitude. People who like to hang out with all kinds of people, and love diversity.
The vision thing: If you lack vision, Phoenix isn't the city for you. You should go to a different city where you can just plug yourself in to what other people have created. Phoenix is still a young place, somewhat of a blank canvas. If you have vision, it's the land of opportunity. A lot of people get accused for settling for second best in Phoenix. But I've made my fortune here. And I do mean my fortune, because I came here with nothing.
From consumer to producer: I found out who I was in Phoenix because the city wasn't influencing me. You're able to be the dominant signal, and the background noise is Phoenix. I hated Phoenix for so long. The first 10 years here, I cursed this place all the time as just one Circle K after another. The desert's beautiful, but the cultural desert is not. That's what drove me to build all this. So instead of being a consumer, Phoenix forced me into being a producer.
The battle before us: The desert has a reputation for slightly eccentric and wacky people. People on the run, people hiding out. At the same time, it has a reputation for people who are extremely conservative. It's like a battle of wills. What is Phoenix going to be known for? Is it going to be known for Joe Arpaio? I hope to hell not. I'm hoping it's going to be known as this incredibly cool cultural outpost in the desert. That's what we need to be known as. If so, we're going to be a great city. Phoenix needs its own identity. And it's got to be more than this Southwest shit.
Get the Arts & Culture Newsletter
Find out about upcoming performances, exhibitions, openings and special events happening in the Phoenix art and theater scene.