British-born Oly Innes, also known as OLLYWOOD, has become a popular figure as a nightlife producer in Los Angeles, throwing legendary events and the city’s most in-demand parties. From Dua Lipa to Demi Lovato, some of the world’s biggest stars have partied at his eclectic club nights.
We caught up with Oly to discuss what inspires him, how he keeps his parties inclusive and some of the most iconic memories from his events.
How did you become an internationally known party starter?
I’m from the south coast in the UK and when I first moved to London I would hand out flyers for parties outside clubs when they were closing for easy cash. Then I did the coat check a few times before I started doing the door and guest list. Then when clubs started noticing that I could bring big groups of colorful people to their parties, they all started hiring me to host and promote their parties. It was pretty cool because I never had to get a job while I was at university. I was making decent money just going out with my friends.
I stepped away from nightlife for a year and then decided to come back but wanted to produce my own parties. I launched a party called Daddy Issues which blew up in London. I moved to Los Angeles in 2017 and started it there which led to doing it in 26 other cities around the world. Then I met the amazing Andres Rigal, another producer in LA, and we relaunched his previous party EVITA. We had an incredible run for just over a year before Covid with some iconic guests and performances. Then in June 2021 we came back after Covid and now it’s bigger and better than ever.
Your parties are known for being super diverse and inclusive – what is the secret to doing it successfully?
When you create a queer party like EVITA, you end up creating a family. Our family is made up of the DJ’s, dancers, performers and regulars that come each week. Making sure that the family you create in itself is a reflection of what you want the crowd to be. The EVITA family is made up of the most beautifully diverse people from across the spectrum. Putting these people in positions of power in the club like on the mic, on the decks, on the stage performing, means that when people who feel they are in a minority come to our party and see someone like themselves on stage, they understand they are in a place where they are celebrated too.
What is it about nightlife and throwing parties that you enjoy so much?
Throwing parties, for me, is the only job where you get to create your own three dimensional world where you can set your own rules and be in control of what people experience. In film and television there is still a barrier between the audience and the world. At parties, I can control what people see, hear, touch, even smell! They are immersed in the experience. There is a huge rush from a successful night where you know the vibe was great, the crowd had fun and all the elements were aligned. Some of our family have trouble just existing in the real world. So knowing we can create our own world where they can truly be themselves is extremely important because I know first hand how it feels to grow up spending years trying to fit into someone else’s space and then realising it’s the space that’s wrong not me.
Who comes to EVITA?
Everyone is welcome at EVITA, but to generalise, our crowd is made up of young, colorful queers, Influencers like Nikita Dragun, Patrick Starr, Gigi Gorgeous and celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Tinashe, Iggy Azalea, Adam Lambert, Demi Lovato and Charli XCX. My favourite thing is looking into the crowd and seeing the looks people have created themselves, even if they haven’t spent much money on it, the creativity at EVITA is unlike any other party and we encourage this and offer special treatment to those who make the effort to come dressed up.
What are your proudest achievements since moving to LA nearly 5 years ago?
The Daddy Issues pool parties I threw each summer were very important to me. Guests had to test for HIV or STDs for a ticket, raising awareness for knowing your status and getting tested. We broke all Impulse’s worldwide records for most tests for an event two years running.
We noticed we had a big trans following at EVITA, so we did an all trans line up one week where all profit went to the Unique Women’s Coalition, the first trans-led organization in SoCal, organized by trans women of color. All performers, hosts and the DJ identified as trans, non binary or gender non conforming. It was extremely meaningful to us to say thank you to the trans community that supports the party.
Tell us your favourite EVITA memories?
We’ve had some incredible guests and moments at EVITA. The first party back from Covid in June was the most memorable night in my career. Everyone was so happy to be together again. Outside the club was chaos with the longest line you’ve ever seen. Superstar Dua Lipa hosted and got on the mic to welcome everyone back and wished us a happy Pride. Country star Orville Peck performed his cover of Born This Way and it was truly magical and unforgettable.
We had Kim Petras perform in 2018 just before she hit mainstream success and we managed to get her back a couple months ago for her birthday and single release party which was incredible. Lastly, the night Diplo DJ’d was amazing. The energy and vibe in the room was electric.
What’s your dream line up for a fantasy party?
DJ Paris Hilton opening for Honey Dijon. Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Richie hosting. Performances by Lil Nas X, Britney Spears and RuPaul!
What are your goals for the future?
EVITA will close for the season soon. We put her to bed for winter and will bring her back next summer. It is important to keep the brand fresh so people miss it when it goes away and are excited when it returns. Myself and Andres Rigal will be launching a new Friday night party brand in a new venue in West Hollywood, which I’m really excited about. Next summer I’m looking forward to partnering again with Impulse on another pool party to raise awareness for knowing your status and getting tested.