The poster for this year’s Sleaze Ball has become the poster that gay and lesbian Sydneysiders love to hate. Dismissed and disparaged on internet bulletin board sites, the Sleaze Ball poster has also been the subject of several thousand pub conversations since it was unveiled four weeks ago.

Boring, cheap, amateurish and uninspiring are just some of the criticisms that have been flung at the poster.

It’s absolutely ghastly, not to put too fine a point on it, said the former general manager of Mardi Gras, Mark Goggin. There’s nothing contemporary, fun or engaging about it, and it makes you question what the event itself will be like. It looks like a bad day in the op-shop.

There was also nothing about the poster that would engage a younger audience, Goggin claimed, which he said was inconsistent with New Mardi Gras’ stated youth-friendliness.

New Mardi Gras co-chair Steph Sands defended the poster, claiming the negative responses it had generated were outweighed by the positive.

New Mardi Gras was saved by the community, and we certainly saw that earlier this year with all of the different events that we staged and the support that we had, Sands told Sydney Star Observer. The [Sleaze] poster reflected the community feel of the organisation and where it was heading. We wanted to show that it was a community event and that it was fun.

But in marketing the party as a grassroots community event rather than a Down Under detour on the global gay party circuit, has New Mardi Gras swung the pendulum too far in the opposite direction?

Yes, said the artistic director of Pride’s last New Year’s Eve party, Gareth Gillham.

There is always this debate about glamour versus grassroots, said Gillham, who has himself trained as a graphic designer. They don’t have to be in battle. It’s not an -˜either or’: you can use them both.

Sands said that although the models used for the poster were real people, drawn from the community, it was not the intention of New Mardi Gras for the poster to depict the full diversity of the community.

I think it’s almost impossible to show the breadth of diversity within our community, and I don’t think we’d ever try to do that, she said. I think what the poster says is there are lots of different types of people in our community, and here are some of them.

Critics of the poster who spoke to the Star this week countered this, saying there were other ways of depicting community diversity other than the poster’s noticeboard approach.

Goggin pointed to the posters and advertisements used to sell the various Queer Nation parties as an example of a campaign that combined a diversity of people with a sense of sexiness and tribal identity.

Queer Nation nails it the best; it manages to convey something that’s just not another club night, he said.

Gillham said that New Mardi Gras had staged a good party after this year’s parade, but stressed that they should not expect the success of that event to sell tickets to Sleaze Ball.

Sands said ticket sales to the party were tracking very closely to what the Mardi Gras party was, so we’re still very confident that we’re going to hit our 11,500 mark. Some responses to the Sleaze Ball poster were from people saying they would go back to Sleaze this year because there is such a community feel to it, she said.

However, Goggin predicted New Mardi Gras will struggle to sell the party.

The diehards who go to Sleaze for community reasons will go, but that’s a shrinking number, he said.

While debate continues over the poster for the party, the New Mardi Gras board is hoping ticket sales will be given a fresh boost with the release of the names of DJs to play at the party.

Alex Taylor, Jake Kilby and Shigeki will play the party’s largest venue, the RHI, while Josh, Ryan Murphy and Neal Crawford will be behind the decks in the Hordern.

The old City Live space, now known as Stage 11, will be given a Dome makeover, with Mandy Rollins, Buck Naked and Kelly Lynch doing the DJ honours. An outdoors space, which was trialed to great acclaim at this year’s Mardi Gras party, will thump to the beats of Beaker, Doctor Jane, Jimmy Dee and Anthony Whitlock.

We’re really excited with the final line-up for the night and are confident the crowds will find this a special and sleazy night, said New Mardi Gras board member Mark Orr.

Six of the DJs played for free at the Mardi Gras party this year and we’re pleased to acknowledge that support by giving them the opportunity to play at our first Sleaze Ball, Orr said. We invited everyone who offered to play at Mardi Gras the chance to submit for Sleaze Ball. All the submissions were reviewed by some of the toughest party critics of our volunteers who made their recommendations back to the board.

Orr also confirmed that the party would include a designated space for female partygoers.

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