The Founder of Palm Spring’s legendary White Party, Jeffery Sanker passed away on Friday at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles surrounded by family members after a long battle with liver cancer.

Sanker who was 65 at the time of his death, is credited with making Palm Springs the gay mecca it is today. In 1990, Sanker’s launched the Palm Springs White Party at a time when many other states still enforced anti-sodomy laws. These gay circuit parties would in time become some of the biggest in the world.

Confirming the news via Instagram, Sanker’s publicist, Jack Ketsoyan said of his legacy “They say friends are the family we choose and it isn’t always blood. You accepted me for whom I was and wanted me in your life. You would do anything just to put a smile on everyone’s faces. You’ll never be forgotten that simply cannot be. As long as I am living, I’ll carry you with me. Safely tucked within my heart your light will always shine.

 

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“No matter what the future brings, or what may lie ahead, I know that you will walk with me along the path I tread. So rest my angel, be at peace and let your soul fly free.”

Having moved to Los Angeles in 1987, Sanker’s events hosted in their time a wide range of international talent and influencers including Ke$ha, Lady Gaga, Carmen Electra and Jennifer Lopez. In 2014 he received a star on the “Palm Springs Walk of Stars” for his work in organising LGBTQI events.

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In a 2019 interview with KESQ, Sanker reflected on the 30 year anniversary of the White Party, saying that the “first time I came to Palm Springs, and I was like this is such an oasis in the desert and I was like let’s do something outside of a nightclub.”

However, Sanker most recently courted controversy when in December 2020 and despite the ongoing COVID19 pandemic, he chose to proceed with a New Year’s Eve party in Nuevo Vallarta in Mexico, despite pleas from locals not to proceed with the event. Shortly after, news of the party went viral with many quick to condemn Sanker’s for being both irresponsible and promoting what was rightly considered to be a “super spreader event.”

As news of his death spread, tributes to the pioneer began to flood social media, with White Party Palm Springs saying via it’s Facebook page “He was named the Godfather of Parties, and to honor his unforgettable life, the White Party legacy will continue in Palm Springs and Puerto Vallarta through the Jeffrey Sanker White Party Foundation.”

“We will continue to celebrate the extraordinary life of Jeffrey Sanker and the legacy he built and shared with us all, through our future White Party events.”

 

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