by Matt Baume
Zac Levine knew when he was 11 years old that he was a nightlife person.
“My dad owned an ad agency in Seattle for the last thirty years, and when I was a kid I had the opportunity to go see the Jingle Bell Bash … backstage,” he says, referring to the long-running December concerts. “Imagine an 11-year-old who has half of a view of backstage, and the other half is the show. That really set a fire under me.”
What started at first as a desire to see shows for free turned into a calling. At fourteen, he started handing out flyers; at nineteen, he started booking talent under the mentorship of Steve Severin at Neumos and Meli Darby, now with Seattle’s Special Events Office.
Now, just days away from his thirtieth birthday, he’s about to take the next step in his nightlife career by opening his first venue — Supernova, located in SoDo.
“I saw a need for something in Seattle,” he says. “I’m tired of seeing four walls and a DJ booth. … Supernova is the Studio 54 of 2021.”
This is the perfect time for a new nightlife venue, Levine believes, especially one that plans to push the envelope. “We’re on the verge of a whole cultural revolution and renaissance,” he says. “Something that draws the spectacular when people need a safe space, a place of self expression, a place of freedom.”
When asked what patrons can expect when Supernova opens in early July, he gasps for air and moans “shooooot” before describing the scene: “They can expect to be fully immersed and welcomed by all kinds of performers,” he says. “Drag queens, jugglers, magicians. … Every staff member is a theatrical cast member, every patron is encouraged to be a cast member themselves.”
There will be stiltwalkers, he says, and contortionists, and acrobats, and fire breathers. Wait, is this basically a 1920s carnival but queer? Kind of, yes, Zac confirms. (No plans for elephants… yet.) There will be a whole troupe of circus-style performers charged with entertaining the line of people waiting to get in.
The goal, he says, is to make the venue a 360-degree art piece. They’re starting small, with Friday house-oriented nights; on Saturdays, he’ll revive his disco-themed Stayin’ Alive party that used to pack the nearby Orient Express space. BeautyBoiz will produce a Pride event (Update: not officially a Pride event, just very queer) on July 4 called “REVIVAL,” a fitting title for what Seattle sorely needs.
Also booked are local drag favorites Irene Dubois, Jane Don’t, Sativa Queen, Angela Visalia, Killer Bunny, and Rocket Talksalot; DJ talent includes the excellent Derek Pavone, KEXP’s Supreme La Rock, Christine Gutierrez, and Cookie Couture. If that seems like a lot of people to try to fit onstage, you’re right — they won’t all be onstage, Levine says, but will instead be providing atmosphere, hosting, and character throughout the venue, not unlike performers in a Disney park.
One more name he hopes will make an appearance: Bosco, Seattle’s enthralling drag wonder-creature to whom you really ought to be paying more attention. Levine’s worked with Bosco in the past — she shot her Drag Race audition tape at Supernova — and proudly calls her “my queen of queens.”
That all seems like a lot, but Levine’s confident that it’ll be a destination like no other.
“One year from now,” he says, casting his mind into the future, “Supernova has eight programs a week, it’s a home and safe space for women and members of the BIPOC community, we’re pumping money into local arts, we’re growing and keeping our beautiful space in flux.”
Sounds like it could be just the shakeup Seattle needs — no less than you’d expect from a venue named for an explosion on a galactic scale.