Graduates plan high school after-parties, club events

The El Rey Theater on Wilshire Boulevard is packed with people. Balloons pop. Sweat is everywhere despite the relative chill of the February night. Limos line up in front of the venue letting girls in short skirts and high heels out, anxious to get into the party. Once inside they roll their hips up against male partners to the pulsating techno beat of the music. I’m bringing sexy back…

Asher Luzzatto ’06 stands in the back of the room. He, unlike the other party-goers, does not hunt for someone to hook up with. His arms are crossed and he surveys the room.

This is his party, the semiformal after-party called “Winter Paradise.” It was his first collaboration between Harvard-Westlake students, Luzzatto’s Pinstripe Productions and FutureCrest Entertainment, run by Steven Ojo, 19. Ojo is a Crossroads alumnus and sophomore at the University of Puget Sound who also runs the company L.A.’s Realest.

“I planned Harvard-Westlake parties this year because my brother is a senior, and I know those kids, and I love those kids,” Luzzatto, who just completed his freshman year at UCLA, said. “There’s nobody in that grade who really knows how to throw a party.”

In order to cater to young club hoppers, Luzzatto and his peers from various local schools created competing party planning companies. Luzzatto founded Pinstripe in September 2006. Ojo started L.A. Realest two years ago and founded FutureCrest last winter to “challenge himself,” seeing if he could create another successful company.  The groups obtain venues, hire DJs and security personnel and line up all of the necessary decorations for their events, which include after-parties for proms, semiformals and summer club events.

“We wanted to create a fun environment where parents can trust that their kids will be safe,” said Jason Deutchman, 19, president of the company Cali Visions. 

Deutchman, who attended Santa Monica High School and is currently at San Diego State University, runs their organization with his brother Matt and help from their parents. Cali Visions hosted Seduction, an all-ages club hosted throughout the summer that Harvard-Westlake students frequented.

Ojo said his parties can make close to $7,000 on a good night. Deutchman emphasized that it wasn’t about the money, although a trailer for Brentwood Boyz, a proposed reality show about Cali Visions, on the Cali Visions website brags that he can make close to $10,000. Each of these companies hires students as promoters to get the word out to schools.

“What we do is look for people who are popular, attractive and enterprising,” Ojo said. “Everyone wants to follow the pretty girls and go where they go.”

Ojo even began to ask this reporter if she would be interested in promoting, inquiring if she “knew a lot of people.”

Luzzatto started out by selling tickets in his sophomore year for the school’s semiformal after-party.
“It wasn’t really about the money,” he said. “That’s really how everyone starts out. They learn the trick of the trade by selling.”

Danielle Wright ’10 has started promoting for L.A.’s Realest and FutureCrest, with hopes of becoming one of the main promoters in her final years of high school.

“The more you do it, the more you get to know people,” she said. “Your name gets out there. In a good way.”

Wright became involved because she was friendly with Ojo’s brother Michael from Crossroads, her elementary school. She said she attended parties with a lot of friends so she decided to officially begin working for party producers. In addition to getting people to come she will often buy candy for the party, and hopes to eventually get to the point where she has bigger jobs like paying the DJ.

“A lot of people say they promote because it is kind of cool,” she said. 

While Wright does not work for Cali Visions, she does frequent their parties, usually bringing a number of her friends.

Other promoters declined to comment.

Ojo recruits different students for his two organizations. L.A.’s Realest is aimed more at public schools and FutureCrest more for private schools.

Wright said she has decided simply to participate for fun and not receive any money, but generally the promoter makes a cut of what the party earns, based on how many tickets they sell.

“It gets very competitive,” Ojo said. “And that’s how we like it.”

All of the companies provide a number for parents to call, usually one of the owners’ cell phones. While each event provides security and claims that they don’t allow intoxicated party-goers within the venue, they all admit that alcohol is always present.

“The alcohol situation is kind of tough,” Luzzatto said. “Everyone knows that these kids drink. Drinking has manifested itself into high school culture. It’s not just this night. It’s every weekend. Except, this night they feel like they drink more than any other night.”

The clubs do not allow alcohol to be served to minors and none of the party-planners want drunken teenagers in their parties.  If anything should happen, they could be liable.

“Nobody has sued us,” Ojo said. “Knock on wood. I hope nobody has sued us.”

While these companies monopolize the market, some students try to plan their own events. One Harvard-Westlake student, who refused to comment or be named, decided to plan his own prom after-party at the Knitting Factory just for Harvard-Westlake students. even though Luzzatto and Ojo had already planned “FLARE,” for the same night.

The other party took business away from “FLARE,” on a soundstage in Burbank.

None of the business owners feel like they are doing anything wrong in planning these parties.

“On the surface it looks so wild and crazy and out of control with no supervision whatsoever, but it’s really the opposite,” Deutchman said. “Kids can get into more trouble at a house party.”