Jeffrey Sanker, the creator and face of the nation's largest gay circuit parties, died on Friday after a long battle with liver cancer, according to the Los Angeles Blade. Sanker was 65.
A prominent resident of West Hollywood, Sanker passed away at nearby Cedars-Sinai Hospital while surrounded by family members.
As the owner of White Party Entertainment, Sanker produced the nation's largest gay dance music festival — White Party Palm Springs. Though canceled last year because of COVID and postponed until Halloween this year, the event regularly attracted tens of thousands of queer men to the California desert city, pumping millions into the economy and donating a percentage of proceeds to groups like Desert AIDS Project, The Trevor Project, and Gay & Lesbian Elder Housing.
White Party Palm Springs, held for over 30 years, is a multi-day festival, with dances, cocktail hours, pool parties, and live performances. A-list musicians like Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez have performed at the event and iconic DJs like Junior Vasquez and Victor Calderone have spun at Sanker's parties.
Sanker held events beyond Palm Springs, including a White Party in Miami and parties in Las Vegas and Mexico. A New Year's Eve party hosted by Sanker in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico late last year received criticism and was deemed a "super-spreader event" by some. The White Party events have also received blowback for a lack of diversity among attendees, in terms of both race and body type.
Still, Sanker had many friends in West Hollywood and beyond. Los Angeles LGBTQ+ activist James Duke Mason told the Blade that Sanker was a great friend "to the community" and his death was a "devastating loss."
Sanker's eye for throwing parties was developed in New York City in the early '80s, according to his website. Before moving to Los Angeles in 1987, Sanker worked as a promoter and special event producer at clubs like Studio 54 and Palladium.