Collage of a man in various poses wearing a leather jacket, with stickers reading "BEST NIGHT EVER" ...

Best Night Ever

Joel Kim Booster’s Best Night Ever

The comedian and actor shares the best party he’s ever been to, and other nightlife musings.

Joel Kim Booster is not taking it easy. After writing and starring in the 2022 instant-classic film Fire Island, a queer reinterpretation of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” the 36-year-old comedian has been taking over television, with a stealing role in Apple TV’s Loot, where he co-stars alongside Maya Rudolph. “I think the conventional wisdom is that the SNL cast when you were 13-16 is always going to be iconic to you, so it was a big deal to get to work with her,” he says. “I remember thinking, ‘Oh, God. If she sucks, this is going to really blow up my entire childhood.’ I'm happy to report that she does not suck, and she's very normal, and a great mom, which is really super remarkable for this industry. She still drives her kids to dance class.’” And that’s not all: this summer, he’ll appear on HBO’s Industry, a show he’s been a fan of since Season 1. “It's the first time I ever got cast on a show that I watch and really love,” he says. “It was awesome.”

Later this month, he’ll also appear in the documentary OUTSTANDING: A Comedy Revolution, the first feature-length doc to examine the history of Queer stand-up comedy, written, directed, and produced by Page Hurwitz. The film will premiere on June 7 at the Tribeca Film Festival, before arriving on Netflix on June 18. He will also be performing stand-up for two nights at The Den in Chicago.

But in between, there is still some time for fun. Here, over a plate of grilled cheese at the West Village’s Julius bar, Booster shares his best party ever, as well as some other musings on nightlife.

“The best party I ever went to was in 2020, when I threw a warehouse party for charity in Downtown LA. I’m a Leap Day baby, so I threw a Leap Day party. We were planning for 350 people, and 742 came. I had found this woman in LA who helps plan and run a lot of the underground warehouse parties that go on in town. She produced, and found the space, and really helped me throw together this party. At one point into the night, I saw her talking to one of the DJs really seriously from across the room. I was fully rolling at this point, and I was like, "Shelly, is there something going on?" And she was like, "Do you want to know?" And I was like, "No, I don't." And I turned and bounced away.

Cut to, we were supposed to have the warehouse until 5 a.m. or so. It's like 4:20. All the lights come on, and they're kicking people out — this place was fully owned by the mob. These big, scary guys are throwing all these half-naked gay guys out of the warehouse, and I'm pulling on my pants over a jockstrap. And Shelly comes up to me and goes, "Just get out of here. Do not stop. Do not talk to anybody. Don't let anyone take you to a second location. Just leave." And I fled.

Later, I'm leaving the after-party at like 8 a.m. And Shelly calls me and is like, "Hey, I'm leaving the space now. I'll debrief you on Monday." Basically what happened was, I guess that we had planned on 350 people to come. This space in particular was unusual because the guy who owned it made you hire his security guards for the party, and normally you hire your own. At one point, they said, "Hey, this party's popping off in a way that they didn't plan for. We should ask for more money." And Shelly was totally down to give them more money, but he was like, "No, I want double that." And she was like, "No, we're not going to be extorted." And so he went to take money from the bar — but there was no cash at any of the bars because Shelly had snuck it all out of the building. She knew it was all going to charity, she's been around the block enough times to know. And that's when he got pissed and shut the party down. They held her at the space, and she was basically, like, "Hey, man. There's a small community of people who throw raves in this town. If you f*ck with me, no one will use this space again." Keep in mind, Shelly is 5-foot-nothing, blonde, soft-spoken, but a total badass. So they let her go. And we ended up raising like $14,000 for an un-housed charity in LA because she saved all that money.”

On partying in New York vs. LA:

So many of them are fuzzy at this point, because I was probably so drunk at all times. My favorite nights that I can remember in New York are really unplanned. That is a big difference between LA and New York. In LA, you have to know where you’re going, and you have to know people. Whereas here, you can really just start somewhere like Julius, and then end up stumbling around all over.

In LA, you're at the mercy of the house party scene, because the bars close so early. So if you don't know someone who's throwing an after-party, you're home at 2 and that's lame. And it's definitely not an all-night city. Also, I've had some pretty incredible Wednesday nights out in New York. In LA, it's really hard to get people to leave their house during the week. In New York, everyone's desperate to get out of their shitty apartment. In LA, everyone has a house, or a yard, or space.

On Julius:

This was one of my favorite bars when I lived here in part because, like a lot of gay guys of my generation, I have a tendency to be nostalgic for a time when I was not alive. Especially when I first moved here, I really romanticized living in the West Village and the history in this area. Of course, now it's not really what it was in any recognizable way. But this bar in particular feels like the time capsule. This is not really what I would consider a gay neighborhood anymore, in any way. And so you forget that when you're here.

This was a pretty common spot to come and hang out after shows, especially once a lot of the gay comics started hanging out to do their shows together. I just ordered the grilled cheese, which is one of my favorite meals in Manhattan, quite honestly. I don't know how often they clean that grill, but I remember getting this a lot, because it's also really cheap. When I was poor earlier, this was an especially comforting thing to get for five bucks. The first time we showed the cast of Fire Island a cut of the movie, it was on my birthday, and we came here afterwards. And we had a giant cake. And they were like, "Do you want us to cut it for you?" Without even clearing it with us, they just started handing the cake out to the whole bar, which I had no problem with. It was really charming.

The other thing about this bar is there aren't a lot of gay dives left. And they are disappearing slowly, like Boiler Room. I spent a lot of time in Boiler Room when I was in my 20s, feeding money I didn't have to that jukebox at Boiler Room. That jukebox was a big controversy at Boiler Room, because they had a sign up that said, "No Ariana Grande." But they did not love pop girlies.

On celebrity encounters in LA:

I once ended up at an after-party at Katy Perry's manager's house. Boy, oh, boy. 10% of what Katy Perry is making is a lot.

On theme parties:

I hate them. It's forced fun. I don't like having to do a lot of prep work before I go to a party, the gathering of all the materials. I hate Halloween. I tend to need to explain my costumes. Last year, I was Mario and my boyfriend was the flagpole that Mario jumps down at the end of the level.

On hosting:

I love throwing a party. I have thrown now two of my birthday parties in my house since moving to LA. It's always just a funny mix of gay guys, the seven straight women that are still in my life, and then two babies that they have brought along with them. It’s just my favorite thing to watch a gay guy take a bump in front of the baby, and then see the baby is there, and then immediately panic, and then have this moment of like, "Oh, the baby doesn't know what I'm doing."