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Gay Guide Vallarta Was The City’s First Gay Publication 23 Years Ago
Chronicling history often begins with location publications that have captured events as they have happened. Those local embedded print and digital media reflect the daily life of the residents.
Puerto Vallarta has three gay publications – Gay Guide Vallarta, Gay PV and Out & About PV.
Mark Page and David Lansley started Vallarta’s first gay publication, Gay Guide Vallarta, online in May, 2000, and began printing a glossy pocket sized guide and calendar in August 2003, that helped put Puerto Vallarta on the tourist map.
But in reality the publication probably started much earlier, with a guess around 1998 or earlier – when it was just a copied and stapled four or five page newsletter that was put out by David Lansley, the partner of Paco Ruiz. That publication was named “Zona Romantica Guide for Club Paco Paco” and then it transitioned into Gay Guide Vallarta by Lansley.
Ken Morrison, who was involved with Gay Guide Vallarta in the earlier days, explained the transition of the publication over the years.
He said Lansley had started it out as the Zona Romantica Guide for Club Paco Paco, promoting the events for Paco Paco and Paco Paradise. Then it became the Gay Guide Vallarta – and then became PV South Side. That didn’t make it, and all withered away. But then Mark Page combined forces with David and resurrected the Gay Guide Vallarta. First as an online guide and later as an online and printed magazine.
“Gay Guide Vallarta began in the 90s as a guide for gay tourists, it was a time when gay life was in its infancy. David wanted to make sure tourists knew their options,” explained Morrison. “Lansley started the magazine with financial support from Victor “Vivi” Del Castillo (he wasn’t sure of the last name). Vivi took it over eventually and turned it into PV South Side and then went out of business.”
“In 1998 the gay scene was very hidden,” explained Nancy Page, Mark Page’s sister. “The bars had been closed down multiple times and the scene here was really quite small.”
Nancy said her brother Mark arrived in Puerto Vallarta in November, 1996. He was in the process of sailing around the world – one of his life’s goals – when he stopped at the port of Puerto Vallarta.
“And well he loved it here,” she said. “His plan was to sail around the world and end up at the Gay Gays in Amsterdam, but he decided to stay in Vallarta.”
She said he eventually took his sailboat and started a gay charter cruise company called the Rainbow Dancer.
“But Mark was never what you would call a people person,” she said with a laugh. “He was brilliant, and brilliant with computers but just not the outgoing type with people.”
Mark’s partner, Carlos Romero Diaz, fell ill with HIV, and Mark ended up selling the Rainbow Dancer so that he could take care of him.
“And he approached David Langsley and said, ‘David, let’s take the Gay Guide Vallarta to a whole new level and make it into this.”
And that’s when the present day Vallarta Gay Guide was born. Because Mark was an expert in computer programming (he had been one of the original computer programmers that helped design what is now known as Google Maps) and took that knowledge to build the magazine’s website.
“My brother was friends with them and Mark did the sailing of guests to Paco’s Paradise,” Nancy explained. “It was David’s baby and Mark joined him by starting on the website. David did not have the capabilities to do a magazine but he sold the ads and did the distribution.”
“You have no idea what he did for this town,” Nancy said. “His impact on tourism here was astounding. He put a lot of his effort into the website and was an early adopter of the technology. Even back in 2012 they had more than 40,000 unique visitors come to the website per month. They were coming to look at hotels and bars, what was on the calendar and what was happening.”
Mark opened up Puerto Vallarta to the virtual world with the Gay Guide Vallarta website, which was launched in the fall of 2000. His partner, Carlos, was able to help him put out the first print issue in 2003.
But in 2004 Carlos died from AIDs, and with his death, part of Mark died.
“He became a complete recluse,” Nancy said.
He continued with the magazine, and convinced his sister to join him in Vallarta, which she did so in 2012. She even convinced him to have two women on the cover of the magazine.
“Boy that created some talk in town,” she said with a smile.
But she added, Mark was sensitive to the needs of the community as a whole and built the magazine around those sensitivities.
“He wanted to have a publication that anyone could put on their coffee table and if their grandmother came by they wouldn’t be offended,” she said. “The covers have always been understated and it was a nod towards the sensitivity of the culture here in Mexico.”
And she said, to this day, one of the things he started in the printed magazine was to let tourists know what to expect, and how to behave while in Vallarta.
“He didn’t want people to come here thinking it was the land of no laws, and to this day that message continues,” she said. “We did the magazine to make sure people were safe, and they were going into the right places that accepted them…we did an amazing job and I’m really proud of him and what he built.”
She said he was passionate about helping the gay community and had a pure heart and pure intentions with that goal in mind.
David Lansley passed away on Friday, July 4, 2014 at the age of 60. Paco Ruiz died in 2016 at 62 years old.
Mark died at age 64 from cancer in 2019, leaving the magazine to two of his friends and employees – Isaac Carachure and Jose Ramon Martinez.
Carachure said he and Joey started working as assistants for Gay Guide Vallarta in July of 2012. Their work consisted of translating the website to Spanish and helping David with the distribution.
“I’m really proud to see that four years later Mark’s legacy continues to live on and that Vallarta Gay Guide continues to thrive with Issac and Joey,” Nancy said.
Joey and I have been around Vallarta’s gay life since late 2008,” Issac said. “The biggest change in gay Vallarta has been to be accepted by the community and respected by police officers. One occasion, when we first arrived, Joey and I were told no PDA on the malecón. And we were only holding hands. Now the city and police department have been very welcomeing and inviting all the gays to the #1 gay destination. A big shout out to all of the activities we have that have helped make this difference. We have also seen how just a handful of gay businesses have grown to what it is now. The amount of tourists that want to move to PV has made the developers & real estate agents very happy along with the city.”
Issac added that when Gay Guide Vallarta started, many suggested that they change the name and remove the word “Gay”.
“People were still not used to seeing gay as the name of a guidebook/publication,” he said. “But David and Barbie (Ken Morrison) didn’t give in. They made a stand keeping it the way it is.
As you know, travelers need to investigate the destination they plan to visit. Back in 2000 when the internet was already making its way into the homes of Americans, Canadians and Europeans, gayguidevallarta.com was that connection to the gaylife in Puerto Vallarta. GGV has told millions about our destination before social media was created. And once travelers arrived, the print guide book reassured visitors of our welcoming community.“
GAYPV published its first issue in November, 2011. Tim Wilson is the founder and owner.
Wilson is proud of the work done by GAYPV and is proud to help spread the message out to the world that “ Puerto Vallarta is truly and uniquely one of the top LGBTQ destinations in the world.”
“In August 2021, GAYPV entered into an exclusive partnership with Commando from Los Angeles, California to expand the online reach of GAYPV and Puerto Vallarta via advertising from the gay dating apps,” Wilson Said. “Previously the two principles of Commando worked at Grindr and were veteran online industry experts who also have been visiting Puerto Vallarta for more than 20 years.”
Wilson said GAYPV was founded originally to connect businesses who self-identify as gay and gay friendly with their target gay consumer in PV.
“Gay friendly businesses (and by that I mean businesses that are not gay owned) were finally recognizing the importance of reaching the LGBTQ community,” he explained. “I decided to identify those appropriately to the gay consumer and help the company develop marketing strategies to effectively reach their target gay consumer. I always refrained from endorsing any business because I wanted the customer, not me, to decide which products were the best.”
He said that the mission of GAYPV was to “feature and highlight the evolving LGBTQ community in Puerto Vallarta. In 2010, gay travelers were embracing social media as they shared their travel experiences through photos and videos. GAYPV was the first publication that began sharing Puerto Vallarta to the gay community via Facebook and Youtube, reaching its peak in 2021 when facebook deleted our page with 160,000 followers – offering no real reason or chance of appeal.”
He said that his magazine was also the first to put actual faces on the cover of our magazine.
“I felt it vital to feature the actual LGBTQ community who live, visit or impact Puerto Vallarta,” he explained. “Hence we are pleased to have featured Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias, Andrew Christian, the late Jeffrey Sanker, Michael Lucas, Eliad Cohen, Topher Dimaggio, Cheyenne Parker, the late Lesley Jordan, Bianca Del Rio and many other local people on our cover and inside the magazine.”
He also said that his magazine was the first to highlight the drag queens in our local cabarets, the transgender community, the bear community, go go dancers and strippers.
Wilson said he feels like COVID had some positive effects on the Vallarta gay community, including a more diverse visitor crowd and more long term visitors who are remotely working.
“I noticed a younger and more diverse gay demographic visiting Puerto Vallarta that started with Semana Santa 2021 and Vallarta Pride 2021 and continues today. Because Europe and other major gay travel destinations were closed this younger, more diverse demographic discovered PV many for the first time,” he said. “The second perhaps lesser but more long term effect has been the ability for many people to work from home. This has led to an increase in a younger demographic actually living here that we would never have seen otherwise in Vallarta.“
Wilson went on to reflect that the dynamic and changing real estate market continues to have an impact on Vallarta .
“Everyone has their own opinion of whether this is positive or negative but let’s face it, real estate development and everything that flows from that like the rental market has been booming for several years,” he said. “This has attracted yet another demographic to PV, a wealthier demographic and that of course leads to new businesses and things to do. On the flip side, I personally know many guys that used to visit PV in peak weeks who haven’t been in the last two years who can not afford to visit any more.”
Out & About PV
Out & About PV went live with its online publication in November, 2017, and came out with its first printed publication in April, 2018. It is different from the other two gay publications in that it is a full sized magazine, not pocket sized, and its focus is on telling the stories of the LGBTQ+ Vallarta community and not on providing a guide or directory.
The first issue had the theme “Exploring the Beaches of Puerto Vallarta”. A launch party was held in March 2018 at Hotel Mercurio. At the event, there were drinks, canapes, and music by The Red Suitcases as we unveiled Puerto Vallarta’s newest print and web publication for the LGBT community and all of our friends.
O&APV started as a monthly magazine in 2018, but moved to publishing three times a year in 2019, and boosted its online presence. O&APV is a bilingual (English and Spanish online) glossy magazine with a focus on local LGBTQ+ news, entertainment and feature stories about the community and those who help make it.
The magazine was started by Jerry Jones, a permanent resident of Puerto Vallarta, who had previously owned Out & About Nashville magazine and ran it successfully for 20 years.
Joseph Brant was the first editor and ran the editorial side of O&APV for the first year.
“The goal of Out & About Puerto Vallarta is to shine a light on the greatness and the complexity of this city through the lens of its LGBT residents and visitors,” Brant wrote in the announcement publishing the first issue.
The current staff (as of September, 2023) includes:
Jerry has a B.A. degree in Journalism, a Master’s degree in Public Administration. He has worked for several media outlets, and has had a long career in marketing and public relations in the healthcare industry. Jerry is also a licensed Advanced Emergency Medical Technician and FireFighter and has had a long work history in Emergency Services. He is the former founder of Out & About Nashville, a magazine he led for 20 years before selling it; He’s a founding member of the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce, and a board member of the Tennessee Equality Project and treasurer of the Tennessee Equality Project Foundation. He is passionate about building the LGBTQ+ community. Jerry is from Nashville, Tennessee, and lives in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico.
Gerwin makes his home in Puerto Vallarta and has been with OAPV since 2018. He oversees all sales and is also involved in renting properties for visitors to PV. He loves sharing his knowledge of this great city.
Gerwin moved to Puerto Vallarta in 2017 to live here full time. But he’s been a frequent visitor since 2008, where he could vacation and enjoy his love of the beaches.
Chief Photographer, Videographer, Social Media
Oscar is passionate about art, photography and all things social media. He oversees all visual elements for OAPV including photos and reels for print and social media. He is from Guadalajara and lives in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico. He has been with the magazine since September, 2022.
Marco makes everything we do look beautiful and pleasing to the eye. With an extensive background in design, Marco oversees the publication design. He is a graduate from the Universidad de Guadalajara, Licenciatura en Diseño para la Comunicación Gráfica Egresado. He has been with the magazine since 2021.
Events Manager/Digital Sales
Rande is multi-talented, overseeing our event’s division, planning fun events that showcase the fantastic culture of Puerto Vallarta. He’s also responsible for selling digital products to help small businesses grow and reach our readership, and he writes about the people and places he encounters. He has been with the magazine since 2023.
Originally hailing from Ohio, Rande began his travels to Mexico with his parents in the late 1980s. Now a year round resident of Puerto Vallarta, his passions include; current events, politics, history, classic and indie film, local beaches, 80s and 90s alternative music, reading and rereading anything ever written by Ernest Hemingway and Hunter S. Thompson.
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