Top

news

Stories

 

After graduating early from high school, Khalatbari moved out on his own when he was sixteen, working as a waiter and a pot dealer while also selling knockoff sunglasses and watches on eBay, until he received a cease-and-desist letter from Rolex. "I've always been an entrepreneur," he says. Later, Khalatbari earned a degree in architectural engineering, which came in handy when he moved to Denver to work as a designer of electrical systems.

"I didn't have any friends here," he remembers. "I was looking for something to do, some way to get involved in the community. So I started volunteering with SAFER and Mason Tvert." Working with the marijuana advocacy group, Khalatbari collected 1,500 signatures for the I-100 Alcohol-Marijuana equalization initiative in Denver, later dressing up in a chicken suit to harass "Chickenlooper" for then-mayor John Hickenlooper's refusal to debate marijuana policy.

Khalatbari became friends with SAFER assistant director Evan Ackerfeld, and together they opened the first Sexy Pizza in Capitol Hill. Despite Khalatbari's having no background in restaurants or business (unless you count waiting tables and selling weed and knockoff watches), the pizzeria thrived. Eventually he opened a second location, on South Pearl Street; a third is set to open in February in Jefferson Park. "When Sexy Pizza moved into South Pearl, some people threw a fit and wrote blogs about how we weren't going to fit into the neighborhood," says Khalatbari, noting that he'd opened Denver Relief dispensary a year after the first Sexy Pizza. "But we just had our best week ever at that store. I don't think people understand how many marijuana smokers there are out there. And that's been the beauty of legalization. We're seeing bankers and politicians and scientists and soccer moms all smoking; there isn't a demographic or race or religion that is immune from having this in their culture. It's as commonplace as alcohol."

Tripp Keber
Anthony Camera
Tripp Keber

Soon after he opened his second pizzeria, Khalatbari became interested in Denver's burgeoning standup comedy scene. "I feel so fortunate to have come in when I did," he says, describing how he watched the scene grow from underground shows to last summer's High Plains Comedy Festival, for which Sexy Pizza and Denver Relief were key sponsors. In fact, these days it's difficult to find a local comedy show that doesn't have Sexy Pizza's name attached to it: Khalatbari backs such efforts as the These Things Matter podcast, the Fine Gentleman's Club and the Governor Jack improv team.

"People often think too rigidly in business," he says. "They need to understand that if you involve yourself in your community — whether it's through sponsorship or volunteering or whatever — your community will give back to you." Working with comedian and Denver Relief employee Jake Brown, Khalatbari debuted Sexpot Comedy in November 2012. Presented as an invite-only, after-hours event, the show encouraged audience members to bring their joints, bongs and hash-dab rigs to Sexy Pizza's South Pearl location, where they could enjoy local standup while being as open about their intoxicant of choice as they would be in their own living rooms.

Providing metro residents — as well as an influx of hazy-eyed tourists — with a public place to smoke pot has become Khalatbari's most recent crusade. "There are going to be all these out-of-towners who are going to get busted for smoking in hotels or in public," he says. "You can't tell people they can smoke pot and then give them nowhere to do it. Legislators aren't going to realize it immediately, but after enough people get busted, they're going to look for a solution. And marijuana clubs is where I see that heading. Marijuana, obviously, is going to be huge here, and this is probably the best local comedy scene in the entire country, so naturally those two are going to come together for a common goal."

He's been thinking about opening a marijuana comedy club for a year, but is holding out for the right location. In the meantime, Sexy Pizza has partnered with Comedy 103.1 to move Sexpot Comedy to the Oriental Theater. The monthly series premiered there in December, with nationally known comedians Sean Patton and Mike Lawrence pairing up with local rising stars Ben Roy and Jordan Doll. Around the venue, people could be seen casually lighting joints and pipes, with one group on the balcony huddled around a large vaporizer plugged into the wall. "The cool thing about this show is I see a lighter go off every few seconds," Lawrence observed from the stage. "It's the closest I'll ever get to feeling like Axl Rose singing 'November Rain.'"

Khalatbari's partner in this new edition of Sexpot Comedy is Comedy 103.1 sales manager Andy Juett. Casually pulling on a large blunt outside of the Oriental, Juett attributes much of the successful merger of comedy and marijuana to Khalatbari's relentless work ethic. "You could say he has two or three full-time jobs," Juett explains. "There are so many businesses that have this goal-directed behavior, only focused on a budget or revenue, just tangible elements. But that often stunts innovation. Kayvan is focused on the bottom line, but he also has a very creative mind; he's focused on what the community wants. He's smart enough to know what he doesn't know, and he surrounds himself with people who do. He's immersed himself in the comedy scene; he's not just on the sidelines. Kayvan is really a true pioneer."
-- Josiah Hesse

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
8 comments
karlajobro
karlajobro

new to illinois, the medical marijuana industry is being super regulated with very strict rules. I am eager to see it come here, but after seeing the recently released rules and regs from the ag dept, the dept of health and idfpr, it won't be easy...nothing worthwhile ever is, tho. 

Love Dixie Elixirs...yes to this. Expatriate in Illinois

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay

Only Puerile Pot Punks allow themselves to be photographed in suits while stoned.

Barnabey
Barnabey

ganjapreneurs, that's actually pretty clever

 
Loading...