There are two miniature horses in the backyard and a house full of guests. Cator Sparks—dressed in full tartan, one of his pant legs green and the other red—is hosting his annual holiday party.
“I usually look like a Scotsman on acid. When else can you wear green and red all at once but Christmas?”
It’s part of being a dandy, to dress beautifully. It’s part of Cator to have his guests donate to LEARN Horse Rescue, a local farm where he and his partner volunteer, instead of giving presents.
Hence the ponies.
At 38, Cator is living the dream. A normal day aptly summarizes his multidimensional life: in the morning, a call about the next meeting for Cannonborough/Elliotborough Neighborhood Association, of which he is currently president, on safeguarding it from wealthy developers. Then, a story for The Manual, of which he is editor-in-chief, on a man who makes campfire electricity in Guatemala. Later, the delivery of his washer and dryer at his Harlem townhouse—where he still jaunts several times a year to be at Fashion Week and to drink champagne at the Frick Ball until 2AM—before heading back to Charleston.
How Cator got here is anything but uninteresting. He inherited a passion for life and people and philanthropy growing up around regal Southern women in Georgia. He did a two-year stint at College of Charleston, but felt like the only gay guy, so he left for London. There, he learned about suits and ascots and dandyism. He realized he was a writer while partying in India and made men’s fashion journalism his full-time gig in New York. He closed on his Spring Street home the same day as accepting his job at the men’s online magazine. At its helm since 2013, Cator has given Charleston a presence on the more typically NYC-centric publication.
“I’ve always had a magic spot in my heart for Charleston. Everything I cherish is here: my house, my partner, my dog, my friends. People don’t dress up in all black. I can spend weekends on farms and in dog parks. I’m still a dandy, even if I’m less likely to wear a cape.”
Unless the time calls for it.
Words by: Jessica Kenny
Photographer: Landon Neil Phillips
Stylist: Dalia Dalili
Hair/Make-Up: Bailey Bial
Photo Assistants: Jenny Kleiman, Kayla Morrisey, Kyle Victory, Gordon Keiter, and Erica Griffiths