With a thirst to seize the night, DJ Jess was named the Best DJ in NYC by Citysearch.com, but that's what you get when you've been through the nightlife ringer. Before he got started with TRASH!, one of the city's longest running parties, you could find Jess on the dance floor -- where you can still find him as soon as his hands are free of the DJ booth. In the words of his very own bio, "By all means, DJ Jess should be dead."
Niteside caught up with DJ Jess at Happy Ending's Disco Down to chat about The Smiths, sexual misconduct in the club, and his charlatan beginnings in the nightlife scene.
What did you do last night? What are you doing tonight? I do very little, but the city does a lot with me. Last night it had me doing music and remixing from my little DJ Jess home studio, then it had me downing cocktails on a dance floor. No matter what I do, I do it all the way, and inevitably it does me in. ... Tonight, I do it all again.
How did you first get involved in the nightlife scene?
I replied to an ad for DJs in the Village Voice
. I lied through my teeth, and they gave me a shot. It wasn't a success by any means, but the kernels of what would become the now legendary TRASH! party began to cook at that event. That first event was called Pomp, and the flyer was a sick photo of a girl with a foot-high pompadour. That photo just about sums me up, I would say.
Tell me a bit about Carpe PM -- the name itself promotes love for moments after dark. Seize the night! Carpe PM is clever collaboration between myself and DJ Bastard from the Disco Down party you highlighted a few weeks back. The goal is to bring you wit, ingenuity, poignancy and romance ... with a beat that you can dance to. Visit Carpepmmusic.com and hear for yourself just how good we are!
When you're not setting the musical mood in the DJ booth, where can we find you hanging out? Despite throwing myself from seedy corner to tacky slum, I've yet to be found by anyone. I've got a lot of love to give, but of course... I'm selfish and wouldn't trust a soul with it. If you must hunt me down, you'll likely find me rustling about in used record shops, the backseat of a car at sunset, or necking at the cinema.
Do you feel the nightlife scene has changed since you've been in it? If so, how?
Absolutely, but only for the better. Granted, we've lost the desperation to abandon humdrum lives that used to guarantee public fits of drug use and brazen sexual misconduct, but we've made great strides where music is concerned. Had I told you in the 90s that a decade later I'd be able to play The Smiths at a 3,000-person venue like Webster Hall
and have the crowd react with cheerful stampeding, you'd have called me mad. ... You'd be right, of course.
What can someone expect from your parties? Heart attacks, cabaret, trashy go-gos, wild dance floors, insanity, true love, and the best music you've ever heard.
Who are some of your nightlife heroes?
I've got no heroes.
Do you have any advice for newcomers to the scene -- as party-goers, DJs, and/or promoters? Parties are a reflection of the people that throw them. Be good, be fun, be charming, be yourself -- unless you aren't any of those things, in which case, be someone else, and you'll be fine.
If you were to be packaged as a Ken doll, what would the disclaimer on the cardboard box read? Not suitable for children.