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Spin. Dance. Live.

Get Down With DJ DeMarko!

By Troy Maillis


DJ DeMarko! is one of the headline performers at Fortitude, a new GLBT benefit weekend featuring over 12 events throughout Fort Lauderdale during Presidentís Day Weekend 2011 (February 17 -21). Fortitude ( includes a film festival, comedy night, live concert, womenís and menís pool parties, sunset cocktails, brunch, and nightclub/bar events. All proceeds from Fortitude go to charity; amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, is the main national beneficiary, while the Pride Center and the Miami-Fort Lauderdale Gay & Lesbian Film Festivals are two of the local charities. DJ DeMarko!, who has remixed for artists such as Jody Watley, Deborah Cox, Matt Zarley, Inaya Day, Taylor Dayne, Angie Stone and Ace Of Base, recently caught up with Mark Magazine about spinning at Fortitude, his passion and what is next in his musical journey.

Can you talk about being one of the headliners at the new Fortitude Weekend in Fort Lauderdale?

It's an absolute honor to be part of this select group of DJs to bring attention to Fort Lauderdaleís Fortitude Weekend. We all intend on bringing the best of us to all of you on an entirely new level and that's what Fortitude is all about, creating a new standard!

What is the most important thing to you about participating in an event like this?

The most important thing is making sure everyone goes away remembering this was the best pool party they've been too. Everyone will make new friends, reconnect with old ones, spend a great day next to the pool dancing to what will probably be the best music they've heard poolside in a long time, and it was for all for a great charity and honest cause. I've been spinning for 30 years and I have yet to find someone who I have let down.

What do you want your LGBT audience to take away from your music? Do you hope to inspire or to just give out a fantastic vibe?

It's definitely all about the vibe! Music sets the pace, the tone, and it lights a spark in the atmosphere that everyone feeds from. Everyone who comes out to Fortitude contributes in their own way just by being there and the synergy will be felt by everyone.

Was it difficult to get started and promote yourself as a gay, black DJ? How has your career transformed from first starting out to now?

When I started spinning in my teens, "DJs were NOT rock stars"! I hung out in straight clubs in the booth with the DJ (when I had a girlfriend and thought I was straight) but never planned on making it a profession. As the years went by, my passion for music grew; but I had a great modeling career which I was very serious about. I was ready to stop at nothing to make it to the top. After I moved to L.A. to pursue a career in film, I suffered a serious back injury that quickly brought everything to a halt; thatís when my hobby started to take up most of my time. Once again I found myself hanging out in the DJ booth, but this time with DJ Manny Lehman. His career was taking off and he had asked me to fill in for him when he would get bookings out of town. He was confident that I would be able to handle the decks. What I didn't know at the time is that it would turn into my career. Within a year I had my own weekly after hours, a monthly party and was headlining at major events.

Do you think you helped pave the way for other openly gay DJs?

I don't think I've paved the way, but I've been told by aspiring and seasoned DJs that I've inspired them and they want to follow my footsteps, which I don't understand; but if I've touched someone so deeply and in a positive way, that's a real compliment! What I do think I have done is help bridge music and fashion. When I decided to move to NYC I knew the competition would be fierce, so I hired a wellknown photographer, hired a publicist, created a press kit and within six months I had residencies at G Lounge, Limelight, Splash Bar & Roxy, places people had been wanting for years. As they say in New York, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere!

How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you spin?

It all depends on the event or venue I'm spinning. I've spun The Black & Blue Leather Ball and Military in Montreal, the NYC Gay Pride Dance On The Pier (I was the first black DJ in its 20 year history), Carnival in Rio, clubs in Tel Aviv, and Hustla Ball in Las Vegas, Berlin, Barcelona & NYC, and countless other events and clubs. What they all have in common is positive energy! I give lots of twists and turns with bumpin' and grindiní rhythms. It all adds up to a very sexually charged, playful atmosphere! You really can't help but get involved in the music. It's the perfect mix of movin' & groovin' tracks with popular vocals that Iíve remixed. You wonít hear any radio versions with me.

You have worked with many well-known artists and performed at many popular events. Is there an artist or an event that stands out above all others?

Every event to me is like playing it for the first time, even if it's a weekly gig. I can honestly say I get excited no matter where I'm playing and for how many people I'm playing for. As for an artist, it would have to be Lady GaGa. I met her at a party and she was very much the entity that everyone thinks she is! She has no attitude, sheís easy to talk to and mysteriously sexy. I instantly became her ďBig Monster.Ē My exclusive remix of "Beautiful Dirty Rich" is by far my favorite remix.

What projects are you working on in the future, and will you be back at Fortitude Weekend next year?

I'm presently working on my 3rd CD & 4th CD, both of which are very different. One is a Fleetwood Mac remix album that will feature all of their hits remixed and then an exclusive remix CD that shows a definite progression from my last remixed CD. It's taken me over a year, but it's been so worth it! And I will certainly be back if Fort Lauderdale will have me. I will be more than happy to take it to the next level next year!


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