Still Working His Groove

Article excerpt

DJ Junior Vasquez talks about his hot new CD, his single life, and his fabulous 51st birthday

Junior Vasquez, mainstay of the New York club scene, the DJ responsible for solid-gold remixes for countless singularly named divas--Madonna, Cher, Mariah, Whitney--celebrated a birthday in August. "I turned 51," he declares, eager to disclose his age. "It's important they know that I'm still kicking."

Judging from his new album, Twilo, Volume 1: Junior Vasquez, "kicking" is an understatement. The two-CD mix (on Virgin Records) of hard tribal house and rousing vocal anthems is the first commercial release to accurately capture Vasquez's skills, which make the Chelsea district's Twilo a destination for muscle queens and die-hard dancers every Saturday night.

Born Donald Mattern in Philadelphia, Vasquez came out in New York during the disco era. "I didn't make a big statement," he claims. "I just ... breezed out." Like artist Keith Hating, a friend of his, he fell under the spell of the Paradise Garage; eventually he began forging his own career on the turntables.

In 1989 Vasquez began his six-year reign at the Sound Factory, the club that became synonymous with his name. Having a permanent home and playing marathon sets cemented his reputation. "They're very jaded and need to be challenged," he observes of the hard-core fans willing to stick with him till Sunday afternoon. "That allows me to be experimental."

Vasquez expanded his empire throughout the '90s, recording singles like "Get Your Hands Off My Man" and lending his in-demand talents as a remixer and producer to Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Prince, and even roots rocker John Mellencamp. …