Brooklyn’s hardest-working and most in-demand DJ has a long history with the drag queens and dancefloors of his borough and beyond. Meanwhile, he’s a writer, a photographer, a party host and promoter, a celebrity roaster, and an occasional performer to boot. Get into Cameron Cole!
Thotyssey: Cameron, thanks for chatting… how’s your week going so far?
Cameron Cole: Not bad. I had “Bible Study” (my party with BibleGirl) on Sunday, Mondays on “Mondays on Monday”, and spent my day off yesterday at a dinner party that Ruby Roo threw for a bunch of our closest friends. Now I’m gearing up for my rock party “Moose Knuckle,” and working on my jokes for the roast of Thorgy Thor next week.
Do you love DJing still, or does the hustle get exhausting sometimes?
It’s a bit of both. I work a lot–almost too much–to the point where I generally only have one day off a week, and I definitely get exhausted by it. The one day off is usually spent just sleeping, because its the only thing I have energy left for at that point.
But I also try not to complain about it, as I am really fortunate to be working this much, and being offered so many parties with people I love working with. I definitely rely on Sugar-free Red Bull more than I should.
Whatever works! So you’re definitely one of the Go To Girlz when it comes to DJing in Brooklyn, not to mention producing and hosting and taking pictures, and occasionally even performing. We’ll get to all that, but we better start at the beginning… where’s your hometown?
I sort of grew up everywhere and nowhere. Most of my childhood was In Bay City and Midland, Michigan. There was a brief detour to Tennessee for a bit, and then I went to High School in Odessa, Texas. So I am kind of from everywhere.
I have been here in NYC for 13 years now, so I almost claim it as my home town, even though I didn’t grow up here.
Fair enough! What actually brought you here to NYC?
Theatre and writing! This is not a hugely known fact, but I grew up acting, and eventually I got bored of acting and moved into writing, which I absolutely love. I’ve spent about 10 years working on my opus project; a five-play cycle called Death (and Straight Boys) that uses the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) as jumping off points. Writing is my one true passion, but as much as I am working nowadays, I don’t know when I will be able to get back to the plays and production of them.
It’s the absolute hardest thing to find time for when you’re already busy! Does having a queer identity have a huge influence on your writing, and your other artistic media?
Oh, absolutely. Part of the reason Death (and Straight Boys) is so named is because all of the characters are based on people who were influential in my years in Texas, and I was one of very few Out students in high school back then in West Texas. A lot of the plays are the two gay characters and one woman character navigating their lives and seeking their definition in a world dominated by straight white men. The lead character is a Hamlet-like mix of me and several other gay men from my life, who is very angry at the patriarchy, but still loves his straight male friends a lot.
Also, as someone who is older (40 next month, and damn proud of it), I grew up in a generation in which AIDS had decimated a huge chunk of the generation before mine, and in which there was very little queer visibility on TV and in the movies. I made a really conscious decision when I came out at 14 to never let people make me feel ashamed of my queerness, as well as to always show it in my writing, while still keeping the larger themes of the story and life relatable to anyone.
I can’t wait to see this play! How about music… what did you grow up listening to, and is it very different than what you listen to/play today?
A lot of Motown, oddly. My father was deeply religious man who banned us from listening to anything that wasn’t church music or Disney. He was the epitome of the moral majority crap of the ‘80s, convinced Satanists were putting hidden messages in all of the music. However, his weakness was Motown and the rest of the ‘60s, and so I kind of grew up on The Supremes, Aretha, Stevie Wonder, and so on.
Being a child of the ‘80s, I was obsessed with Prince and Madonna, who both read very queer to the young gay kids like myself back then. My father hated the two of them most of all, so once I escaped his control as a kid, I went hog wild on them. “Purple Rain” and “Like a Prayer” were the first two albums I ever bought on my own. I was also very into hip-hop in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, and had a lot of Salt-n-Pepa, LL Cool J, and Beastie Boys.
My friend Jim once walked into the first bar I had control of the music on, and loudly asked “why it always sounds like it’s 1994 again?” when I work, and it still rings true. I tend to opt for ‘90s, ‘80s, and ‘60s when I DJ, which kind of covers a wide ground of stuff people know, and stuff they might not know but fall in love with. I use some newer stuff, but I have very particular tastes and the crowds generally seem to go with me on it.
Speaking from experience, it can be almost alienating in Queertown today to have a diverse musical lexicon that extends beyond Britney and Bey.
It really can. I don’t mind Brit-Brit, and I really love Bey, and will feature both every night… but 50-60% of all requests are just those two, and it does get annoying. I get a lot of “It’s my birthday, can you play Britney?” from the vodka-soda drinkers.
That doesn’t bother me as much as the people who come up and just shove their phone in your face where they’ve typed out “Beyonce – Partition” before even walking over so they don’t have to talk to you. Those people are the worst people: all DJs hate them, and if you’re reading this and are one of those people, stop it immediately.
Yes, I second that! Fucking Stop That Shit Everyone Now.
So, what drew you to Brooklyn nightlife?
Scarlet Envy. As we became close, and once she started doing drag, she talked me into coming out and seeing Brooklyn drag, talking about how there was this kind of revolution happening out here.
I had gotten a camera as a gift from my friend Jim, who was really nurturing my photography eye, and Scarlet convinced me to come film her party Scarlet Fever at TNT, God rest it’s soul. I became a TNT kid, and started getting photography gigs from it.
Then came the fateful day John Lowther talked me into coming to my first Mondays on Mondays. I fell madly in love with Thorgy, Ruby, and Raga as well as the show itself, which was just completely unlike any other drag show I had ever seen. I filmed them a lot, and eventually signed on to run sound for the show, as I had soundboard experience from theatre and working a live news show back in Texas. John offered to give me his shift pay, and the girls kicked in some tips so I would run sound for the show and play songs in between, and a DJ was born out of it.
Now we are coming up on the third anniversary of Mondays, and I can’t wait. We’re planning a big show with Thorgy and all the Mondays’ history.
I’m sure “Mondays on Mondays” has changed a lot since it’s inception, but how do you like how it’s particularly evolved since it moved from TNT to Macri Park?
We definitely miss the TNT stage, which Ruby brought up last night at dinner, and Raga and I both got a little sad. It was almost like having a small proscenium stage with wings that we utilized a lot on MoM. It was always great that we could hide props and costume changes and huge toy horses like Ruby Foo (our ridable mascot) behind for a stunning reveal.
While Macri doesn’t have that stage, they have a lot of plusses. We have been able to add people to the Monday crew like Ben, Meggles, Shiny Penny and Matty Longo–the manager at Macri that takes incredible care of us (he has really turned that bar around in a major way)–who each bring something new to the show.
Speaking of props, I’ve seen some videos of you lip syncing a number using cardboard cutouts to represent Brooklyn queens that you’re paying homage to. Fun! I bet the queens you reference really enjoyed that.
Ahhh… the “Brooklyn Girls” numbers. Outside of the occasional cameo moments Ruby, Raga, and Thorgy give me in Mondays numbers, I don’t often perform. Those were a lot of fun though, and I’ve been debating doing another for my birthday or the third anniversary at Mondays.
With the exception of two individuals (who are still very close friends, and I think they have since come around to it), everyone loved seeing themselves represented. Half of the fun of doing them was watching the person being cardboarded lose it laughing. Watching Lady Simon just scream and jump with joy repeatedly just off stage, or watching the “Mondays” girls laugh their asses off as I do them, is half the fun of those numbers.
How’s your Sunday night show at Easternbloc with BibleGirl going?
I absolutely looooove working with BibleGirl and Cedric. I had done parties with both at Easternbloc before, and I absolutely love [owners] Darren and Andy. So when John Lowther asked if I would be interested in doing a weekly party called Bible Study with the above folks, I jumped at the chance.
Do you know what the future holds for the show after Easternbloc becomes Club Cumming in September?
We’ve had conversations about the future, and there seems to be a lot of confusion about what is going on there. People keep asking me when Easternbloc is closing, and I just keep telling everyone that it’s just a rebranding and remodel with Alan coming in to give some fresh ideas. They’re gonna do some remodeling and redecorating in August, and then open back up. The parties that are doing well probably will stay as is, as far as I know. So, if you want those parties to stay, come support them now so they make the jump.
What do you think about Bible’s Instagram account getting suddenly deactivated, and all of social media’s PG-rated gay content on YouTube getting flagged? Like, where the fuck is this coming from, and what does this mean?
As I was saying before, I grew up as a kid of the ‘80s religious/right-wing oppression. They limited visibility of us with letter-writing campaigns and boycotts back then, seeking erasure of queer visibility.
In this era of Trump’s America where the same kind of people are re-emboldened to erase us from representation, visibility, and legitimacy, we have to fight their “won’t someone please think of the children?” Maude Flanders ways by pointing out we are their children, and we won’t stand idly by.
One of the parties I am most proud of is Wallbreaker, which I do as a monthly with Biblegirl, Jamie Lauren, Anna-Lisa Donovan-Campos, and Meg Cavanaugh with tremendous help from Matty Longo and Steven McEnrue.
Every month we highlight and raise funds and awareness for a local progressive group who is working against the right-wing tide, and helping groups oppressed by them. We put together an incredible show with guest performers, DJs and hosts, and 100% of everything we raise in tips, raffles, and pay goes to that cause.
Back to rock music for a bit, how do you like spinning “Moose Knuckle” at Wayward Social so far?
I absolutely love my Wednesdays at Wayward Social. My parties there are a really cool mix of queer folks, wild partying, flexible straight people who love the vibe, and a fun naughty edge. Thursday’s tend to be bad hangover territory for me, cause we tend to get crazier at Moose Knuckle then I would normally get at my other parties. Plus, I love me some rock, and there aren’t a lot of rock parties, let alone ones blasting a remix of “Sweet Child of Mine” while a naked person writhes on the bar.
We’ve given more than a few straight people their first queer experience there.In more ways than one…
I like the sound of that! And coming up May 5th at Littlefield, two drag legends are being roasted back to back: first Sherry Vine, then Thorgy! You’re gonna be one of Thorgy’s roasters. How’s joke writing for you?
I’m really lucky to be on that stage with such an incredible list of people. It definitely works in my favor that expectations are probably lowest for me, not being as well-known as a performer as the rest of them.
But as a writer who learned writing mostly through sketch comedy, joke writing is pretty easy for me. The only reason I was even included is because Misty Meaner has read my plays, and saw when I got thrown on last second to the roast of Merrie Cherry. She was up in the booth with me as I was running sound for the show with my left hand and frantically writing jokes with the right. She is also genius at reading, and slays as a roast master, and recognizes other people who can.
It also helps I have spent a lot of time with Thorgy over the last few years, as well as Ruby and Raga. The three of us were just giggling over our meanest jokes, and making bets on who’s gonna cry last night. I think we are all really excited and raring to rip into each other with love.
That should be amazing! I know you always have a lot of other assorted gigs in the works.
…as well as Saturdays with them at Phoenix. Between the three of us and their fabulous rotating guests, it’s always a spectacular night.
I also have a new party called “Walk For Me” with my loves Jonathan Love and Anna-Lisa, as well as BibleGirl and Ms. Ter, at the Deep End which is a brilliant exhibition of new talent, local clothing designers, and incredible performance.
And we are coming up on the second night of Chris of Hur and Lee VaLone’s brilliant “Muthur” at Alphaville, which is a live band and Brooklyn Nightlife singing live. It was fucking incredible the first time, and I am proud to be a part of it, and will be singing at the June edition of it.
She’s booked! Okay, last question: Aside from all that we’ve talked about above, what is one thing the world may not know about Cameron Cole, but should?
I really, really, really hate ketchup [laughs].
Noted… hold the ketchup, and thank you, Cameron!
Cameron Cole DJs at Macri Park on Mondays (with Ruby Roo & Ragamuffin, 11pm), second Thursdays (for the “Wallbreaker” benefit shows, 11pm) and second and fourth Fridays (with Misty Meaner & Mocha Lite, 11pm). He also DJs at Easternbloc on Sundays (with BibleGirl & Cedric Antonio, 11pm), at Wayward Social on Wednesdays (”Moose Knuckle,” 10pm) and at the Deep End last Fridays (”Walk For Me,” 10pm). Check here for other scheduled gigs. Follow Cameron on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
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