Sam Branman, the DJ third of Brooklyn nightlife monster trio Str8 to DVD, is also churning out some of the skimpiest and most fashionable Speedos on the planet (among other things). Thotyssey tries to keep up with Ten Yards!
Thotyssey: DJ, hello! Thanks for chatting with us today! First of all, OMG YOU GOT HIT BY A CAR!? How exactly did this happen, and how are you?
DJ Ten Yards: It was super fucking annoying. I was actually on my way to Annie Mae, which is Laè D Boi’s party (currently first Sundays at The Rosemont) I’m the resident DJ / video curator for, and I was literally crossing the street one block from my house and a fucking pickup truck hit me from behind! I’m mostly okay–my left arm got banged up and I’m doing PT to get that back to full fighting strength. They also destroyed my laptop! The truck actually sped off after hitting me, but I found it thanks to some nosy neighbors, and I’m starting legal proceedings. I obviously didn’t make it to the party, and went to the ER instead.
Does this bring home how terrible the world and it’s people can be?
I mean, everyone who saw me get hit were super nice and helpful! I’m not letting one asshole who can’t drive ruin my worldview. even if it did jack my arm up.
That’s the spirit! Will you still be making it to DragCon, if that’s something you were planning to do?
Absolutely! I’m lucky in that I am able to work on jewelry and I’ve been preparing for it for months, so I have a lot of apparel no one’s seen yet ready to go! I’m at table C31, and I’m there all weekend (except Saturday morning because there’s no way I’m going directly from Str8 to DVD to DragCon, which starts at 9. My husband Erik can work that alone.)
Between your designs and your DJ’ing, there’s lots to talk about, so we better start right at the beginning. Where’s your hometown, and what came first: fashion or music?
I grew up mostly in Olive Bridge, NY, but I just say I’m from Woodstock because it’s the closest landmark that people who aren’t from there know. Fashion came first! I loved dressing up as a child, and I started sewing what mostly resembled actual clothing when I was 18. I had decided to go to college for photography, not fashion. But I’m a big nerd, so I’d do a few cosplay projects to wear at the anime conventions I went to every summer.
Who were you cosplaying as?
My first actual cosplay was Hirai Ken from the “Pop Star” video. There’s three of him in different colored jumpsuits, and I could sort of do the hair he has in the red one! I also did a very loose Tommy February (we share a birthday!), invented a fake Japanese band with friends, and Ray Watts from KMFDM / PIG / Schwein. I still wear the shirt I made for that, but the jumpsuit was sacrificed last year to become Beltane ribbons, and the others just languish in my clothing labyrinth.
And when did DJing come into the picture?
I’ve always wanted to be musical, but I’m not. I tried to learn instruments, to learn how to write music. I was briefly sort of in a band or two (I even have album credits). I am, however, a collector and very opinionated… so I can DJ! My friend DJ A-Ron’s DJing partner moved away, and he offered to show me the ropes. We did a few gigs together at Nowhere back in 2013, and I struck out on my own DJing for a few now-defunct parties around Manhattan and Brooklyn. I didn’t start the drag-DJ gig until Qhrist With a Q and Sherry Poppins asked me to do what was then 1-900-HOT-GLUE two years ago!
You met Qhrist in a nerdy chat room, right?
Yep! Eightish years ago? I helped convince Qhrist to go to Purchase, too.
Good for you! What was the rationale at the time behind creating HOT GLUE, which is now STR8 to DVD?
and I was along for the ride. I didn’t initially do any production work besides promo, letting Qhrist and Sherry stay at my place, and making sure I had everyone’s music at first. But now we all do booking / coming up with names. I’ve been the one finding our newbie performers all year long, and I convinced them to change the name to STR8 to DVD.
This has become a hugely popular night, enough so to warrant a recent move from monthly Mondays to Fridays! What have been some memorable moments for you from STR8?
Every single one of Qhrist and Sherry’s stupid, perfect, beautiful, unrehearsed duets. They’re so good together that people don’t realize how unrehearsed they are. When Sherry was still getting ready at my house with Qhris, they might listen to the song once or twice to get the words down, but that’s it!
I’m also very fond of our massively overbooked Halloween show last year, when we all kept booking people and forgetting until it was too late. We wound up with 9 performers and 13 actual numbers. It was perfect. Half of them involved food, because we’re gross and live in Brooklyn.
That reminds me, I hear that pasta and fake blood were factors in a perilous Bushwig this summer!
I fully missed all of the mess, because of where my booth was at Bushswag! I couldn’t see shit. I made sure to see the performers I’d made clothes for, and my personal legends like Charlene, Untitled, Ragamuffin, Tyler Ashley, and Chutney Spears with that fucking snake.
Gurl, that snake! So STR8 is turning 2 this Friday at Gold Sounds… what’s in store for the anniversary?
STUPIDITY! I’m glad we’re leaning into being irredeemable and canceled. Qhrist already has to redo the flyer because one performer canceled, we forgot we booked one performer, and Lindsay Blowhan is coming all the way up from Virginia for it, and we should probably have her perform? I guess? It’s not like she’s Sherry’s daughter and performed at our first, like, six shows or anything.
We’ve got Sandy Devastation who made her debut at STR8 to DVD, Papusa Smear who made their debut with us, and Kaey Kiel, a nice cabaret singer and journalist from Berlin who doesn’t deserve to deal with any of this! She’s staying with my husband and her dream is to perform in New York, so we’re making all her dreams come true.
Another monthly (third Saturdays, in this case) you’ve been DJing, Emi Grate’s “A+: The Asian Revue,” has also recently had it’s own (1st) anniversary, and has moved to The Monster in the West Village. What has it been like, being a part of that?
It’s super fun! Emi is so fucking on top of every detail. She sends out a multi-page email with every piece of information you could ever want, she has the lineup a month in advance sometimes, and the show is at a reasonable hour! Never underestimate how great it is to leave the gig at 10pm and still be able to go out afterwards… or even just go home, have dinner, and go to bed. Because of the way Gold Sounds is set up, I don’t actually do much DJ work if there aren’t drag queens on stage. But with A+ (and Annie Mae), I spend a significant amount of time actually DJing. That’s always fun. For both those shows, I play exclusively Jpop and Kpop (and would happily take suggestions for fun pop and dance music from throughout Asia! A cute boy suggested some Hindi pop songs at the most recent A+)
It is! I always choose anime movies or TV shows to screen during the party on top of DJing! This month the theme is Studio Ghibli, so I think I’m gonna be playing Princess Mononoke, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and either Pompoko or Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro. I’m pretty sure Sherry Poppins will bring one of her swords, too.
I wanted to make bathing suits–made a few for myself. And then it felt like suddenly people started asking me to make them suits, and now here I am! A local bathing suit mogul. It’s been over four years, and all it took was saying “Sure, I can do that.” and then figuring it out.
How long does it take you to make a speedo now?
My first few took time, but I’m a fucking wizard now. Obviously with my arm it’s hard right now, but I can make a speedo from start to finish in about 35 minutes.
Jockstraps are 27 minutes if I go at full speed!
And now you’re bringing us jewelry as well!
You can thank my mom for the jewelry! She made it all in the 80’s and early 90’s. I’m just the refurbishing squad. I’m actually photographing it right now, so I have a record of it, because most of it’s totally unique and once it is gone, it’s gone.
And much-belated congratulations on having your Fashions nominated for a Brooklyn Nightlife Award a few months back.
It was amazing to be nominated, and I knew I would lose to Florence or Diego because they’re both powerhouses! Luckily, Florence moved to Manhattan, so I have an entire year to snatch that brick from Diego’s beautiful and talented hands.
Another thing to congratulate you on: being happily married! That may sound trite, but finding true love in the nightlife biz is damn hard. What’s your secret?
So, part of it is that we don’t live together, so I’m usually not disturbing him when I come home at 4am. And when we have problems, we talk it out! Erik’s also a lovely angel who supports me no matter what. He helps out whenever I have to sell shit, and buys fabric and zippers even if it makes him nervous. But he has a day job, so he’s only been able to come to three of my gigs in the five and a half years we’ve been together.
I also wasn’t working in nightlife when we met! That probably helps, too. He’s been there every step of the way as I’ve made the switch into nightlife and fashion design.
Okay, do you have anything else you wanna plug or discuss before I ask the closer?
Nah, just a schedule recap for people who get lost in my rambling! STR8 To DVD: CANCELED is at Gold Sounds (44 Wilson Ave) on 9/28, we have shows at Midnight, and it costs $5-10. I’ll be at table C31 during DragCon (that’s the 28-30th at the Javits, ugh), Annie Mae: Ghibli is at The Rosemont on 10/07, and is free, I’ll be there at 10:30 to start the movies! See you there!
Finally: who would you really love to see in one of your speedos?
Anyone who wants a pair! But I wouldn’t say no to some Instagram thots with 30k+ followers, so long as they tag me.