From comedian to theoretical app creator (this was a BIG DEAL… you gotta hear this story) to in-demand DJ, the follicly-superior Joe Goldman aka Joey with the Mustache is Cool for the Summer! [Cover photo: Jeff Eason]
Thotyssey: Hello Joey, happy May! We’re getting into spring / summer nightlife now, at last… how psyched are you for all that’s coming up!?
Joey with a Mustache: So glad that winter is on it’s way out—I’ve been dying to break out my mesh and speedos for ages. I’m super excited for this summer! I’ve put a lot of planning into this season in NYC and the Pines, and I can’t wait to make some magic happen with everyone.
Fire Island is likely gonna be lit AF this summer. When was your first time DJing there?
Last summer, and I’m stoked to be on Fire Island again. I just got in today for the season: the flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping, and I’m ready to get this island grooving.
And are those weird deer staring at you?
The weirdest and the mangiest! But it wouldn’t be home without them. Something has to eat the trash!
Where are you from originally, and were music and performance always a part of your life?
So I was born into a family of New York Jews, but I grew up in Texas… which meant that there were a lot of churches around. And while these mostly conservative churches weren’t exactly great for the whole being-gay-in-the-South thing, I did have access to lots of music education through the churches; I started classical voice training when I was eight years old.
Throughout my childhood and in college in Texas, I performed in choirs, concert bands, marching bands, musical theatre ensembles…the works. But over time, I discovered that sharing music offered me a powerful opportunity to express myself, and I began composing and arranging classical music when I was about twelve years old. I’d say that this period strongly influenced my music… and if you come to my shows, you’ll notice that I’m a sucker for powerful instrumental melodies and rich composition.
There are a lot more classically trained DJs out there than people realize… symphony and club music kinda work in a similar way.
Totally! Electronic music and classical music both have notes, chords, rhythm, etc. My foundation in classical composition has made me a much better DJ and music producer. Huge kudos to my choir directors, band directors, and music professors for all their support.
What happened when you came to New York?
After graduating from college, I strayed away from music on a very long comedy career adventure that involved many, many open mics in New York and a couple of guest appearances on Fox News for a fake Canadian dating app I started. That was a journey, yo.
What on Earth!? Tell us about that journey!
So in April 2016, I was very existentially bored living in Austin working on a research contract, and I made a landing page for a website called “Maple Match,” a dating app that “made dating great again.” The website said “Maple Match makes it easy for Americans to find the ideal Canadian partner to save them from the unfathomable horror of the Trump presidency.”
In, like, two weeks, it randomly went very viral and had over 40,000 signups, and it was featured in the news in Canada, the US, Japan, Peru, Europe…..everywhere. Only problem was that I hadn’t built a dating app… so I sold T-shirts to fund the development of the platform. And we did ended up serving over 70,000 people! I even got to be Chelsea Handler’s matchmaker. Unfortunately, it was hard to get investment in an anti-Trump dating platform in 2016… so we ran out of money and couldn’t keep the lights on. But it was definitely an adventure.
You were almost the Elizabeth Holmes of dating apps!
I’m so grateful that we never raised money! I’d never want to have such a disaster of a company that Hulu makes a drama out of it. Yeesh.
This is a strange time to be a comedian; standup is getting a lot of flack in this social climate. Was that difficult to navigate?
Honestly, not really. I don’t think mocking oppressed people is funny, so that wasn’t an issue. My main challenge with being a comedian is that I’m a silly kind of person, but stand-up comedy is a very particular sort of art. And after a few years, I realized that I was more interested in getting attention for it than the art itself. Fortunately, I rediscovered music as my most authentic form of emotional expression, and that’s gone much better than the whole comedian-slash-dating-app-founder thing. But comedy did teach me some serious work ethic and resilience, and that’s been very helpful in the music business.
How did you begin as a DJ here?
I’d been making playlists for friends for a while, and one day in May 2021 this DJ named Alexis Tucci did a six hour set at Froot Falls in Fire Island Pines that completely changed how I thought about house and disco music. The next day, we got wine and talked about life, and I revealed to her that my comedy passion wasn’t inspiring me anymore, and I felt very sad about that. I confided in her about my music background and story, and she recommended that I try DJing.
The very next day I ordered a controller, and absolutely fell in love with mixing music. It felt (and still feels) like one of the most natural things in the world. I kept at it, and by the end of the summer, I was DJing battery-powered beach parties for 300 people.
What do your sets usually sound like, when you are given the freedom to Do You?
Oh wow! What a question! So, for me, I think that one of the most important things about DJing is that fundamentally, DJing is about mixing music for other people–so it’s a conversation between the artist and the dance floor. When I have the chance to DJ, I usually like to mix soulful, groovy, bright, positive house and disco music.
Coming out of the closet, leaving the South, moving to New York, and finding a home in the queer community here has given me an immense amount of gratitude and joy.
When I’m DJing, I hope that I can share those feelings with the audience, and set the stage for some magical moments.
Love that! By the way, you truly do have the Mustache, lol! Was that the case before you were a DJ?
Ha! That’s a good story. I grew the mustache because I saw a photo of my Dad with a mustache when was running for political office (yes, Republican!), and I was like, he looks good! So I started growing one in 2017 before a trip to Berlin, because… well, you know.
But I think one of the reasons I’ve kept the mustache around so long is because my Dad and I have worked really, really, really hard on our relationship since I came out. I’m so proud of him for the strides that he’s made in accepting me, and ultimately becoming an advocate for queer people in his community. And in a small way, the mustache is a way I can honor where I came from, and remember how grateful I am to have the family I have.
I see that this Friday, you’ll be joining forces with fellow DJs Luis Fernando and Drew Baker at Farewell in Brooklyn for “STUDIO!” Tell us more!
STUDIO was born out of the idea that we need more glamorous, fabulous, elegant (and yes, sexy) disco spaces in queer nightlife. Luis, Drew and I are throwing a fully upgraded STUDIO this Friday, May 6th, at Farewell in Brooklyn. We’ve been crate-diving for some really special disco moments, and we’re really excited to share what we’ve been working on.
Oh, STUDIO Pride Sunset is going to be so fabulous… even Halston could never. We think that a disco rooftop sunset is the perfect way to finish off Pride weekend, and we can’t wait to groove with everyone.
You also regularly spin at The Q’s weekend parties.
[I’ll be there] about once a month throughout the summer. I love spinning in that space, because I’m given the freedom to get experimental with live mashups and vocal layering! Lots of surprises in store during my Q sets. My next gig at The Q is May 14th.
Ty Tea is extra special for me because from the beginning, Ty Sunderland has been a really important part of my development as a DJ and producer. He brought me to Ty Tea last year, and I’m super excited to get back out to the patio.
You and your sis Madame Vivien V have presented us with a number of fun events in recent months, including the dance party-meets-drag show “Fruit Snax!” The next one will be at Lot45 in Brooklyn on Friday, May 20th.
It’s our fourth one so far, and we really pulled out the stops for it this time! Madame Vivien V invited Nicole Paige Brooks from RuPaul’s Drag Race to join her performance, along with Nicky O and Serena Tea. From a DJ perspective it’s really emotional for me, because we’ll be having a close friend and influential house DJ and producer from Shanghai, Michael Cignarale. He throws MEDUSA, which is basically the best queer party in China, and we couldn’t be happier to have him. Plus, I invited two rising stars in the DJ world that I mentor: Anthony Velez and Lucas Parada, who DJ together as VELEZ&PARADA, so I’m really excited about the music. Plus, epic amounts of fresh fruit and friendly Burner vibes! It’s going to be a great night.
And of course you’ll be popping up all over the place on Fire Island throughout the summer. Do you know of anything specific yet?
One of the beautiful things about Fire Island is that things are always changing, I don’t know about many of my gigs until the week of! But on May 22nd, I’ll be opening “5-HTP,” my weekly Sunday beach party in the Fire Island Pines, with more details to come (I post updates on my Instagram), but you can bet that there’ll be groovy music and a whole bunch of friends.
And what about in regards to music or mixes you’re working on?
Are you familiar with Defected Records? About two months ago, I prepared and submitted an eclectic mix of house and disco music for their Unsung Heroes Resident competition, where the winners get to open for big name talent at festivals in Ibiza, Croatia, London, etc. So, I worked extremely hard on crafting the perfect hour mix and sent it over… and I did’t hear anything back for over a month.
I had almost forgotten about it until I was walking around on vacation in Buenos Aires, and got an email saying that I was selected for the Longlist (the Top 100-ish DJs from the competiton)! I’m currently waiting to see if I make it to the next round, but I already feel grateful that I sent one of “those” submissions to an international competition and get to see my name among some really accomplished artists.
Congrats and good luck! So lastly: what might your best advice be for someone looking to break into DJing in queer NYC?
Go for it. Take risks. Try new things. There will be moments when you fail. There will be moments when the track doesn’t load, or the equipment freezes, or the club owner insists that you talk to them for so long that you aren’t able to put a track on in time, and the music stops. As a DJ, what matters is that you give people special experiences that they’ll take with them after they leave the dance floor. So, do as much of that as possible.
Well said! Thanks, Joey!