JESSIKA & THE BUMPER BOYZ
Jessika interviews Victor Calderone
Sat. October 1, 2005 12:00 AM
by Jessika Sterling
Tribal...Dark...Dance...Hard House???...or, just plain "SEXY"!
"SEXY" is how DJ/Producer Victor Calderone would prefer his music to be categorized...and believe it or not, really would rather not be referred to as a "Superstar DJ".
Before we get into the "grease" on Mr. Calderone...one thing really came forward during my sit down with him...isn't it funny how people jump to conclusions about others...without ever having met them?
(...God knows, as a girl with something "extra", I can relate to that one!)
The Great Victor Calderone???!...after hearing the rumors, dramas, and of course...every queen and their mom just oozing to "spread the grease" on him... I had my reservations about meeting the so-called "Superstar DJ"..."One of the world's top DJ/Producers"..."Master remixer to the stars" such as Madonna, Sting, and a host of other icons. Word on the street is he's very quiet...extremely focused...has little patience for people not "having their shit together"...very seldom gives interviews...and due to their interrupting his sets with their performances, does not like "female impersonators" very much!!!!
As I pull up to the valet in front of Crobar/Chicago and hand the keys over to my baby (sterling silver Jag XK8), for the first time in my life I'm not thinking "Bitch, I'll have your balls hanging from my mirror if you scratch it!!"...but instead, I'm wondering ..."How am I going to handle this guy???...my god, he's just going to shoot me as soon as I approach the DJ booth!!!
[Note: See photos from Jessika's adventures with Vic here]
("...I love you all, please take good care of my shoes when I'm gone!")
Then my little "ego-angel" jumps up out of my cleavage and onto my shoulder... "Gurl, you're Jessika Sterling...he'll love ya!...just "get your schmooze on"...and hope for the best!" After all, I was asked to do this...and his people did say he knew who I was...
...at least I'll have witnesses!
Well...where to begin, where to begin???...first of all, I'm sure you've all heard of "thee" Victor Calderone...and I almost had the urge to entitle this column... "If you want to hear about Victor Calderone's background and typical media-crap...read the frickin' website!"(www.victorcalderone.com)
...after all, most of the articles I've read about him seem to be verbatim from it anyways. Did these people even talk to him???
...has anybody ever really "talked with him"????
Well, according to Victor..."No". Most of the previous article's reporters have never even met him! As a result, I think it's been easier for most to just say "he was not accommodating"...or just a "Diva" and didn't have the time for them.
(Silly...don't they know being the "Diva" is my job?!)
Ok my Dah'links...This may come as a big shock to all of you...and I do have permission from Victor himself to "spread the grease" here...so here's your first batch...
HE IS A REAL SWEETHEART!
Victor could not have been a nicer, sweeter, more down-to-earth celebrity that I have ever met. So, I was going to make it my task to really get to know him... not just taking down facts and media babble...but, actually talk with him!
As your "Media Goddess" glides into Crobar/Chicago, with pre-game crew scrambling to put those final touches on the club before it opens...I give a quick "hello" [...and wink] to the management staff (Colin & Phillip)...and strike a pose center dance floor to take-in all the décor of "EVOLVE"...Victor's very own, self-sponsored event.
Given that I've been around the club scene for a while...isn't it funny how after a few moments you intuitively know when you are in that "I don't know nothing, I just work here" employee-vortex of nobody knowing anything about what's going on? So, of course, being the "Media Goddess" that I am, I flick the switch to "diva mode", and go looking for my man.
Surveying the club from the mezzanine level high above...I spot my newest "Bumper Boy" for the evening, Victor Calderone...so, we point the cleavage in his direction, click my designer heels twice, and off I go. As you may expect, I just walked up to him, flip my blonde hair, and said ...
"Hello, I'm Jessika Sterling...come with me!" [twinkle..twinkle]
...and of course he does...haha
(...hey, if you had a hot, 7-foot blonde come up to you...you'd go too, right?)
As we lounged in the VIP room before his set for the "Chicago Market Days Weekend Finale' Event", I quickly felt we could have chatted all night if we had the time...and we very well might have, if Crobar's GM didn't come over and steal him away from me just as it was getting cozy...thanks, Colin!!! [wink]
Unlike most reporters, I really wanted to just chat and get to know Victor with no ulterior motives besides I like his music and he'd seem like a cool guy to meet.
So, of course, we began this interview chatting about "ME"!...lol (kidding)
Well, you have to admit it is kind of interesting for someone like me to interview someone like him? But, surprisingly enough you'll find we do have some things in common. One main point being how, as performers, we have little patience for clubs/owners not taking things seriously and not understanding that having a high-quality sound system, proper lighting, and a club environment that is on a "professional level" is what makes a great experience. Unfortunately, both Victor and I agreed that those "visits" with certain clubs/venues whose only goal is to get as much out of you for the least amount of money...is usually the last visit.
At this stage in his career, Victor really made a point to say how he really wishes he could get back to that frame of mind where it was the "purity of just spinning to spin". No more pressure of trying to live up to everyone's expectations of the "Superstar DJ", or having to go into the studio and produce a #1 hit...simply to be judged on his talents, not his ability to live up to the "hype".
We also spent a little time chatting about how he originally got started in Brooklyn through his big brother, Cesar, being a DJ in NYC. And, how he used to love to listen to legendary producers like, Giorgio Moroder (...of Donna Summer fame) and the European-influences of Kraftwerk. From there, he started developing his darker "techno" roots...and surprisingly, even mixed in a few classics like his favorite disco song of all-time..."I feel love" by Donna Summer!
...I about feel off my heels when he said, "I wore out the vinyl on that song".
WHAT?!!!...The King of the "dark-side" of House, the man with a Giger-inspired tattoo running down his arm..."Mr. Industry right-hook"(...industry "grease" there...sorry P.R....lol)...Victor Calderone listening to disco pop songs?!
Funny how we jump to conclusions about people, eh?
But, it's taking unlikely songs like that, along with others like Sting's "Desert Rose" & "Brand New Day"...or all of the Madonna songs he's remixed over the years and turning them into amazing dance chart topping hits.
...that's a true "Master of his craft".
After becoming the "rising-star" in the late 80's/early 90's NYC club scene and making a name for himself as the resident DJ at the club "Boy's Life" ("Life's" gay night)...things started to cloud-up for him. Soon to come was his breaking up with his music partner, all the pressures and growing lack of passion that come with finally being "known", and basically having the industry "leave a real bad taste in his mouth". Finally, it all took its toll and he knew it was time for him to "escape the drama" for a while.
...so, he entered the restaurant business!!!! (...what?!)
Again, being a restaurant/club designer myself, we found some real common ground chatting about what it's really like being in the restaurant business... and the enormous amounts of drama and crap you have to go through to finally be able to sit down, enjoy having dinner & cocktails with your friends...and act like the "Mr. Big Shot NYC Restaurant Owner" we all dream of...haha
Hmmm, wondering what kind of music he played in the restaurant??? How about "chill, down-tempo, and ambient!" Believe it or not, there was a time where he was very much into those styles...and it has influenced him today with his current style.
We chatted a little further on if he ever got the urge to "spin a few" during a night in his restaurant? Through all the drama and chaos surrounding him during this time, unfortunately, he never really had the time to play "his music", but he did eventually come to one very important conclusion
..."Music is where his heart is!"
So, in 1996, Victor Calderone sold his shares in the restaurant business and re-emerged back into the scene.
...and just let all those bitches have it!!!
Very soon, Victor became the resident DJ at the Roxy in NYC, and also "Liquid" in Miami (Ingrid and Madonna's club)...and was flying back and forth weekly. Again, we talked about how grueling it is to be constantly on the move from club to airport, then back again. Your life consists of basically riding in cabs, memorizing the locations of the Cinnebon & restroom in every major airport, mastering the use of the hotel "mini soap", and never seeing daylight. On the good side, from his amazing reputation created at these clubs, came his introduction into "The World of Madonna!" (...kind of sounds like a gay-themed park doesn't it???...hehe)...but, that is a story we've all heard before, haven't we?!...and, both Victor and I were just a little tired of hearing that story again ...and again...and again...
(...but, we still love ya, girlfriend!...smooches)
[blonde segue-moment #1]
I did however tell Victor that I am dying to have a picture taken with Madonna. And, the twist is...since we are both from Michigan, I want to have the both of us pointing at where we grew up on our right hands!
(...sorry, that's a big Michigan inside-joke)
Now...I bet you are all wondering about the "big grease" on what is currently happening with Victor????
Well, for the rest of the year he's booked solid with DJ gigs all over the world. As soon as he was finished with Chicago, it's back to NYC to pack, spend a little time with his "Diva Wife", Athena....then it's off to Greece, Portugal, and then Tel Aviv, Israel.
[blonde segue-moment #2]
One little side note here regarding Victor's wife, he and I had quite a laugh as I told him how every guy, and a few "lesbitarians", that I've chatted with about him would inevitably say, "...and his wife is HOTTT!!!" He took great pride in that ...and even more pride in their 2 1/2 year old son "Jivan" (...hope I spelled that right???)...which means "Life" in Hindi. I could really see a huge glimmer in his eye when we chatted about his wife and son...what a true sign of character. Having a 2 1/2-year-old niece myself ("Jessica", named after me by the way) I think we both connected on "that" is really what is important in life!
Speaking of his wife...one of my favorite parts to our little chat was when he got a call from Athena while on his way home from a DJ gig at the Roxy/NYC one night.
"You need to get fucking home, now...Sting just called, and he's calling back in 10 minutes!!!!", Athena exuberantly yells over the phone.
Well...with the speed and reckless abandon of a NYC cab driver on crack... he made it home just in time for..."Hello Victor?...this is Sting... Madonna suggested I call you to remix my first single....are you interested?"
And to quote Victor:...."uuuhhh, YESSSS!!!!"
With a big smile on his face, Victor said it later turned out to be "His most memorable experience as a producer", Victor goes on to say, "Sting was so down-to-earth and easy to work with...what a blast it was. I did not expect that from him!"
(...by the way..."Desert Rose" stayed on the dance chart for about 18 weeks!)
And so....what else has Victor Calderone been up to???
He has just had a "grueling summer"...which includes a few, let's say, "less than inspiring" gigs in Europe. For those of you who have had the opportunity to go to Europe...let me tell you, from my experience, there are definite goods and bads. The people are very friendly, most love to party with Americans...and the scenery is amazing (...especially with their shirt's off!...hehe)...but, when it comes to the club scene...both Victor and I agreed, some of the production values are in the "dinosaur days!!!"
"Some of them just don't get it!", stated Victor..."They don't realize how you need to really have your shit together to put on a good show...it's a real struggle sometimes to try to be at the top of your game when the term "production value" isn't in their vocabulary"
(....for all you performers out there, can't we all relate to that one?!)
For the last six months, Victor has taken a more active role in his club appearances with the creation of his very own night called "EVOLVE". Which is certainly inspired by his own philosophy of being in constant evolution with his work.
I was very intrigued to find out why someone at his level would take on more responsibility...was it for the money...was it for the control....why?
"EVOLVE was a way to give the promoters and owners something more to attach to and promote...with me giving my input and creativity, it seemed to provide more energy to the event. I‘ve been doing it for the last 6 months....and it's all about the production value...I'm very down on people just in it for the money." Victor stated with one of his more serious looks.
(Oooo, but it was kind of sexy...hehe)
We further chatted about what the overall scene has been like lately...and how he has seen "changes" happening in the clubs. Currently, NYC (..and a lot of other cities) have been suffering from the crackdowns on the nightlife. Not only with the politically-driven (republican) "witch hunts" spreading thru the gay communities, but also with the straight clubs. With "Crystal Meth" being the popular scape-goat to use amongst the other moral and community issues, clubs seem to be struggling more than in the past. Hopefully, as we see the scene slowly coming back, this will (hopefully) "thin the herd" and weed out those "less than inspiring people" and get back to the important things...the music!
Speaking of which...I asked Victor, "Who is your favorite artist???"
Well, I'm sure all of you will not be too surprised to hear it is...Madonna! "For her drive to always push the envelope...and constant evolution."
(...by the way, that last comment is from me, not Victor...I don't want him to be on Madonna's shit-list now...lol)
"So...what's next???", I seductively leaned forward and asked.
"Well, I should be finishing up in the studio next week with Depeche Mode. We are doing their new song "Precious". Victor replied, "Then, I'm booked till the end of the year with club gigs".
And for a real scoop, my Dah'links....Victor Calderone has recently been signed on to appear at SPACE/Miami for the upcoming "White Party/2005" afterhours slot in November!
I asked him why he was doing the afterhours party and not the main event? "I really think my style is more conducive to the afterhours crowd...usually by that time of the evening, everyone is really in a more sexy mood", said by Victor with a devilish grin.
After the first of the year, January/February/March, Victor will back into the studio with Madonna, and working on some new projects with her.
"Do you prefer producing over spinning in the clubs now?" I asked.
"Absolutely not" Victor replied. "I still love the energy of being out there...it's an instant fix!".
Being a performer/female impersonator, and having my every move being scripted, I've always wondered if he ever scripted his sets? Does he put together any kind of a "game plan" before he goes into a club???
Believe it or not, "No, I just play by feel...I gauge how the night is going and go with my instincts.", Victor responds with a big grin on his face. "I have tried it in the past, but it always backfires."
It was interesting to hear how he uses the dance floor as a "lab" to not only experiment with new ideas, but also gauge how people's tastes and attitudes change with time and geography...with the world's diverse cultures & eclectic influences that he has been lucky enough to have experienced first-hand, he's absorbed all of them...and feeds off their influences to maintain a state of constant "Evolution".
But, I think we can all say that Victor Calderone is truly an "American-style DJ", and it is he who influences others! (...as Victor painfully blushes )
"So, are you going to spin for the rest of your life???", I ask.
"No, I don't want to outstay my welcome....when it feels like it's time to go... then I'll focus more on spending time in the studio." he replied...we both giggled at the thought of not wanting to be that "tired old queen who doesn't realize the lights are on and it's time to leave the club, dear"...lol
Well, it's been 5-years since Victor has been back in Chicago and spinning at Crobar...what happened?
Within the last couple of years, they have remodeled, and a huge part of the new "Crobar Brand" is having a heavy-duty, state-of-the-art sound system, and top-notch DJ booth. I have to admit, I've caught myself standing in awe (...like a big Barbie-mannequin) at Crobar's DJ booth more than a few times. Victor has had some personal ties to Crobar corporate through his relationship with them in Miami and NYC...and after talking about it, looking at each other's schedules, and I would imagine some "good ol' down-home begging"...he was finally able to come back...and I for one, was completely blown away by not only meeting him, but also hearing him just tear apart Crobar /Chicago from 10pm till 4am...WOW!
(...I think I'm "moist" now...lol)
After about 30-minutes of chatting with Victor, I just now started to feel like we only scratched the surface of who he really is and what really inspires him as a human being...and one of the top DJ/Producers in the world.
But, unfortunately, Crobar's tall and hunky GM, Colin, comes over to our little cozy spot in the corner of the dimly-lit VIP lounge and steals him away under the guise of it being 4-minutes till doors open...and there is a line going down the street waiting to come in.
...Well, being the gracious person that I am...I release Victor to go off and actually get started doing what he's getting paid for...lol
So, we took a few quick pictures of us goofing around...followed by a few comments of "a lovelier couple has not been seen" (sorry, Athena)...and off he went to the DJ booth....as I went off to rally up my "Bumper Boyz" in attendance, have a few cocktails with Crobar's resident PR Diva, Claudia, and settled in for a night of amazing music...Oh, and of course followed by a few more pictures of Victor in action, and me "getting my schmooze on" with all the hot sweaty Chicago-menz!
Thank you Victor Calderone...I truly feel I have a new friend now...and I can't wait to see you again at the White Party in Miami!
"I love you more than my luggage!"
See photos from Jessika's adventures with Vic here!
"The Adventures of Jessika Sterling and the Bumper Boyz"