Circuit Chat - An interview with Kimberly S.

 

kimberlyaphoto by Judy Francesconi

An Interview with DJ Kimberly S
by John McHugh-Dennis

When it comes to pleasing both the boys and the girls in WeHo's nightclub scene, there's only one DJ up to the task.

I recently met up with Kimberly S. in The Factory's DJ booth (what a view!), and we discussed her recent rise to Circuit DJdom, as well as aspects of her personal life you would never have guessed about this girl by just looking at her petite, non-threatening body and demeanor.

Read on as she talks about her beginnings in the circuit scene, the people who helped (and continue to help) make her career, and the one vice that even Britney Spears has tried to break her from with no success!

John:

When I was setting up this interview, I was told that this was the earliest you could do it, because you weren't going to be out of your karate class until now. That's a side of you I didn't know about!

Kimberly:

I had a private lesson scheduled, but I wound up canceling it, because my neck's been bothering me.

John:

Is it true that you have a black belt in Karate?

Kimberly:

I have a second-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

John:

What was it about the sport that attracted you to it?

Kimberly:

Many things. A lot of people join martial arts for self-defense, especially women. That's not why I did it. I wanted to be stronger; physically and mentally. I looked into the martial arts to see what style I wanted to do, and visited a couple of schools. I wanted something that would give me great confidence. What it's done for me is taught me how to persevere, and to keep trying no matter what. It's also taught me how to be humble. It's really amazing. I ran in the L.A. Marathon in '98 because of karate; it was one of the prerequisites for my second degree black belt. I hate running, but because I wanted it so bad, I did it.

John:

So where and when did the DJ thing start?

Kimberly:

At The Palms.

John:

Wednesdays, right? I used to work out at The Athletic Club (miss that gym!), and to get there, I had to walk by The Palms. On Wednesdays there would be girls lined up around the block to get into that place! I often get emails from gays and Lesbians who plan on visiting West Hollywood, and back then, whenever I was asked where a good Lesbian bar is on a weekday, I would always tell them "The Palms on Wednesday!" I'm not sure how they're doing now, but they were IT then!

Kimberly:

It used to be crazy! There used to be lines all the way to Koo Koo Roo! I did those Wednesdays for a long time, but that wasn't my first night there. I had some really lame night there, like a Monday, or something when I started, and then we sort of built the Wednesday night up. It was kind of a cool thing... I mean, I didn't do it for the money, I did it just for the pure joy of playing, and the crowd; the girls that would come to hear me play were really great. That's why I did it. I did other nights too, but later I had to cut down. I always kept the Wednesday nights though!

John:

Girl Bar has been popular for a long time now. Was it as popular then (when you were at The Palms) as it is now?

Kimberly:

Girl Bar has been around for 14 years now, so they had already been around for a couple of years. I remember that once Girl Bar started, Friday night at The Palms, just "SWOOOOSH!" (she motions her hand downward like a falling rollercoaster). All of a sudden, it was all about Girl Bar on Friday nights. Girl Bar has been super successful from the get-go. It is the ultimate of women's clubs.

John:

How did Sandy find you?

Kimberly:

I actually came to Sandy.I had recently resigned from The Palms, and I happened to come at a time when they needed somebody, so it worked out really well. I called Sandy up, and we hooked up, and I started working right away for them. And I loved it!

John:

We're starting to see more and more female DJs. It seems like it's been predominantly male, at least in my mind, up until maybe the last 5 years. Did most of the female DJs get their start in lesbian clubs?

Kimberly:

I'm not really sure about that; I don't know most of their histories. I do believe that I'm the only female DJ around that plays both for the lesbian and gay clientele; the girls and the boys.

John:

So there aren't any male DJs at the women's clubs?

Kimberly:

Not really. Girl Bar had a male DJ for a long time. Steve Davis was a really, really great DJ. Manny does guest appearances for Girl Bar sometimes, which is fun. You don't really see many male DJs at the girl bars, but the guy who hooked me up at The Palms, DJ J.D. from Chicago worked there, and he's the one who taught me the technical aspects of DJing.

John:

You often refer to yourself as Manny's (Manny Lehman's) protege. How did that start?

Kimberly:

I met Manny a couple of years ago, and we just hit it off. Sandy thought it would be neat to have me playing in Ultra Suede on Saturday nights opposite Manny in The Main Room, and Jeffrey liked what I was doing so he later asked me to do some of the pool parties at The White Party last year. It was all around that time that I started growing in the circuit arena. I had always admired Manny's style, and him as a person. He took me under his wing... He offers me advice. I throw things back at him... It's sort of a give and take sort of a thing. A couple of weeks ago we just happened to show up at Perfect Beat at the same time, so he and I were next to each other listening to records. It was so funny, cause people kept walking in while we were there exchanging songs back and forth, and getting into it!

I've asked Manny for advice on many things having to do with rising up in this occupation. I sort of liken my progression as a DJ to my experience in martial arts... I studied Tae Kwon Do for a long time, and I still love it, and I'm very passionate about it, but it was time to study a different style. So I started studying Northern Shaolin Kung Fu, and they're different. When I go into the Kung Fu class, sure, some of my Tae Kwon Do is there - the flexibility, the stances are a little bit different, the strength... the stuff that I've learned already in martial arts. But I have to sort of empty my cup and start all over again. It's like I'm a white belt again, even though they don't have belts there. The same thing with this; when I came into DJing for the boys, I'd done a couple of gay prides and The Men's Room, but I was green in this area. I look up to Manny, and I kind of "empty my cup", so to speak. I've been DJing for a long time - the technical stuff is there, I know a lot about music. But you know what? He's here to really kind of guide me in certain areas as far as the circuit scene goes. I trust him. We love each other. That's how the prot mentor thing kind of came about.

kimberlycManny's been really good for me, but the person who's been the most pivotal, important person in supporting and believing in me, and really seeing and hearing stuff is Sandy. She is my greatest mentor in many different ways. She's a great businesswoman, as well as a great promoter. I've really appreciated her support and belief in me. I try to play well for the crowd, and the people who support me, like Sandy and Manny.

John:

Tell us about other cities you've played in. Do you see a lot of difference between the crowds in different cities, and what they want to hear? Do you play mostly for the boys or the girls out of town?

Kimberly:

The boys. Women are the same everywhere; they all pretty much like the same music. I have yet to really play the other cities, and I've already asked Manny for advice on New Orleans (she's playing there for Halloween), and Sandy because she's from there.

You know, when I say that the girls are all the same... that may not be completely true. The DJ from Club Skirts actually told me that the girls in San Francisco like a little different sound. A little more hip-hop and R&B. So I guess it does vary for both girls and boys. But the girls everywhere are still closer to the center, cause you can play everything for them, and you're going to please one group or the other. It's the hardest group to play for. Easier for me, cause I've been doing it for so long. Every week I'm trying to find fresh "old" stuff to play. I have TONS of new stuff! I introduce them to circuit music all the time late at night - I'll just go into a half an hour set of Tribal, real cool stuff, and they like it - but they can't take it for long. What the girls like of course is "Baby Got Back", and "Charlie's Angels" - they go crazy when they hear that. I don't know why, but I decided to play "Supersonic" - and they SCREAMED!! They like it when you throw in something really old and kind of cool like that. So every week I'm trying to think of something new that's old that I can play to kind of surprise them.

John:

That would be neat, actually - "Supersonic". I haven't heard that in a while.

Kimberly:

Supersonic's cool. I like to play that. I get to play some fun stuff. I'm pretty lucky I think. I feel really fortunate.

John:

So how old are you, may I ask?

Kimberly:

I'm 34. I just turned 34 last Thursday (that makes her b'day March 22nd, I believe).

John:

What event that you've played at has been your biggest high? Or events, if there's more than one.

Kimberly:

There is more than one. I can't just pick one. You can never have just one favorite song. I love Dinah Shore Weekend.

John:

You just got back from that, didn't you?

Kimberly:

I did, and I'm exhausted. It was fabulous! It was really, really great. It's a day and night thing for me there. I'll be working a pool party, and then I have to go do a party at night, cause I'm the resident DJ for Girl Bar. And then Club Skirts has their own DJ, so it's 2 of us.

John:

This is something unique that you've done. There aren't too many DJs that have done both the Dinah Shore Party and The White Party. So you've seen the ultimate women's party and the biggest men's party. And I remember one weekend they were the same weekend! Were you there that weekend?

Kimberly:

I wasn't, but they do both happen on the same weekend next year! That will be interesting, since I'm playing for both now!

John:

There's only so many hotels!

Kimberly:

And they book up! But there are way more men that attend, cause guys just go out more than girls. The guys will travel everywhere. But we do have girls from all over that come out.

John:

Which hotels are being booked next year for Dinah Shore?

Kimberly:

Girl Bar has The Riviera next year, and The Doral. Jeffrey's got The Wyndham and a bunch of host hotels. And The Riviera and The Doral are sort of on the same side of town.

John:

Do you think there will be cross-over?

Kimberly:

What's weird is that girls were asking this year "Why don't you have an after-hours?" There are some girls that are leaning a little bit more towards the circuit stuff. I have a lot of girls who come to hear me play Saturday night. Of course, they go to Girl Bar as well, cause they'd never get a date on Saturday night! But there may be some cross-over; it's just there's a lot of sweaty boys.

This year... The White Party... I'm gonna remember this one. I have the Welcome Party, which is the Opening Party, and I'm excited about it.

John:

You'll have the guys while they're still fresh!

Kimberly:

Right. And I know that many of them don't arrive until Friday, but I'm also playing for the Wyndham pool party on Saturday, and I am very excited. I love pool parties! They're so much fun!

John:

I'll be there!

Kimberly:

And it's a BIG pool party. It hasn't happened yet, but I think it's definitely going to be one of my most memorable experiences.

kimberlyb

 

photo by Darren Friday

John:

For most of my friends, their favorite part of the White Party is the outside parties.

Kimberly:

Yeh. I was on CPI (Circuit Party Insanity) reviewing, and they did a survey asking people what their favorite White Party events were. The T-dance was #1, and the Saturday pool party was #2 - both outdoor parties. I love that T-dance - especially at The Marquis - that was so much fun last year with the ferris wheel and everything!

I will also always remember those 2 little Hilton pool parties that I played at The White Party last year. They weren't huge parties, but for some reason I think the right people were there and word just go around. That was kind of like the budding of my career for the boys.

Those are the parties that really stand out in my head. And there's been a lot of really great Saturdays here in this booth. My nights in the Main Room here are just so fabulous. They're full of energy, and a lot of fun. The guys are great.

John:

So it sounds like White Party and Girl Bar are what stand out.

Kimberly:

White Party and Girl Bar and Saturdays. It's really about the energy. I can have a great night at Ultra Suede. It always changes, you never know.

John:

On another subject, I read somewhere that you are writing a poetry anthology.

Kimberly:

I write poetry. I will put together an anthology one day.

John:

Have you thought of writing lyrics at all?

Kimberly:

I write really lyrical poetry. It doesn't all rhyme. I don't like to use the word "street", but that's what people say. It's very play on words. It's like spoken word - it's very word-play and rhymey. I've been wanting to put an anthology together, because I write other types of poetry also. Another thing that I've been wanting to do is get together with a friend of mine and put together spoken word with music. I have a lot of work that I've done. One day! Martial Arts has increased for me lately, so I have a lot of things going on, but I'm mostly focusing on the DJ thing.

John:

You recently played for Red Eye. Was that your first after-hours stint?

Kimberly:

Yes.

John:

How was that?

Kimberly:

It was fun! It was crowded... it was PACKED!

John:

How did you play for that?

Kimberly:

I played similar to how I do in The Main Room (Factory). I kept the crowds there to like 9:00.

John:

And was it different? Did you feel a difference?

Kimberly:

Yes. It was different. I can't really describe what was different. I actually got Sandy and Robin to go. She enjoyed it a lot. There's a different kind of energy after-hours. Both energies were great, but what really freaked me out was...

John:

The daylight when you leave?

Kimberly:

Walking outside when it was light out! That was the weirdest thing for me! I was like, "Oh this is so weird!" So I went to McDonald's and had breakfast.

John:

A lot of the guys go to bed at like 11:00 at night, and then get up at 3:00.

Kimberly:

I know. I went to sleep at 9 that night, slept till 11, and then got ready and came to The Factory to see Manny and hook up with my manager, and then went on to Red Eye. It was fun! I had a good time! I'll be doing a T-dance on Memorial Day in Laguna, which is coming up. I have a lot of cool things.

John:

Do you have any plans for CDs at all?

Kimberly:

There was talk at 4Play Records. Jeffrey would like me to be one of his DJs in his Circuit Series. Right now it's just in the talk stage, but definitely, that's something that's going to happen one way or another.

John:

I understand you're taking a few days off in Cabo San Lucas - sounds like a well-deserved break before White Party.

Kimberly:

I'll be doing a lot of eating and laying out the entire time.

John:

And sipping Coronas.

Kimberly:

I don't drink.

John:

You don't drink?

Kimberly:

No. I'll be drinking Coca Colas... that's my thing. I'm really into that stuff.

John:

I guess it's (alcohol) not good for your Tae Kwon Do.

Kimberly:

No, it's not. Coca Cola is pretty much my only vice. Well, you know...

John:

It's really that bad?

Kimberly:

It's pretty bad. We have Pepsi here (at The Factory), and I'm very adamant. I won't drink Pepsi, so I have a 12-Pack of Coca Cola in the fridge here.

John:

Ever thought of doing a Coke commercial to compete with Britney's Pepsi commercial?

Kimberly:

I like that Pepsi commercial! Britney is cute! (we both laugh).

John:

Well, thanks for taking the time to talk to me!

Kimberly:

Thank you!

John:

And can't wait to hear you at The White Party!

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To read other Circuit Chat interviews, click here.