He’s the man who owns 46th
Street. Though he grew up in the West
Village and paid his dues as a deejay at Save the Robots in the East
Village and at Iguana at Park and 19th—it’s 46th
Street that will long remain linked to the name
Jonathan Peters. Just as Junior Vasquez owns 27th Street,
so does Peters own 46th Street—and both because of the club named Sound
It was the Sound Factory’s second coming, in
1997, which put Peters on the club land map in a big way—and kept
him in nightlife’s brightest spotlight for the next ten years.
Initially playing Friday nights, before taking over Saturdays,
Peters helped turn the formerly shaky Sound Factory 2.0 (now Pacha)
into one of the city’s legendary clubs. With his marathon sets,
sometimes stretching more then twenty hours, Peters earned a
reputation for parties that were as transgressive as they were
massive, drawing upwards of 4,000 people. Over the course of a
seven-year Saturday night residency at Sound Factory, Peters’ crowd
became intensely devoted—indeed nearly fanatical—in a way associated
with deejays such as Vasquez, Larry Levan, and Danny Tenaglia, and
it was perhaps not surprising that, in 2006, Peters was voted the
Number One DJ by DJ Times magazine.
Flash forward to Valentine’s Day 2008, when the
Saint-At-Large announced the line-up for this year’s Black Party—and
there was Jonathan Peters listed as headliner. It’s a first for
Peters, as well as a first for the Saint-At-Large and Black
Party—and it seems there’s plenty to discuss and so we sat down with
Peters and got right to it.
There must be something about Valentine’s Day that shines favorably
on you. Wasn’t it Valentine’s Day 1997 when you debuted at the
new-and-improved version of the Sound Factory—and then this year,
the Saint-At-Large used Valentine’s Day to announce your headlining
most notorious party.
Wow. Yes, this is true. Funny, I thought I was the only one who
remembered [the date of] my first night at Sound Factory. That was
the beginning of some wonderful times for me. [Having] deejayed in
NYC every weekend for more than a decade,
I knew that Sound Factory was one of the most respected parties
since Paradise Garage. So when Sound Factory came to me and asked
me to do my party there—
It was a seven-year love fest, wasn’t it?
Obviously the theme for that [first Valentine’s] party was love—and
that’s what set the tone for the next seven years. And that’s why
during that time I went after records from Whitney and Paula [as
well as releasing] records on my label, Deeper Rekords, like “Your
Love Is Taking Me Over.”
And now Black Party is taking you over. Have you been to Black Party
It was just about ten years ago at Roseland. I was standing in the
middle of the dance floor with my hands in the air saying to myself,
“They are never going to let me play this party.”
EDGE: That’s too funny. Because, actually,
given your reworking of classics, often into ten- and twelve-minute
aural journeys, and the reputation that your Sound Factory parties
had for being over-the-top, you seem a natural fit for this
I am thrilled to play at the Black Party.
As a deejay playing for twenty-one years in NYC, [I say], Let the
EDGE: This year’s Black Party theme is
The Dangerous Black Party for Boys, based on the best-selling
book, The Dangerous Book for Boys, which, more or less,
advocates a return to the more thrilling and risky adventures of
life, rather than those faced in front of a computer screen. Would
you argue that playing Black Party is something of a risky adventure
The only risk I see is [in] not wanting to go home.
EDGE: Good answer. One of your friends
once said that one of New York’s
worst kept secrets was that your legendary Sound Factory parties
were something of a cherry picker’s delight. Or, in other words,
there were a number of “straight” boys there with their “boys”
downstairs, while their girlfriends were upstairs. Care to comment?
It is what it is.
EDGE: That’s New York
for you. Those parties at Sound Factory certainly had their share
of male eye candy—and often drizzled with chocolate. There was a
very strong sexual vibe at those parties. Can you take credit for
that? Was that something you sought to promote with your music?
If you’re looking at it like that, I guess I was part of the orgy.
EDGE: Perhaps even the ringleader. You’ve
been quoted as saying, “The single most important thing for a deejay
[is] creating the vibe.” What kind of vibe are you planning for
I don’t plan my vibe; I create it.
EDGE: There’s an aphorism for life. You
know, in looking at some of the YouTube tributes to your residency
at Sound Factory, it’s obvious that some of your most devoted fans
are female. What might you tell them about their desire to attend
“It’s going to be an awesome party.”
EDGE: No argument about that. And speaking
of girls, we hear you have one—named Samantha. Can you talk a
little about Samantha?
Samantha is my deejay booth that I created so I can be in my zone
when I play, no matter where I go. [She] also allows me to remix
and produce anything live. When we make love, you will be
EDGE: That’s a YouTube clip right there.
Too bad about the no cameras rule. What else can we expect
from your play list for Black Party?
I would rather not ruin the surprise. But, I will say, the old and
the young will rejoice.
EDGE: One of your biggest original
productions was of singer Sylver Logan Sharp’s anthemic “All This
Time,” a song whose lyrics seem to resonate not only with your Sound
Factory fan base, but also portend an increased visibility amongst
your gay fans.
Wait until you hear my new single by Sylver called “Mr. Man.”
EDGE: The title says it all. It’s perfect
for Black Party. You know, as someone raised in the West
Village, you’ve been quoted as saying that you were also raised in
the gay clubs of the period.
I always [partied] at Shelter and Sound Factory because that’s where
I was happy. That’s where the music, vibe, and lights were on
EDGE: One of the things that people so
often cite about your parties at Sound Factory was the diversity of
the crowd—and the way in which Paris at the door, and everyone else
involved in the club, created a broad demographic of club
goers—people of all persuasions, in other words, getting along for
I thank God for that.
EDGE: You once said, “One of the reasons
I’ve been so successful at Sound Factory is that I try to make it a
A lot of deejays stick to one sound. I don’t. To keep people
dancing for twenty to thirty hours, I always try to create a musical
EDGE: In the numerous years you’ve been
deejaying around the city—and by that, we mean New York,
of course—have you noticed a change in the demarcation of club
crowds? Do you think there’s been a shift to a more amorphous kind
of gathering—one less acutely segregated between gays and
JP: It depends on where you go. With the younger
generation, yes. Not with the older generation. New
York City is a much more gay-friendly world nowadays. I’m not
saying horrible things don’t happen, but it’s a different time. And
[inside the clubs], it’s more about the music now.
EDGE: As you surely know, you’re one of a
few select straight men, amongst them Mark Anthony and Victor
Calderone, in the pantheon of Black Party deejays.
Love to know where you got your info.
EDGE: Oh. Whoa. Snap. Point taken.
Moving on— Given your remixes of Whitney, Christina, Amber, Chaka
Khan, Paula Cole, as well as other female singers, it seems you love
your divas. Would you say you revere the vocal—or do you view it as
but one element in a mix?
Honestly, it’s never the same. It depends on the song. It’s always
different. But, with a great song—of course, it’s all about the
EDGE: Back in the day—way back—when Larry
Levan was the man that many consider you to be today, music fans
would leave a club on Sunday morning and line up outside the record
store Vinyl Mania—to buy the songs they’d heard the night before,
and on Monday, the radio stations would start playing what the
deejays had played all weekend. Can you comment on the role of
dance music today?
Since 9/11, I’ve seen the music industry, on a whole, take a
tremendous hit. Thank God, we are pulling out of it. Dance music
will be stronger than ever in the next couple of years.
EDGE: You’ve been quoted as saying "A big
part of being a great DJ is having a great club—bottom line.” Do
you still feel that way?
I feel you can have a great party anywhere, but to create a loyal
weekly following you need to make the fans feel at home, which takes
a great club.
EDGE: You’ve certainly seen that incredible
seven-minute YouTube testimonial about your legendary residency at
Sound Factory. What comes through most clearly in that clip is the
devotion of your crowd to you and the club, as well as that sense of
all of you growing together—one moment in time. Is that something
that’s still possible in
Yes, it’s just harder.
EDGE: You’ve said that Richard Grant, the
owner of the Sound Factory, created a Broadway show each night at
the club. Similarly, the Saint-At-Large works really hard to make
Black Party a transporting experience, something above and beyond
just another Saturday night at a club.
This is one of the many reasons why I am excited to be a part
of the Black Party.
EDGE: And as you can probably tell from the
vibe on the street, we’re all anticipating an incredible performance
from you at Black Party. We wish you all the best, JP—and we thank
you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us.
The Dangerous Black Party for Boys
Music: Stephan Grondin (Montreal) & Jonathan Peters (NYC)
Encore: Joe Gauthreaux (NYC)
10 pm Saturday, March 29th, 2008 until Sunday afternoon
Roseland Ballroom, 239 West 52nd Street, New York City
Featuring Strange Live Acts
Advance Tickets: $125 through Day-of-Event, $140 at the door