Sex In Exchange For A Gig

My most upsetting experience was this one. I was in my late teens and in my first year of being out of the closet – I was finally living my best life. But there was a lot to learn in terms of navigating ‘the scene’.

At the time, Gaydar was the online social site most gay men used. Through this, I found myself talking to a well known DJ (it escapes me who messaged who first, though I think it was him). The DJ hosted a popular show on Galaxy 102 and was the resident of the biggest and best club in the gay scene in my city. He had a lot of power in the scene, though this didn’t really cross my mind at the time – I just thought we were mates because of our shared interest.

We quickly swapped numbers. We talked about DJing, and I told him about the records I was playing at the time and my fondness for using accapellas. He said that he was going to be recording a special one-off radio show for Gay Pride, and invited me to come to the studio with him to record some of my accapella mashups to play on the show – naturally, I was thrilled and agreed to this.

On the day, I arrive at the studio entrance, he comes down to meet me. It’s a Sunday afternoon and there doesn’t appear to be anyone about. He takes me up to the studio in the lift and there’s no one there but us. He shows me around and tells me a little bit about how the recording of the live shows work – I’m fascinated.

He then asks me what I plan on recording – I talk through all the records in my record bag and he agrees with my selections. He takes me through the booth where the turntables are located. I start cuing up records and recording each mashup. He potters about in the background and then leaves the studio for a while. I carry on mixing. Then out of nowhere, I feel his hands on around my waist and then he thrusts himself into me, pinning me against the workstation the decks are part of. He is fully clothed, but I can feel his erection. He takes my headphones off and growls in my ear “I love little chickens like you”. For context, though I was 19 at the time I was very baby faced and so probably looked 15 or 16 – some years later I realised that I got so much attention because I looked underage and that some guys were really into that. He was ten years older than me.

I froze. I think anyone would be scared, but for me it felt like history repeating itself – I was sexually assaulted at secondary school and it left me feeling incredibly confused about my sexuality for a long time – even after coming out, I struggled to separate sex from violence.  

I was really starting to panic – then he asked me “Isn’t this what you came for?” at which point I seized the opportunity to pull away from him and said that I was under impression that this was purely professional as there hadn’t been any suggestion of anything romantic or sexual at all during our lengthy discussions over the phone and by text. He is stroking himself and I can see the shape of his penis through his trousers.  

He tells me that he loves to bottom for ‘little twinky boys’ and then asked me if I was top or bottom – I told him that I didn’t want to talk about sex. He then asked me if I wanted to DJ at the club where he was resident in the dance room and nodded (we’d previously discussed this – at the time, it was goal), feeling a little scared at this point as I’m still worried he might assault me. He then said “If you want to DJ there, then you’re gonna have to fuck me. I can make it happen. I know people. But if you don’t fuck me, then I’ll fuck you. I’ll make sure that you never DJ there. The choice is yours”. There was a moment of silence and then he just pretended like the whole conversation had never happened by thanking me for coming to the studio and telling me what date the show would be on the air. I left. I deleted his number, never spoke with him again and avoided going in the his room at the club for the remainder of his residency there. When he played my edits on his show, he took credit for them – I felt really used. 

I didn’t tell anyone other than one of my friends, as the DJ was a very powerful figure on the scene, and I didn’t want to risk being blacklisted at other venues too. Even my friend at the time said “Are you sure? He sounds so lovely on the radio”. I now find myself in a difficult position, as he died following a battle with cancer in 2017, and everyone haled him as a hero and a local legend. I still feel like no-one would believe me.     

DJing on the gay scene continued to be difficult – my technical ability was better than many of my peers, but I was almost always overlooked in favour of muscular and/or more attractive guys (some weren’t necessarily even DJs). I was never asked outright to have sex with someone in exchange for work, but it was implied on many occasions. I persevered with it for years, as I was brainwashed into thinking that mainstream clubs weren’t safe for gay men like me.

     

   

Harassment and Coercion

I was at a club in Berlin and one of the staff members, who has been involved with the club for a long time, and I’ve known as a friend for years, was there, though quite drunk. He was quite handsy with me and made a lot of sexual insinuations, even though I am not gay myself, and wasn’t really taking the hints that I wasn’t interested. When myself and a few others were all going to the toilet to do some drugs, he joined along and made even further advances, even so far as grabbing my crotch and commenting on the size of my penis and how he’d be curious to see it. THEN he went so far as to try and push me in to the stall, all the while making some glamorous promises about how he could help me to get an EP on the label for the club (he was running it at the time) or even get me in to the ear of the owners and higher-ups to make me a resident DJ at the club. After multiple “no thank you’s” he got frustrated and gave up, but months later would attempt the same thing again. And I’ve heard from multiple others that I’m not the only person that he attempted this with, nor was it a big secret that that was his angle most of the time.

Assaulted and Thrown Out

I must have been around 19 when I remember I had my back to a girl who would not stop groping me, 3 times I had asked her to leave me alone, and on the 4th I grabbed her wrist and made a scene and shouted quit touching me, only to be set on by the 3 boys she was dancing with and be thrown out the club, when I tried to explain the situation to the security, I was met with the response of, why on Earth would you be mad at that?

Inappropriate DJ

Myself and other male DJ/industry friends of mine have had numerous occasions of harassment by the same male DJ. He is a pretty significant figure in the Amsterdam queer scene. During events where we worked/played he’d come up to you, tell you how he thinks you’re “so beautiful” start touching you and groping at groins and nipples. From what I’ve seen he does this mostly to straight guys to kind of shock them or something.

He’s a very kind man, but his behaviour can be inappropriate. It is hard to get mad at him in the moment though because he says things like “you’re the type of guy I could have a very serious relationship with”. I never actually felt afraid or threatened around him (mostly because I knew I could literally pick him up and throw him out of the venue if I wanted to) but I have had to slap away his hands multiple times. Because of #forthemusic and all the stories you and others shared I have realised that his behaviour is not as innocent as it seems and that others may be less unaffected by it. Also, had he done this to women he would have been called out a long time ago I’m sure.

I also feel like this is very common at queer oriented spaces: men getting groped by other men without asking. It has happened to me numerous times. Usually you brush them of like “nah mate not interested” but again: if a man would do this to a women there would be serious consequences and very rightfully so.

Male DJ Experience of Harassment

As a male DJ I’d say on average, minor sexual assault (groping etc) happens to me 3/4 times a year. I play in smaller venues, bars etc with little security so I’m usually on my own in an easily accessible DJ booth. I’m not a small guy so I guess I don’t feel threatened in the way a girl might feel, and my tactic is to try to laugh it off when it happens. Only in 10+ years of playing out have I asked security to intervene when a girl was being sexually aggressive towards me. Security spoke to her and she stopped but they didn’t remove her.