D.J. Chronicles: Sebastian Elliott – Part 1 of 4
December 21st, 2014| Main Story by Sebastian Elliot with introduction by Ron Sparkman
When I first got on the phone with Sebastian Elliott, I didn’t know what to expect. Willard Barth had introduced us so we could talk about him sharing his insights with us on the P.A.N.D.A. page. Hours later, I understood. Not many people in our industry have been able to do what Sebastian has done, especially in a mecca like New York City. I can’t tell the story any better than he can, so Sebastian takes you on a walk down the city streets in part 1 of a 4 part series! RJ
RECOLLECTIONS WITH SEBASTIAN ELLIOTT,
HEAD DISC JOCKEY, SCORES NEW YORK
abridged excerpts pertaining to an adult disc jockey employment history,
taken from ‘master of disguise’ – the Sebastian Elliott story
Strap yourself in and grab a light snack, as this might take awhile.
The road has been both long and winding, from music performances, to the service industry, to the field of voiceovers, to adult entertainment, to d.j.’ing and New York nightlife in general. A guitarist, singer and disc jockey since the age of 10, I progressed from listening to and playing rock music such as The Beatles, Billy Joel, and Led Zeppelin, to metal of a darker variety such as Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Queensryche, as well as neo-classical guitar shredders such as Yngwie Malmsteen by the mid 1980’s. Being heavily invested in music and staying at home practicing for hours didn’t sit very well with my father, and given the resulting tumultuous domestic situation, at age 12 or 13, I was strongly encouraged (threatened might be a more accurate term) to start working – first as a stock boy, then as a baker, and finally graduating to cashier and restaurant manager by the age of 16. By that time, however, I had all but given up on modern music, preferring instead classical composers such as Vivaldi, Bach & Mozart, and leaving behind the electric guitar and playing in bands in order to pursue a career in classical guitar and voice – first studying under Yasha Kaufman at the American Institute of Guitar in midtown Manhattan, and then at the New England Conservatory in Boston before transferring into N.Y.U. at 18, to study both music and psychology. During my time at N.Y.U., I was heavily active in Greek life, involved with both martial arts and powerlifting, and at the suggestion of my older cousin, started running doors for local bars that needed a liaison to soothe tensions and diffuse inter-fraternity problems before they arose. It didn’t take long before I realized that dodging broken pool sticks and flying glass wasn’t for me, and I moved on to using my boyish charm and razor-sharp wit by waiting tables to make loot while in college.
Even after graduating N.Y.U. summa cum laude in honors psychology, the job market in 1992 was horrendous, and I was forced to continue waiting tables in order to survive in downtown Manhattan. Not only did I continue to wait tables, but also became a barback at the legendary Scrap Bar, a heavy metal & glam rock stronghold in Greenwich Village that bands like Alice in Chains and Guns ‘n Roses used to frequent while in town. Working at the Scrap Bar was a natural fit for me, as I was starting my other career as the singer/songwriter for Braindance – a N.Y.C. project specializing in dark, technical metal – and had the opportunity to brush elbows with other local musicians and hard music aficionados. During that time, and for quite some time afterwards through the mid 1990’s, I also bonded with the burgeoning goth community, familiarizing myself with gothic, industrial, EBM, synthpop and darkwave music and culture. It was also during this period that I became a regular at the Gaslight Lounge in the (now very popular) Meatpacking District, as well as the topless venue Ten’s (formerly Stringfellows), which at the time, rivaled Scores in talent, ambience and popularity. It was at both Gaslight and at Ten’s that I met many topless entertainers, as well as my original inspiration for Cabaret disc jockeying – the very animated and highly personable James Saint James, who was an absolute pleasure to watch work. Although James spent a great deal of time trying to convince me to enter into the strip club disc jockey game (‘a job I was born to do,’ as he frequently would say), I was hell bent on securing a recording contract for Braindance, and didn’t want the responsibility of a ‘real job’ to interfere with the possibility of touring (and subsequently conquering) the world. A few more years of waiting tables at high volume, fast paced, often corporate N.Y.C. restaurants and many more of bartending at goth clubs, dance clubs, latin clubs, blues bars, hip-hop venues, as well as a few gigs bartending topless at gay nightclubs brought me to 1998, when everything changed again drastically.
My look itself had changed, and guys with hair down to their ass weren’t exactly in vogue everywhere behind the bar in 1998. Fortunately, they were exactly what was needed when Chippendales came calling, and for four years, I became their head waiter, learning about adult entertainment, choreography, lighting, showmanship and seduction techniques to work crowds for the next four years. During that time, my tenure at Chippendales caught the attention of a large nightclub promoter who saw the potential in having a nightclub-experienced Chippendale who was involved in both the music and fitness world on his team. In the mid to late 90’s, Manhattan real estate still allowed for mid-sized to large nightclubs containing separate V.I.P. rooms for bottle service and celebrities. As a highly visible ‘glamour boy,’ my job was not only to bring guests to the club, but to control the velvet rope that separated the V.I.P. room from the masses. Soon, running one V.I.P. room became two, then three and four, and before I knew it, I was manning velvet ropes in and promoting at practically every hot nightclub in town – absorbing music from the hip-hop, classic house, vocal house, techno and tech house worlds in the process. Of great significance was my immersion in house music culture, most particularly my affiliation with and weekly attendance at the legendary Soundfactory from 1998 to 2001, which surely helped maintain my visibility in N.Y.C. nightlife.
Also of significant importance during that time was my alignment with the voiceover world. As an adolescent, I was a ‘late bloomer’, physically developing later in life, graduating high school at barely 140 pounds. as a 13 year-old freshman at Bronx Science – a specialized 4-year school for ‘academically gifted’ kids – I started speaking at a lower pitch than was normal – not only to combat my small stature (and feel less powerless against my abusive and tyrannical father), but to fit in with my heavy metal friends who were at least 2 or 3 years older than I was. It wasn’t until years later, after studying voice and speaking to several otolaryngologists (ear, nose & throat doctors) who specialized in treating singers, that I learned that in fighting my insecurities during puberty, I had actually developed my vocal cords and range by intentionally speaking from what was known as a ‘dropped larynx.’ For years, strangers would stop me in mid-conversation in the street or on the subway to ask me whether I was making commercials, giving motivational speeches, or announcing sporting events. One woman on the E train even forcibly told me on a trip to rehearsal that I would be wasting god’s gift if I didn’t immediately start training – which is exactly what I began doing – taking seminars, training with coaches, putting together reels, and working with mid-level talent and casting agents all over the city…
To Be Continued,
Join Sebastian for part 2 and his introduction to the notorious Joe Nobody!