Taking a Spin with a DJ

September 07, 2016

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On June 16th we went to Williams-Sonoma at Columbus Circle for an event sponsored by Marie Claire magazine that toasted the first anniversary of Made Real Vodka, which is distilled from wheat and honey and made in Port Chester, New York (50 minutes from Manhattan). Made Real is an “all-female” company [WeAreMadeReal.com] with copy on their website that’s pretty frisky, e.g., “badass women who are makers, moonlighters and hustlers.”

The Dirty Girl Martini  //  Courtesy of Made Real Vodka

The entire in-store event was quite classy with delicious hors d’oeuvres, great drinks and an on-site female disc jockey playing terrific music. When she had a short break, I asked her (Crystal DeVone) if she would be up for an interview. And she said, “Absolutely.”

Later, we made a date to meet on July 9th at H&M at Herald Square so I could take shots of her working. She wore a shocking pink outfit that was perfect for H&M [See our A Countess and a Creator]. I asked Crystal why she thought H&M wanted to book a DJ because this was not an event. “Customers like a club atmosphere,” she replied, “they like that vibe.”

Crystal at H&M on Herald Square

IS A FEMALE DJ A RARA AVIS?

This is the first question I asked Crystal when we sat down to talk on July 15th. “Oh no,” she said, “there are lots of female disc jockeys now. But it’s different for women. They have to put much more effort into their looks than guys do. I always dress to match the occasion.”

Crystal in hot pink – matches the turntables

For the last five years, Crystal has held a 9-to-5 job as an event planner while also working as a freelance DJ. “Actually, they play off each other,” she says, “If I’m not in meetings I have my earphones on listening to music. I’m always learning and keeping up with what’s going on in the music world.”

Crystal has always been a dancer and a singer. She attended the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts (that’s quite a moniker) located on Amsterdam Avenue between 64th and 65th Streets. “We had our graduation ceremonies in Lincoln Center,” she says.

Later, she attended Howard University in Washington, DC and earned a degree in communications  (radio, TV and film). “My focus was TV production,” she says. “I wanted to learn what went on behind the camera.”

Crystal’s gigs come through an agency or directly to her. “I work at corporate events, in retail stores and at lounges/restaurants. I also get booked for birthdays and weddings. I’m very hands-on with these because this is someone’s special day.”

ARE THOSE BRAIDS COMPLICATED?

“Yes,” says Crystal. “When I get this done it’s an eight-hour stretch.” (When yours truly gets highlights I’m in the chair for just over an hour and itching to get out.) “It’s a complicated process,” she explains. “If I want a change, each braid has to be undone, followed by a hair-washing.”

Crystal starting up and getting ready to go – note the braids

“If I want braids again, all of the new ones have to be braided individually by hand. If I’m up for a new look, I have to be careful. Once my hair was completely straight and a fan was on at an event. My hair was blowing everywhere.”

When I asked her what the fee was for this eight-hour procedure she said, “Two hundred dollars that I pay out once-a-month or even every two weeks. With your highlights, it’s probably once every four months.”

Crystal has a good point. BUT what I pay for an hour-plus is the same as her eight hours. Either she’s got a terrific deal or I’m being robbed.

Shaun Nelson-Henrick

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