Pioneer New York Danceteria DJ Dies
Iconic 80s alternative DJ/ promoter Anita Sarko, who helped invent Manhattan’s ground-breaking underground nightlife scene at seminal downtown nightspots including Mudd Club, Danceteria and Palladium died last week, prompting tributes from peers and friends including Johnny Dynell and Marc Almond.
“Anita Sarko my New York Mom has died tonight. I’m so sad. She was a bright light and a huge influence on my life,” the Soft Cell star wrote on Twitter.
“Like people you feel will be there forever I neglected her. Many in New York will be sad tonight. Rest in Peace Darling Anita. I wish I’d been there more,” he continued.
Johnny Dynell paid tribute via Facebook, recalling being taken under her wing in 1980 when as an art student he first tried out DJing ‘as a temporary job’.
“Anita was really the one who not only knew what she was doing, had a VERY strong vision of where she wanted to go. She was smart, stubborn and relentless.”
“Butting heads with every club owner who ever hired her, every DJ who ever complained “she can’t mix” and every poor sap who made the mistake of asking her for a stupid request, she could be a deadly hurricane,” Johnny recalled.
“Anita could be incredibly kind,” he continued.
“After assessing that I was no threat, she not only explained the concept of DJing to me (remember this was 1980 and DJing was still a pretty new thing) she let me sleep on her couch for weeks until I found a place to live. We stayed up many nights until dawn eating chocolate and talking (me listening) about music.”
In another Facebook post (which was subsequently removed), veteran nightlife arbiter and columnist Michael Musto said she committed suicide after losing hope at ‘the fact that she couldn’t find creatively satisfying work and worried about her career, feeling that various projects had reached an absolute dead end for her.’
“Rejection turned to despair and, though Anita was doing work and paying her bills, she feared for her future and felt discarded and unappreciated,’ he said.
“But the letter she wrote before ending her life last weekend was full of love and gratitude toward those who passed her test and were special to her,” he added.