Bringing Hidden Talents to Light by Mike “Dr. Frankenstand” Ryan

July 9, 2009 by Mike Ryan

These DJs have skills that help them shine a little brighter

Adding value and excitement to your DJ service doesn’t always mean buying some new piece of equipment or a developing some new “interactive” skill to help you better “work the crowd. Sometimes it may mean taking a talent that you already have and finding a way to integrate it with your DJ entertainment. People love seeing other people doing jst about anything out of the ordinary. The scope of what you can combine with mobile DJ performance is pretty wide, as demonstrated by the following DJs from my home base of San Diego, California.

Mixing Boards

Diane and Primo Desiderio are two of the best “freestyle” skateboarders in the world. For five and a half years they were a featured act at Sea World in San Diego. And they’re also very good DJs. In fact Primo is a “DJ of the Year” award winner. On occasion, while DJing, they will share their skateboarding prowess with guests, doing tricks like “Nollie Kickflips” and the “Primo Slide,” which he invented. On occasion Diane will also sing at her events.

So, how did this dynamic DJ duo go from spinning urethane wheels to spinning vinyl records? “When the Sea World show ended we wondered what kind of business we should start” Diane explains. “We used to perform ‘Athletes Against Drugs,’ a show with skates, bikes and rollerblades at local schools. Primo wanted to buy speakers for the shows but was told he would have to buy turntables with them. So he did and practiced and then called a DJ company and asked if he could tag along. He soon became the leading DJ of the company.

“In 1994 the DJ company left town and that’s when we started our own business, Primo DJ’s. Who ever thought we would be DJs? Our announcements went from ‘You want to see him get higher on the (skateboard) ramp?! Then make some noise!’ to ‘Let’s give it up for the bride and groom!”

But skateboarding and DJing together? Talk about a strange marriage. I wondered what would possess them to even consider skateboarding at weddings and other DJ events. Amazingly, Diane says that about ninety percent of the people who hire them remember them from the Sea World show and they ask them to skate at their parties. “People would see us and then everyone else wanted us to perform at their events too. If they haven’t seen us before but want an interactive DJ, then I ask them if they would like to have us skateboard and about 80 percent of them say yes.”

And how do their audiences respond to their skateboarding? Diane says “they’re amazed. We are not just DJs, we’re celebrities!”

Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’

Another “big wheel” in the DJ industry is Jerry Beck of Beck’s Entertainment. He and his family have put together a roller skating show and were a featured entertainment at this year’s Mobile Beat Las Vegas trade show.

According to Jerry, roller skating came first. He started skating in the seventies and then later got a job as a DJ at a roller skating rink. Jerry says the movie Roll Bounce starring singer Bow Wow, includes actor Wayne Brady playing a DJ character patterned after Jerry himself!

Like Primo and Diane, the “Family Beck” roller skate at charity events, schools, kids functions and car shows. Jerry explains: “Our ‘high-energy’ synchronized skating is fun to watch for anyone. We are a family of roller skaters from 8 years old to [you guess how many] years old.” He adds that their roller skating is even more popular today than in the past because of all the crazy tricks they perform, like the back flips his son can do.

Jerry met his wife Lisa while roller skating. Actually, he accidentally ran into her and they “hit it off.” Later they married-on skates, of course! He explains that roller skating is not just part of their DJ business but a way of life: “It’s intertwined in every aspect of our lives and promotes family unity. Because we skate in such close proximity we have to be very synchronized, which takes a lot of practice.” Jerry says that they don’t promote the fact that they roller skate at (DJ) events but people seek them out “because they’re such a novelty.”

Beat It

Michael Bourdet of Celebrations Unlimited DJs moves to the beat of different drums. Actual drums, in fact. Michael explains that his interest began under the tutelage of an experienced drummer: “A group of friends got together under the direction of a percussionist who gave us a few basic instructions and we discovered we were capable of making great music together. After discovering that playing hand percussion could provide easy access to the joy of making music, I was inspired to share it with my clients when I performed as a DJ. I hired four dancers and eight drummers, and brought 70 drums to a Qualcomm [Stadium, San Diego] party. The audience loved it!”

And Michael’s friends love it too. I experienced one of Michael’s drum circle parties at his home. I thought it was a little strange at first but I quickly got into the rhythms of the night. Michael has an amazing collection of percussion instruments with a variety of sizes and sounds. Beating them together with friends reminded me of the Woodstock rain chant and I found myself falling into a mild hypnotic trance.

Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart explains the vibe: “A drum circle offers equality because there’s no head or tail…the main objective [for participants] is to share rhythm and get in tune with each other and themselves.”

Today, Michael has toned down his drum show while DJing but “still brings a few percussion instruments and I use them if the moment dictates.”

What’s Your “Hidden” Talent?

These DJs are great examples of expanding the role of the DJs as we know it, courageously forging new forms of DJ entertainment by utilizing other skills. Considering the tens of thousands of DJs in the world, I wonder how many share other interesting talents with their guests. If you play a guitar, sing, dance, juggle, do magic or some other kind of “stupid human trick,” to borrow David Letterman’s phrase, you might find that sharing your talent with others can open up new and profitable event possibilities, just it has for the DJs mentioned here.

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Mike Ryan Mike Ryan (19 Posts)

Mike Ryan spins at the Corvette Diner in San Diego. He also invented the Air-Powered speaker stand the FRANKENSTAND. He is a 20-year veteran of radio, and served on ADJA and NACE boards.


Filed Under: Business, Issues from 2009, Profiles