In the five years since flamethrowing hard-rock act The Toilet Boys called it quits the band’s sinewy, platinum-blond vocalist Miss Guy has spent much time perched in various DJ booths, observing the gentrification of New York’s once-dirty rock scene.
He’s had a front-row seat for innumerable rock bands that boast “tight” musicianship but are utterly devoid of stage presence; he’s shared decks with DJs in nightclubs emphasizing bottle service and status quo dance remixes and Top 40 hits. Though this past May marked 15 years since he first started playing parties he admits that, until recently, spinning felt more like a grind.
“As a DJ you try to figure out ways to amuse yourself so you don’t go crazy with boredom,” he says. “Believe me, nothing is worse than going to a new city where people are excited to hear you spin and you’re not into it. That never happened to me with the band — doing live music is always a turn-on.”
A founder of Squeezebox, the trashy gay rock club that became a Mecca for New York drag punks in the 1990s, Miss Guy spent eight years fronting The Toilet Boys, opening for Red Hot Chili Peppers and Deborah Harry.
Luckily for Toronto Pride revellers looking forward to his appearances on the Alterna Queer stage and at Circa on Sun, Jun 29, two recent projects have reignited his love for song selection: Girls! Girls! Girls!, a weekly mixer at the newly opened Chelsea dive Bowery Electric, and GoonSquad, his new ’50s horror-inspired “super group” with Matt and Laurel, the husband and wife founders of hi-NRG rock band Daddy.
At Girls! Girls! Girls! he spins exclusively girl group material — everything from The Ronettes and Raquel Welch to ESG and Blondie. This new mandate, he says, has opened him up to a world of long-forgotten female rockabillies from the ’50s and given him a new impetus to get weird on the decks.
“When I started Squeezebox I played obscure punk records,” he says. “The first five years people would come up to me freaking out, like ‘Oh my god I can’t believe you have this song, I’ve never heard this in a club ever!’ I used to go out to listen to Howie Pyro DJ to hear stuff I never heard out and to learn about music. It seems like people have stopped wanting that.”
A similar need to provoke a whole new generation of club kids informs GoonSquad, a band born from his desire to share vocal duties with a female singer, as well as his love for B-movie horror from the 1950s, surf punk and go-go music. Though they’ve only recorded six songs and performed a handful of live shows, he’s promising a live experience to shake off mediocrity that’s settled on New York rock clubs in the past five years. “I wanted to start something that kids who are 12, 13, 14 and 15 would hear and be like, ‘What the fuck is this?'” he says. “The weirder you get, the more people get excited.”