THIS GIG IS NO JOKE. STRIP CLUB DJS DESERVE YOUR RESPECT. THE GOOD ONES AT LEAST. THEY’RE THE HEROES WHO TIE IT ALL TOGETHER. THEY DEAL WITH CUSTOMERS AND MANAGEMENT, ALL WHILE TALKING ON THE MIC AND PROGRAMMING MUSIC FOR DOZENS OF DANCERS. BEING A SUCCESSFUL STRIP CLUB DJ IS A BALANCING ACT OF THE HIGHEST ORDER. SOME WEAR PASTIES OVER THEIR NIPPLES; OTHERS BREATHE FIRE. BUT THEY ALL HAVE THE SAME OBJECTIVE: TO MAKE MONEY—FOR EVERYONE. THE DJ IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF ANY STRIP CLUB ECOSYSTEM, AND PLAYING MOOD-APPROPRIATE MUSIC IS BUT ONE BULLET POINT IN THE JOB DESCRIPTION. ANYONE LOOKING TO BREAK INTO THE TRADE HAD BETTER BE A CHARISMATIC EMCEE AND POSSESS A SIXTH SENSE FOR READING A ROOM. YOU NEED SUPERIOR INTERPERSONAL SKILLS AND A KNACK FOR MARKETING.
GRANTED, A DJ AT A FANCY GENTLEMEN’S CLUB IN NEW YORK IS NOT THE SAME GENUS AS A DJ AT A SWEATY PEELER BAR IN DAYTONA BEACH OR A RAUCOUS VEGAS MEGA-VENUE WITH MULTIPLE STAGES AND A LIGHT SHOW. BUT THESE DIFFERENCES ARE ONLY SURFACE-DEEP; AT THE END OF THE NIGHT, EVERY DISC JOCKEY WANTS THE SAME THING: TO MAKE THE TALENT LOOK AND FEEL SEXY ONSTAGE…AND TO MAKE IT RAIN. HOW THEY DO IT IS A MATTER OF STYLE.
THE FIRE WITHIN
ILAN FONG KAHOOTS, COLUMBUS, OHIO
Strip club DJ is a tough job in any town, but let’s face it, if you ply your trade in a city like Miami that’s brimming with tourists and tons of cash, then you likely have an advantage. But what about DJs in smaller markets? Places that aren’t destinations, where the locals are your bread and butter? To survive, innovation is king—in Ilan Fong’s case, this includes occasional duties as a human flamethrower. Go big or go home, people.
Ilan Fong, 47, is the Rafael Nadal of strip club DJing. The single dad, originally from Pittsburgh, takes what he does very seriously and has the pedigree to prove it: Fong was awarded DJ of the Year in 2016 by ED Publications at their annual Gentlemen’s Club Expo in Vegas. He’s also a board member and secretary for PANDA (Professional Adult Nightclub DJ Association), which groups together industry professionals and DJs with the goal of “building a network to share resources, teach best practices and work with owners to improve individual businesses and [the] industry as a whole.” Their ranks include over 600 DJs, and—here’s the best part —they offer a heathcare plan. Let that sink in for a New York minute.
Fong has been at it for over two decades, cutting his teeth in Arizona before bouncing around and finally landing at Kahoots in Columbus, Ohio, where he’s manned the booth for over 15 years and counting. A natural showman—he used to sing in a rock band and even studied theater before getting his degree in telecommunications— Fong is not afraid to go that extra mile, third-degree burns be damned.