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September 7, 2023 52 mins

Laverne reunites with her long-time friend world-renowned DJ and record producer Honey Dijon to talk about her legendary career, their early days of New York City nightlife, and the universal energy shared on a dancefloor that can be a deeply profound spiritual experience. Honey is committed to sharing her club culture history and she’s got some names to drop. Honey Dijon is one of the first transgender artists to win a Grammy award, which she received for her production work on Beyonce’s latest album Renaissance.

Please rate, review, subscribe and share The Laverne Cox Show with everyone you know. You can find Laverne on Instagram and Twitter @LaverneCox and on Facebook at @LaverneCoxForReal.

As always, stay in the love.


Links of Interest:

Boiler Room Set 2018 (YouTube)

Comme des Garcons Line (Vogue)

Song: Let’s Go by Fast Eddie

Song: Doctor Love by First Choice

Song: Let No Man Put Asunder by First Choice

Steve Dahl’s Notorious 1979 Disco Demolition

Wigstock Returns From the Dead (NYTimes)

Grace Jones Meltdown Festival (video)

Grace Jones Live at Meltdown Festival (Review)


Names Mentioned:

Derrick Carter

Frankie Knuckles

Danny Tenaglia

Lady Bunny

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Keith Haring

Ajita Wilson

Azzedine Alaia



Executive Producers: Sandie Bailey, Alex Alcheh, Lauren Hohman, Tyler Klang & Gabrielle Collins

Producer & Editor: Brooke Peterson-Bell

Associate Producer: Akiya McKnight

See for privacy information.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to the Laverne Cox Show, a production of Shondaland
Audio in partnership with iHeartRadio.

Speaker 2 (00:10):
And I say you are not a DJ until you
have DJ to a room of black coins standing there
with their arms folded looking at you. Say, I'm waiting
for you to turn them out, and those girls are unforgiving.

Speaker 3 (00:21):
So one of the things that I say, you are
not a DJ. And so you've played to the children
in New York.

Speaker 2 (00:25):
Because if you do not turn them, you're out work,
You're out.

Speaker 1 (00:33):
Hello everyone, and welcome to the Laverne Cox Show. I'm
Laverne Cox.

Speaker 4 (00:39):
Oh okay, I'm so excited. I'm squealing because I get
to talk to my old friend, my dear friend, the
now Grammy Award winning producer, DJ, fashion designer, historian, living legend,
Honey de Jon. This was an historic year at the Grammys.

Kim Petris one and a lot of people have been
talking about her as the first openly transperson.

Speaker 1 (01:09):
Winno Grammy.

Speaker 4 (01:10):
She's not Wendy Carlos won a Grammy and I think
the late nineteen sixties for electronic music. Interestingly enough, and
Honey Dejon also won a Grammy and she is an
openly transgender woman as well, and that just makes me
so excited. It's really interesting thinking about where Honey and
I come from. We worked at coffee shop at the

same time, we were in the scene at the same
time in the nineties.

Speaker 1 (01:34):
Struggled in New York.

Speaker 4 (01:36):
And she has been traveling the world djaying and is
renowned and revered, and she's living her best life and
she's doing it on her own terms. And that is
such an incredible privilege for anyone to be able to do,
but particularly for a black trans woman from the South
Side of Chicago. Honey Dejon isn't I American DJ producer,

electronic musician, and fashion designer. Renowned for not adhering to
any particular genre. She's performed at the most exclusive clubs, festivals, galleries,
and fashion events worldwide. She has released five albums, including
Best of Both Worlds and her newest Black Girl Magic.
Her boiler room set, posted on YouTube, has been viewed
over ten million times. In twenty nineteen, in collaboration with

com de Garson, she released her Honey Fucking Dijon fashion
line as an expression of art, music and culture colliding.
She is now a Grammy Award winning producer for her
work on Beyonce's Renaissance. Please enjoy my conversation with Honey Dijon.

Speaker 3 (02:50):
Let's do this.

Speaker 1 (02:53):
Honey fucking Dijon, Welcome to the podcast. How are you
feeling today?

Speaker 3 (02:58):
I am well.

Speaker 2 (03:00):
I just finished yoga, so I'm very zen at the moment,
but I'm great. I'm really, really great.

Speaker 4 (03:06):
You've been doing yoga for years, right, Like it's like
you're it's one of your things.

Speaker 2 (03:11):
Yes, you know, wellness is one of my things. I've
Actually it's so funny that you say that, because I've
been thinking about over the course of my life, and
I was just explaining to a friend of mine that
I stopped eating meat at nineteen, and I've always been
into wellness. It's just something that I was very attracted
to at a time when it wasn't in a cultural conversation.

But it's one of my stress relievers. It's one of
my things that just helps me let go of the
daily grind that we all have. And I have a
Peloton bike, which I'm obsessed with. I have a trainer,
and I do yoga.

Speaker 1 (03:46):
And I was thinking about this.

Speaker 4 (03:47):
You know, we're going to get into this, but like
I know, you like to do twelve hour DJ sets
and you have a lot of energy from your djaying.

Speaker 1 (03:57):
I'm just like, how what is this stamina? What is fitness?

Speaker 4 (04:00):
Because I know you don't talk about age, but like
I'm fifty, I am not in it. If I go
to the club and I'm like recovering for days.

Speaker 1 (04:10):
So they have the.

Speaker 4 (04:11):
Stamina to give what you give. But I'm just like,
how is she doing? Like she is like fully present
giving everything, like you be an amazing shape, you know what.

Speaker 2 (04:24):
I asked my mom about this, and she said, this
is a true story. When I was a kid. I
came in the world with so much energy that they
wanted to put me on Ridland when I was a kid,
and my mom refused. She's like, I'm not doing that.

Speaker 3 (04:39):
It's just me.

Speaker 2 (04:40):
It's just my fire, it's just my passion, it's just
who I am. And I always think of myself as
a vessel for the universe to express itself, and this
is just my universal energy, Like came into the universe
with an unlimited supply of fuel.

Speaker 4 (04:58):
That's beautiful. And I literally I was thinking about back
in the day. We've known each other for a while,
thinking back back in the nineties when I would see
you dancing and performing and it.

Speaker 1 (05:08):
Just was electric and it was just popping off of you.

Speaker 3 (05:13):
The Tasmanian Devil.

Speaker 4 (05:15):
Yeah, yeah, okay, So let's go back a little bit.
So I DMed you last year the Beyonce album come out,
and I remember I dmd you and I was just
so happy and so proud. And we've known each other
for a very long time. And you called me and
we talked for like two hours and we were talking
about music in New York in the nineties and like, yes,

soul and Marvin Gay and like we went in and
I was like, girl, we need to do this on
the podcast and let the children know.

Speaker 3 (05:45):
Let the children know.

Speaker 4 (05:47):
Yes, you're such a historian, you're of music, of fashion.
But let's start with you are now Grammy Award winning producer.

Speaker 1 (05:56):
Oh my god. Yes, have you been able to process
that now?

Speaker 2 (06:00):
That means Mama can add another zero to the hero Honey.

Speaker 1 (06:07):
That prices just went out, honey, yes.

Speaker 3 (06:12):
Not yesterday's price, baby girl.

Speaker 1 (06:17):
I feel like there was a moment when I raised
my prices too, honey.

Speaker 3 (06:20):
Yes, your work, your work.

Speaker 4 (06:24):
Beyond raising the price, beyond that. Thinking about growing up
in Chicago, DJing for your parents right before bedtime, discovering
house music, and you know, in Chicago at the beginning
of it, just that kid who just was creative and
who was bullied. And now you have worked with Madonna, Beyonce.

I mean, the list goes on and on, and you
have a Grammy and it's like, it's this You've been
a legend for a long time for real. My brother
was in Berlin last year or something and he met
some people and he said, oh, I'm from New York
and they were like, do you know honey Dejon do
Honey Jon, She's so amazing to you, and they just
they were just like they lost their minds, just like
for people who know you are a legend in an icon.

And what it's been so beautiful for me reading a
bit about you, knowing you for so long, is that
you've resisted being commercial, right, that the house music has
changed so much and you stayed true to your roots
and to who you are and what you love and
what excites you. And there are new sounds, but then
there's always something that is about your roots that's there.

And one other thing I want to say too, there
was a moment many years ago, you were DJing hero
in New York City and that was a time. That
was a time, and Connie Fleming was working the door, yah,
and I remember we got in there. We gotten there
early and there was an opening DJ. I don't know
who the DJ was. People were just sitting around. There
was no energy, right, like, this party is tired and late,

and I was like, I want to wait for Honey
to come on and DJ, but I don't know if
I can stay here, you know, But girl, it was
people weren't dancing.

Speaker 1 (08:04):
It was a sad sight.

Speaker 4 (08:07):
And then you came on and started djaying and people
were up dancing.

Speaker 1 (08:12):
The molecules of the space shifted.

Speaker 4 (08:15):
Well that's what I say that to me though, is
like I understood something that I didn't understand before about.

Speaker 1 (08:22):
What a great DJ does. That it was the same room,
it was the same people, but all of a sudden,
something shifted. It became something spiritual, it became something. When
we were in Toronto.

Speaker 4 (08:35):
And you I'm convinced me to come out and I
was shooting Rocky Horror in twenty sixteen and we came
out to the club. I said to day, girl, let's
day twenty minutes you know, so high because I was tired.
I was shooting. I was shooting Rocky Wear Picture Show. Actually,
oh so I was singing and dancing and doing essence
all bass girl.

Speaker 1 (08:50):
I was like going through it. So I was like,
let's day twenty minutes and I'm gonna go home and
go to sleep. Girl.

Speaker 4 (08:56):
We were I think we closed the club. I was dancing,
I was sweating. You got me together, and I had
It was a religious experience, and it reminded me of
when I first moved to New York in nineteen ninety
three and I used to go to Webster Hall and
just dance all night.

Speaker 1 (09:10):
I didn't care about boys.

Speaker 4 (09:12):
I put my look together and I went out and
I danced, and I had a spiritual experience in awakening
the spirit the Holy ghat got me, you know, on
the dance floor, and that is what you give.

Speaker 1 (09:23):
And that is so I don't and you probably don't
know how you do it. You just do it. And
I guess you're channeling.

Speaker 4 (09:31):
I think when you say that you're challenging the energy
of the universe, it's just you let it come through you.

Speaker 2 (09:36):
Well, I mean there's lots of just to go back
to the beginning of what you said that I've never
changed to who I was, I think, and maybe you
can relate to this when you are marginalized. Within the marginalization,
I've always felt invisible, and one of the things that

I said to myself a long time ago, since I'm invisible,
it's actually given me a freedom to just really boo myself.
And because if I can't fit into your narrative, then
I might as well just be who I am. And
I realized, no matter how successful that I became or

what visibility that I came, that I had to be
okay with me.

Speaker 3 (10:21):
I had to validate me.

Speaker 2 (10:22):
I had to be the one that gave me permission
to do the things that I wanted to do. And
you know how it was back in the day in
New York girl, the streets of New York being fired
and hired and fired and hired and fired out.

Speaker 3 (10:34):
I didn't like you didn't know if you're going to
be able to pay your rent or eat or whatever.

Speaker 2 (10:38):
And I just realized that gave me a tenacity to
just be the most authentic person that I can be.
And I never expected, you know, when you said to me,
have I processed this? No because you know, as we
both transitioned in on the streets of New York. My

success in life is that I survived, that I'm healthy,
that I'm here, that I'm thriving, that I have gotten
to a place where I can have healthy relationships with
the people and with myself. And one of the things
that I realized, no matter what I achieved in my life,
I survived as a black trans woman and I never

had to do anything outside of my art, and that,
to me is my success.

Speaker 3 (11:30):

Speaker 2 (11:30):
You and I both know what it took to just
get through the day in New York City and get
home in one piece. And so the fact that we're
here and what you've achieved and what I've achieved, you know,
that's momentous, you know what I mean, it really is.
It's so deep. It's so deep, and it's so hard
to explain this to people. So I haven't process that.

Speaker 3 (11:53):
You know.

Speaker 2 (11:53):
There's been so many things going on. I relocated to London.
I just had an album released besides my own, so
I've been turning that and it's non stop turning. I
just came off of an Australian tour, so it's really
been one thing after the next. I'm working on my
next album. I have a fashion collection with com de garsoon.
So I haven't had a chance to sit down and say, bitch,
what have you done? It's more like bitch on to

the next. And so what I do process is I
live in gratitude. I am so grateful that I get
to get up every day and choose what my day
looks like. That to me is what propels me. You know,
I always love the thing that you said, and I
use it and I stole it from you. I don't
want to be a role model. I want to be
a role possibility. And that for me, hits so deep

and so differently.

Speaker 1 (12:38):
It's a possibility model, actually possibility.

Speaker 2 (12:40):
Model, possibility model. And so I took that and I said,
be the thing you wish to see in the world.

Speaker 4 (12:46):
Oh, let's take it all the way back to the
beginning for you and being being a teenager in Chicago
and going to the clubs with there are Chicago clubs.
I knew you went to a lot of different clubs
and got a lot of different influences, which is so fasantastic.
But was there one club or two clubs in Chicago
that really like this is what shaped me. This was

the or this is just a moment that I'm so
happy I was there for.

Speaker 3 (13:10):
I think.

Speaker 2 (13:11):
So, if we want to go back to the beginning,
my parents were music lovers, and so I got my
first musical education from their record collection. They used to
have basement parties and my parents loved to party, and
I think I inherited that gene from them. So my
musical education first started with a lot of music from
the seventies, the OJ's Donna Summer.

Speaker 4 (13:33):
My mother had OJ's and four Tops tapes too, honey,
So yes, me too.

Speaker 2 (13:39):
So every Friday night was family night, and we would
get pizza and dance together and play music together. And
you know, my mother said, when I was a baby,
whenever we would come in the house, she said, the
first thing that I would want to do is I
want to play records. I want to play records. So
I literally think that, and I say this with all humility,
that I was born to do this. Clearly, this was

my purpose in life. And so that was the beginning
of my musical education. And as Chicago being the birthplace
of house music, a lot of early house music parties
were done in high school auditoriums, Catholic high school auditoriums.
And I went to a Catholic high school, and so
we used to have they used to have a lot
of parties in the gymnasium. And that's where I first
heard disco records. And because house music is really Frankie

says this, you know, house music is disco's revenge because
there was a there was a backlash against disco. I
don't know if you know about the Chomiskey Park and yeah, so.

Speaker 1 (14:37):
If any people who don't know, we should tell people
who don't know. Do you want to tell them?

Speaker 3 (14:40):

Speaker 2 (14:41):
So there was in Chicago. There was a disc jockey
called Steve gall and what was happening. Disco was becoming
very commercial.

Speaker 1 (14:48):
It's very commercial. It was super mainstream. It was Maine,
it was yeah.

Speaker 2 (14:51):
Yeah, So during a baseball game Komiski Park, he did
a disco demolition and where he had fans bring in
that disco records and blow up their disco records. But
the thing that most people don't know about the mainstream
or let's just put it, white people didn't realize they
weren't grabbing disco records. They were grabbing r and B records,
anything that had to do with black music. They related

to disco, and as you know, Chicago is an extremely
racist town, and so basically this was a form of
racism and homophobia. And so there was this big disco
demolition and then then it turned into this big vandalism
and everything, and so there was this big backlash and
so then disco became uncool and unpopular, and then all
of a sudden, over night it was out.

Speaker 3 (15:33):
But it never was.

Speaker 2 (15:34):
Out with black people, and it was never out with
black queer people, and it just went underground and then
it resurfaced. And this was late seventies and then the
early eighties, technologies synthesized of drum machines became accessible and
that's where the bridge happened, and house music was born
from disco into this early synthpop and early drum machines.

Speaker 3 (15:54):
And all of that.

Speaker 2 (15:55):
And so I just happened to be born at a
time and place at the beginning of a subculture and
a cultural movement that we now know is house music
that went on to change the world. But it was
predominantly played in black and Latin gay clubs.

Speaker 4 (16:08):
Can we just pause there, just or a second because
when I was thinking about this earlier, I thought about
when Renaissance came out last year and how a lot
of Beyonce's fans, who like are hip hop heads and
or a lot of her black fans, were like, this
dance music is white, this dance music is gay, right,
and not understanding that this music is black music, right.

So what I think has been so beautiful about this
Renaissance moment is that I think people have become educated
to know and understand that dance music has always been
black music, and honestly, any pop music in the world
all comes from black music.

Speaker 3 (16:46):
Let's get it correct, Henny.

Speaker 2 (16:47):
If it's not classical from Europe, it's anything American based
comes from black music.

Speaker 4 (16:53):
Absolutely absolutely, So like history repeats right, the homophobia and
racism that had you know, SCO sucks, burn these records.
What's happening as Beyonce, this like huge, you know, global
black artist comes out with a tribute to dance music
and to queer culture, and people are kind of having

a similar reaction.

Speaker 2 (17:16):
This is also a part of my work because you know,
I mean, this is a whole other podcast, but I
often talk about how house music has been colonized and corporatized,
and how it's been so far removed from the people
that have created it that black people don't even know
the house music is black music.

Speaker 1 (17:34):
Now and that's that's a shame.

Speaker 2 (17:37):
Yeah, So I always that's why I constantly talk about
the roots of this culture, the roots of this music.
It's black cord music. It came from black core culture.
It was spaces for black people to celebrate themselves. And
also what I also talk about is house music was
born at the same time as the AIDS epidemic happened.

Speaker 3 (17:54):
So house music.

Speaker 2 (17:55):
So there's a lot of intersectionality with AIDS, with gayness,
with blackness, and having safe spaces for people to get
educated about medical care, for them to find love, for
them to feel free to be less tigmatized. So for me,
it's very very important to keep this conversation going otherwise

it's going to be lost. So getting back to thank you, Yeah,
So getting back to that, my early roots of this
music stems from the fact that I was exposed to
this culture very early.

Speaker 3 (18:28):
And back in Chicago.

Speaker 2 (18:29):
You did your homework because there were so many talent
and DJs that we had to know the source of
the music that we were playing. So not only did
I get an education in music, but I also got
an education and the culture and the people who birth
this multi billion dollar industry that we now call dance music.

Speaker 1 (18:45):
Yeah, that's I love. I love that.

Speaker 4 (18:48):
You just reminded me of Andrelian Tell And he's like,
I did my homework. I knew, I knew this reference,
I knew where this came from. And it's so and
I love too. You know you've talked about publicly when
Beyonce's team pasch you to produce some tracks for her,
that you sent her things to read, and you sent
her Paris is Great so she could understand the history

and the culture that she was delving into. Yeah, she
embarked on this. Do you want to talk a little
bit about that?

Speaker 2 (19:16):
Well, I mean, I was very humbled when her team
approached me. They said they wanted to go to the
source of Chicago house music. And I was very humbled
because the source for me where people like Frankie Knuckles
and Ron Hardy and Derek Carter. So the fact that
I was considered among those people was very humbling for me.

Speaker 4 (19:32):
But I think that's could you stay true to yourself,
That's could you stay true to you, yeah right, Like.

Speaker 3 (19:37):
I always love this quote, you might as well be
yourself because everybody else is taken.

Speaker 1 (19:42):

Speaker 2 (19:42):
So but what I wanted to do is because you
know how the children are, honey, if you don't come correct,
they're going to come for you. And she has such
a huge, huge gay following, black gay following trans following
that I really wanted her to get it correct. And
she did such an amazing job of dissecting and digesting

and understanding what she was getting into. And I have
so much respect and admiration for the fact that she
did her homework.

Speaker 3 (20:12):
And it comes through in the music.

Speaker 2 (20:14):
But I sent her dissertations on Parison's burning and records
that were played in the clubs in New York, and
records that were played and the clubs in Chicago, because
unless you were there, you would not know. And so
I think that was what I wanted her to understand,
because there would have been no way for her to
connect the dots unless she had the source material. So

it was very important for me, like you need to
see this, you need to see County, which doctor, what
they were playing at Websas Hall, doing Runway Sound Factory,
These were the classics of sound Factory, you know, because
I think the form of reference now is the poses
and all of these things, which is really great, but
those are built on legacies that have gone before Paris

is burning. Let's talk about what went before that. So
the Harlem Balls, you know, the Queen. There's a legacy
to our culture that has been erased. And so for me,
let's go before Paris is burning. The girls have been
around for forever. Let's talk about the pin ups and
Ebony and Jet magazine. The girls have been here.

Speaker 3 (21:15):
You know.

Speaker 4 (21:16):
Agita Wilson was a Jet Beauty of the Week and
they did not know that she was transcending at all.
And the body now we kind of can smook the
body a little bit, like yeah, silicone and we can
bat a little bit.

Speaker 1 (21:28):
They didn't know then, Oh girl, they didn't know.

Speaker 2 (21:32):
So there's a legacy of our culture and our music
and that I just really wanted her to understand or
just even come into contact so she could make the
best record that she could be as a love letters
to black music and which encompassed disco and house and gospel.
And I mean, this record for me is not just

a dance record. It just it touches on all the
sort of black music that is body and spiritual music,
church girls.

Speaker 1 (22:01):
You know, that's so much of what you do when
you DJ. Yeah, I got to take a teen c
break here, I'll be fast. Okay, we're back. So you're
in Chicago.

Speaker 4 (22:19):
It's you know, the beginning of house music. Was there
a moment? Was there a song?

Speaker 3 (22:23):
I knew you?

Speaker 4 (22:24):
You've been collecting records since this is Merge his birth.

Speaker 1 (22:29):
Was there a moment in Chicago? What was the club
for you or the space?

Speaker 2 (22:32):
I mean, I would probably have to say when I
was about thirteen or fourteen years old, there was a
skating rink, because I used to have parties and skating rinks,
and I remember, I don't remember the song, but I
remember dancing and getting so lost in the music that

I had an out of body experience. I could literally
see myself dancing and it were so transcendental that I
said to myself, this is what I want to do
the rest of my life. And then as I got
older and started going out, I became friends with the
second wave of DJ's in Chicago house music. This is
the early nineties, and this was the Derek Carters and

Mark from Reena's The Green Velvets, and I used to
go to a lot of loft parties and underground parties.
You have to realize at that time, because everyone's like,
how were you going out so young?

Speaker 3 (23:25):
Well, first of all, there were juice.

Speaker 2 (23:27):
Bars, and second of all, black spaces were not policed
the way their spaces are now. You know, no one
gave a shit. No one gave a shit what black
gave people we're doing. So, you know, you had clubs
where I could go. There was Honey, There's so many cheeks.
Was the trans club.

Speaker 3 (23:41):
I went to.

Speaker 2 (23:42):
Bistro one and two was an eighteen and over club.
Windy City was a gay white club that had house nights.
Aka's Subterrana was a club that Derek Carter used to
play out. I used to go hear him play. I mean,
there have been so many pivotal moments for me that
it's hard to pinpoint one.

Speaker 4 (24:00):
I just remember, the skating rink sounds powerful when you
when you leave your body.

Speaker 2 (24:06):
Yeah, I've left my body a couple of times and
that was one of them. And I realized that. And
you have to understand, I didn't know that this was
a career choice. This was purely. Everything I have in
my life was purely from a deep love of wanting
to be a part of something and contribute to it.
So for me, those pivotal moments were the skating rinks,

the underground clubs in Chicago.

Speaker 3 (24:32):
That was my community.

Speaker 2 (24:33):
And the thing about it was so multicultural and no
one cared about your gender expression or who you were.
If you were into this music, you were included.

Speaker 1 (24:42):
I love that.

Speaker 4 (24:43):
So let's let's get to New York. Let's get to
New York, and let's get to New York. We met
in New York. We won't say the year in New York, okay,
And so what was the club when you started going
out in New York?

Speaker 1 (24:53):
Do you remember where you went out?

Speaker 3 (24:54):

Speaker 1 (24:54):
My god, exciting for you.

Speaker 2 (24:56):
We had the best schooling in New York from the
clubs there, the best schooling. It was diverse, you know.
We had Eschoolito where the girls went to perform. We
had sound Factory, we had Twilo, we had Saved.

Speaker 3 (25:09):
There was so much to you those clubs.

Speaker 4 (25:12):
When I cause, I think if I was thinking about that,
I was. I was watching interview of yours and you
were talking about your favorite disco song ever, which is
Doctor Love. Yes, and then it made me think about
first Choice and let no Man Put Asunder and that Yes,
that is my that's my ship. And there was a remix,
there was a remake Don't You Want Them All? Yeah,

don't you don't Let's.

Speaker 2 (25:34):
Go, Let's go by fast Daddy, don't don't you Let's go,
Let's go? Yes, yes, yes, was that was.

Speaker 1 (25:42):
That took me through. That was a moment for me. Yeah.
I think at Webster Hall like that was.

Speaker 4 (25:48):
So I was just thinking about like the musical influences
in house and like I would love to kind of
go back to some of those influences.

Speaker 1 (25:55):

Speaker 2 (25:55):
So the person that was my entree into New York
was Johnson, Yes, yes, yes, Gant Johnson was the friend
of a roommate of Derek Carter and I was moving
and he's sort of like, oh, you should stay with
me when you come to New York. And at that
time he was djaying. He was one of the big

East Village DJs. You know, at that time there was
the worst village in the East Villagion.

Speaker 4 (26:19):
So oh yes, and I was then East Village girl.
I was the East Villish girl when I first moved.

Speaker 2 (26:22):
I got I was in East Village, Queen too, so
when I got to New York, he sort of introduced
me in. And like you said, I was a club
dancer before and so Lady Bunny saw me dancing, and
then I became a week stock dancer and that's how
I met everyone.

Speaker 3 (26:38):
And I think the.

Speaker 2 (26:39):
Club that really turned me out in New York was Twiloh.

Speaker 1 (26:45):
Yes, I forget the years of Twilo.

Speaker 4 (26:47):
I went to Twilo back in the day and I
believe Nannylia was the resident DJ.

Speaker 1 (26:54):
Yeah, Oh my god. Wow, what a what a moment.

Speaker 3 (26:57):
What a moment.

Speaker 4 (26:59):
Yes, grow Twilo. I forget what part of town was
that in Chelsea Twilo.

Speaker 2 (27:05):
The original spot for Twiler was Sound Factory five three
one was twenty seventh Street, twenty seventh between tenth and eleventh.

Speaker 4 (27:14):
Wow, that was just And I know Danny was a
major influence for you as DJ to be right to
say he was a mentor of sorts.

Speaker 2 (27:26):
Yes, Derek Carter and Danny Tinegilie are my biggest mentors
and influences as of how I expressed my craft.

Speaker 4 (27:33):
Let's talk about Twilight with Twilo. What was how would
you describe the vibe because the kids want to know.
How would you describe the energy and the vibe at
Twilo at that time? And I think I'm thinking early
nineties was Twiler, maybe mid nineties it.

Speaker 3 (27:49):
Was mid nineties to two thousand.

Speaker 2 (27:52):
Twilo was the epitome of a legacy of historic clubs
in New York City. If we start from David Mancuso's
the Loft, Lackysiano, the Gallery, Larry Levan, the Paradise Garage,
Junior Basquez, the Sound Factory, then it goes to Twilo.

Frankie Knuckles was the original resident DJs before Danny. It
was like going into another world and one of the
things that I loved about that time.

Speaker 1 (28:22):
So I actually I would love to an accent. You
just gave us like this major history right now, like
you really did, and I kind of want to slow
it down. Can you can you talk about the thread
from the Loft to Paradise Garage to what would you
say is that link between all those clubs and that tradition.

Speaker 3 (28:39):
It's church, It's a tempo god. You know.

Speaker 2 (28:45):
Clubs for me are places of worship, celebration, sexual expression,
music release. It removes and strips all hierarchies of society.
It does matter your religion, your socioeconomic status, your gender.
Expression is the one place where you can go and

truly be who you are. And music is the backbone
of humanity, of universal energy, of love, of expression. And
I think when you think about these temples in New
York City, it was the mecca. You know, these clubs,
those were the blueprints to what we know as clubbing today.
Ministry of Sound in London was based on Sound Factory.

Some of the biggest clubs in the world are based
on the templates and the roots of club culture in
New York City.

Speaker 1 (29:37):
Amen. Amen, And I think it's for me it's important
to note.

Speaker 4 (29:41):
And in an interview I saw of yours, you talked
about how everyone partied together yea.

Speaker 1 (29:47):
In the nineties.

Speaker 4 (29:48):
This is what I loved about going out in the
nineties is that everybody party together, like and literally like
you know, either were moments when Leonardo DiCaprio was like
two feet away or lea As everybody was just together.
You know, we were all in the same section and
it was just everybody was dancing and partying together.

Speaker 1 (30:06):
It wasn't this gay, straight hierarchy.

Speaker 4 (30:09):
Bottle service whatever thing, and that was so magical, and
I just that's what That's one of the things I
loved about nightlife in New York is that you could
go out and it was it felt.

Speaker 1 (30:21):
I mean, I don't know.

Speaker 4 (30:23):
How democratized it was, because you couldn't get in if
you didn't have a look in certain places, or you
had to sell.

Speaker 3 (30:30):
Can I just back up my moment? Can I just think?

Speaker 1 (30:32):

Speaker 2 (30:33):
This is what I tell people all the time, because
people say to me, like I said, girl, you could
not get in the club unless you had a look,
or you had a fierce repartee or like or you
just had to have something. You had to contribute to
the party instead of just buying a ticket, and you
could afford to be in the party. It didn't matter

how much money you made. That came later with gentrification
and Juliani and bottles in the meatpacking district and all
that crap. But before that, honey, you had to contribute
to be invited into the party.

Speaker 4 (31:08):
The first time I came to New York, and I
was at Indiana University and I came to audition for
a dancy to Harlem actually, and I was staying up
in Bronxville, and then I went down to the club
and I had my look that I'd gotten from the
Salvation Army. I was in my leperprint faith and I
went to Limelight and they were and the people I
was staying with they were like, people don't get into Limelight.
I was just like, well, let's see what happens.

Speaker 1 (31:28):
Girl. I walked right up.

Speaker 4 (31:30):
They looked me up and down and opened the velvet
ropes and I went right in.

Speaker 3 (31:34):
Girl. Yeah, it was.

Speaker 4 (31:36):
It was amazing, especially coming from being bullied and being
an outcast and being like but that's.

Speaker 2 (31:42):
What New York was, you know. New York was a
place for misfits. And so you know, it's so funny
because you know people when you say, oh, I'm and
I coming up this, I'm like, girl, back in New York,
you had to have something to contribute for kids to
see you. And I still live by that, like that's
very important to me to contribute instead of just consume.

Speaker 1 (32:03):

Speaker 4 (32:05):
So there's you dancing, you know, being a dancer. There's
you buying records and collecting records, and then I remember
all of a sudden, you were DJing and people were like, oh,
she's turning it, you know, like that was the talk,
you know when oh Honey's DJing, now, oh she's fears,
Oh she's getting the party.

Speaker 1 (32:21):
Start, you know what I mean. So how did that
transition happen to DJing?

Speaker 2 (32:28):
Well, so it was born out of necessity not hearing
music the way I wanted to hear it express And
you know, I'll give you a great example. In New York,
there was all this separation in music. You went to
Shelter if you wanted to hear more soulful things. You
went to Twilight to hear more tribal stuff. You went
to Kefa con Relationship for more tribal house, you went

to this Save the Robots for more techno. And we
didn't have this separate genres and clubs.

Speaker 3 (32:56):
In Chicago. It all went together.

Speaker 2 (32:58):
So I thought, I have all these workers, why did
I play the way I heard it in Chicago? And
you know, it was great that I got to go
to all these different environments, but I thought, why not
just do it the way I had experienced it? So
I just started DJing in that way. And I started
at a little club on Elder Street called Bob and
made no money. I basically dj for drinks and my

friends had. My friend Ted Patterson came and heard me play,
and he asked me to come dj his birthday party,
which was held at King.

Speaker 3 (33:29):
I don't know if you remember King.

Speaker 1 (33:30):
I remember King, Yes.

Speaker 2 (33:36):
So I DJ'ed at King and they thought I was
really great. And it went from once every other month
to once a month to once every two weeks to
having a residency.

Speaker 3 (33:46):
And that was the beginning of me DJing in New York.

Speaker 4 (33:49):
I love that and I feel like immediately, I don't
know how it was just from the outside, just the
talk there was there was. I just remember Rumlings, Honey's DJing,
Honey's turning it, and I just remember I, you know,
I love hearing Kevin Beyonce's album because you know I
worked with Kevin.

Speaker 3 (34:05):
Yes, yes, I remember her answer.

Speaker 4 (34:07):
I was the second country I was after this language, Honey,
you need to just look it up because we just
need to talk the way we need to talk to
the audience out there, right. I was the second country
after Naomi Kause she retired and Kevin had auditions and
I auditioned and I and so it was actually I
was working with Kevin when his first album, Box of
chocolates came out, and I just remember Kevin. He was

kind of being shady about another person who had just
started djaying, but was saying they should do it, like, honey,
keep it one hundred.

Speaker 2 (34:37):
The girls do not play when it comes to the beats.
If you are not, I always say, honey. The best
lesson that I ever got DJing is when Danny Kribvett
asked me to DJ in the basement of seven eight Sessions,
and I say, you are not a DJ until you
have DJ to a room of black coins standing there
with their arms folded looking at you, and said, I'm
waiting for you to turn them out. And those girls
are unforgiving. So one of the things that I said,

you are not a DJ. And so you've played to
the children in New York because if you do not turn.

Speaker 3 (35:03):
Them, you're out work, You're out.

Speaker 2 (35:06):
They don't give you a second chance, Like oh, I'm
like what, No, the girls don't play. New York is
a great schooling And it's really true. If you can
make it in New York, you can make it anywhere
because the kids, and it's not about shit. They love
the culture and the music so much and they respect it.
You can't play with their time and you can't play
with their ears, so you have to bring it.

Speaker 3 (35:26):
And it's the best schooling I ever.

Speaker 1 (35:27):
Got, absolutely can we.

Speaker 4 (35:30):
One of the things I love about you is your
your relationship specifically to artists like Grace Jones, Basquach and
the relationship between art, fashion and music and avant garde.

Speaker 1 (35:43):
And I love that. I mean, you have a fashion
line that when we look at your line, if I
don't know if their prints from Herring and Basque Yacht
are disinspired by.

Speaker 2 (35:55):
Oh no, Darling, it's the source I work with the foundations,
it's the actual artists work that I reinterpret through clothing. So, honey,
fucking Degion is the clothing line that I have with
come to Garsona, and basically I used clothing to communicate
culture and self culture, core culture, Black culture, and artists
and music and the intersectionality between art, music and culture

because night clubs were those incubators of all of those things.

Speaker 3 (36:20):
That I love.

Speaker 2 (36:21):
So for me, I try to keep these conversations as AGREEO.
If you don't know what agrio is, it's Black vernacular
and it's basically a guio is an African storyteller. So basically,
I'm a storyteller. I've anointed myself an ambassador of black
queer art.

Speaker 1 (36:39):
I love it.

Speaker 4 (36:40):
What is so beautiful about that, too, is that in
the nineties, specifically in the club scene, it was about
the music, but it was about the look.

Speaker 1 (36:47):
It was about the fashion everything.

Speaker 4 (36:49):
And the kids were bringing looks, they were designing their
own things and mood Laire and Goutia, so artists were
there to absorb and to get ideas right about fashion.
So I love that you are now designing fashion, but
with this reverence for art and this connection. So you've

been DJing fashion shows, creating playlists for fashion shows for
many years. Is that how the connection to come to
Garson happened.

Speaker 2 (37:19):
The connection to come Toda Garson happened when I dj
the met Gala after party for the Punk Exhibition at
twenty seventeen, and I met Adrian Jeoffy there and I
approached him because I'm a firm believer and no one's
going to choose you. You have to choose yourself, and
when you operate from a place of power, I just

ask for what I want. Sometimes people think it's this
grand thing. It's like, hey, listen, I have this idea
about doing the line that males music, queshion and art
and subculture and core culture. And I talked to him
about it and he's like, oh, let's have a minting
about it. He came to Berlin. I showed him what
I was thinking about doing, and he was into it.
And that's how it started. We're now four years almost

this year be four years actual work October twenty three.
It started in October twenty nineteen, and I have been
able to work with artists that I love and admire.
And the next step now is to talk more about
trans culture and trans artists and connect those dots because
quiet as it's kept, the body that is being celebrated

in culture now is a transsex worker body. The vernacular
that we use comes from trans culture and a black
gay vernacular.

Speaker 1 (38:29):
That came up actually that topic.

Speaker 4 (38:31):
I think it was Young Miami has a lyric, some
rapper has a lyric I want to look pretty like
the transgenders. And this YouTube named Arman Wiggins had a conversation.
He was like, the trans aesthetic is like for certain
influencers has become a thing, and it was very controversial.
People called it and an they weren't having it. And
I think the way to frame it is like the
surgery aesthetic. And I think specifically the way I would

have framed it is to talk about I mean, I
think it's the BBL culture, right, trans girls. Trans girls
since the nineteen sixties had been using loose silicone to
inject into their hips and breast to give them curves, right,
and when SIS women are injecting in loose silicone, now,
this is something that trans women have been doing since
the nineteen sixties, so that with that historical perspective, we

can have that conversation.

Speaker 3 (39:19):
Right. Well, I mean, for me, this is how I
like to frame it.

Speaker 2 (39:23):
Yes, yes, trans women have done these silicone interventions to
feminize their bodies, but you know, SIS women have done
surgery to feminize their bodies too, absolutely. But what happened
is that stripper culture became mainstream and the girls, the
strippers started to you know, because trans sex workers had

to be hyperfeminized for clients, you had to almost become
a cartoon of femininity. And so then the strip culture
started to see what the trans girls were doing.

Speaker 4 (39:56):
They would go, specifically in Atlanta, the clubs where the.

Speaker 1 (40:01):
Trans girls are working are like, how are you getting
this body? And then the strippers started going to the
same people who were doing the bodies of the trans girls.

Speaker 3 (40:09):
Exactly. That's the tea. That's the tea.

Speaker 2 (40:12):
So you know, let's really get to why and where
it came from. And yet again, it's I find it
so ironic that there's so much violence against trans women
when we're actually setting a lot of beauty standards and culture.

Speaker 1 (40:26):

Speaker 4 (40:27):
Yeah, okay, it's that time again.

Speaker 1 (40:30):
We'll be right back. We are back.

Speaker 4 (40:40):
There's this moment you said, the past, present, and future
exist on the same plane. They are here for you
to take. Yes, do you remember you said that in
an interview.

Speaker 3 (40:51):
I love that.

Speaker 4 (40:52):
It's like you're the quantum theory kind of kind of
situation and I live for that.

Speaker 3 (40:56):

Speaker 1 (40:57):
Yeah, it's physics.

Speaker 4 (40:58):
But what's great about that you and the work that
you do is that they're all the influences that you have.
And you talk about yourself as sort of a jazz musician,
that you don't plan your sets and that you let
what kind of drops in from the universe, and when
you are in tune with the universe, then there's a
different sphere, a quantum sphere that you can operate on.

Is that kind of what you're talking about or means.

Speaker 2 (41:24):
Yes, yes, yes, So you know, I really think this
constant newness is really just capitalism. You know, we're constantly
having to be sold the emperor's new clothes even though
nothing new exists. It's just how you reframe everything. And
so in physics, there is no past, present of future.
There's just now. And if we're talking about something from

the past, it's still present because we're talking about it now.
And I just feel just because something existed before, if
there is something we haven't explored in a critical theory way,
why not bring that back? Why not reintroduce that. We
don't throw something away just because it's not in vogue,
you know. And a lot of my work is based

on all the people that have died from AIDS. There's
so much that was lost two generations of the most
highly creative people and the audience that appreciated that art.
And so for me, I look at that time, it's like,
what did we miss? What didn't we see? Because I
also love this quote in physics, just because we don't
see it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. So for me,

that's A lot of my work is based on and
when I DJ it's I'm not there. It's literally I'm
a vessel for the universe to express itself. And I
just feel that way in every creative area, and everything.

Speaker 3 (42:43):
Is here for the taking.

Speaker 2 (42:44):
You know, we all are on borrowed time, and everything
that is in this planet, regardless if it was two
thousand years ago or twenty minutes from now, is for
us to borrow, digest, appreciate change. I just look at
life in the very different way in that respect.

Speaker 4 (43:02):
I love that I remember we I think with when
Pyramid closed, you did a post on Instagram and I
think I DMed you about it and it was like
it was one of those like when CBGB's closed, it's
like damn, you know, it was one of those like
New York is just done.

Speaker 1 (43:17):
Yeah, No, I mean, things change.

Speaker 4 (43:19):
And I love that you always talk about like let's
not get stuck in the past, like let's be because
there's lovely things about being who we are right now
that this was not possible twenty thirty years ago.

Speaker 1 (43:29):
So it's wonderful to be us now.

Speaker 4 (43:31):
But that New York of yesteryear, of this creativity, of
this art of all these different cultures and people meshing
together in clubs, in nightclubs and in art galleries, and
those things mean something to people. That meant something to me,
And I think that, like, there were so many moments
that you've created on the dance.

Speaker 1 (43:52):
Floor for people that they take with them, that they remember.

Speaker 4 (43:55):
I've had those moments with you as a DJ, and
those it becomes sacred, you know, and it's how you
live your life in a way.

Speaker 2 (44:07):
I don't look at the past in an nostalgic way.
I look in the past in a critical way. What
can I learn from that time? What can I learn
from those teachers, those mentors, those shamans, that energy, you know,
So when you talked earlier about when I started DJing,
there's an energy shift. That's what I consider myself a
vibe shifter. But also I'm channeling all of the ancestors

that have gone before me, and all of the teachers
and the mentors from fashion and art and music. We're
here to share this life experience together and to learn
from each other and to grow and expand. So I
can learn something from the highest artists in the world,
just as much as I can learn from a sex
worker from Albuquerque. I don't have this hierarchy when it

comes to art. Who can all learn from each other
and share?

Speaker 1 (44:52):
Yeah, yeah, I want to talk about because in an
interview you talked about when you discovered Grace Jones and
how it this moment for you. You had never really
seen this black avant garde artist before.

Speaker 4 (45:06):
And I know that you met Grace Jones twicehop.

Speaker 1 (45:10):
Yes, when she's getting your haircut in the middle of that.

Speaker 4 (45:12):
Can you tell us about that meeting with Grace Jones
because she's such a huge influence for you.

Speaker 2 (45:17):
Well, it was the middle of the night and my
friend was like, you should come to the barbershop right
now because his partner at the time was cutting Grace's hair.
And I was literally in bed and I was like
why it is like, trust me, come now. I get
there and Grace's in the chair getting her haircut and
I had to come to Jesus moment. I literally was like,

it was so surreal that I got this close to
the source of everything for me.

Speaker 3 (45:46):
And she was just maybe because she was amongst friends,
but there was no guard.

Speaker 2 (45:51):
She was just really funny and really relaxed and really cool,
and it was just I mean, I'm getting goosebumps and
almost wanting to tear up right now because she means
that much to me. But it was just really amazing
because everything that I've had a deep love for, I've
come into contact with and I've been able to manifest.

Speaker 3 (46:10):
Being in the room or around.

Speaker 2 (46:13):
Or being able to participate and things that I genuinely
have this deep spiritual connection to, and so meeting her
was just unreal. And then the second time I met
her is when she performed at the Hammer steam Ballroom
and I got to go backstage and it was just
a mind blowing and curating this lineup during her takeover
at south Bank Center in London, her Grace Jones mountdown

was another thing. And you know that's why when I
went to the Grammys and I saw you, I was
wearing custom Alaya because that was a tribute for me
for Grace, because she's literally changed my life in what
a black artist could be and for me, she was
the first non binary.

Speaker 3 (46:55):
Blacker than black.

Speaker 2 (46:56):
You know, she's not a traditionally beautiful, well what society considered.
I think she's one of the most beautiful women on
the planet, but she doesn't fit in you know, at
that time it was and this is with all due respect,
because it's another way. You know, she wasn't a dian
Or Ross. It wasn't gowns and beads and makeup and
wigs and hair. It wasn't that. You know, she had
a military cut with squared shoulders, blue black. It was asymmetrical,

it was masculine. It was like an alien and for me,
getting close to this sort of universal truth where we're
stripped away of all the colonized ways of thinking about everything.

Speaker 1 (47:32):
And she never had a problem with that.

Speaker 4 (47:35):
She always seemed to understand that she was amazing. And
I think I think I think about that, and when
I think about am I think it's because she didn't
grow up in the United States, so she wasn't colonized
in the same way that Americans are to think less
of ourselves if we don't fit some standard. She knew
that she was queen, Yes, and that is just I mean,

I'm obsessed with Grace Jones. I know Nightclubbing is like
a huge song for you from well I guess that's
the name of the album Nightclubbing.

Speaker 3 (48:07):
Yeah, it blew my mind.

Speaker 2 (48:09):
And this is what I mean, because you know, I
had the traditional R and B jazz up bringing with
my family. But when I got that album and that
album cover, the blazer was Armani. So you see how
all of the intersectionality with fashion performance are music. She
embodied all of those things to me and gave me,
as you like to say, role possibilities.

Speaker 1 (48:32):
Yeah, I love that. I love that. I could talk
to you forever.

Speaker 4 (48:36):
Before my last question, what do you want to say
about yourself as an artist, about the world, about house music.
What's on your heart that you want to say? As
we wrap up?

Speaker 2 (48:47):
I think what is on my heart or what is
in my heart when I catch feelings with myself is
that I always remember when I was struggling in New York,
all I wanted to do was to create. I wanted
to wake up every day and create and always have
these four things that I used to say met may

participate and create, And I always just wanted to participate
in these spaces that I didn't see myself. You know
where did we see ourselves growing up Laverne. We didn't
see ourselves anywhere. All I thought I could do as
a trans black woman was live at night work in nightclubs.
You know where were we in fashion? Where were we

in film art directors or creative directors or.

Speaker 3 (49:33):
Owning the narrative?

Speaker 2 (49:34):
All of our stories have been told through the eyes
of someone else, giving us permission to exist. And for me,
I want to be the author of these stories, you know,
I want to own my story. I don't need someone
else to validate me because I can validate myself. And
when I stopped looking outside of myself for permission to be,
that's when I started to flourish.

Speaker 3 (49:54):
So if there's.

Speaker 2 (49:55):
Anything that I can leave behind is to know that
you don't need anyone else's permission to exist.

Speaker 1 (50:04):
Work. Well, that's a great way to end.

Speaker 4 (50:09):
But I'd like to end the podcast with the question
what else is true? And this comes from my trauma
resilient somatic therapy. When things are rough in the world
and we're struggling, that is true, But there's always something
else that's true that can get us through that resilient piece. Yes,
when things are hard, what's the thing that gets you through? So,
honey fucking Dijon for you today, what else is true?

Speaker 3 (50:32):
Oh? What else is true?

Speaker 2 (50:34):
Stop caring where other people think about you, because most
people don't know what they think about themselves.

Speaker 1 (50:39):
Oh that is also true, ye work. I love you, Honey,
thank you.

Speaker 4 (50:47):
There's something about particularly us black trans women who've been
doing it and who've made contributions. It needs to be documented.
We need to be there for each other, supporting each
other on each other. And I hope you felt the
love today, Oh girl, giving we don't talk. I hope

you feel the love and support. I'm proud of you.
I'm so proud of you, Honey.

Speaker 3 (51:12):
And the words of ghosts Dittoh.

Speaker 4 (51:23):
Honey, Dejon, I just love brilliance. What is so beautiful
about Honey's story for me is that there were no spaces,
you know, that existed for a black trans woman to
become an internationally renowned DJ and Grammy Award winning producer.
But she made those spaces, and she made them because

she was and is exceptional. She is so good at
what she does that she can't be denied. And that
is what I aspire to be, so good at what
I do that I can't be denied. And this is
what I hope for you, that you are so good
at what you do that no one can deny you,

no matter where you come from, no matter your circumstances,
that you can transcend, Honey Dejon. Thank you so much

for listening to The Laverne Cox Show. Please rate reviews,
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me on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok at Laverne Cox and
on Facebook at Laverne Cox for Real. Until next time,
stay in the love. The Laverne Cox Show is a
production of Shondaland Audio in partnership with iHeartRadio. For more

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