Read Moby’s account of his biggest DJing disaster that nearly got him killed
The record skipped. Not a gentle “oops” hiccup of a skip, but the sort of skip that involved the needle bouncing loudly across the vinyl and ending up in the dead empty zone at the end of the record.
I had killed Christmas. I had stopped joy dead in its tracks. The crowd booed and Darryl looked at me with dismay and derision. He said, “What the fuck was that?” threw down the mic, and stalked away. The crowd kept booing. I tried to come back by playing I’ll House You, but in a room of five hundred people nobody wanted to dance. The drug dealers were loudly jeering: “Stupid white boy! Fucked up DMC!”
I stood before the crowd, wide eyed and ashamed, and felt my soul disappear through the top of my hairy scalp. Could I hide? Anywhere? The busboy came over, patted my back, and said, “Bro, you fucked up.” I knew. I had fucked up. My life was over. I would get fired, move back to Stamford, and hope that I could return to my old room in the abandoned factory. Or maybe I could put my twin mattress in my mom’s basement and sleep there. At least I had options.
“The drug dealers were loudly jeering: ‘Stupid white boy! Fucked up DMC!’”
I kept DJing, without enthusiasm, and eventually the night ended. I packed up my records and my sampler and trudged upstairs to the office to get paid. [Owner] Yuki had a voracious and legendary temper. He screamed at everyone, even people who didn’t work for him. I had once watched him scream at a potential employee for what seemed like five straight minutes. The poor guy stood there, head bowed, while Yuki yelled at him. And he was just applying for a job.
Yuki was sitting in the office with some friends. He saw me and said, “I heard you had a fuckup with DMC?”
“Yes,” I said sheepishly. “I skipped Pause while he was rhyming.” I braced myself.
Yuki smiled and said, “Ha, maybe DMC was drunk! Maybe it was him!” The tension disappeared. I had caught Yuki on a good night: it seemed to me he was the right combination of drunk and high. Whatever the case, he had not fired me, stabbed me, or even yelled at me. He paid me and I went home.
After I unloaded my records and equipment into my bedroom I found Lee and some of his friends sitting on the futon, smoking pot and listening to a Klark Kent mixtape. I told them what had happened and they were stunned.
“Are you fucking kidding?”
Then one of Lee’s friends asked, “Did you tape quarters to your needles?”
“Quarters?” I asked.
“Yeah, all the hip-hop DJs tape quarters to their needles. It makes them heavy so they never skip. You can use nickels, too, but I like quarters.”
So that was the trick. Tape quarters to your needles and your records won’t skip. I vowed, like Scarlett O’Hara if she had been a stringy-haired DJ instead of an antebellum grande dame, that I would never skip a record again.
It was five thirty am. I’d humiliated myself in front of five hundred people and one of the biggest hip-hop stars in the world, but I still had my job and I’d learned something: tape quarters to my needles. It was time for bed so that this miserable night could come to an end, but first I needed to use the bathroom. I went down the hall to the bathroom, sat on the toilet, and picked up the toilet paper roll.
A huge cockroach fell out of the toilet paper tube and grabbed on to my penis.
“Aaaaah!” I screamed as I started swatting at the cockroach that was stubbornly clinging to my penis. Finally, I knocked it into the toilet and immediately flushed it. My harm-no-animals philosophy fell by the wayside: all I wanted to do was send this giant mutant cockroach very far away from my home and my penis.
I went to bed, still hyperventilating from my genital brush with the giant cockroach. I tried to calm myself down by imagining my obituary in the New York Times:
Local disc jockey Moby, best known for skipping a record while the most legendary MC on the planet was freestyling, died last week. He was crushed by the weight of his own terror and humiliation after a cockroach grabbed on to his penis. He is survived by his mother, his cat Tucker, and a few friends with whom he was known to play Super Mario Bros.