The mere existence of such amateurs is exasperating enough to the “real” DJs who are losing gigs to them. So when Paper magazine nominated Kirsten Dunst’s ex Matt Creed—whose modus operandi is alternating tracks between two iPods—for the Best DJ category in its annual nightlife awards, the nod irked many. “My DJ friends were all really upset,” says Kallamni, who maintains that his brood, even Richards, veers toward the side of real DJs. “I’m not trying to say [Creed’s] not a great guy, but to sit there and just press buttons—it’s not [being] an actual DJ.”
Actually, Creed doesn’t disagree. “It’s not fair,” he admits, adding with a defensive edge in his voice, “I didn’t ask to be nominated.” On a Friday afternoon the actor and filmmaker is hanging out at downtown bistro the Smile, where he has been working on the budget for his new movie. Two years ago Creed, 26, started DJing at the Beatrice Inn (which has been closed since April due to building-code violations, much to the chagrin of the chic, celeb-heavy set that frequented it); soon the nightclub’s patrons began booking him for corporate events and benefits, occasionally for as much as $4,000. “I do feel guilty when I get paid a lot of money, showing up with two iPods,” he says. “But I love music, and my knowledge of music has gotten me to where I am now.” Creed took up DJing for the same reason many of his creative friends, including Lowman, did: the money. “It paid for one of my first short films, and it’s given me the freedom to have my days to write,” he says.
As more dilettantes turn their hobby into a paycheck (count Madonna’s boy toy Jesus Luz among them—she reportedly footed the bill for his lessons), the recession is increasing the tension between the pros and the dabblers. “You have more DJs fighting for fewer nights,” says Tim Martell, 30, a New York–based professional DJ. “It’s not how good of a musician you are; it’s how much money you can bring to the bar.” Felluss concurs: “There are a lot of guys infinitely better than these people who get paid $5,000 a night.” Nevertheless, Paul Sevigny, co-owner of the Beatrice Inn and a skilled vinyl DJ himself, hired hobbyists—even those of the iPod ilk—for his club, claiming they fit with its intimate atmosphere. “There’s not some guy 15 yards above the crowd, sending down music like the hand of God,” he says. “If there is a pause here or there, a couple seconds between a song, it sounds a little more personal.” But, Sevigny admits with a laugh, “DJs do so little to begin with. To not use records seems, you know…. Maybe you can do a little bit more.”