Matt Bailer was at Taint, a party at DC9, a few years ago and he saw Shea Van Horn dancing. Van Horn caught his eye, but not in “that” way.
“He just had this really magnetic way of dancing that made me want to know him,” Bailer says. “I could just tell he was having a lot of fun.”
Bailer, who’s been DJing professionally about five years, guest DJed for Taint at Van Horn’s invitation shortly thereafter. They talked over the summer and made plans to start their own party, having discovered how well their sets complemented each other. That September, they threw their first Mixtape, a party of rotating venues that features “anything you can dance to.” Last month, they had their four-year anniversary party at the Howard. A special “Halloween edition” is set for Wednesday, also at the Howard, starting at 10:30 p.m. ($10 cover). Visit mixtapedc.com for details. The event won Best Men’s Party in this year’s Best of Gay D.C. readers’ poll and typically draws between 800-1,000 music lovers.
Bailer, a Camp Springs, Md., native, DJs full time. He also spins at the weekly Friday Night Kickoff party at Nellie’s and at the ‘90s-themed Peach Pit at DC9 the third Saturday of the month.
After studying theater at Duke in North Carolina in the ‘90s, Bailer went to West Hollywood to pursue a recording career but was soon beset with a crystal meth addiction. After rehab and sobriety meetings that he still attends, Bailer says the key to “reprogramming my brain” was realizing how much better his life has become since those days.
“As time continued to pass, life started getting really good … and the more you kind of realize, ‘Oh well, that’s why I was living in my car before and had no money to my name because I was doing these drugs and now life is really good.’”
But isn’t it tempting spending so much time in gay nightlife circles? Bailer, who DJs full time, says he manages to stay clean because he views his nights out as having a job to do. He doesn’t go out often when he’s not working.
Bailer is single and enjoys music, movies, games and hanging out with friends in his free time. He lives at 14th and T, N.W.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
Since National Coming Out day my freshman year of college which was October, 1994. I’d always told myself that I wouldn’t tell my parents before they were ready to ask, and I wouldn’t lie when they did. It was an adjustment for them, but I was blessed with two amazing parents and a sister who love and support me unconditionally.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Probably Sophie B. Hawkins. Her song “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover” changed the way I listened to music and soon thereafter I started writing and recording my own original songs. Also, I don’t know if I’d call this person my LGBT hero per se, but there used to be a drag queen in Washington named Berlene who inspired the hell out of me in the late 1990s. She has since passed away, but she was the first truly ingenious drag performer I ever saw, pushing all the boundaries and working hard for every dollar she made. She also happened to be a very sweet person.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Well it’s both the truth and shameless self-promotion, but I’ll be having the most fun wherever I’m DJing on any given night, which would be Nellie’s every Friday night, Mixtape on the second Saturday of the month, or Peach Pit at DC9 on the third Saturday of the month.
Describe your dream wedding.
Family, friends, laughter, music, dancing, unicorns, fireworks, Wilson Phillips performing “Hold On” — does there have to be a groom?
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
12-step programs work. Cancer sucks.
What historical outcome would you change?
The premature cancellations of “My So-Called Life” and “Pushing Daisies.”
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
I remember exactly where I was — in line for the bathroom at VelvetNation — when I found out Madeline Kahn had died.
On what do you insist?
Honesty, kindness and a sense of humor.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
I may sound like an old fuddy-duddy, but sometimes I wish they would collect everyone’s phones when they enter the club and give them back as they leave. Trust me, it’ll be way more fun if you stop texting and dance.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
Uhhh, I dunno. “Matt Bailer & The Purple Crayon,” maybe? Purple is my signature color.
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
I would be grateful for having existed before such regressive rubbish was possible. I am so happy to be who I am. I wouldn’t want to change a thing.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I try to live by the Golden Rule, because karma can be a blessing or a bitch. The Serenity Prayer is an incredibly helpful, often self-fulfilling 10 seconds. I believe there’s a power greater than myself out there, which helps me stay humble and grateful and sober. And I know my amazing mother is watching my fabulous life unfold on the big picture screen in heaven and she’s smiling down on me.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Keep on truckin.’ Slow but steady wins the race.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
Peanut butter cream pie. My mom used to make it often after we got the recipe from my outstanding piano teacher Mrs. Lloyd-Potts. Coffee is the most complicated thing I can cook, but even I learned how to make peanut butter cream pie ‘cuz it’s so freakin’ good.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
“Glee” pretty much sums them all up.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Trick.” Runner-up: “Sordid Lives.”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Oh don’t get me started. It actually relates back to my most recent Facebook post mentioned above, but it drives me INSANE how people seem utterly incapable of enjoying a club or a concert or even just a plain old conversation anymore without constantly disengaging to text or take pictures or video or whatever on cell phones.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
I’ve already achieved more happiness than I ever dreamed of. I guess the cherry on top would be someone to share it with, but he hasn’t found me yet and I’m doing fine for now on my own.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
Drugs are bad.
I grew up in Prince George’s County near what is now the southern end of Metro’s Green Line. Washington is home for me. My sister and father both live less than an hour away. And as long as this city continues to grant me the privilege of making a career sharing music with people — something I’ve loved with all my heart since I was 5 years old — I can’t even begin to think about living anywhere else.