Angelo Russo knew something was wrong in March when several days went by without hearing back from his friend and client, legendary producer/DJ/remixer Peter Rauhofer.
“We sometimes talked five or six times a day so when I didn’t hear back from him, yeah, it sent up the red flags,” Russo says. “The only time I didn’t hear from him was if we were fighting and of course we fought. The closer you are, the more you fight with someone. But yeah, back in March, we were fine. I was speaking to him one day, then a couple days went by and eventually we had 911 break into his apartment.”
Russo says Rauhofer, whom he’d met at a music conference in 2000 and had managed since 2006, was “barely conscious” having suffered a seizure. Hospitalized at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York, the prognosis was grim. Rauhofer, who was gay, had a malignant brain tumor that had gone undiagnosed long enough to have grown significantly. Russo (also gay) says doctors said its position on the brain made it inoperable. They tried a round of chemotherapy that was unsuccessful. On April 29, Rauhofer turned 48 in the hospital. He died May 7.
Russo says it may have been a bit of a blessing in disguise. Had the Grammy-winning music legend, who remixed hits for Cher (“Believe”), Madonna (“Nothing Fails,” “4 Minutes” et. al.), Janet Jackson (“Throb”), Britney Spears (“Toxic”) and scores of other artists, responded well to chemo, it may have left him with diminished mental faculties.
“There was a possibility at one point that if it had worked, he may only have had the mental capacity of a 5 year old,” Russo says. “He would have been so unhappy but how can you tell his mom not to try. So they tried but it didn’t work. … When they came back and said there was nothing more they could do, I was hoping he wouldn’t have to lay there and suffer too long. He was not about suffering. He was about being able to be happy and bring joy to people. That’s what his career was all about — parties and music. If he wasn’t able to do that, then I’m happy it didn’t go another route.”
Rauhofer’s mother Helga, who visited from their native Austria for her son’s final days, is executrix of his estate. He will be interred in Austria. A candlelight vigil was held last weekend in Miami. A public memorial is planned for New York Pride next month. Friends in New York are also planning a private memorial service there, where he’d lived since about 1996. Check Rauhofer’s Facebook page for details on public events.
The gay club/music world responded with shock and sadness at Rauhofer’s untimely death.
“I don’t use this term loosely, but he was a musical genius,” says gay DJ/remixer Joe Gauthreaux. “He never got stuck in one sound and stayed there, that’s why his mixes always resonated. He was always doing something different and trying to grow. He never did the same remix twice. He was always trying different sounds. There really was nobody like him.”
Gauthreax also says he “was a huge Peter fan, huge.”
“He was one of the remixers that, from a DJ standpoint, I would always be so excited about. It was usually his mix that was quote-unquote the one. So from that standpoint, this is very hard to take just knowing that there’s not going to ever be another Peter Rauhofer mix to come in and save the day.”
Tori Amos, who had a No. 1 Billboard dance hit in February with Rauhofer’s remix of her song “Flavor,” said in a statement that “he truly captured the spirit of the song” and that she’ll “always hold a very special place in my heart for Peter.”
Local gay nightclub impresario Ed Bailey, who hosted Rauhofer twice at Velvet Nation in the early ‘00s, says Rauhofer’s work epitomized the era.
“His music, his production and his remixes, were kind of not exclusively but almost like the overwhelming soundtrack of the big clubs and circuit parties for the whole decade from about 2000 to 2010,” Bailey says. “He’s widely revered as that amazing one of all the amazing people who helped shape an entire kind of era in club land that for most people, they feel it was one of the best eras ever. We were very proud to be able to have him at Nation and I remember just being mesmerized by his set.”
Gay DJ Hector Fonseca met Rauhofer in 1998, joined Star 69 in 2001 and worked with Rauhofer for eight years releasing about 20 remixes and three albums. Fonseca, traveling this week in Europe, says by e-mail he and Rauhofer developed a strong working relationship and friendship.
“Besides his strong work ethic and extreme attention to detail, what made him stand out was that he was always pushing the sound in the gay scene with elements from the European trance and electro scene,” Fonseca says. “Very few, if any, were doing that and still to this day, it’s quite unique.”
Fonseca says Rauhofer will be “remembered as a visionary from a great era in New York City.”
“We were really the epicenter of house,” he says. “Now most cutting edge stuff is coming from Amsterdam, but if you take a closer look into that music, you can hear the influence from DJs of that time here in New York and Peter was a big part of that. The Twilo and Roxy days when you really had to push the sound to stand out. He will be missed by many but remembered through his music.”
During a lengthy phone interview this week, Russo, who started as an intern at Rauhofer’s Star 69 label in 2001, shares several memories of their years working together.
Russo says Rauhofer:
- had been in apparently good health prior to the March seizure. He says he doesn’t know of Rauhofer ignoring any warning signs earlier though he admits Rauhofer was usually “not one to go to the doctor.” “He hadn’t complained of headaches or anything,” Russo says. “This kind of blindsided me.”
- was in and out of consciousness in his final days. He was able to squeeze hands of those by his bedside at times. “We don’t know how much he heard, but we gave him an earful.” And although sad, Russo says it was a joy to share with Rauhofer’s mother details of his life in New York, of which she’d previously known little.
- was a workaholic who “would obsess over his mixes” and would often stay up working all night to finish them.
- loved to collect toy metal robots and Gucci jewelry.
- kept his Grammy for Cher’s “Believe” in his Star 69 office until it closed in the summer of 2010 after which he kept it on a shelf in the living room of his 42nd Street apartment in Manhattan.
- dated at various times and had some semi-long term boyfriends, but made it clear work came first for him. “A lot of people just don’t have the patience for that,” Russo says. Rauhofer had not been dating in recent months, Russo says.
- Had met many of the artists whose hits he remixed. Although most of the remixing work was done without the artist, Russo remembers Rauhofer meeting Madonna, for instance, on multiple occasions. He says Rauhofer wasn’t especially star struck in general though he had an obsession with Grace Jones and “always wanted to work with her but never got the chance.” “If she had walked in the room, he might have gasped,” Russo says.
Rumors that Rauhofer could be tough — Bailey says, “I don’t think it’s a secret in the industry that he had a reputation for being difficult to work with” — were mostly a matter of Rauhofer’s being, “never a diva, but a perfectionist,” as Russo puts it.
“There were tiny spats about things,” Russo says. “He hated it when some A&R (artist and repertoire) person would be bugging for a mix, say they just wanted to sample it to see where he was going with it, then they’d start promoting his unfinished mixes, he hated that. But most of the time, believe it or not, he was pretty easygoing. When you pushed him, yeah, he would let you have it. … He would scream when he felt like he’d been wronged, but he’d worked really hard for what he achieved and he expected to be respected for that.”
Bailey says although Rauhofer excelled at mixing, spinning and producing, it’s his DJ sets for which he’ll most be remembered among the general public.
“It’s inevitable that the mixes will sound dated over time but the memories people experienced of him spinning live will live on,” Bailey says. “They’ll never be tarnished because they’re not something you can listen to over and over.”
Russo says Rauhofer’s ability to transcend genres is an important part of understanding his legacy.
“His whole idea about music, whether it was one remix or a whole DJ set, was that it should be a journey,” he says. “Toward the end of the ‘90s, I think it started to be very segregated in a way. You had this mix for the straight crowd, and this mix for the circuit crowd but there was no style he couldn’t do. He could remix for any audience. I like to reference this latest thing he just did for Tori. There were three different mixes and another that wasn’t released and you could really listen to them all back to back because they were so different. He was able to do it all.”
Scott Robbe dies at 66
Veteran AIDS, queer and progressive activist was born in Wis.
Veteran progressive activist and TV-film-stage producer Scott Robbe died on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, according to a statement by Paul Algiers, a longtime friend and the executor of Scott Robbe’s estate. Robbe was in hospice care at the home of his sister, Angela, in Hartford, Wis. He was 66.
Robbe died of complications from Myelodysplastic Anemia, a blood cancer he had battled for more than a year. He had undergone stem-cell treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston in April of this year.
Robbe was a prominent member in the founding of two direct-action groups in New York City: ACT UP and Queer Nation. Robbe was a member of an ACT UP undercover team, led by activist Peter Staley, that secretly gained access to the New York Stock Exchange in September 1989. Their goal was to protest and publicize the record high price of AZT, then the sole approved treatment for HIV/AIDS. Burroughs Wellcome eventually bowed to this nationally publicized activist pressure and lowered its drug price — then the highest in medical history — by 20 percent.
“Scott was a fearless activist, always on the front lines, whether he was protesting pharmaceutical company greed or homophobia at the Oscars,” said ACT UP New York veteran Ann Northrop. “And he was a total sweetheart.”
“Scott was one of those activists who didn’t flinch when our lawyers would warn us of all the possible charges and maximum sentences we’d face for infiltrating a powerful institution,” said Peter Staley, who chronicled his ACT UP days in the new memoir, “Never Silent”. “When it came to fighting for his dying gay brothers, he’d always reply, ‘I’m in.’”
In 1991, Robbe relocated to the West Coast and co-founded Out in Film, a Los Angeles-based group to battle homophobia in Hollywood filmmaking. At the time, several high-grossing films offered stereotypic and unflattering depictions of gay characters, including Jonathan Demme’s “Silence of the Lambs”, Oliver Stone’s “JFK” and Paul Verhoeven’s “Basic Instinct”.
Out in Film demanded equity for LGBTQ people on both sides of the camera. Robbe and Lesbian Avengers member Judy Sisneros created a pioneering protest at the Oscar Awards in March 1991, during which demonstrators outside the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion called for increased queer visibility and fairness in career opportunities.
The Oscars protest was one highlight of a life devoted to progressive activism. It began in his teen years, when Robbe took part in 1960s marches for the environment, for civil rights and against the Vietnam War. Over the four decades that followed, Robbe’s career encompassed both community organizing and producing dozens of works in theatre, film and television.
Scott Douglas Robbe was born on Feb. 16, 1955, in Decorah, Iowa, to Helen, a homemaker, and James Robbe, a construction supervisor. The family relocated to Hartford, Wis., the following year. Robbe was a graduate of Hartford Union High School in Hartford, and entered the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1974, where he majored in theater arts. Located in the state capital, the college was known for its progressive student population, and Robbe took part in numerous protests.
After he graduated in 1978, Robbe moved to New York City, where he met his first boyfriend, a Bennington College student. They lived together in the East Village from 1978 to 1984. At the time, Robbe was helping to renovate the Orpheum Theatre on Second Avenue in the East Village. At the same time he produced at the neighboring Entermedia Theatre his first theatrical production, “False Promises” by the San Francisco Mime Troupe. At the famed La MaMa ETC, Robbe workshopped Harvey Fierstein’s “Fugue in a Nursery,” which forms the middle segment of “Torch Song Trilogy.” That production won wide acclaim both there and after it moved to the Orpheum Theater. Robbe also produced several plays off-Broadway, followed by the Harvey Fierstein play “Safe Sex” on Broadway.
Robbe joined ACT UP New York after seeing the group protest at the White House in October 1987 during the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. He joined the group’s Media Committee and took part in numerous protests. He also joined the newly-formed Queer Nation in March of 1990, helping to mount demonstrations across New York City aimed at queer visibility. Robbe was diagnosed as HIV-positive in the early 1990s.
In late 1990, Robbe relocated to Los Angeles to produce TV commercials for Japanese television. His first film job was an associate producer role for 1982’s “In the King of Prussia”, depicting the Berrigan Brothers’ pioneering anti-war efforts and starring Martin Sheen.
Robbe’s extensive television credits include the first-ever LGBTQ comedy special for Comedy Central in 1993, called “Out There,” and hosted by Lea DeLaria. Robbe was on the creative team for the groundbreaking 2003 series “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” He also produced shows for Lifetime, Comedy Central, VH1, Children’s Television Workshop and American Playhouse.
In 2005, Robbe was named executive director and film commissioner for Film Wisconsin, Inc. During his tenure, Robbe brought 28 TV and film projects to the state, including the 2009 film “Public Enemies” by Michael Mann, starring Johnny Depp and Channing Tatum. Most recently, Robbe worked with activists in Cuba to bring pressure on the American government to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine in the country. Robbe was also involved in grassroots activism in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where he had a second home.
Scott Robbe is survived by his mother, Helen, and his siblings and their spouses, Royce (Donna), John (Ken Hall), Jay (Francine), and Angela. Also surviving him are his uncle Peter Coffeen (Steve Getz), as well as several nieces, nephews and cousins.
There will be no funeral. Arrangements were handled by Milwaukee Cremation Society. A celebration of Robbe’s life will be broadcast online early in 2022. Donations in Scott’s memory may be made to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and ACT UP New York.
Mark Glaze, gun reform advocate, dies at 51
Longtime D.C. resident worked to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’
Mark Charles Glaze, a longtime D.C. resident who was gay, died Oct. 31 in Scranton, Pa., by suicide while being held on DUI and other charges at the Lackawanna County Prison, according to a statement posted to his Facebook page by family.
Glaze was involved in a car accident on I-81 in Dunmore, Pa., on Sept. 9 and fled the scene, according to police.
“As we celebrate the life of our beloved Mark, we would be remiss not to mention his harrowing struggle with alcohol, depression, and anxiety,” the Facebook statement said. “In the last years of his life, Mark actively sought help. He completed several treatment programs, with the hope of finding peace and breaking free of the addictive cycle that caused him to feel so desperately alone and in pain. … We pray that by being open about Mark’s cause of death, something positive may emerge from our devastating loss.”
Glaze was born on Oct. 21, 1970, in Pueblo, Colo. He was a Truman Foundation Scholar at The Colorado College and an honors graduate of the George Washington University Law School.
He worked as a principal at the D.C.-based political affairs firm the Raben Group and had a variety of issues in his portfolio, including campaign finance reform, government ethics as well as LGBTQ issues and served as director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the largest gun violence prevention group in the country. In 2010, Glaze was hired by the Human Rights Campaign to push for Senate legislation to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
In a 2014 interview with the Blade, Glaze said the country was “at a tipping point” in the wake of shootings like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 children and six school officials were killed.
“The mass shootings are happening more and more rapidly, and they’re becoming more and more deadly,” Glaze said. “The Newtown shooting was the second biggest mass shooting in U.S. history after Virginia Tech in 2007. And, you know, the kids who were shot and murdered were my son’s age, and it was right before Christmas. So, I think that combination of things has just got the public and the president ready to say, ‘Enough is enough, let’s finally get this right.’”
Glaze’s father was a gun dealer and he was raised in a house that was attached to a general store selling guns.
“My dad is like most gun dealers,” Glaze told the Blade in 2014. “He thinks that law-abiding people should have to take background checks, so everybody should have to take background checks. And gun dealers don’t like that guns get a terrible reputation because unlicensed sellers are handing guns out to people with criminal records. It gives the entire industry a bad name.”
Robert Raben, head of the Raben Group, praised Glaze in a 2014 Blade interview.
“We are unbelievably proud of Mark’s leadership; he has enormous responsibility and meets it well, with vision and delivery,” Raben said. “That he is an openly gay man helping lead such an important effort is a tribute to his professionalism, and how the country and its understanding of our talent has changed.”
Glaze later served as executive director of Everytown for Gun Safety, a bipartisan group chaired by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and became a nationally prominent advocate for reform of gun laws. In 2014, after a long and successful career in public affairs and political strategy, Glaze founded his own consulting practice.
Glaze was preceded in death by his parents, Charles Glaze and Nancy Green. He is survived by his 14-year-old son, Archer; aunts, uncles, cousins and a wide circle of friends in D.C. and beyond.
Longtime friend Steven Fisher, a principal at The Raben Group, noted Glaze’s empathy in a statement to the Blade.
“With a razor-sharp sense of humor and boundless empathy, Mark could turn strangers into friends like no one else,” Fisher said. “His closest friends also knew a very complicated personality and his early and tragic death was, sadly, not a surprise.”
Washington Blade editor Kevin Naff was also a longtime friend of Glaze’s.
“Mark’s work as an LGBTQ rights and gun reform advocate undoubtedly saved lives and he will be missed by many,” Naff said. “I commend his family for being so transparent about his cause of death; that candor will surely help even more people. I hope Mark has found the peace that eluded him for so long and I will miss his friendship, sense of humor, and his brilliant skill at debating and skewering Fox News hosts.”
Contributions in Glaze’s name may be sent to Everytown for Gun Safety, The Marshall Project, and/or Ashley Treatment Center, according to the family’s Facebook statement. A Celebration of Life will be held at a future date. Details will be posted on social media.
If you are thinking about suicide, the Trevor Project offers 24/7 crisis counseling for LGBTQ young people at 1-866-488-7386. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States at 1-800-273-TALK.
Longtime D.C. resident Robert Wood dies
Massachusetts native graduated from Georgetown Law
Robert (Bob) Henry Wood, of Washington, D.C., passed away on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, from injuries suffered in an automobile accident.
Born in Newton, Mass., in 1947, he was a graduate of the Mount Hermon School in 1965, Yale University in 1970, and Georgetown Law in 1973, after which he remained in Washington, D.C. for the rest of life. He was an active member of the Foundry United Methodist Church and a strong supporter of the LGBTQ+ community.
Bob was predeceased by his loving husband Kenneth Carroll Willis in 2015.
He is survived by his brother Norman R. Wood (Charlotte), his brother Douglas M. Wood (Lynn), his niece Megan W. Rajbanshi (Sachit), and his nephews Benjamin R. Wood, Theodore R. Wood and Thomas C. Wood. He is also survived by his loving great-nieces Lucia V. Wood and Sabine C. Rajbanshi and great-nephew Sebastian L. Rajbanshi, all for whom he was fastidious in researching exactly the right gifts for birthdays and holidays or simply because he just enjoyed giving.
A celebration of life will take place at the Foundry United Methodist Church, 1500 16th St., N.W., Washington, D.C., 20036, on Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, at 3 p.m. Donations in Bob’s name may be made to the Foundry United Methodist Church.
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