Fri, Sep 22, 2006 - Page 15 News List

The Vinyl Word

By Steve Price and Rob Near  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Tasc is the DJ's DJ.

PHOTO COURTESY OF TASC

The DJ stepped up to the decks dressed to kill in a turquoise thong and red corset, her bare breasts protruding some 6cm. A bank of cameras flashed, tongues hung out and a few gasps of awe were discernible from the audience of about 250 people, more than 80 percent of which was fueled by testosterone. Portia Surreal’s gig at Champagne Thr3e last Saturday had promised to be a titillating affair. Her shtick: she’s the world’s top erotic DJ who mixes with her tits out, though competition for that sobriquet is thin on the ground.

The night was a rarity, of sorts. DJs Nina, Vega and Portia Surreal were in the mix, a lineup of women in a genre dominated by men.

When Nina played, the dance floor was empty. Despite her technical prowess and some well-picked tunes, the crowd was to be found propping up the bar or huddling in corners. The air of anticipation was palpable, but nobody really knew what to expect.

Just past midnight Portia sashayed up and put, not slammed, down her first tune.

“I think it’s good, because she’s very pretty and for the show it’s awesome; and her music isn’t bad,” said Nina who was observing the proceedings from beside the DJ stand. “We Taiwanese are not that open, so we may feel a bit shy.”

A throng of lads broke through the shyness barrier and was gawping in unison from the edge of the dance floor. A quick survey elicited comments such as, “they’re fake,” “nice tits,” “what a butt!”

Portia knows how to turn on her charm. After picking up a record from the bag to her left, she held it aloft, slowly twirling, then pausing full stretch, before placing it on the deck.

“I want people to pay attention to my music and not my breasts, they even didn’t dance,” Nina said 15 minutes into Portia’s set.

“She is the world’s number one, erotic, fetish, female DJ … . She has a gorgeous body. I don’t think I can handle this,” said Hank, a Champagne Thr3e staff member. He managed though, and remained transfixed an hour later. “Her DJ skills aren’t bad for a female DJ,” he observed.

After the initial euphoria died down, the crowd got into the groove.

Portia’s set was pedestrian, yet proficient, but the volume wasn’t high enough.

“What concerns me is the quality of performance. When you give a concert live, the whole point is to engage with your audience,” said Kayleen Hartman, an expat Taipei resident. “She looks like she doesn’t give a shit about the audience. She looks completely uninspired and she’s not trying to get anyone riled up … . It isn’t sexy.”

After the show Portia was settled on a red velvet sofa in a booth at the back of the club, surrounded by admirers. Where does the on-stage persona end and the everyday Portia emerge? “I don’t draw a line,” she said. It’s hard to imagine her doing the dishes, or hanging out the laundry in her provocative garb. Perhaps her self-proclaimed slave Darius takes care of the chores. Lucky for some.

She spoke in a playful voice, interspersing her comments with short high-pitched giggles that belied her intellect. “I deserve to be treated as an individual artist who has reinvented the standard, typical DJ. I don’t just DJ, I’m a performance artist as well.”

What message, then, does her art convey? Electronic music has egalitarian pretensions, but there are few female DJs. Shejay Web site’s poll of the top 100 female mixmistresses is reassuringly uniform. The majority of those who made it onto the list — Portia didn’t — are by many standards extremely attractive.

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