This Secret Service Agent Turned into a Club DJ

Marty Venker went from protecting Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford to spinning “Blue Monday” in the clubs of Manhattan. How the hell did that happen? Talk about a second act…

From The Observer:

In 1985, when I met DJ Marty Venker at Kamikaze, the Chelsea club where we both worked, he favored punk bands like The Clash and the Dead Kennedys as well as fast-paced New Wave, including New Order’s “Blue Monday” and Love And Rockets rendition of “Ball of Confusion.” Management, however, pressured Marty to play classic Motown, which was resurgent at the time. Play ‘Baby Love, Pleeeease, a sweaty dancing banker would beg at his booth. But Marty loathed Motown and he let guests know it. At about 6’2”, with a blonde Mohawk and dressed in black down to his combat boots, Marty brooked little backtalk.

Marty honed his authoritative tone as a Secret Service agent. He protected Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, before returning to Nixon’s detail in New York after Watergate. After work, we often hit Florent or Empire Diner at three or four in the morning and Marty would parcel out details about his former life, sometimes breaking into an uproariously funny Nixon impression (“Pull over!” Marty growled. Apparently, the former president demanded to stop his limo any time he happened upon a car accident so he could ogle the grisly crash scene.) He ran with a cool crowd, crashing at NBC newscaster Sue Simmons’ apartment and sharing his memories of the late anchorwoman Jessica Savitch, who had died in a car crash a couple of years earlier while her star was hot. I was in my late teens at the time, an underage nightclub promoter, and I looked up to Marty. It was a treat to stay out late and hear his unbelievable, but true, tales.

“I thought he was crazy,” admitted the prominent film producer Russell Levine, who met Marty in 1986. But any doubts dissipated “when he told me how to smuggle a gun onto a plane. … Within a week, I had optioned his life.”

You’re gonna want to read the rest of this.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37808 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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