the name thing

A long time ago, I used to work in a discotheque. By this I mean we played real disco music, off 12″ singles with the BPM (beats-per-minute) magic-markered on the labels. People really did the Hustle, dressed fabulously, and you could tell they practiced. It’s pretty much viewed as a cheesy or camp era now, but it was sexy stuff. Some of the songs were great, too. You can’t tell me “Funkytown” isn’t a good fucking song. It is.

Back then, I went by my real name. Nobody cared what your name was in a discotheque, because you never talked. You just matched backbeats, played the light panel – I was damned good at that – drank and flirted with the waitresses.  The trick was to keep a sizable group on the dance floor about 15 minutes then drop in a slow one so they could rest, and head up to the bar. It was hot in there, on purpose, mostly.

Then the place got sold, and it was turned into a black club. Bigass Bunky Boyd came rolling in, all glad-handing and open-faced, and decided that not only did that skinny-ass white boy with the long, red hair know how to drop in a segue at 118 BPM, he also knew his music. This, owing to my day job at Newt’s Records and Tapes and love of anything soul, funk, rock or punk. (Anything but country. I hated that stuff, and still do. I’ve tried to like it, but can’t make the jump. Pickup trucks, my ass. I own one; it sucks.) Anyway, the place would be packed with folks bouncing to “I Wana Be Your Lover” and invariably somebody would ask the doorman, “What’s up with the redheaded dude in the DJ booth?”

OK, OK, I’m getting to it: where my name came from. Kidd Redd. I used to roll into the 1191 Club from my day gig around 9. The place would be empty and moderately well-lit at that hour. Early. Nobody came to “The 1” til about 11-ish, except on ladies’ night, when girls drank free.

Invariably, there would be some Teddy Pendergrass LP on, and it would be skipping or sticking, “…just another love T-K, thock, T-K, thock, T-K, thock, TK…” and I’d climb up in the booth, and segue off into “Knee Deep” by Funkadelic, which was 9 minutes long, and go find Bunky in his office, usually doing a line of cocaine off the glass of the liquor license-frame.

“Bunky, how goddamn many times I have to tell you, don’t let the waitresses in the DJ booth? That’s the third Teddy Pendergrass album they’ve trashed this month.”

Sniiiiiiff. “I know brotha, I knowIknow. I’ll tell Sharon. You want a bump? Sharon, get us a Courvoisier.”

One night I came in, and someone had inscribed on the 2×6 you had to crawl under to get onto the DJ platform:

“NO ADMITTANCE TO DJ BOOTH EXCEPT SHOTGUN BUD AND KIDD REDD.”

The latter was me, and still is. When I got back into broadcasting temporarily (read: for 20 years) after the record-shop-and-club gig ended, the name stuck.

Later on, I came to Nashville to jock at night on 103-KDF, and became known as “the skinniest man in rock and roll.” 17 years of that, and over a decade in internet marketing after, I’m still pretty skinny.

Oh, PS: my real name? You noticed I didn’t say. It’s Arthur. Now you know.

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