Members of New York’s nightlife community were saddened by the unexpected news that Dean Johnson, a reigning fixture in the downtown underground scene for 25 years, died in Washington, D.C. some time in the last week of September. Details surrounding his death were unclear at press time, as his family and friends awaited the results of an investigation.
Johnson, 45, was unmistakable as a 6’6″ bald drag queen who had worked variously as a promoter, DJ, rock star and writer. In addition to his bands Dean and the Weenies and The Velvet Mafia, he also founded the legendary weekly party, Rock and Roll Fag Bar, in the late eighties, and launched HomoCorps, a monthly gay music showcase at the legendary rock club, CBGB.
Although Johnson was known to have battled drugs in the past, friends reported that he had taken control of the problem during the past year.
Most recently, Johnson created the “Reading for Filth” series at Rapture Café and Books in the East Village. The venue held a celebration of his life on Oct 3.
Chi Chi Valenti, a nightlife personality and a moderator of The Motherboards source for nightlife news, praised Johnson on Sept 28: “We give thanks for such a singular being, born star, and great friend.”