DJ Dossier

DJ Apollynon Rocks Rivethead Sounds, But He Held a Sparkly Flag Aloft During the '96 Super Bowl Halftime Show

See also: ///She/// on DJing at Sadisco, Picking Out Tracks, and Nearly Getting Shot By the Cops See also: Tommy "LSDJ" Suftko on the Relevance of Industrial Music, Spinning at Sanctum, and How Terry Gilliam Flicks Have Helped His Mixes

Mark Peskin is a veteran DJ who's performed at many an industrial night stretching back to the days of the old version of the Nile Theatre in Mesa or Boston's in Tempe. At the same time, the 33-year-old (who's better known by his nom de guerre Apollynon) isn't some self-important vanguard of rivethead music. Far from it.

In fact, he doesn't seem to take himself too seriously, as over the course of one conversation he'll make humorous references to how he got his DJ name from the Satanist's Bible before joking about how he held a sparkly flag aloft during the Super Bowl XXX halftime show at Sun Devil Stadium back in 1996.

These days, Peskin is still more inclined to fly his freak flag high during the frenetic and fetishistic Reform School parties he promotes at Sanctum, including tonight's "Greasers and Pin-Ups" event. He took some time recently to tell us what's on tap for this evening's sultry soiree, as well as his opinion on the state of industrial music.

Name: Mark Peskin

AKA: DJ Apollynon

Current gigs: I spin every Friday at Sanctum. I'm the resident DJ and event promoter. It used to be Tranzylvania but [its] dead. Replaced by four monthly event nights.

Preferred genres: Industrial, EBM, electro, and synthpop. I love dance music that makes me feel something.

Why do you dig those sounds? Industrial music is like techno with a soul. It shines a light on different aspects of yourself and lets you explore them. From those darker corners of those places you only show yourself, to the euphoric manic highs you experience when the music lifts you, industrial/EBM has it all.

How did you get into the DJ game? I started in the basement of Nile almost 12 years ago. It was sweaty, dirty, and hot but I loved what I was doing. Eventually Rob Poe and myself moved to the upstairs room and took over the night. After that we did several nights together before I took a few years hiatus.

Do you wish that the current incarnation of the Nile booked as many dance events as the original version? I've spent many a night at the Nile. While it holds a fond spot in my heart it too like all things must evolve. I personally think the venues that are open to us now have more personality and are more fitting for a dance night than the Nile.

Explanation behind your DJ name: Way back in Windows 95 days, I needed a handle and I was reading the Satanic bible for good evil name. I came upon Apollyon [the Greek name for "the destroyer"], but I misread it as Apollynon. Ever since then it's been me. The misspelling actually makes it unique as far as I am aware I am the only Apollynon.

Are you a former practitioner of Satanism? Actually, no. I was just interested in all kinds of religions and the Satanic bible had a bunch of cool names in it.

The devil you say. Why did Tranzylvania die off? The Tranz format wasn't pulling people anymore. It was a great format but it had lost its pizzazz. I instead decided to evolve the [event] to try and make it more than just a dance night and instead make it a destination. A place where you have an experience.

Is the death of Tranzylvania emblematic of a dearth of interest in industrial these days? No. I think of it more as a rebirth. Compare it to your favorite meal. You eat it every week and eventually you're going to get tired of it no matter how much you love it. I think there's a ton of interest in industrial as the surge in numbers and the rise of other nights.

How hard is it conjuring up new themes for Reform School? Well the first one was easy. Reform School. No sub-themes. Just a night dedicated to one of America's well know and dirty fetishes. It was something I had always wanted to do. I go to Fetish Balls and see tons of girls dressed like schoolgirls and the men drooling after them. Reform School is what I call 'fetish light.' After that it got harder. I have to try and think of something that has broad appeal every month.

Has the whole fetish thing gotten pretty tired? No. I would say just the opposite. While I am not a fan of Fifty Shades of Grey, its sales show that America is still hungry to throw off its puritan chains of self-consciousness and embrace its inner freak. We spend too much time wearing the mask for others that sometimes it's nice to just step into the light and be ourselves.

So is Fifty Shades of Grey getting more newbies out into the fetish scene? Like bored housewives and whatnot? I would say yes, just like Marylyn Manson got more kids out into the Goth scene. Some will come and find it's not their thing and others will find a home within the community. New blood isn't necessarily a bad thing.

So why did you choose greasers as a theme? After all, it's more of the domain of rockabilly cats than rivetheads. There is something universally sexy about a man in a white T-shirt and blue Jeans. Plus, I have been in love with pin-ups since I first saw Memphis Belle and bought my first Olivia [De Berardinis] coffee table book. I want there to be eye candy for all. Sexy is Sexy.

Are there many parallels between greasers and fetish folk? Both are hell-bent for leather to a certain degree. The parallel lies more in the pin-up aspect. Pin-ups have long been the fodder for fantasies. And I want everyone to indulge their fantasies just a little bit. It's the spice of life. I personally am excited to see all the ladies out in their victory rolls, and the dancers wearing designs from Hell on Heels couture.

What's something that no one else knows about you? I'm a pretty open book but I did dance in Super Bowl XXX when it was here. I was a glorious flag dancer. Forever known for waving my shiny pole.

Seriously? Yeah, serious. Diana Ross flew in on a helicopter and everything. I was on the Steelers side of the field. They put an ad in the paper that they needed dancers. I went to a tryout with about 1,000 other people and ended up making it. I seem to have a faint recognition of something gold and sparkly. Plus, a 10-foot pole with silver streamers on it.

What's your favorite costume you've worn while performing? Well, I've been a seven-foot tall Sex Robot. That was my favorite. Plus, I've gone as a World War I doughboy, a prom victim, a post apocalyptic survivor, and more. I've also done the Zombie thing for a few gigs but it's not my favorite. Feels overdone I like originality...well, as much as anything is original these days.

Are industrial and EBM the redheaded stepchildren of dance music? No way. They are a different flavor of electronic dance music. They appeal to those that want a little more substance in their electronic music than just great beats and addicting rhythms

Does industrial need some superstar DJ to help revive interest in it or give it new life? It certainly wouldn't hurt. One of my goals with Reform School has been to help broaden the audience. I think it's a music that has a wide appeal if more people would give it a chance.

Does slam dancing take place at local industrial nights, or is that a thing of the past? I haven't seen it since Boston's, but when it happened it was fun to behold.

What's the best industrial band ever, in your opinion? Best old school: Front 242. They set the path for others to follow. Best EBM band today: Icon of Coil or Assembage 23. Both [have] put out hit after hit.

Who are your favorite artists to spin? That's a tough one. It depends on my mood and how the crowd is feeling but among them would be Apoptygma Berzerk and Combichrist because both have proven to be so versatile. Apoptygma Berzerk pulls from so many differant influences. "Love Never Dies" clearly pulls from Carmina Burana while "Moment of Tranquility" pulls from Twin Peaks. One artist can take me so many places. It's fantastic.

What's your favorite track of the moment? I have a soft spot for De/Vision's "Rage" (Mesh Tantrum Mix). It holds personal memories as well as being a wicked dance track. Something to be said for a track that says, "Last night I killed you in my dream/Today I'm gonna make it real."

How do you craft a great DJ set? The most effective sets are based off the crowd. You can go in with a game plan of I'm gonna do X, Y, and Z, and then immediately throw it out the window. You have to feel the crowd, their energy and try and anticipate their wants and desires.

What's your mantra when it comes to DJing? Excellence above all else. The reason for that is this. Your patrons pay to come into your establishment and then pay $6-plus a drink to do something they could do themselves at home for cheaper. It's my job to offer them a good time and an experience that makes it all worth it.

Any truth to the rumor that Sanctum is haunted? It's true. I've seen it myself. It's terrifying. It's worse than watching 'The View' with the sound on.

Craziest shit you've seen at a gig? The tire slashing incident was pretty messed up. This girl's ex-boyfriend blamed the scene for her leaving him and slashed a bunch of tires to get revenge. It was pretty messed up because it actually hurt the scene for a while and [we] had to hire extra security until we caught the bastard. The crazy thing was, she wasn't even at the club that night.

What's on tap for next month's Reform School? I think we're going back to basics. Next Reform School will be "Back to School" because its been far too long since we have seen everyone in their schoolgirl finest. The themes are great but sometimes you just have to return to what made a night great.

Reform School: Greasers and Pin-Ups takes place at 9:30 p.m. tonight at Sanctum. Admission is $5.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.