New York’s downtown art and club scene was rocked today by news that Dean Johnson,45, was found dead in Washington DC last week. Johnson’s body has just been identified and the circumstances surrounding his death have not been determined.
A rock star, writer, drag performer, party promoter, and porn actor, Johnson first made his mark on Manhattan’s club scene when he founded Rock & Roll Fag Bar in the late ’80s. He would later found HomoCorps, a monthly gay punk showcase at the legendary CBGB. Johnson fronted two bands, Dean and the Weenies and the Velvet Mafia, the latter of which had a hit with the song Fierce Ruling Diva. The towering 6’6″ Johnson often appeared in public in wig-less drag, his bald head adorned by massive eye wear and ornate dangling earrings.
Earlier this week I mentioned that I would be appearing in the October 10th installment of Dean Johnson’s Reading For Filth at East Village arts hotspot Rapture Cafe. Rapture Cafe owner Joe Birdsong gave me this statement today: “Dean Johnson was a big, big man with a big, big vision of a world where no one apologized for who they were. He was a true P. T. Barnum who ruled over downtown New York’s three-ring circus of freaks. Reading for Filth will go on as scheduled. The initial installment, Wednesday Oct. 3rd, will be a celebration of Dean’s life. Wherever Dean was concerned, the show always went on.”