THUNDERBALL, DJ J-JUSTICE
Nation, 374-9492, $8
10 p.m. Fri., July 26
Who wouldn't love to say that one little syllable to a supermodel? Oh, maybe some of the red-blooded straight guys targeted by big breweries and the NFL wouldn't see the appeal of telling Kathy Ireland to get lost, but there are an awful lot of men and women who'd get a kick out of snubbing one of those biological freaks who act like 4 is a plus size. Alas, most ordinary mortals will never get a chance to savor such a moment. But Alex Gimeno, a.k.a. DJ/producer Ursula 1000, is one of the lucky few.
Flash back to a year ago. Ursula 1000 has been hired by Swedish department store chain H&M to provide music for an underground party. Literally, underground. "It was in a cave, this crazy hole in the Earth, an hour or two north of Stockholm," Gimeno recalls. "I didn't think it was going to be a big deal, but Grace Jones was the first model, and there was this catwalk surrounded by a lake."
In the middle of his set, Alex found himself face-to-face with Wonder Bra queen Eva Herzigova. "She wanted to hear a Prince song," says Gimeno. Of course she did; she's a lingerie model. Since he happened to have a jam by the Purple One handy, he consented. But that wasn't good enough for old Eva. "Half an hour later, she came back up and wanted to hear it again. She was standing there, trying to be flirtatious." But Alex, who is married to a fashion stylist, wasn't buying it. "Supermodels get away with murder. They bat their eyelashes and get in everywhere. And I thought, 'Your powers won't work on me.'" So he said it. The magic word: No. "It was very satisfying to disregard her," he says.
But as his long-playing loungecore masterpieces The Now Sound of Ursula 1000 and its recent follow-up, Kinda' Kinky (both on Thievery Corporation's Eighteenth Street Lounge label) attest, Gimeno knows how to play it cool even when he isn't behind the decks in a room—or cavern—full of the beautiful people. Raised in South Florida, Gimeno was exposed to hip music at an early age via his father, a trumpet player and arranger for a Latin big band. "A kind of Xavier Cugat-style, continental orchestra," recalls Gimeno. "Through him, I listened to a lot of big band, swing, and also bossa nova and soundtracks."
It wasn't until high school, "when thrift shopping became a trendy thing to do," that he began to delve into the realms of exotica and EZ listening that would also influence the vibrant grooves of Ursula 1000. "You couldn't resist picking up a Martin Denny record for 25 cents, just because the covers were so great," he remembers. Initially, it was the kitsch factor that drew him to LPs like Quiet Village. "But once I began listening to them, I started thinking, 'This stuff is great!' The arrangements and musicianship were just incredible."
Just don't expect to hear "Baby Elephant Walk" if you show up to one of Ursula 1000's weekly N.Y.C. residencies (he holds court at the swanky Soho Grand Lounge) or his return Seattle engagement this week with ESL labelmates Thunderball. His 2001 mix CD, All Systems Are Go Go, showcases a variety of meaty, beat- driven tracks full of Latin percussion and blasts of brass, and his current sets are even more diverse. "I'm definitely the quintessential 'eclectic' DJ," he admits.
Right now, Gimeno might throw anything at the dance floor, including a "bastard pop" bootleg of J.Lo atop Jimi Hendrix's "Crosstown Traffic," the revamped "A Little Less Conversation" by Elvis vs. JXL, or a nugget from French rock legend Jacques Dutronc. "Lately I've been playing a lot of Northern soul classics, like the original version of 'Tainted Love' by Gloria Jones," he reveals. "I'll even toss in the Hives—just oddball, I-didn't-see-that-one-coming things. I want people to leave my parties thinking, 'Wow, tonight I listened to a crazy variety of music.'"
But as veteran hosts well know, throwing a swell soiree requires more than just fantastic tunes. Gimeno says his libation of choice during the hot summer months is Pernod on the rocks, with just a splash of water. And the preferred hors d'oeuvres at Chez Gimeno? "We do this trashy dip that we learned in South Florida: artichoke hearts, mayo, and Parmesan." (Wow, imagine the fun of passing a tray of that around a party full of supermodels.)
"The mayo is the white-trash element, but once you add the cheese, it comes out very nice," he insists. Of course it does. If anyone knows how to work that fine line between kitsch and class without blowing his cool, it's Ursula 1000.