According to reports on social media pioneering NYC DJ/journalist/party host/downtown club personality Anita Sarko has died. A native of Detroit, Sarko earned a reputation as a DJ in the ’80s, spinning at the legendary Mudd Club. She also co-hosted the No Entiendes cabaret at Danceteria (see video below) and served as the music director of the Palladium’s Mike Todd Room. Her vast credits include DJing at Andy Warhol’s memorial service reception.
“I came from a family that worshiped pop music,” she told the New York Times in 1987. “That was culture in my household. Whenever there was a party, I was the one who brought records. It was obvious I’d end up being a deejay, but I didn’t realize it. When you go to a job counselor, they don’t tell you being a deejay is one of your choices.”
Sarko was also a talented writer with a unique voice. Over the years she contributed features to magazines including Egg, Paper, Interview, Details and Playboy.
Close friend Michael Musto, the famed former Village Voice nightlife columnist, posted an eloquent eulogy on Facebook about Sarko’s passing. Here’s an excerpt:
Five years ago, Anita was diagnosed with both ovarian and uterine cancers, but she was operated on and not only survived, she was declared in the clear earlier this year. But she suffered some lingering pains and also complained of the results of the hormone depletion caused by her hysterectomy. More of an issue, though, was the fact that she couldn’t find creatively satisfying work and worried about her career, feeling that various projects had reached an absolute dead end for her. I helped her with her resume and job possibilities, but she found that nothing clicked, since employers were looking for recent college grads, not old-timers with history and personality. Rejection turned to despair and, though Anita was doing work and paying her bills, she feared for her future and felt discarded and unappreciated. The last time I talked to her, I made a point of telling her she was “legit”. She was so much more than that. A brilliant woman, and I loved her more than I can say.”
I wish I had known she was feeling despair. I would have tried to help. She was always kind to me in the early years of my journalistic career.