I moved to the bay in the fall of 1991 at the age of 18 to start college, and the first place I Dj’d was on KALX Radio 90.7 FM the summer of 1992. In 1994, I started playing nightclubs. I can’t recall when, nor where I was, the first day I met you, but it must have been in the mid-90s. Everyone spoke of you with awe and respect, and I was dying to hear you play and to meet you.
One thing I will never forget, is that sly and beautiful smile of yours. When we first met, you checked me out, like OH, so you’re a DJ huh? I knew who you were so I was straight humbled to talk to you. But not long after, we hit it off. We were good. You used to crack your skinny jokes, talk friendly sh*t to me, brag about the records you just got, and vice-versa, we had our banter. A respectful ‘DJ to DJ’ jockeying with the knowledge and appreciation that we both came to this crazy profession, obsession, dedication, from very different viewpoints and experience (you being the QUEEN and I being the DJ-in-training) but we understood each other without words, we could relate. Cuz you gotta be crazy to be a club DJ in the Bay. And a woman, to boot! The BS we put up with! We talked about the challenges of the double life – you hustled a catering business, I hustled an engineering profession. We enjoyed the greens. We rocked out in our self-created spaces. Yours was the garage, mine was in my living room in an apartment of my own. We played straight and gay gigs and house parties. Lady fans were drawn to us since they rawly saw a woman rock the tables.
We loved hip hop. We talked about what new promos we got, what we liked, what was whack. I had the radio promo hookup. You had ultimate bada** DJ hookup with mad respect from EVERYBODY who ever heard you play.
You were the hardest hustlin, most creatively turntable trick-f*in everyone’s mind up, party-pleasing, no holds barred DJ, the Bay had EVER SEEN. You tripped crowds up EXTRA whenever you DJd with your tata’s but you didn’t even HAVE to do that, we all bowed down to you REGARDLESS.
You knew your talents were other-wordly, but you didn’t have a shred of attitude about it. When Prince’s manager called you to be his tour DJ – I think the entire SF Bay DJ community was like – HELL THE F*** YEAH – IT’s ABOUT TIME DJ PAM the FUNKSTRESS got her PROPS on some GLOBAL MUSICAL GENIUS Just Do. That’s Right. We were all celebrating your joy with you. A moment in history.
We played the opening of a new Capoeria Cafe in Berkeley together right before I left the Bay for NY in 2006. I hadn’t seen you in awhile – I was in the reggae space much more by then – but we picked up like old friends and talked that usual smack, cracked jokes, rocked that spot, then hustled onto the next job… always working, day to night, double life, never ending…
Dee Cee threw a huge ‘She’s the DJ’ Soul Shakedown Party of all women DJs at Club Six in SF in 2006, and that was a phenomenal experience. My last gig in the Bay before moving to NY. We were all smiles all night. The ladies were lovin it. You played upstairs while I and others played downstairs, we had mics, we were on the mic chatting, joking… I remember I kept popping upstairs to listen to you, laugh, exchange funny faces when we saw how the crowd reacted, do our banter thing…. you never let up on the skinny jokes, what like a decade of knowing each other ?? (you were the ONLY homie of mine that could get away with that sh*t anyhow 🙂 … We were proud. Finally, all the best lady DJs in the Bay coming together to rock one of the main clubs in SF in unity and we killed it like we knew we would. You knew. You half grew us all anyhow.
Cleopatra Jones! Could there even BE a Cleopatra Jones party at a brand new club in SF, as a concept and reality, without you? NAWH. No chance. You were our idol, our mentor, our trailblazer, our rock, our foundation, our inspiration. Our proof that we could do this. Look at us now. Look at what you did, Pam. Look at your inspired and loyal fans, your fellow sisters on the wheels of steel… we had some great times, soul upliftment, and power moments.
The very last time I had the honor of DJing a party with you was when I flew back from the east to the Bay to visit in 2008, and was booked with you at Cafe La Estrallita with Chela Simone aka Tiye Selah live, in Oakland. I have been searching for that photo I took of you, smug smile and all good vibes. Where could it be? But I found some others of them tonight. Here they are. Even without them, I can go right back to that moment, that feel, because that was the strength and impression of your presence. Look at you on the flyer with that smile. Queen of your Craft!
Chela Simone / Tiye Selah performing at Cafe La Estrellita
Me DJing that night, and crowd pics….
I just found out from DJ Styles a few hours ago that – this morning, you left us on this plane, and ascended to the higher level. I trust that your soul is at peace. You were a generous soul, someone who saw the best in everyone, someone who took the greatest of pleasures in spreading joy and happiness, through the food you so magically put together for umpteen million birthday parties and weddings and anniversaries and reunions, to the musically funky fly rhythms you got everyone bopping to, to the off -the-wall jokes you had us all sheepishly crying tears of laughter to. I will miss you Pam. I’m spilling some liquor and shedding some tears. Writing to release. This is my humble tribute.
It hasn’t really sunk in. You were young still. You were so loved. You have left a legacy.
Pam, I hope and pray that you rest forever in power, love, and peace.