Dean Johnson (entertainer)

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Dean Johnson (1961–2007) was a cross-dressing musician, party promoter, and prominent figure in the nightlife scene of New York City in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. Known for his towering height, shaved head, giant sunglasses, and penchant for wearing short cocktail dresses that exaggerated the length of his pale, lithe figure, Johnson played a seminal role in the emergence of the Queercore gay rock-and-roll subculture in the East Village.[1]

Music career[edit]

Both an underground rock star and a porn star, Dean Johnson fronted two bands: Dean and the Weenies and the Velvet Mafia. He partied with art-world luminaries like Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Andy Warhol, and performed at nightclubs such as Area, Danceteria, The Cat Club, and the Pyramid.[1] Johnson was the driving force behind the ground-breaking Rock and Roll Fag Bar party, held Tuesday nights in the late 1980s at The World. He subsequently produced the monthly HomoCorps live music showcase at CBGB, which featured gay and transgender rock-and-roll bands.[2]


Johnson grappled with drug addiction and was a sex worker. He died at age 46 from an apparent drug overdose while turning a trick in a Washington, D.C. apartment. There is some suspicion around his death, stemming from the fact that the man he was with had been found not guilty of murder in a trial held only a few weeks prior.[3]


  1. ^ a b Buckley, Cara (2007-10-14). "Disquieting Death Stills the Nite Life". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
  2. ^ "Promoter and Queer Icon Dean Johnson Dies". New York Magazine. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
  3. ^ "Dean Johnson's E-Mails Shed New Light on His Strange Death". The Village Voice. Archived from the original on 2017-04-20. Retrieved 2011-01-30.

External links[edit]