The Persecution of St. Paul of Rhode Island

A conversation with DJ Pauly D about his true passion and the distraction of fame

Intro by Graham Funke, Interview by StoneRokk

The business of DJing has allowed The Captains of Industry to pursue those things in life which make men well-rounded—the same things that perhaps inspired the musings of Mark Twain, the vision of Emilio Pucci, the indulgences of Bob Gucionne. We like to think so, anyway. And with that in mind, we let the worldview define our DJing as opposed to the DJing define our worldview.

Pauly D gracefully shows Vegas Seven contributor Graham Funke the secret to his signature blow-out hairdo.

Pauly D makes friends at Moon.

It might be hard for some to accept that the two gentlemen who just stepped into the DJ booth are capable of rocking a party in the required fashion while donning captain’s hats or sporting cravats or smoking fine briar pipes. Similarly, when it comes to the topic of one Paul DelVecchio, known to most as Pauly D on Jersey Shore, it is easy to get distracted—by his amplified antics on MTV, his peacock-like approach to dressing, or the stigmas associated with certain stereotypes.

For us to judge would be the pot calling the kettle black.

In order to find truth in what seems to be yet another chapter in the Wacky World of Celebrity DJs chronology, The Captains of Industry recently arranged a tête à tête with the native Rhode Islander. StoneRokk and I are both resident DJs at the Palms; conveniently, Memorial Day weekend saw Pauly D to be the same. In between our shifts, we arranged a rendezvous in DelVecchio’s temporary lair as his two Italian road dogs, Biggie and Big Jerry G, stood sentry over the discussion.

When all was said and done, we discovered Pauly D’s story unfolds to be much like so many other DJs that came before him: He has a longtime passion for music that manifested in 1996, when he went about securing turntables and the vinyl necessary to perform the destined task. He practiced in his bedroom until he was legal age and was eventually given a night at the Renaissance Club on Federal Hill. That one night a week soon turned into six nights a week, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The fine city of Providence, R.I., isn’t exactly known to be a hub of nightlife, but every DJ has to come from somewhere—even StoneRokk and myself.

Jersey Shore is now the highest-rated show in MTV’s history, according to MSNBC. Whether DJ Pauly D (who next appears at the Palms Pool on June 18) would’ve broken out of his native Northeast had he and his hair not achieved fame on the small screen will never be known, but he is certainly now a household name to millions. His sudden popularity has garnered book deals, acting offers and clothing endorsements, but it remains clear where DelVecchio’s sole interest lies: DJing.

This, of course, is something The Captains of Industry can relate to.

While I sat down to experience Pauly D’s signature Gentleman’s Blow-Out hairstyle, StoneRokk engaged him in a round of Q&A in hopes of setting the record straight for once and for all.

Let’s take it back, way back, back into time. What got you interested in the craft of DJing?

Just music in general. Coming up as a child, everybody had their set of drums and stuff like that. I always wanted to become a DJ, so I got my first setup, practiced in my house and then started doing local parties. One thing leads to another; you end up in a club and you kill that club and then it’s word of mouth. Obviously, you have to pay your dues.

The core DJ community is very big on that concept. Because of the TV show, you typically would get grouped into the “Celebrity DJ” category, most of whom lack the skill set required to do the job correctly. Their draw is based on popularity, not performance …

I do feel like I’ve proven myself. I do feel like I’ve put in my dues. Now I’m just having fun doing something that I love, and anybody can say whatever they want to say. It is what it is. I don’t owe anybody, I don’t feel guilty. I’m doing something I love and I kill it. I know where I’m at in skill level. However people come up, that’s how they come up. This is how I came up and I’m here and I’m not going to fail. I love music; it’s my passion.

Music is still your passion? That drives you? Even with all the excess and access at your fingertips?

The same drive I had since day one, the music. It’s not even about the money. It’s about my DJ career and that’s something I want to do. I could go into acting, I could do this, I could do that, but I want music, music, music. It’s my life, I love it. When I’m up there, with a smile on my face, I’m just killing it; I’m in my zone. There nothing in the world I like better than that.

What’s the end game for you?

The ultimate goal is to be up there with the top dogs. Like yesterday, I was watching Paul Oakenfold. I was like, this is insane! I want to do that one day, like be as serious as that.

So it’s safe to say that you would be a DJ if you hadn’t been on the TV show …

I was a DJ before the show and I’ll be a DJ way after. When I got picked up on the show it had nothing to do with DJing. Obviously I’ll use it to further my career. Why not? I still have to prove myself. I still have to know what I’m doing. But you can’t just throw somebody into Vegas; you have to be able to know how to spin. I proved myself and that’s why I’m back here in Vegas on Memorial Day.

Oh, what a joy it is to be in Vegas for Memorial Day Weekend! From far and wide, fine citizens descend upon this desert oasis, many becoming too inebriated to appreciate the in-house talent and special guests secured at top dollar …

I got plenty of offers to DJ wherever I wanted for even more money. It’s better for my career to be here, you know what I’m saying? It’s not even about the money to me, it’s about music.

That statement might get a few of your haters quite flustered.

If you have haters, you know you’re doing the right thing. They’re hating on the come-up. But they don’t know that I put in my dues. I was on a show and bang, now I’m this guy. But they didn’t know me back in the day. All my people back in Rhode Island are like, “I used to go see this guy every Friday at Red Room,” “I used to see this guy every Thursday at Ultra.” It was known to go to these places every week, so they’re like, “Oh wow, good for you, congratulations.” But then you got these guys who don’t know me who are like, “Look at this kid! He probably can’t spin” or whatever. And that’s how you know you are doing your thing because I’m in their brain. Now they’re thinking about why. Are they worried? Are they jealous? If I was them, I’d hate me, too.