Junior Vasquez Loves Cher, Will Pass on Cyndi Lauper

It's New York's 38th Gay Pride celebration this weekend, and even though the official dance is the one held on Pier 54 Sunday night, we thought we'd highlight a certain twelve-hour thump-a-thon occurring the night before. Why? Not only will it be one of the last big nights at that venerable gay mecca, the Roxy, before the structure is torn down next month, it'll also be presided over by perhaps the biggest D.J. in Gotham history, Junior Vasquez, 57, who just happens to be a big old queen. Tim Murphy talked with Vasquez about the merits of Cher over Cyndi Lauper, today's gay whippersnappers, and how you stay up all night when you're no longer on crystal meth.

You've had a reputation for years as an impossible diva. Do you deserve it?
I wasn't like that in my personal life. I'm very private and introverted. I like to stay home and decorate my house. I just bought a full-floor space one block south of Union Square. But when I'm working, I need to be in control. I treat it as though everyone there is coming for me. And I've outlived every person who's ever announced themselves as the next Junior Vasquez. Like Peter Rauhofer.

You've worked with a list of divas that reads like a gay wet dream. Madonna, Dolly Parton, Whitney Houston, on and on. Who was the sweetest?
Cher. She's soft-spoken, respectful, looks you in the eye when she talks to you. I was working with her when she found out that Sonny died. She broke down. A total collapse.

And the biggest nightmare?
Cyndi Lauper and I are great friends and I think she's immensely talented, but she's a control freak with bizarre ideas. She's a royal pain in the ass to work with.

Crystal meth really messed you up a few years ago, but you say you've been off it for two and a half years now. What's your Gay Pride public service message to the kiddies?
Don't touch that shit. It'll suck your soul and ruin your life, and it'll take years to get it back. These [gay] kids today, it almost disgusts me — they don't recognize all the things we've fought for for them.

How will you make it through this twelve-hour set Saturday night? Any Red Bulls?
I can't do them so much anymore. Maybe one in the morning. Or half a beer in the last two hours.

2007 Pride Weekend Guide [NYM]