Born and raised in Michigan, the youthful Chuck Hampton (otherwise known as Gay Marvine) could be found turning the dial to explore all that Detroit radio had to offer. Driving his family crazy by constantly tuning into disco stations, he fell in love. From that point forward he used his finely tuned ear and spent his creative energy to share that love with the rest of the world.
What is it about that disco sound? “The bass! The beat! I loved the repetition of the groove. These things all spoke to me, and I couldn’t understand how some people didn’t get it,” he says.
The genre, which was generationally pivotal, had some historically dark times. During an infamous baseball game between the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers on July 12, 1979, disco arguably became a scapegoat for sexual and racial discrimination. Disco Demolition Night was meant to be a promotional event put on by the Chicago team at Comiskey Park. During the rally attendees brought a record to the game and during the doubleheaders intermission the vinyl was destroyed by an explosion on the field. There were 50,000 people in attendance that day and a riot ensued. More than 5,000 people took to the field to set fire to the records.
Yet, disco prevailed and remained a foundation for music thereon in. Hampton reminisced about his early clubbing days which took place shortly after that time. “Detroit area gay clubs played such great music in the ’80s,” he says. During which he said he would hear alternative sounds such as Ministry, Siouxsie and the Banshees, in addition to popular hits and Hi-NRG tracks. “Then house and techno happened. It changed everything! We had the greats – Ken Collier, Derrick May, D-Wynn, Richie Hawtin – and so many more. They took it all to a higher level. All of this rich variety influenced me as a DJ and how I hear music.”
“For me, editing is all about mining for the funk, and trimming the fat off. Some things that were in the old disco records were superfluous, and distracted from the wicked groove that was happening underneath. Also, I was heavily influenced by disco house records of the ’90s. I love how repetitive they were, but sometimes I wanted just a little more of the original in there and a little less of what was added. I’d say the most evocative of my edits is ‘Anxiety Into Ecstasy’.” — GAY MARVINE
According to the label, “Bath House Etiquette is a manual on how to handle Gay Discos. Everyone needs a little inside information. Follow the stairs to the basement, wait on your knees by the sling and wait for Mr. Marvine (to you) for further instructions.”
There is a raw and visceral energy that takes place in a bathhouse that can definitely emanate through Hampton’s tracks and the sets he puts out. Hampton says, “I think bathhouses represent hedonism. Unbridled sexuality, sensuality.” Beneath a bathhouse in downtown Pittsburgh, Penn. you will find after-hours venue Hot Mass. Aaron Clark booked Hampton as the very first guest for Honcho, a monthly gay party held at that venue, in February 2013.
According to Clark, Hampton is now deemed an unofficial Honcho resident. “We’ve done a lot of parties with him already and plan to do a lot more this year,” he says. “The Honcho sound is pretty diverse, it can disco just as well as it can whip the club into acid house and techno. Chuck really nails all of those sounds. He’s the guest DJ that always feels the most at home with us.”
Beyond the bathhouse and deeper into the music, Gay Marvine helps provide a place that is unlike any other. What makes his set special is “the energy and the celebratory vibe of the music. Even if it’s tougher sounds, it’s always happy. It sounds like family, and the club feels like family,” Clark says.
This environment is a beautiful place that prevails through dark times and embraces positivity. Disco, house and techno inherently inspire energy, liberation and fearless expression. For Hampton, “[music] heals my soul, it brings me joy, it gives me solace, it soothes me, it makes me want to fuck, it makes me dance!”