Max Attaks… NYC Nightlife

New York nightlife legend Max Rodriguez adheres to a simple philosophy: “If you can’t get along with me, you can’t get along with anyone.”

That’s maybe why the New Orleans-born, South Louisiana-raised DJ remains the longest-reigning resident DJ in Splash Bar’s history. He’s been with the Chelsea hotspot since the beginning, serving up master remixes and high-energy dance beats. But it’s not only Max’s sweet personality that has inspired his loyal following. Fans love that the interchangeable spinner can command a music video-powered happy hour during the early evening hours and then flip a switch and expertly turn out an afterhours dance floor crowd.

Do you remember your first night at Splash?
I do! My first night in the DJ booth was the club’s pre-opening night. It was the week after Labor Day, and the room was full of gorgeous, tan, gay men, fresh from the beaches of Fire Island.  There were video screens, and all the latest songs of the time were presented in music video format interlaced with footage of all the best of the gay summer parties from the island, personally shot by Brian Landeche and Harry Bartel. There was an oversized stage in the middle of what is now the dance floor, with a bar that encased it for the entire perimeter.  Behind each section of bar was an underwear-clad fitness model waiting to serve guys whatever they desired with a smile. At the back end of the stage was an enclosure of glass bricks, containing two shower stalls.  At certain times, the shower would illuminate and even hotter male dancers would strip down and take a shower.  No one had ever seen that kind of stuff in a New York bar before. All that witnessed it were amazed and mesmerized.

How has Splash changed through the years?
Splash has been through several metamorphoses since its inception. Walls and bars have been moved. A dance floor was added, then moved and expanded three times. Even another floor was added! The basement was not part of the original opening.

How has your sound changed through the years?
My sound has always been predominately fun, vocal songs that make you feel happy listening to them. I’ve always thought that when you go to a club, the music should bond you with the other clubbers, and no matter what is going on in your life that day or that week, the music should make everything all right. I try to stay true to that spirit. But as music evolves, I evolve with it.

What songs got the floor jumping back when you began?
Some of the songs that made the men lose their minds back then were  “Gypsy Woman” by Crystal Waters, “Strike It Up” by Black Box and “The Pressure” by Sounds of Blackness.

What do you credit for Splash’s longevity?
The ability to reinvent itself while keeping the same soul.

What has kept you loyal to Splash?
I get treated really well here.  I feel appreciated by management, the staff and most importantly, the patrons.  They are the lifeblood of a successful DJ.

Do you have any fun celeb stories to share?
My favorite celeb story is when Charo came by for a visit on a Friday night at the “F Word” party.   She was in the DJ booth with photographers and entourage.  Among them was Randy Jones from the Village People.  I asked Randy if he would take a picture of Charo and me.  Being the gentleman that he is, Randy said,  “sure, if Charo says it’s ok.”  Of course, she couldn’t have been sweeter. Randy came over and reminded her of their “Love Boat” days when the Village People and Charo worked together.  She got so excited and screamed and hugged him with an energy that only Charo could give.  Then Charo threw her arms around me and I threw my arms around Randy and I got one of my favorite pictures of my entire career.

Were you at Splash when Britney Spears dropped by?
Yes! It was October 10th, a Friday.  I had just flown in from Costa Rica that morning, and was working that night.  I was told on the DL that Britney was coming by to do a quick performance for an MTV show.  MTV had brought in their own staging and lighting as well as a trailer sized electric generator parked outside on 17th street, as well as their own production crew.  The lighting people programmed all their stage lights in the afternoon, and because of this they left them with the shutters closed but the lights on until the performance so they would not reset.  Their lights put out a lot of heat, and the air conditioners on this hot fall day could not keep up.  By the time the performance happened – at around 1:45am – it was an easy 105 degrees in the club.  If you see the performance that aired, you will see how hot and sweaty Britney was onstage.  But she loved the energy of the packed crowd.
And I was up front and center.   It was very cool! Especially since Britney is from South Louisiana, as I am. She grew up one county away from where I grew up.

Were you there when Janet Jackson performed?
I was! There’s a funny story to that! Janet had a good friend that was a photographer that used to come to Splash.  He would tell her all about Splash and how much fun he would have here.  Well, one day she decided she wanted to see a good drag show and hang out with her gays.  Her friend called on a Wednesday afternoon and talked to one of the managers at the time.  “Janet wants to come by and see some drag”.   No drag performers were scheduled that night, but if Miss Jackson wants to come to Splash and see drag, then we knew we better make it happen!  The manager made some calls, and a few hours later there were so many drag queens and gender illusionists ready to entertain Janet.  Among them was Kevin Aviance.   At the time, Janet Jackson and her make-up crew would play Kevin Aviance’s “Cunty” to aid in her transformation from the sweet person she is to the amazing diva you see onstage.  So, after she performed, she said she would really love to meet Kevin Aviance. I went to the dressing room and yelled, “Miss Aviance, Miss Jackson requests your presence in the DJ booth”.   Kevin rushed to the booth and another magic moment in my blessed career happened.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself continuing to do what I love, entertaining through music and video.

Max spins Happy Hours and several nights of the week as a resident of Splash.



///By Charlie Rocafort

///Photo by Wilson Models

Get Out! Contributor

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