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Dean Johnson Papers

Call Number



1982-2007, inclusive


Johnson, Dean


3 boxes

Language of Materials

English .


The Dean Johnson Papers consists of materials documenting Dean Johnson's career as a party and club promotor and perfomer in New York City's Downtown club scene. Spanning over two decades, this collection contains promotional materials for parties organized by Johnson, as well as print and media coverage of Johnson's two bands, Dean and the Weenies and the Velvet Mafia.

Biographical Note

Dean Johnson (1961–2007) moved to New York City in 1979 to study film at New York University, and quickly became an iconic figure in the New York City Downtown club scene. Johnson, at six foot six inches tall with a shaved head, was known for wearing tight dresses, huge sunglasses, and drop earrings. Working as a party and club promoter beginning in the 1980s, Johnson played an influential role in the emergence of the gay rock and roll subculture in New York City. He organized parties such as the Rock and Roll Fag Bar, Pubic Hair Club for Men, and HomoCorps, a gay themed night at CBGB. Johnson fronted two bands, Dean and the Weenies and the Velvet Mafia, playing the downtown club circuit and events such as Wigstock. He was also featured in two films depicting the underground New York Scene, "Mondo New York" and "Freaks, Glam Gods and Rock Stars." Johnson was open about his work in the sex industry, and lived H.I.V. positive for two decades. In later years, Johnson explored blogging and writing, and hosted various readings where he and other writers presented their work. In 2007, Johnson died of an apparent drug overdose in Washington, DC, at the age of 46.


Buckley, Cara. "Disquieting Death Stills the Night Life." The New York Times, October 14, 2007.

Schindler, Paul. "Dean Johnson, 45, gay party promoter on Downtown scene." The Villager, October 10 - 16, 2007.

Moynihan, Colin. "A Fond and Boisterous Memorial Is Held for a Symbol of Gay Night Life." The New York Times, October 5, 2007.


Materials have been arranged in series according to material formats. When dated, materials are arranged chronologically within series.

The collection is organized into the following five series:

SERIES I: Promotion
SERIES II: Sound recordings
SERIES III: Video recordings
SERIES IV: Data Storage


Scope and Content

The Dean Johnson Papers consist of printed ephemera and media materials. Printed materials include magazines, periodicals, and posters of band performances and parties promoted by Johnson. Media includes audio and video recordings of performances, digital photos and data storage. Dated materials span the years from 1982- 2007.

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open to researchers. Please contact the Fales Library and Special Collections,, 212-998-2596. Appointments are necessary for the use of manuscript and archival collections.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright (or related rights to publicity and privacy) for materials in this collection was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder. Please contact the Fales Library and Special Collections,, 212-998-2596.

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Dean Johnson Papers; MSS 335; box number; folder number; Fales Library and Special Collections, New York University Libraries.


The Dean Johnson Papers were donated to the Fales Library in 2012 by Johnson's sister, Beth Johnson.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Born-digital and audiovisual materials have not been preserved and may not be available to researchers.

Collection processed by

Caitlin Klein, 2012. Media updates by Rhyannon J. Rodriguez.

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-20 17:11:39 -0400.
Language: Description is in English.


Fales Library and Special Collections
Fales Library and Special Collections
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012