Spin doctor …
DJ Cadillac only wants to play parties and events “where people are excited to have a great time” while giving him a small amount of wiggle room to work his musical magic. Known in the day as John Culkin, the 31-year-old North Scranton native is an active member of the Scranton St. Patrick’s Parade Association and The Notre Dame Club of Scranton. He talks about his involvement in the Northeastern Pennsylvania’s Secret Underground DJ Society before quickly changing the subject matter toward Scranton’s economic crisis. While Culkin helps manage the infrastructure for The University of Scranton’s IT systems as a senior systems administrator, he keeps the nightly adventures of DJ Cadillac stored in the back of his mind, eagerly waiting for the next gig to strike. He recently expanded the coverage area of his DJ service and has even incorporated a photo booth feature into his shows, where attendees can close the curtain and strike a few poses. He doesn’t want to just push play; he aims to take the party to a higher level and hopes people get comfortable enough to let loose. His tank is full and he is willing to take us along for an interesting ride. Meet DJ Cadillac…
How did you first get introduced to the world of DJing?
My friends and I decided to support an establishment on Linden Street in Scranton (The Irish Wolf) that had a jukebox and we would always put a lot of money into it. We figured it was silly because we all had computers at home with iTunes. We talked to the proprietor of the Irish Wolf, Peter Kelly, and he mentioned he would entertain the notion of us bringing our own music down to the bar. From there, it just took off. Another bar owner heard I was a DJ and so on. From there, it exploded. And that’s why we’re here today.
Where did the name DJ Cadillac come from?
It was originally a nickname I had in high school from when I drove my grandparents’ Cadillac. Then it was Cadillac Culkin. Whenever I would sing karaoke, the rule was you could go up and pick a song, but you couldn’t use your real name. You had to make one up. Cadillac was my nickname. When I started DJing, I didn’t want people from my real job to figure out what I was doing, so I used the name as kind of a disguise. But now the goose is loose.
Is it true you bought a Cadillac to fit your moniker?
It’s true. They’re great vehicles. The word “Cadillac” is in the dictionary as an adjective meaning best of the highest class. I saw a 1987 on craigslist for a good deal. My other car was unfortunately totaled, so my Caddy had been my daily driver for the past 6 months. It is 25 years old but it has digital climate control. We might have a 25th birthday party for it this summer.
What do you enjoy most about DJing?
I love trying to read the crowd and taking my vast musical knowledge and figuring out what songs they would like to hear. I have some tricks I use as well. If I’m in a room full of 40-year-olds, I do the math and find the top 100 for that year. That will give you a general idea on what they’re into, what turns them on and keeps them moving. You might say, you have to make the crowd your puppet, but you really just want to take them where they want to go.
What was the craziest thing that has happened at a show?
I’ve seen people jumping off of ladders at a show. Stage diving or ladder diving? Something like that I guess.
What has been the highlight of your DJing career so far?
It’s tough with all of the weddings and clubs. They’re all great and so different. The best time I felt I met somebody’s need for a night was probably a wedding at The Radisson last June. We (meaning Cadillac and cohort Robert Foley) pretty much just killed it all night. The dance floor was packed and we kept it fast all the way through dinner.
What does a DJ Cadillac experience entail?
Definitely a lot of energy and passion. One of my mottos is “if it feels good, do it.” We don’t ask too many
questions. We want people to get comfortable and lose their inhibitions. A DJ Cadillac show should have a lot of songs that get you moving, but also songs that make you think “hey! I want to go home and download this!” or introduce people to new music they may have not heard before.
Where does the photo booth come into play?
Maybe I’m a little narcissistic, but I always liked them from shopping malls and getting my picture taken. I was out of town at a wedding in Chicago and there was a photo booth that was just killing it all night and I thought “this is going to come to Scranton and it’s going to be hot.” So I decided to make the investment and I took the risk. It’s interesting in this digital age where people can take so many pictures so fast — people love holding that tangible picture in their hands.
Where does John Culkin stop and DJ Cadillac begin?
That is a very interesting question. I think they are the same now. I’ve finally come to grips that we are indeed the same person. Not too many people know that we are the same person, but it’s true.
In exactly seven words, describe a DJ Cadillac show.
Nothing but the hits for the party.
What if I told you there was another DJ Cadillac?
I’m more worried about the Cadillac car company (owned by General Motors) coming after me than me having to go after another DJ Cadillac. I would hope that I would give them an opportunity to hitch their wagon to one of the hottest DJs in northeastern Pennsylvania and maybe use me for some free advertisement rather than try to take me down. They could come along for the ride in my Cadillac.
— tom graham
For more information or to contact DJ Cadillac, visit Facebook.com/DjCadillacPlaysHits.