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Adriana Aguilar doesn't remember what happened on May 25, 2002, but doctors, family members, cops, insurance agents and friends have told her it went something like this:
Derrick Daisey, her friend, was driving his Jetta along Monaco Boulevard near Evans when he suffered an epileptic seizure -- his first -- and lost control. The car plowed through the intersection, was struck by another vehicle, then smashed into a pole. Audry, who was in the passenger seat, absorbed the shock of the crash with her body, mainly her head.
Derrick recalls much of that day, but in pieces. He's spliced the full story together in the ten months since the crash, playing the scene over and over in his mind.
"It was a big, full-blown seizure. I'd never had one before in my life," he says. "I lost basically all of my senses, except for hearing -- so I was able to hear Audry screaming my name, but I wasn't able to do anything about it. I could see, right before impact, the car hitting on Audry's side. And then I woke up, and there were lots of people around, and Audry wasn't there, and I just knew that it was bad."
It was not just bad -- it was horrific. The Jetta was twisted, a mass of crumpled steel and glass with both doors nearly ripped off. Trapped beneath the steering wheel with a couple of broken ribs, Derrick was unable to breathe. He was hurt, but Audry was worse: A crack in the left side of her head was causing a severe hemorrhage in her brain. One minute she was a 26-year-old woman on her way to a relative's house on a spring afternoon, and the next she was lying broken on an operating table in the Denver Health Center emergency room.
Audry's mom, Maria, was told to brace herself: Her daughter had suffered a stroke that had paralyzed the right side of her body -- her arm, leg, vocal cords, right hand. She had a collapsed lung, two broken ribs, a punctured eardrum and a cracked shoulder blade. Maria had about eight seconds to decide whether or not to authorize nerve-decompression therapy, a risky procedure.
Because Derrick's most serious wounds would prove to be emotional rather than physical, he was able to leave the hospital after three days -- facing a month in bed and an existence that little resembled the one he'd previously known.
Audry's surgery was a success, but that success came at a cost. She suffered a severe brain injury when the decompression therapy cut off her circulation and prevented the dispatch of messages from neurotransmitters to the central nervous system. In those split seconds of mental static, her new life began.
Miss Audry. That's the name Aguilar chose when she formally christened herself as an artist.
A female Latin DJ in a scene dominated by white males, Audry has long felt comfortable in the company of boys. There was John Chamié, who gave her a break as the vocalist in his electronic band, Masterplan, in 1994, and Greg Eversoul, who sold her that first turntable and mixer in 1997. And once the buzz had fully set in, Steve Blakely, aka DJ Fury, helped Miss Audry hone her skills behind the tables and define her stage persona.
But Audry's personal and professional paths were most closely entwined with those of Derrick Daisey, aka Vitamin D, one of Denver's most prominent house DJs and the co-founder of the Colorecordings imprint. From 1995 to 2000, the two were boyfriend and girlfriend, inseparable, and it was Derrick who gave Audry her first shot at spinning publicly with a one-off spot at Club Synergy in 1996. Even after their romance disintegrated, they were still coupled in Denver's rave and club scenes. They hung out with the same people, played the same parties, aligned themselves with promoters and production crews like Together Productions, Terraform Records and Mile High House. Artistically, they were on a parallel track -- both headliners, both clubland celebrities. Audry was the winner of a Westword Music Showcase award in 2000; Derrick snagged the title the following year.
"Music was always a really big part of our connection," Derrick says. "She was the first girl I've ever met where I could talk about music, just like with any other person. I was the one who taught her to DJ when she first started. It was basically just both of our lives."
By May 2001, Audry was ready to test her talent outside of Denver. Drawn by the energy of the Bay Area dance scene, she followed a new boyfriend to San Francisco and started gigging almost immediately -- an amazing feat in an area that's home to so many established electronic artists. She landed a residency at the Lingbah Lounge and became affiliated with prominent local production crews, including Opel Productions, SF-Vibe and Mixed Elements.
"Audry came out to San Francisco and did very well very quickly," says Syd Gris, head of Opel Productions. "She was not just respected as a DJ, but sought after. Out here, DJs are a dime a dozen, but even with that, strong female DJs are few and far between. Audry was quickly setting herself apart as someone who could bring a vocal element to her sets. Different promoters would meet her and like her. It was like, if she played for you once, she'd play for you twice."