Before creating the persona he describes as the love child of Klaus Nomi and Nina Hagen, a club kid painted polka dots on his face and wore flamboyant outfits to indie dance night Lipgloss in the mid-2000s.
He told the host club’s owners that they should pay him to be there, but they said he had to be a DJ or a reality star. Since he had some experience working at Jones Radio Networks for its U.S. Country network, he figured he could give the DJ thing a shot.
With a look inspired by clowns and club kids, he became DJ Rockstar Aaron, a moniker given to him by Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde over a dinner hosted by mutual friends. When Rockbar opened on East Colfax in 2006, Aaron started deejaying while sporting his trademark neon-pink mohawk and extravagant makeup, which takes him around ninety minutes to apply.
“I always thought it was important to have a unique look, whether your look is going to be a T-shirt and a backwards hat or funny glasses,” he says. “At least do something that you know somebody else isn't doing, so you kind of stand out.”
While Aaron clearly stands out, he says people often expect him to be much louder and wilder than he is. They’re surprised to discover that instead of jumping around on stage while he deejays, he looks straight ahead while spinning, mixing tracks live and never using a sync button.
Up until a few years ago, Aaron says, he was doing nearly 300 gigs a year — sometimes traveling to Piranha Nightclub in Las Vegas or to parties and events in Los Angeles. His sets include remixes of various genres, from hip-hop to pop.
To get a crowd pumping, he’ll spin DMX’s “Party Up (Up in Here),” Steve Aoki’s “Boneless” or remixes by Castra.
“The bookings I get — it's kind of all over the place, except in Vegas. I play a specific remix house-music format when I’m out there, which is another reason I like it, because it's more of a party. It's a party, I guess, when you play a place like Vegas,” he acknowledges.
Aaron sees himself as an introvert who plays the role of an extrovert, as he's out nearly every night of the week. On five evenings, he hosts Forbidden Bingo, a traveling event he started eight years ago, when he was deejaying to small crowds at little bars around town.
“I was trying to think, ‘What can I do outside the box that would have a big following?' Because local DJs really don't have a following,” he says. “I was like, ‘You know what? I like playing bingo. I wonder if we could do a bingo where we give away sex toys. Nobody else is doing it. There's no other concept out there.’”
So he got Romantix and Si Novelties to sponsor Forbidden Bingo, which he started at Maloney’s Tavern. When Maloney’s closed, he moved it over to Marion Street Tavern (now the Wild Corgi Pub). He’s also expanded to Live@Jack’s downtown on Thursdays, Bout Time Pub & Grub in Arvada on Tuesdays, and Bout Time’s Sheridan location on Wednesdays.
Over the years, he’s streamlined the Forbidden Bingo process. He knows how to make it work, and says he has nearly a hundred bars begging him to bring the event to them.
“We'll do a brunch occasionally, and we'll do a one-off in a bar in Parker on a Sunday, and that draws like 300 people,” he says. “Every bingo is that capacity that we do. Aside from, you know, those slow weeks or whatever due to weather, for the most part we're pretty much at capacity in every bar.”
But when the bars closed to slow the spread of coronavirus, Aaron panicked. He was frozen for days. He didn’t know what to do.
“Then I thought, ‘Wait a second. We have almost 7,000 followers on our Forbidden Bingo Facebook page,'" he says. "So I was like, let me market to them and figure out how to do this. I basically scanned in a bunch of bingo cards, and we advertised it and I put tickets on sale.”
When Aaron would DJ and produce Forbidden Bingo nights in clubs, there wasn’t a cover charge. But for the online version of Forbidden Bingo, which he and his callers put on via Zoom every weeknight at 7 p.m., he sells packages for $21, which includes four cards and seven games. He emails people their own cards with instructions on how to join the Zoom meetings.
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Romantix and Si Novelties donate some of the sex toys used for prizes, and Aaron buys the rest — things like ten-inch dildos or cock rings. After each session, he sends the toys out to the winners.
On a typical Forbidden Bingo night online, Aaron plays about a half-hour of pre-show music like Richard Cheese or Postmodern Jukebox. During the games, he’ll spin everything from Beyoncé to Dua Lipa to the Jackson 5. The only thing that’s different from the live version is that he's cut down on the number of games online.
“All of our games — we have different calls for balls,” Aaron notes. "One of my fabulous bingo callers will call ‘B-4: You fuck me; spit on it.’ And then I’ll play a sound effect that's a spitting sound effect. And it's...it's a different energy online, for sure, but people still have a lot of fun with it. Thank goodness.”
Sign up for DJ Rockstar Aaron’s bingo nights at forbiddenbingo.com.