DJ Luis Mario

Interview with : Luis Mario Orellana Rizzo (DJ Luis Mario)

Luis Mario was there at the birth of disco and he still is a great dj after 40 years of dj'ing. You can still hire him for your Private Events for Clubs, Private Parties, Theme Parties, Weddings, Corporate Events from New York to South Florida and every town in between and you will get a show you will never forget ! Here is my interview with Luis were he shares his memories of his wonderful career:

-When did you discover disco music and how old were you:
Well, I will have to start by saying that my beginnings are way before “Disco” came to be. As a young kid I was surrounded by members of my family that are musically inclined and music was a huge part of my childhood. As I was ending my High School in 1969 before I graduated I was in love with the idea of going into the army, so one day before graduating I decided to enlist and I went to Times Square in New York. In those days there was recruiting offices right in the middle of T.S. so I approached the officer and before I open my mouth, he ask and say did you finish your High School yet? I reply no sir; I have 3 months to go. The officer looked at me and say, go back and finish then come back and I’ll be here to help you. Well, 3 months later at the end of 1969 I stared to go to clubs like the Machine at the Hotel Empire, the Heaven in the Village downtown Manhattan, the Jungle and other one day I went to a club call the “Sanctuary” I was taken by the music, the crowd and the ambiance, the DJ was Francis Grasso. I was in love with the power that this man had in front of 3 thousand people in front of him. He was in charge and the audience responded in a way that it was overwhelming. At that point I decided that I would be a DJ. The passion I had to become a soldier in the army had left my thoughts and my passion became the music and performing in dance clubs. Immediately I became friends with Francis and I became his understudy keeping the same play list for at list 2 years as I was getting more and more involved with the new music style that we had to get used to. So when Disco came I was in full gear and already had several years a professional night club DJ. Obviously there is so much more history to tell you about my beginnings, I’m trying to put it all in a book soon enough.

-Where did you buy your records, and were you member of a DJ record pool:
In the early days as a DJ, the only choice was to do your own research and walk into every record store that you can find in order to look into all the crates or binds to find that special song that you can introduce to the crowd that night and see what kind of reaction you will get. You needed to use your instinct as a DJ to choose the right groove that can appeal to your audience The other thing that we used to do was to meet with other DJ’s during the day and go to all the record companies individually and get the “product” as we called all the record companies had a promoter. These promoters worked hard, they did the running around during the night. They used to stop by the clubs that we were playing and distribute the records that they felt it was worth promoting. But even if you got a record that night, we DJ’s decided to go straight to their office and hang out to try to get more music from them, music that they only had a couple of copies maybe hidden, and we will persist in getting that special record that the promoter was going to give to other DJ’s that was playing at a more excusive night club in the city. Most of us became good friends with those promoters. As I remember years later a dear friend of mine DJ Paul Casella, Dave D’Aquisto and David Mancuso signed a letter of intent (I have the letter in my archives) to open a Record Pool. David Mancuso opens the first record pool in the Soho area 99 Prince Street. New York. I was one of the first members along with the elite DJ’s of the time. This list is the foundation of the Legends of VinylTM Hall of FameTM.

-Can you share some memories about the record pool and how it was getting the records each:
Once a week DJ’s will come to get their product and fill in a feedback sheet to keep record of each song and to get the top 20, 50, 100. Feedback on the label and how the song is doing in each club that we play. One of the fun memories at 99 Prince St. was the meetings when we all got together and see each other for a few moments because we will work as in my case 7 night a week and there was no time left to hang out. I was lucky that I’ve always worked the full week for decades and worked in hundreds of clubs in New York and abroad.

-In Which Disco’s did you DJ:
Well, here is a little history from my 4 decades.
Celebrating 42 years as a Pioneer and Legendary Night Club D.J.

First D.J. to Pioneer "touring" across the country and abroad in the early 70's. Representing New York club DJ's throughout the country and David Mancuso's and Eddie Rivera's I.D.R.C. Record Pools.

First D.J. to perform live 4 hour non-stop in New York's Radio WKTU FM in 1978.

The only D.J. to make history by Killing Disco in Las Vegas to introduce the New Wave era, broadcasted around the world by Entertainment Tonight Show in 1980.

Here are just a few Club memories that I can remember.
In 1973 afterhours/underground clubs where too few to get into as a DJ, so just like so many other DJ’s I had to join The Mainstream Clubs and I landed a job at Mr. Laffs Owned by Art Shamsky and Phill Linz, two ex Yankee players, on First Ave & 64th St. In a matter of weeks the line of people outside waiting to come in extended around the corner. They were coming in to partake in the wondrous musical trip that educated the minds of all my following based on my musical training beginnings in the Sanctuary, The Haven, Machine 1, The Jungle, Superstar.

A dream came true when I was asked to play at a membership only afterhours "Private Club. This club had the Underground atmosphere touch, that’s why I felt at home.
The place was called Cobra's, a most decadent atmosphere where the artist will come to hang out from musicians to actors. Cobra's was on the 7th floor of 18th & Broadway, owed by Dennis Johnston/Dennis Cobra. The ambiance started in the elevator where a dancer from the Trocedero Ballet Co. (a gay ballet company) would welcome you with a differently decorated elevator every Friday and Saturday night. 7 floors up you walked into a living room where the hostesses were several Cobras in a large enclosed aquarium. You could actually trip your night away watching these snakes munch on guinea pigs and rabbits. Enough said!!! What a trip of a job that was - I loved it.

I worked at such clubs as Le Cocu, The Sting, Directoire/Twinkle Zone, Abracadabra, Cork & Bottle, The Ritz, Night Moves, Reflections/Ginza, Adonis, The Tower Suite Disco, The Rooftop, Les Muches, Studio 54, The Top Floor, Percival, L'oubliette, Rockabout, Magique, Somebody's, Chip n Dales, Mr. Laffs, The Rainbow Room, Top of The World, Avolation, Melons, Levels, Stillwind, Iperbole, The Lollipop, Green Parrot, Galaxy, Ground Zero, The Cat Club, The Copacabana.

Luis Mario, Roy Webb & DC La Rue - at The Copacabana New York - 1981.

This was just in New York. In 1977, I was part of the Billboard Convention in New York and I met a Disco producer Jessie Sertain who had an idea for a great project in Honolulu Hawaii. I was chosen to be part of Disco Fever 2000 my first out-of-state performance making me the first DJ to tour nationally and abroad.

When I got back to New York I was approached by Phil Gary the man who brought the Rolling Stones to The States, he was also interested in my ability to make a night an unforgettable experience and got me out of state gigs. In 1977 another producer Roy Webb got me to be the first club DJ to play in a radio station for the first time WKTU FM was creating a show to have famous DJs playing continuous music throughout the entire 4 hour show just like in the dance clubs. I also toured in Dallas Texas - daVinci, Max 151 - Los Angeles California - 20th Century Fox - Charlotte N. Carolina, Octaves - Louieville Kentuky.

After that, Las Vegas called and I was on my way to "Kill Disco" televised nationally at Club Money. And worked at Paul Ankas Jubilation. When I came back to New York I landed at world famous The Copacabana from 1980  1983 then I was once again called on by Roy Webb to open one of the most unique club/cabaret/theatre to hit New York The Cat Club. Where I had the pleasure to share the DJ booth with one of the greats my friend Paul Casella. For 3 more years I carried the responsibility to keep myself on top of the game. In the mid and late 80s I was pulled in so many directions by club owners that wanted the same concepts that I created for other top named clubs. The 90s came and I was ready to tackle South Florida opening one club after another and keeping the endurance and energy to land major contracts. I had the opportunity to work and own clubs in South Florida. The famous "Lounge" in Coral Springs, Coco Loco's, Joseph's Landing, Conga's, Deco Drive, Miami Joe's, Polo Lounge, Cory Cafe, Savoy, Club Escape, Platforms. Now in the new millenium, I have reached so many highs that I am ready to change once again with the new era, and to this day in 2013, I am reaching for new levels in playing.
I can say without exception....What a Life!

-Any favorite club of those:
Believe me there are a few, not just one that I find my favorite. I have been blessed in finding the right club every time.

-Did you had a special DJ name:
My name is Luis Mario Orellana Rizzo, so, from the beginning I was known as “Flaco” means “Skinny” then my manager needed to introduce me as Luis Orellana. That along was difficult for radio DJ’s or any person that will have to introduce me to the audience, so later on I decided to just go by DJ Luis Mario and it works.

-How did you find out about the existence of the disco acetates and did you play the acetates at the disco:
Now, this is great because as I told you we walked the city and we stopped by every record company in New York. One day we heard that there is a place call “Sunshine Sound” and you can record your remixes and get an acetate, that was fantastic. So we decided to stop by and I was introduced to a young John Morales, I’m sure that he won’t remember this he was bombarded by every DJ in town after a few weeks. I started to stop by Sunshine once a week at least. Then I will go to the club at night very excited and wait for the right moment to introduce the remix version. It was simple but it was the only thing we had in those days to make us happy.

-Which places besides Sunshine Sound did you bought acetates:
Actually we I had the good fortune to get other acetates from other friends including Walter Gibbons. I will get a copy because I was working at a popular club and that’s how it goes, if you are at the right club things happen.

-Do you still have all your records:
Not all of them as I had in New York. Years of moving from one place to another I lost thousands of vinyl. Now I have about 14 thousand in my studio including 45 RPM all the original records from when I started. I look at them, I play them and I know that soon enough I have to make a decision to sell them before I’m gone. My wife has no idea how much they are worth. She knows that they are special and how much I care but not enough for her to make a good decision if she had to sell. I guess that’s typical from DJ’s wife’s. or DJ’s husbands.

-Are you still DJ íng today:
Absolutely 100% involved in the art of DJ’ing. Not doing full nights anymore I don’t have the stamina to stand for more than 4 hours carrying the club as I always did. Enjoying every minute when I have the opportunity to perform.


I wanna thank Luis Mario “Flaco” Orellana Rizzo for this interview and to share this history and as Luis always say….L.O.V. is the message !!