Anita Sarko and Johnathan Marder at “Danny Says” screening on Sept. 22, 2015.
It is with profound sorrow that we announce the loss of our friend Anita Sarko. It was only a little over a month ago that the stunning writer and DJ joined us for the Danny Fields documentary, Danny Says. Anita was a true artist that didn’t weigh her worth on the fact that Prince and Cher hired her to DJ their parties or that Andy Warhol photographed her. She knew that true creativity comes from within and its meaningless whether you are “in” or “out.”
“I am speechless and heartbroken. Anita Sarko was a giant. I remember, decades ago, a packed party at the Jefferson Theatre. Anita deejaying, I was high as a kite huddled in behind her in that tiny corner booth. She forever altered my idea of a DJ with her set that night. One instant which consisted of playing an hour long recording of Timothy Leary speaking psychedelic wisdom overlaid with recordings of birdsongs, mixing that with the sounds of steam rattling in pipes. It was amazing and the whole crowd loved it. It truly was another time and another place. I will always love you and will never forget carrying those huge crates of records for you. Rest in power dearest Anita.”
Fashion designers loved her and she became the music supervisor for shows by Marc Jacobs, Betsey Johnson, Nicole Miller, Vivienne Westwood, Thierry Mugler, Donna Karan, and Calvin Klein. among others. As well as having a great ear, Anita contributed her writing skills to Playboy, Seventeen, Paper, Spin, Raygun, and Interview magazines. She was a strong woman and a living work of art, regularly deejaying at The Mudd Club in the late 70’s, and at Danceteria and the Palladium in the ’80’s. Celebrity DJ Calvin Harris grossed $66 million dollars last year and has Anita to thank for his success. She paved the way for DJ’s to make money at their craft, being the first paid DJ to jet set around with a strong following.
I picked up a few details from her close friend Micheal Musto’s column on http://www.papermag.com. Anita had bravely battled and survived ovarian and uterine cancers and by way of surgery, came out clear earlier this year. It seems the nightlife icon felt discarded in recent years as work came to a dead stop. She was archiving and writing for Patrick McMullen’s blog but he had to lay her off as his business wasn’t doing well. The nightlife fashionista explored working at a local hardware store with no luck. She wrote a blog and was hoping to publish a book of her Palladium diaries but went into panic mode when her computer crashed. She was terrified that she wouldn’t get it back from the repair shop. It was returned the day after her departure from this world.
“In a scene with few female role models, she was downtown royalty. As I fledgling DJ and scenester in NYC, I was blessed to have been summoned to her court of cool. I am pissed off that artists and unique individuals like Anita and so many other creatives have been crowded out of their livelihoods and stripped of their self-esteem. To me it seems like the only creativity our current culture values is entrepreneurial. That seems boring and short sighted.”
The outside doesn’t necessarily reflect the inside, as Anita was as vivacious as ever dressed in black leather pants and cool shades at the movie screening. I remember thinking she was the star of the night, the most lovely woman in the room with an electric smile and gorgeous blonde locks.
On October 18th, Anita’s husband came home and discovered her body. She left a sweet note expressing her love for her dear husband as well as three of her closest friends, Micheal Musto, childhood pal Linda, and Kohle Yohannan. She was a fierce creative force and a loyal friend. Time for the angels to put down those harps, the party has started, Anita has arrived.