OPINION - Substance abuse, racism, misogyny and prejudice — my friend DJ Smokin Jo's story has it all


I’m not being funny but… I can’t believe it’s been two years since my life was changed forever. On May 22, 2022, I released I Don’t Take Requests and it went to the top of The Sunday Times bestseller charts.

I never imagined that my memoirs could ever be successful. I never imagined my story, with my trauma, would resonate with so many people. I wrote it thinking “if this could help just one person, then I’ll be happy”.

Well, to this day, I still get a dozen messages a day and I am so humbled. While writing it, I often wondered if I should really share every single little detail. When I handed in the manuscript those thoughts took over my entire body. I was petrified people wouldn’t get it, that they wouldn’t get me. It’s safe to say I am so happy I ended up doing it. I’m already working on book two. I can’t give much more than that but it won’t be an autobiography. That’s all I’m saying.

Today I’d like to talk about another book. Or funnily enough, another DJ’s autobiography. Smokin’ Jo, one of my oldest colleagues and friends, has written You Don’t Need a Dick to DJ and it’s out on May 23.

In ‘92 she was dubbed DJ Mag’s best DJ in the world — to this day she’s the only woman to have been so

We first started working together back in 1990 as the acid house movement was slowly forming. Throughout the years we’ve shared stages all over the world. In ’92 she was dubbed DJ Mag’s best DJ in the world and is to this day the only woman to have been so. A trailblazer in the truest sense of the word, she’s paved the way in allowing for equality for women in the industry.

As a woman of colour, she’s overcome so much adversity and to see that she is now going from strength to strength and being celebrated how she deserves to be makes me proud. Because of people like her, the road to success for black and queer artists in the music industry has been that little bit easier. It’s because of the bravery of dance music pioneers like Blessed Madonna, Honey Dijon, Sam Divine and Jo that in 2022-23, 30 per cent of festival line-ups were women. We’re almost there. I think all that needs to happen now is for more women and queer people to get into music to begin with. The fight for equality is being won.

Jo and I share a lot of parallels. We started young. We rose to fame way quicker than anybody anticipated and we both turned to drink and drugs. We now also share a sober journey.

In her book she documents her struggles over the years with substance abuse, racism, misogyny and prejudice… all to come out on the other side. Jo has not held back in writing her memoirs and I deeply respect that.

We’ve seen so many memoirs over the past few years that have been washed of any kind of trauma or vulnerability. Well, not this. Jo portrayed the nostalgia of those legendary parties in the Nineties in a beautiful way and still paying homage to its cultural impact, all while opening up about her trauma in an honest way. Pre-order her book from major stockists now. I’m happy I get to share some words about my dear friend on this platform.

Spice up your life... with karaoke

Something fun happened this week in London. I found out I love singing. My partner Stavvy was celebrating his birthday (all f***ing week!) and wanted to go to karaoke. Let me tell ya… I went to BAM in Victoria because they have some fantastic private booths, a chic bar and great food. Five minutes in I was up singing Spice Girls at the top of my lungs.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think anyone needs to hear me sing but letting loose in private with all my friends was the most fun I’ve had in ages. I would highly recommend giving it a go for a night out. It’s especially good for people that are bored of just going to straight cocktail bars. Pretty sober-friendly, incredibly fun evening out. SO GOOD.

Over the coming weeks I’ll be highlighting a more sober London so check back in. See you next Wednesday.

Track of the week: The Fall of Rome Relentless CNT Dub — Rush Davis, GIDEÖN

Fat Tony is a DJ and bestselling author