Legendary DJ Tony Marnach is no stranger to a wild story or two.
From hanging out with superstar Cher at a São Paulo hotel and waking up at Maradona’s mansion to a seriously scary journey to Gerogia and an arrest at Heathrow,
But he’s also got a real appreciation for travel, and rediscovering Ibiza’s natural magic
What is your favourite on-the-road moment?
Attending the 2015 amfAR [The Foundation for Aids Research] annual Inspiration Gala in São Paulo was a pretty special moment. Cher was honoured with the amfAR Award of Inspiration, which recognised her lifelong support in the fight against Aids.
Spending four days with Cher is any gay man’s dream come true. She came into my hotel room and sat on the bed, and the first thing I said was, ‘Did you know I Got You Babe was released the year I was born?’ She replied, ‘Get the f*** out of here!’
She is truly amazing, so much fun and an incredibly positive, approachable person – some people on this planet are superstars because they embody it regardless of what they do for a living and Cher is one of them.
And your favourite city?
After London, it’s New York. I secured the dream residency at the Palladium club at only 18 years old [it closed in 1997] but when I became an addict [to alcohol and drugs] in my twenties, I didn’t travel for 25 years, so fully rediscovering it ten years ago was magical.
I love The High Line, an abandoned elevated railway track stretching over the west side of Lower Manhattan that’s been planted with thousands of trees and converted into a park (free admission).
The East Village is great because it’s still got an authentic New York feel. The Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street is a gay bar and also the site of the 1969 riots that launched the gay rights movement so that’s of real interest to any LGBT person.
What keeps you sane on the road?
Being on social media. I work a 12-step programme so it’s all about staying connected.
The good thing about recovery is you’re open to meeting new people whatever country you’re in. All you need to do is find the nearest meeting. It’s a fellowship in the true sense of the word.
When have you been most frightened while travelling?
Looking for a non-existent party in the favelas of Brazil at 3am was pretty scary. But the worst was when I had a gig in Batumi in Georgia and had to travel through the whole of Turkey to get there.
The driver didn’t speak English. He kept stopping off and disappearing into the woods, leaving me in the car for 20 minutes at a time.
I kept thinking he was going to kill me and drag me into the woods. When we finally crossed the border, there were machine guns everywhere as Georgia had just ended the conflict with Russia.
What has been your most life-changing experience while travelling?
Throughout my deepest days of addiction, I only really travelled to the off licence so the ability to realise there’s a massive world out there is the most amazing privilege we have in life. I never take that for granted.
Going back to Ibiza for the first time when I got clean was a big deal. I first started going in 1983, when there were very few clubs there.
It was a far more bohemian experience then so to go back after it had become a party island but not go to the parties, and instead reopen my eyes to its natural magic and beauty, was incredible.
Where is the strangest place you’ve spent the night?
In Argentina I spent the night at Maradona’s mansion. As you can imagine, one night turned into three… That was the weirdest experience.
We went out to meet his manager and lost track of time, and when I finally woke up I was surrounded by guns. It was bizarre.
Have you ever come close to being arrested?
I’ve been arrested loads of times. You name it: falling asleep in airport toilets, arguing, not being allowed on flights.
I was arrested once coming back into London Heathrow for an unpaid fine. So, having not slept, I spent the night in jail just to get cautioned for not paying £30.
Where are you hoping to go next?
With the announcement of better things to come this summer, I’m overjoyed that bookings for real-life dance events are no longer a thing of the past.
Before then, I’ll be playing BBL CLB, the best virtual music experience around (tickets from £12.50). When we can travel again, I want to head to the Amazon rainforest to explore.
Fat Tony plays online immersive rave experience BBL CLB x Secretsundaze on March 20 and Reebok Presents Rinse FM x BBL CLB on April 2, tickets £12.50.
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