When Kayla Radics goes to work, she knows people will stare. She can feel the eyes sizing her up as she puts on her headphones and starts her computer. They’re locked on her every move, waiting for her to screw up or show weakness.
She is a female disc jockey who goes by “Whiskey Business.”
Radics, a 22-year-old accounting and international business major at UF, got her start about two years ago when she worked as bar manager at Ambar nightclub in Australia.
One night, after watching a big-name DJ perform, she went up into the booth to compliment the man. She ended up getting a free lesson.
After that, she was hooked.
Soon after, she came back to Florida, bought some turntables and has been spinning ever since. She even got a bass clef tattooed on her wrist to symbolize the new love of her life.
“Playing music is the only time that my head is clear,” she said.
But living the life of a DJ hasn’t been easy for Radics. As a woman in a male-dominated industry, she has to take a lot of flak from her peers.
Perceived gender roles only make the job harder. Some promoters, Radics said, just want a pretty face. She believes they don’t understand the art behind it.
She said promoters often approach her while she’s playing to recruit her for other events, but when she follows up with them, all they’re interested in is hooking up. In terms of professional work, there is none.
And some people are just plain mean. One night when Radics showed up to play a club set, the resident DJ realized she was a woman. He then turned to the guy next to him and started making jokes right in her face.
He made her play the opening set and turned off all the computer monitors so she couldn’t see what she was doing. He sat there laughing for a while, then kicked her off and turned the monitors back on for everyone else.
But the struggle pays off. Radics will open for the dubstep dynamo 12th Planet at Spannk, 21 SW Second St., on Wednesday.