DJ Headmaster (aka Stuart Myerburg)

Stuart Myerburg – better known as DJ Headmaster to those who flock to LGBTQ+ bar Mary’s in East Atlanta Village – has been spinning music and videos for two decades. His  Baddest Bitch series, which pays homage to gay icons in music, has become a signature event at Mary’s. During the pandemic, his Queer Bait sets have been streaming live on Twitch so patrons can have a dance party in their living rooms. We caught up with Myerburg for this special Q&A as part of our new Spotify channel. You can listen below to the DJ’s In the Mix playlist curated especially for Intown.

Q. Tell us a bit about you?
A. I’ve lived
in Atlanta since 1987. During the day, I’m a health scientist at CDC, so DJ’ing is a nice counterbalance to that. My DJ name is a reference to The Smiths’ song “The Headmaster Ritual.”

Q. How did you become the DJ at Mary’s?
A. Back in the beginning days of Mary’s, there was a resident DJ who covered all DJ nights. When he moved, that left a gap. Ben and Bill, the current owners, started DJ’ing on Fridays, but no one was doing Thursday nights. So, I started playing music just for the fun of it on Thursdays and that eventually led to my resident Friday night spot when Ben and Bill purchased Mary’s.

Q. And you’ve been there for 20 years? 
A. I think I started DJ’ing in 2001. At least that’s the earliest date I have on DVDs I was using!

Q. What makes Mary’s so special?
The people, first and foremost. There is a true sense of community and inclusivity. You also really have the opportunity to stretch the boundaries of the music you play and everyone is willing to go along for the ride.

Q. What’s a memorable moment on the decks?
A. Our birthday celebrations are always fun, but our 17th couple of years ago was particularly memorable. The tributes and love we got from that one were really special: And of course Baddest Bitch: Kate Bush as well, where I got to play Kate and only Kate all night long.
Q. How do you pick your music set/theme every week?
A. We have some theme nights that have become Mary’s standards, like Boys of Summer, Madonnarama, or Disco Hangover, that get scheduled throughout the year. We also started doing our Baddest Bitch series a couple of years ago to highlight queer music icons, and we try to make those happen every couple of months. But for a normal night at Mary’s, I combine new music that I want people to hear with staples that are resonating with me that week and then allow a LOT of room for improvisation based on what the crowd is reacting to that night. I often come to Mary’s with a fully formed plan in my head and end up playing only 15% of that because the vibe called for something totally different.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.