club mel

Mel Ottenberg and Physical Therapy on Nasty Tracks and Sketchy Trade

Physical Therapy. Photos by Matt Grubb.

Welcome to Club Mel, our creative director Mel Ottenberg’s VIP area of the mind. Music, gossip, big personalities and love in the club. 💋  This week, Physical Therapy drops a DJ mix and talks to Mel about hot tracks and sketchy trade. A Club Mel EXCLUSIVE!


MEL OTTENBERG: Heyyyyyyyy. How you doin? How’s your life?

PHYSICAL THERAPY: I’m good. At Julius’ for the first time in a year.

OTTENBERG: How is Julius? Are you an honorary gay yet?

PHYSICAL THERAPY: Yes, it’s official now.

OTTENBERG: Official that you’re gay or an honorary gay? I guess we’re doing the interview already!!!!! Let’s just start this interview now and do it over dm, it’s easier! 

PHYSICAL THERAPY: Haha, honorary. I was trying to remember how we met and it finally hit me. You cast me at a party for Happy Socks.

OTTENBERG: We met when I styled you in 2011 for a Happy Socks campaign in a sock sculpture made by Adam Selman and shot by the photographer whose name we aren’t going to mention right now. So basically I met you through Jen Brill. And you and Haley were dating then.

PHYSICAL THERAPY: Yes. Time machine to 2011.

OTTENBERG: You were already a DJ then, right?

PHYSICAL THERAPY: Yes. Fresh to the scene.

Club Mel

OTTENBERG: Cool. Ok, so back to the present. Or, the recent hellscape. That mix of yours that I was listening to a lot in COVID is so fucking mega. What’s it called? It’s hot. It’s really long.



PHYSICAL THERAPY: Honcho Camp Out is this incredible queer camping festival in Pennsylvania.

OTTENBERG: It’s really the spiral for the spiral.

PHYSICAL THERAPY: That was recorded live. One of the best experiences of my life. I hadn’t slept in 2 days, and I had taken acid for the first time the night before and no one told me that you can’t sleep. So it was really an out-of-body experience.

OTTENBERG: Acid, babe. Your mixing is so disgusting and gnarly and good. It’s so hot.

PHYSICAL THERAPY: Thank you. I don’t even know how I was standing.

OTTENBERG: You were on another planet I guess. Wait, I’m gonna put it on now.

PHYSICAL THERAPY: Haha. There’s this unhinged energy there. Very friendly but very free. So I was feeding off that.

OTTENBERG: My SoundCloud is acting up. Will you send me the link to Honcho? We’ll add it to Club Mel for the people. Shout out the song at minute 25. INSANE fucking hot epic.

PHYSICAL THERAPY: Just found this. A set recorded at this queer party called Por Detroit in Mexico City. It was the last set I played before everything shut down last March.

OTTENBERG: Oooh this will be perfect. Ok, can you guess which song I wanna discuss first?


OTTENBERG: “Keep Control”! A “French Kiss” sample going into a “Work That Motherfucker” sample OK!!!!! Also that first song, is that a sample of “Charly” by The Prodigy? I think? This would be making me crazy if I was hearing this live. Even that first sample of A Run-D.M.C. song. That “da da da daaaaa.” There was this rave night at Vinyl summer ‘95 that always played a rave track with that sample and you just reminded me of it. I was in love with a raver with a perfect bowl cut and I can see him dancing to that track! Maybe this is that same track actually.

PHYSICAL THERAPY: Haha wow, yes. You are clocking a lot. I feel like I personally missed a lot of the history so I’m constantly trying to play catch up. When I play with Michael Magnan, he’s always explaining where and when the tracks were big.

OTTENBERG: Magnan fucking knows. “Keep Control” is the real gag for me. Because that’s Junior at Earth in 2002, which is so dark and not cool but also really major.

PHYSICAL THERAPY: Hahahaha. Honestly, I got super back into it in 2019 and kept playing to see if anyone would say anything. You are the first.

Physical Therapy

OTTENBERG: I love that. It’s very Mel alone with sketchy trade dancing with muscle vampires on a Sunday morning 19 years ago. You know, I’ve created a pretty amazing Junior album on my iTunes of key Sound Factory, Arena, Twilo, and Earth hits that I still listen to and I should burn it for you. I only use iTunes. Is that weird?

PHYSICAL THERAPY: I still use it!

OTTENBERG: Limewire and downloaded mixes is how I got my house and techno library, which is pretty fucking extensive. So thats why no Spotify. I like what I like. My least favorite sentence is “But its not on Spotify.”  No kidding, bitch!

PHYSICAL THERAPY: I work at this online record store now. I’m literally going through a huge pile of disco. Maybe ⅓ of it would be on Spotify.

OTTENBERG: Oh wow, I cant wait to hear all of it. Wait, I was right on the “Charly” sample, too?  I’m listening to “Charly” right now. It’s so nasty. I was such a bad kid. My poor parents, lol. 

PHYSICAL THERAPY: Yeah, it’s from this Breaks record that has 10 huge samples on every track. I was a bad kid, but in a very PG-13 way. Pothead medicine cabinet raiding. I remember I bought a pill of ecstasy when I was 14, but was too scared to take it. Maybe I would’ve gotten into dance much sooner.

OTTENBERG: I was sneaking out and going to house clubs in DC all the time. 10th grade was incredible. Tracks, Fifth Column and The Vault.  DC was burning up. It was ‘92 so the songs were like “House of God,” “I’ll Be Your Friend,” “Dominator,” “Work This Pussy,” “Work That Motherfucker,” “French Kiss,” and “Energy Flash.” 15-16 was so insane musically for me. I didn’t get into rave till I was a freshman in college because I was so gagged for house. My best friend Elsa took Kevin Aviance to the prom when we were 16 we were always on the phone talking about status in the clubs. I looked like a gay boy version of Dawn Weiner from Welcome to the Dollhouse and Elsa was shimmering in Chanel jewels bought from stealing cash from her parents. We were ROTTEN.

PHYSICAL THERAPY: Wow you were clued in. I was in a band wearing polyester 3 piece suits and trying to be the next Red Hot Chili Peppers. I used to listen to KTU growing up which was very house and freestyle. But I didn’t get back into it until I moved to NYC.

OTTENBERG: I’m sure you looked great. You really do look good in polyester.

PHYSICAL THERAPY: Haha, yes I will find one when I get home. I still wear a lot of poly.

OTTENBERG: You’ve got a sleazy look, baby. I dig it. Are you single? The Club Mel audience will wanna know.

PHYSICAL THERAPY: Ha, yeah, anyways, I’m at Keen’s Steakhouse celebrating your columnist Steven’s birthday. We’re in the pipe room.

OTTENBERG: Oh cute, tell him I say Happy Birthday. I love Keen’s. Enjoy! We’ll finish our ki tomorrow. I’m on a flight from hell. It’s dumb.

Physical Therapy

PHYSICAL THERAPY: I’m in the bathroom on a vape break. Didn’t you just get back?

OTTENBERG: Oh, chic. I’m on another plane, yes I did! Got home on Wednesday night and now I’m going somewhere else.

PHYSICAL THERAPY: I haven’t been on a plane since last March. It’s actually insane. NYC is basically back. A few clubs have opened and the rest are opening in a few weeks. You just need the excelsior app to get in which shows you either got vaxxed or had a negative test in the last 2 days.

OTTENBERG: Yes ok I gotta get the app. I’m VAXXED and I don’t party anymore but I was maybe gonna go to meet my girlies at like 6 am at Unter when that happens in a few weeks.

PHYSICAL THERAPY: Unter is always fun. The energy at the parties I’ve been to so far have been insane. So I say go.

OTTENBERG: Yeah I was thinking that if I go 6-9 am with my crazy friends it’ll be like going on a wild safari. When am I hearing you play?

PHYSICAL THERAPY: I’m playing on a boat on Thursday, but I feel like you’re not coming to that haha. I’ll let you know.

OTTENBERG: Nope, I’m away and also I’m not doing a kundle boat these days.

PHYSICAL THERAPY: You’re entering the private yacht on the Amalfi coast phase of your life. I don’t blame you.

OTTENBERG: Oh babe, I’m at the Marriott breakfast area in Memphis. Very Craigslist serial killer but thank you for that anyway. Hey, is the mix good to upload?

PHYSICAL THERAPY: I have a mastered version. I’ll send it to you. Just uploading it now. Our interview is done haha.

OTTENBERG: Hahaha yeah. You’re my first DM interview.


P.S.: Here’s a link to Physical Therapy’s new album Dead Rock.
P.P.S.: Mel didn’t go to Unter, as planned. He got 9 hours the night before and met his “girlies” at Nowadays on Sunday morning, which was very high level. Amazingly, the DJs were the three guys that make up Honcho AND he ran into Daniel and danced his last dance of the afternoon with him. Honcho is now Mel’s inner truth.