A notorious disc jockey who is friends with Elton John and DJ’d at Brooklyn Beckham’s wedding is sharing his personal journey with addiction, rehab and recovery in Birmingham this month.

DJ Fat Tony – real name Tony Marnach – and his co-author Michael Hennegan will be in conversation at Selfridges in Birmingham, as they celebrate the paperback release of I Don’t Take Requests.

Harrowing, honest, and funny, I Don’t Take Requests is the candid and outrageous memoir of a life of extremes. It’s a story of getting it all and losing it all. Addiction, recovery, and starting again.

Drawing a vivid portrait of Britain’s street culture from the 1980’s to the noughties, House music legend Fat Tony describes his childhood on a London estate where he honed his petty criminality, was abused by an older man, and became best friends with Boy George.

He spent his teenage years parading Kings Road in his mostly stolen latest fashion attire, worked as a receptionist at a brothel, hung out with Leigh Bowery and Andy Warhol, and created his drag persona; all before becoming DJ to the stars – including Prince and Madonna – and spiralling into a life threatening drug addiction.

Drug addiction

Tony’s addiction continued for years while he worked as a top DJ, sometimes earning £100,000 per night.

The popular artist, whose inner circle contains A-list celebs like Kate Moss and Victoria Beckham, has since bravely opened up about his transformation over a decade in recovery.

DJ Fat Tony's book 'I Don't Take Requests' documents his life journey of addiction, music and recovery Supplied
DJ Fat Tony’s book ‘I Don’t Take Requests’ documents his life journey of addiction, music and recovery

Having discovered drugs when he was 18 and convinced he couldn’t perform his craft unless he was high, Fat Tony would go four or five nights straight without sleeping, affecting his perception of reality.

At one point he claims he became ‘so psychotic’ that he believed there were creatures living inside his gums and attempted to remove them using household DIY tools.

Speaking to new! magazine in 2021, he said: “It got to the stage where I’d pull my teeth out of my mouth with my bare fingers or pry them out with a screwdriver. My whole face was numb from the drugs so it didn’t hurt.”

Following personal problems resulting from his numerous addictions, Fat Tony decided to give up drugs cold turkey, spending six months in rehab to beat the affliction.

LGBT+ activism

Now 16 years sober, he has enjoyed a career revival, becoming a favourite DJ on the fashion scene, all while being a leading voice on recovery as well as an ardent LGBTQ+ activist.

The 56-year-old also revealed this week that he is waiting for clearance from the Qatar government for him and his boyfriend Stavros Agapiou to travel to the country, despite both being HIV positive. It is currently illegal to enter the Middle Eastern country if you have the virus.

“I have been waiting for clearance from the Qatar government, for me and my boyfriend, who are both HIV positive, to go to a country where it is illegal to be HIV positive,” he said.

“I have been very vocal about members of my community going to Qatar and promoting it with everything that’s going on in the world and the human rights atrocities.”

“I’ve got hypocrite tattooed on my hand for a reason. I can very well say this stuff, but I’m going to Qatar later this year to experience it firsthand.”

Fat Tony hopes to highlight LGBTQ+ and trans rights in the country, where male same sex relationships are officially illegal.

The DJ also helps at Resort 12, an LGBT specialist rehab clinic in Thailand, stating he thinks people in the community need special care.

The musician, who now hosts The Recovery Podcast, will be signing copies of his book at Selfridges Birmingham on Wednesday 31 May between 6pm – 8pm.

Tickets cost £10 and include a copy of ‘I Don’t Take Requests’, a Q&A panel discussion, as well as a live DJ set. Click here for tickets.

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