Over his more than 20-year career, DJ Mark Leventhal has made his mark on the South Beach music scene, spinning at ‘90s hotspots including The Spot and Warsaw and working private parties including one for Madonna.
Now, the community that he shared his musical talent with over the years is rallying behind the 50-year-old father of three who suddenly fell ill Wednesday and is now fighting for his life at Jackson North hospital.
“There is no doubt about it, he is gravely ill,” said his sister Amy Leventhal, who explained that her brother has an infection in his brain and throughout his body. “It’s going to be a tough road.”
Friends, family and fellow DJs are trying to make it a little easier by raising money through a fundraising website called youcaring.com and holding a fundraiser Tuesday night. So far, the community has donated more than $20,000 to Leventhal, who does not have medical insurance.
“He is hanging out there without a net,” said his sister, who said the money will go toward medical expenses and his children who are 10, 15 and 19. “The outpouring of support and love for the community has been amazing.”
On Tuesday, local DJs including Sean Drake, Tom Laroc and Tony G. will spin in his honor at Haven on Lincoln Road, where Leventhal until recently DJ’d an ‘80s themed party.
“He has given so much of himself over the years, we knew we had to do something,” said Ben Arndt, the manager of Haven. “A big part of why everyone knows him is because of his kindness.”
Leventhal, who came to Miami in 1992 from New Jersey, was self-taught, but was always on the cutting-edge of music, his sister said.
He quickly became a South Beach fixture, spinning at parties including Home Cookin' and Fat Black Pussycat.
Dirk DeSouza, a marketing consultant, said he met Leventhal 20 years ago when Leventhal had residencies at local clubs.
“I think anyone who has been to a party on South Beach knows who he is,” he said. “He was everywhere.”
Last Wednesday, Leventhal complained of back pain. A friend noticed that he looked pale. A trip to the urgent care center ended with Leventhal in the emergency room after he became incoherent, his sister said.
He was placed on a ventilator and his sister said he remained unconscious. She said playing music is affecting his heart rate: Bob Marley accelerates it, ‘80s ballads slow it down.
She also said the comments pouring in on his Facebook page have been comforting.
“Music is such an important part of his life,” she said. “It’s a tight-knit community and this proves it.”