The Facebook post by Wendy Hunt’s sister, Kavita Hunt, stunned the DJ community from Miami to Boston.
“After decades of struggle and suffering — some she shared with Facebook friends, though most she endured privately — Wendy died last night. She took her own life. For all of us, this is a tremendous loss. I cannot express all I’m feeling right now. Beyond words. You may feel similarly. … For now, there are tears, and questions, and love.”
DJ Hunt, who lived in Wilton Manors, was a fixture spinning at Winter Party and White Party events like “Relight My Fire Welcome Parties” in Miami. Her sets at South Beach clubs like Score and tea parties at The Surfcomber and Shore Club during nightlife’s explosion there in the 1990s helped break barriers for women in the club community and made her an icon in the gay community. She was also a regular at Boston’s Avalon nightclub.
“She was quite a trailblazer as a female DJ in a male world,” said friend Anne Clarke.
Hunt died on Aug. 7 not long after creating a Sundown mix for 102.7 The Beach Miami. The first track: ABBA’s ebullient 1980 thumper “Lay All Your Love on Me.”
Hunt, who was also known professionally as Wendella Blendella and the Queen Mother of Disco because of her predilection for melodic pop and dance music of the 1970s and ’80s, was 64.
Tributes flowed into Facebook from Miami pop singer Teri DeSario (“Ain’t Nothing Gonna Keep Me From You”) to DJ Bill Kelly, who often spun at Winter Party events with Hunt.
Fellow circuit DJ Susan Morabito paid tribute to Hunt’s influence in her post from New York. “One of the first of three groundbreaking female DJs who made a mark in the ’70s and opened up the doors to the rest of us. Her contribution and dedication to her art will never go unnoticed.”
Hunt was born in California and spent her formative years in Massachusetts. In the early 1970s, as disco started to bubble up from clubs to the mainstream through 1974 hits like the Hues Corporation’s “Rock the Boat” and Miami singer George McCrae’s “Rock Your Baby,” Hunt fell under its hypnotic sway.
“I was bit by the bug while dancing to the jukebox at the 1270,” Hunt told the Pride Fort Lauderdale website. “Little did I know that moment would pave the road to a lifetime career.” She scored her first DJ gig at Boston’s 1270.
Circuit events such as White Party Palm Springs, Purple Party Dallas, Ascension Party Fire Island Pines, Valley of the Dolls in Dallas and Miami dance parties followed.
“Wendy was an exceptional DJ whose keen ear and skillful hands brought forth music that packed dance floors and delighted flaggers from Boston to Florida and across the U.S.,” her sister said on Facebook. “She was passionate about her craft, and was never more content than when mixing music — live, or on media — from 1974 till just this past Sunday afternoon on the Sundown mix.”
Hunt struggled with addictions to cocaine and alcohol, and bipolar disorder, her sister said. “She often walked a delicate balance between living and dying.”
But Hunt, who also volunteered for Lab Rescue of Florida, inspired many.
DJ Abel Aguilera, a regular at Miami Beach’s old Salvation club, whose 1995 remix of Gloria Estefan’s “Tres Deseos” helped transform Estefan into a club mainstay, called Hunt “our friend, our mentor, our sister, a pioneer” on Facebook. “Let’s not forget …to be thankful this beautiful soul touched our hearts in such a classy way.”
There are currently no plans for a public memorial in Miami, Kavita Hunt said. She has set up a You Caring page to help with cremation, memorial arrangements and other expenses.