Obituary: Reenie Kane, longtime local DJ, 62

Reenie Kane, a DJ who spun at LGBT clubs and events in the area for decades, died Jan. 18 after a heart attack. She was 62. 

Known to many as the “First Lady of the Turntables,” Kane worked extensively in the Gayborhood and at other LGBT venues since the 1970s.

Robert “Sandy Beach” Hitchen met Kane when both were entertaining at Chez Paree in Atlantic City. They later connected when Kane was DJing at the now-defunct 12th Air Command in the 1990s and she brought Hitchen in for her Thursday USO shows. 

“We worked six years every single Thursday, no breaks, no vacations,” Hitchen recalled. “We became very close.” 

Ian Morrison, who portrays drag queen Brittany Lynn, also met Kane through the USO show and worked with her extensively as he developed his drag troupe, Drag Mafia.

“When I performed for my first time in drag as Brittany Lynn, [she] told me that I needed a drag name when I told the hostess, Tinsel Garland, that my stage name was Ian Morrison,” he laughed. “Since that first night we bonded and, over the course of the next two decades, Reenie spun the best of disco at every venue that ever brought in Drag Mafia.” 

“She was always looking for that new sound,” Hitchen said. “She knew what everybody wanted to hear. She had that sixth sense of what would make people dance.” 

In a 2009 interview with PhillyGayCalendar, Kane said her first-ever gig was at The R.A.R. in South Philadelphia in 1974. She worked at Chez Paree from 1978-90 and went on to spin at Gayborhood locales like 12th Air, Shampoo and Voyeur.

She was also a staple at community events and fundraisers. Kane played every year at AIDS Walk Philadelphia and also supported agencies like the South Jersey AIDS Alliance.

Her generosity was noted after she suffered a heart attack several years ago and the community turned out in force for a fundraiser at Voyeur to help her with medical bills. 

“She would give the shirt off her back to everybody and that came back to her when we did the fundraiser,” Hitchen said. “I’ve never seen so many people turn out for a fundraiser for an individual as I did that evening.” 

Morrison said Kane’s impact on the LGBT nightlife scene will continue to be felt. 

“She was a true trailblazer as a female DJ since the ’70s and touched so many lives in so many cities,” he said. “She was definitely the First Lady of the Turn Tables, and the strength behind all of the drag queens that ever took to the stage here in Philly.”

Kane is survived by longtime partner Adele Landini; sisters Katherine (Greg) and Margaret; brothers Michael (Suzan) and Charles (Linda); and many nieces, nephews and cousins. She was predeceased by parents William and Maureen, sister Loretta and brother William.

A service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 28 at St. Gabriel Church, 2917 Dickinson St. Friends are invited to gather afterward at ICandy, 254 S. 12th St.