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Super chums

Superchumbo

Star DJ-producer Superchumbo gets by with a little help from his friends--including his Pet Shop Boy ex

In a perfect world, Samantha Fox would be Charo. Here's the scoop: Fox contributes a flirtatious vocal on "Sugar," one of 12 tracks on Wowiezowie (Twisted), the new album from United Kingdom-based DJ-producer Superchumbo, a.k.a. Tom Stephan. But Fox, the soft-core pinup-cum-'80s pop singer, wasn't his first choice. "We were going to approach Charo," he admits. But concerns that the coochie-coochie Love Boat guest star didn't have enough clout in Europe nixed that notion. Besides, he notes, "next thing we know, she turns up on The Surreal Life."

No matter. Wowiezowie is still packed with stellar moments. For "Tranquilizer," a saucy number that nips the vocal hook from Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy," Stephan is joined by a former paramour: Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys. "He's still a really close friend," says the producer, 35. "But in the studio, it was different: Now I'm working with one of the Pet Shop Boys. I was a little intimidated."

The album also features the three number 1 club hits that have made Superchumbo a go-to remix producer for A-list acts like Kylie Minogue and Missy Elliott. But Stephan became a big name on the circuit by following his own muse, not pandering to popular tastes. When he unveiled his 2003 hit "This Beat Is," pundits warned it would flop because it was too dark. A chart-topping position, bolstered by heavy rotation by peers including Erick Morillo, proved naysayers wrong.

Stephan's penchant for hard tribal beats--accented with a sense of humor (he's a huge John Waters buff)--reflects his own ground-zero club experiences dancing to Junior Vasquez and Danny Tenaglia. "I'm always trying to re-create my experiences at Sound Factory," he says. Hence "Dirtyfilthy," a "bitch track" featuring cross-dressing vocalist Celeda. "Back in the day, there were always lots of freaky, bitchy drag queens around," Stephan reminisces. "Plus, I can't stand really serious house music."

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