Dennis Netto, known on air as Dennis Erectus, died Wednesday of a heart attack, six years after a previous attack left him brain damaged and under constant care in a Burlingame center.
Erectus was huge in the 1980s, a disc jockey who was Wellsian in his use of theater of the mind. He was shocking, yes, but unlike Howard Stern whose antics were racially and sexually provocative in a junior high locker room style, Erectus was more like a character in a strange Goth play. He was the FM Wolfman Jack, favoring music from heavy metal bands such as Black Sabbath.
He pushed back hard against the conformity of corporate radio and managed to survive in the industry he loved in one form or another until 2006, when he suffered a crippling heart attack after Thanksgiving dinner, as he was on his way to do a show.
You would see him in area bookshops or in the audience of concerts looking like a vampire. Not that he was made up or trying to be different. That was just him.
"DENNIS was an original and talented shock jock who pre-dated the notoriety of HOWARD STERN," producer Don West told All Access. DENNIS worked briefly in TEXAS, but SAN JOSE was his home. Even long after he left the station and KOME closed, selling its frequency to KUFX, people in the area still talk of him, and remember his remarkable style."
Erectus, 61, had recurring guest characters such as Mistress Monique, a dominatrix portrayed by writer/comedienne Stephanie Landers, The Reverend Jimmy Swaggart, a parody of the famous televangelist, and Johann Schmidt, a right wing Republican extremist, according to IMDB.com.
I used to lisen to Erectus from Santa Cruz, sticking the antennae out the window sometimes to make sure KOME could be heard over the static. The most frequent sentence that went through my mind was: "Did he really just say that?"
Hear a classic Dennis bit as he wrecks disco records here. Note his reference to the KOME spot on the dial. That was classic.
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