For decades, Brooklyn native David Morales has been a figure in the evolution of house music--and the internationally known star has no problem letting it all hang out.

Morales was once nabbed by a London newspaper while he relaxed on a nude beach, and he used to say that if he wasn't a DJ, he'd be a porn star. He'd even like to pose for Playgirl.

But there's much more to reveal about this Grammy-winning producer, who appears at this weekend's MOVE! 2006 Chicago International House Music Festival. He's worked with an immense list of stars (including Mariah Carey and U2), hosted MTV's "The Grind" and contributed to the YouthAIDS campaign.

Though we were jealous Morales was on a beach in Ibiza, Spain, when we spoke, we tried not to hold it against him.

How do you define house music?

The way I would define it, only the people that went clubbing out from 1984 to 1988 would actually know what house music is. House music is a Chicago sound, because it originated [there], and it was a really deep, dirty, underground sound. Very groovy, bassline-heavy.

How do you know when a crowd's responding?

I'll tell you when you know they're not responding: when they clear the dance floor. Some audiences express themselves louder than others. You may go to a club, and the floor is packed, and you do some great things and you never lose your cool, but they don't really express themselves so loudly. Then you can go some place where the people scream, they holler, they throw their hands up in the air and they show their expression.

I heard you were offered-- and turned down--Playgirl. [Turns out Morales' rep turned it down, without asking Morales.]

I would never turn down a spread in Playgirl! Never in a million years. What guy wouldn't like to spread his body in Playgirl, unless he's 300 pounds and fat? I'm definitely not shy. I want the centerfold. Do you know the number to Playgirl? Call them and say David Morales would like to do a spread in your magazine.

How has MTV changed since you hosted "The Grind"?

MTV in America is much safer; they're more into consuming the general public than breaking new ground. It's one thing to have reality shows, but when you're called MTV, which means music and is supposed to expose music from all around the world, I think it's kinda bulls***. When you go to MTV in Europe, for all kinds of styles of music you have videos.

Should they change the name?

Maybe Part-Time Music TV channel? Yeah, PT-MTV.

You were once shot. Do you have anything else in common with 50 Cent?

I lived somewhat his lifestyle, but I was a little smarter than he was. But at the end of the day, he's a multimillionaire and I'm not. He got himself a clothing line, and I don't.

Would you do a "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" album?

No. Because I'd rather get rich and live to tell about it.

Matt Pais is the metromix music and movies producer.

mpais@tribune.com

Originally published July 19, 2006.