Jaco Lourens: For those who don’t already know, please tell us about yourself and your connection with the Leather world.
Demetri: I got involved in the Leather community back in the early 90s through a group called the Men of Discipline in New York City. I helped start the chapter in San Francisco, too. But, more recently, I’ve been serving as the Executive Director of Folsom Street Events for the past 11 years, helping to grow the organization and make our events as big and powerful as they can be. I’m married to an amazing man, and we have an adopted son together.
1. Please tell us who got you started in the Leather community and for how long?
Demetri: If it hadn’t been for the Men of Discipline, I probably wouldn’t have been so attracted to the community. Many evenings were spent training and being hosted at The Lure. My involvement has spanned over 20 years now, and it sure does seem like a lot has changed in that time.
2. Which club or bar are you affiliated with and tell us more about the history?
Demetri: I’m not a titleholder so I don’t affiliate with any particular bar or club. As a community leader, I like to make sure that I frequent as many of the bars here in San Francisco as possible. Among my favorites are SF Eagle, Powerhouse, and 440 Castro. There is still a thriving community here, and it’s one of the reasons why I continue to stay involved.
3. Tell us about your charity involvement and goals.
Demetri: Folsom Street Events is a charity. But, on top of that, we donate our net proceeds each year to local and national charities that are doing direct service work – primarily those working in public health, human services, and the arts. Last year, we donated almost $350,000 USD to charity, and over the course of our history, Folsom Street Events has donated over $6.5 million USD to hundreds of charities. It’s one of the primary motivating factors in my job. We all love giving out the charity checks at the end of the year.
4. Tell us about your Leather family.
Demetri: I honestly consider the whole community to be my family. Even though I may not know everyone very well (or at all – yet), I like to think of us as one big, global family. That said, I’m certainly close to some of my former Men of Discipline brothers and there are many folks who frequent the bars with whom I’d consider closer friends.
5. I met you in Chicago, with IML 32, you were one of my judges at the contest, please would you tell us how did you enjoy being a judge, what were your highlight and why should people visit the contest part of the event?
Demetri: Judging was pretty hard for me because I feel like most guys take the contest very seriously (as they should), and everyone has something unique and special to offer. Meeting you was certainly a highlight as I was definitely impressed that South Africa was sending a representative! I’ve been impressed by how our community comes together at events like IML or Folsom Street Fair…or, many of the events that happen all over the world. Our community is stronger when we partake in these events, including contests.
6. If I think Folsom Street Events (San Francisco) I think of you, please would you tell our readers what has made the huge event such a success and what brings people back year after year?
Demetri: There is long and rich history to Folsom Street Fair. It started in 1984 as a small community event called MEGAHOOD. So much has happened in our 30-year history. Honestly, if you’d like to know more about what has led to our successes, I would recommend watching the documentary Folsom Forever by Mike Skiff. He did a fantastic job of summing up what makes San Francisco so special and why this event could only happen here (in the way that it does). At the end of the day, we have an amazing organization of volunteers who make this organization run like clockwork, and our Board of Directors should certainly get more credit for our success.
7. Who is the most influential person in your life and why?
Demetri: Probably my husband and my son at this point. Being a dad is a tremendous source of pride for me, and my husband helps to support me as I make mistakes and try my best to be the best father I can be.
8. In your mind, what does Leather mean to you, and what is the glue that keeps us together?
Demetri: Leather means living honestly and openly. Living proud and supporting one another. I think there is a reason why philanthropy motivates the leather community more than the average LGBT person or person in the general population. We believe that it’s important to come together, stick up for one another, and speak out on behalf of sexual freedom. When we achieve those goals, we are all stronger.
9. South Africa is electing its very first Bootblack title this year, what advice can you give us?
Demetri: Authenticity and passion are the two factors that I always look for in a bootblack. Of course, there is much talent there and so it’s critical to refine your skill as well.
10. If you can be anyone dead or alive (not yourself) who would you be and why?
Demetri: I’m a huge music person, so I’d imagine that the life of Freddie Mercury was quite outrageous and fun – and certainly quite meaningful at the end of the day. I hope he understands how truly influential his life was (and is) on so many LGBT and Leather folks alive today
11. What do you see for the future of Leather in your community and internationally?
Demetri: There has been - and continues to be – so much evolution in our community. Years ago, we were Levi’s, black Leather, and motorcycles. Now, the Leather community is so much more. Fetish has expanded into rubber, uniforms, age and role playing, etc. I think it’s tremendously exciting to see what the future looks like. That said, I do think that our bars and venues are at risk, especially in large urban centers. To me, that means that our job of activating public spaces, like those which take place at street fairs, are all the more important than ever.
12. Tell us what your favorite piece of Leather is and why?
Demetri: My first pair of Leather pants. I got them at Mr. S Leather. And while the waist doesn’t quite fit anymore, there’s no way that I could ever get rid of them; I’d have to find someone to hand them down to. I like the time honored tradition of passing along Leathers.
13. What’s the funniest thing that happened to you in Leather?
Demetri: This would be more rubber than Leather. One of the first times I wore it out in Chicago, I was at a bar and a huge bubble of sweat must have built up along my back. When I turned inadvertently, I swore someone was pissing on me right in the bar. When I realized what had happened, I was pretty embarrassed. But, I also thought it was hilarious.
14. What’s the funniest safe word you ever heard?
Demetri: Barbara Streisand.
15. If you enjoy it, what’s your favorite drink? And design a drink or cocktail that represents you and what would it be called?
Demetri: There is a shot called the Cum Dump (which many people don’t know). It’s mostly Bailey’s with a shot of Fireball in it. It’s actually fun to order it from a bartender or to ask someone if they’d like a Cum Dump.
16. What was the last meal you cooked just for yourself?
Demetri: My husband is a great cook so I’m pretty spoiled at this point. If I cook for myself, it’s usually just heating up something frozen.
17. I have visited San Francisco many times, one of my favorite cities in the world, what five non-touristy things would you show me and why?
Demetri: There are actually some touristy things that are WORTH seeing including Alcatraz (but you have to do the audio tour), Conservatory of Flowers (where I got married) in Golden Gate Park, a walking tour of the Mission or Haight Ashbury (as there’s just so much great history in both neighborhoods), a film at the Castro Theatre, and then Outside Lands which is just a phenomenal music festival.
18. In conclusion, anything you would like to add to this interview for the Leather community around the world?
Demetri: If your travels ever take you to San Francisco, come for our events but stay for all of the other things to do! I feel like we make pretty great hosts. = )