Queer as Punk: Gritty, Dirty, Nasty Fun (with Demi Wylde)

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Showcase Theatre
What is it about the punk and the goth scenes that is so appealing to queer kids?
This week I caught up with author, podcaster, and entrepreneur Demi Wylde to help explore that very question.
I got to find out all about his teen years growing up in the southern California city Riverside, and the refuge that he found at the Showcase Theatre, an alternative rock club in the neighbouring city of Corona which was once described as ‘the CBGBs of the west coast’, which was open between 1993 and 2008.
We talk all about the thrill of being chaperoned to the club by your mum, finding your voice, and I discover the difference between mosh pits and skank pits.
For more on Demi visit his website,  follow him on twitter, discover his poetry book “All Was Nothing in the Time of Champions”, his blog, and listen to his podcast: “A Cosmic Journey with Demi & J”.
demi wylde

Demi Wylde 0:00
Just gritty, nasty, dirty fun.

K Anderson 0:08
Hello, my name is K Anderson and you are listening to lost spaces, the podcast that mourns the death of queer nightlife. Every episode I talk to you a different person about a venue from their past, the memories they created there and the people that they used to know. Now what is it about the punk and goth scene that is so appealing to queer kids? This week I caught up with author podcaster and entrepreneur Demi wild to explore this very question. I got to find out all about his teen years growing up in Southern California city, Riverside, and the refuge that he found at the showcase theatre and alternative rock club in the neighbouring city of Corona, which was once described as the cbgbs of the West Coast.

Basically, my impression of Southern California is essentially Gwen Stefani in the Just a Girl music video. Kind of Am I am I far off? Not far off at all. So did you grow up there?

Demi Wylde 1:42
I grew up mostly there. Yeah. So I was born. As I said before, in like Central Valley, California, which is like Visalia, Fresno. It’s all farmland, very small town. But I moved to Southern California. My grandmother lived there for a long time. And so we moved for her because she got very sick one year and my parents ripped me out of like, my middle of my sophomore year in high school, and I was forced to move to Southern California. So I was already very familiar with it. I visited my grandma a lot. But yeah, I was kind of like, a, I’m in a new place. And I was just getting comfortable where I was, and all this stuff. So

K Anderson 2:20
that was kind of exciting. Because it was moving from like, country. I mean, maybe not country, but like, a bigger town. Yeah. Was that not exciting? Or was it?

Demi Wylde 2:29
Yeah, I mean, it was to a certain extent, but I also what didn’t know what I was informed, a little scary. Okay. You know,

K Anderson 2:37
it was your high school then, like, not traumatic, or, you know, just like, yeah, I get to leave.

Demi Wylde 2:42
Okay, well, so here’s the thing. So my first high school that I was going to, was actually the brand new high school, they had all the new equipment, they had all new classes and stuff that things that they didn’t offer other at the other schools and stuff. So I was, we were the first class in that school. Very small class at first. Um, I had a really great time there had a wonderful teacher, Mrs. Miller, who I’d actually just adore, she really took me under her wing and stuff, especially when I was going through some problems and stuff at home. That’s actually where I have found my love of poetry and writing was through her. And when I was kind of ripped from that it was a little bit traumatic, it was kind of like, like, I was just getting really comfortable here. And you know, really finding my, my way. However, I do appreciate what happened when I was moved into a different place because it did kind of open up my world a little bit more. Whatever, however you want to see it. The first experience that I had in the new school was I, I had just kind of assimilated into a group and they had just told me that someone shot themselves on campus a year before.

K Anderson 3:53
Oh, so you went Oh, okay. Yeah.

Demi Wylde 3:55
And this particular High School, you know, they just didn’t offer as much. We had lockdowns all the time because people would bring guns to school. There’s a big meth problem on campus.

K Anderson 4:07
So what does that what happens in in a lockdown like everyone’s just locked in their classroom?

Demi Wylde 4:12
Everyone just locks in their in their classroom gets under the table and yeah, I mean that happened at least once every six months. Wow. Wow. Yeah, it was a lot at times it was just drills you know, but the fact that we have to do amazing like shooter drills is crazy. But that that’s pretty much what it was.

K Anderson 4:35
And a meth problem as well. Another positives here, the first

Demi Wylde 4:40
the first time I ever did meth, I was like 17 years old and I was like a junior in high school. And it was because my friends all had it you know, it was like okay, like this is weird. But yeah, like very young. It was like on campus and stuff. You know, I have a friend I have several friends are not my friends but like My friends, friends that have all died of, you know, because they just became addicted and you know, from whatever and went down a really dark path. Oh, yeah. So yeah, it was a very interesting, weird time. I don’t think my mom knew that any of this stuff was going on out, could she? It was just convenient because the school was close to where I live.

K Anderson 5:23
Yeah. And so then what like, what age was this when you moved? I was probably 13. Okay, and so 13 Where were you on your burgeoning sexuality travels.

Demi Wylde 5:39
So I was closeted bisexual, I would hang out and date girls, quote, unquote, but I never really did anything with them. I was definitely gay though. I’ve always been gay. I think I was just me kind of like kind of putting one toe in before I took the full plunge weighted the toe. toe toe stick anything in Really? Except maybe a tongue here and there. So I think I kind of skipped one semester before. So I was like 14, or 13 and a half, 14 days, I have no idea. So I was around that time. 15 was when I had my first boyfriend. And you know, we just kind of like kissed and held hands. You know, it’s very romantic and very like PG would pass notes back and forth. That’s actually how my mom found out. I was gay. She found a note though, that my boyfriend had read. Oh,

K Anderson 6:39
what’s it? It’s a generic nine.

Demi Wylde 6:41
I mean, oh, it was just I don’t even remember what it said. It was just like, You’re so cute. But we but we dated for a whole two weeks. Okay, so

K Anderson 6:51
you were serious then?

Demi Wylde 6:53
weeks? Very serious. Yeah, very serious. And, you know, after that I was I wanted to lose my virginity to them. And that just never happened. Yeah, unfortunately, you know, you know, your first boyfriend, you’re gonna, you know, do the thing together and you’re gonna be together forever, but above fully would that was going on in my head the entire time. That didn’t happen. So afterwards, I was like, You know what? I’m gonna be a slut. I’m gonna lose it. Whoever what a fortnight. Exactly. So I mean, obviously, after I was, you know, months of crying and wallowing listening to no doubt Wednesday, speak on repeat. Yeah, that was absolutely that. That was absolutely. Oh, man. Yeah, that’s a great break.

K Anderson 7:40
You know, this, that formula for how long it takes to get over a breakup. And it’s like, half the time.

Demi Wylde 7:47
That’s not a real at the time that you guys were together? Yeah, no, I don’t think it really counts. Especially for first for first love.

K Anderson 7:56
That’s what I was gonna say. Like you however, can if it was months and months of listening to

Demi Wylde 8:00
don’t speak, it was probably two or three months. Just straight up, like just secluded in my room. Yeah, what

K Anderson 8:08
did this guy do to you? And then at the end of that, then so you were like, I’m not going to get back on the horse, or, well, I am going to get it back on the horse, but just you know, pretty much. Just no saddle.

Demi Wylde 8:21
Exactly. I didn’t really have an opportunity until a friend of mine at school introduced me to another guy. She’s like, well, this is our friend. So why don’t you meet him and you know, so and so. And we dated for a while. Gorgeous boy. Oh my god. And he was Captain on the colour guard team. So he was you know, very preppy,

K Anderson 8:42

Demi Wylde 8:43
colour guards that with the with the flags, you know, for the guy America is organised, choreographed. So it’s not cheerleader weird, but it’s kind of like it’s not it’s deema kind of cheerleading. In a way. Yeah. Okay. I think they marched like with the with the drum ban or with Okay, as well. So but why is it cool? Part of that? Because the flags are colours, I

K Anderson 9:07
think. And that guarding the flags.

Demi Wylde 9:10
I don’t know. I can’t it’s just been part I never questioned it. Yeah. So

K Anderson 9:18
anyway, you dated a massive flag

Demi Wylde 9:21
bearer. Massive um, he was very different from the first boy cuz like, the first boy was more like me, like very kind of punk and goth. And, you know, just all black everything washed entirely too much Tim Burton. So he was kind of like, you know, the opposite of me. So I went through like a little preppy phase myself. Yeah, as you do. Um, and so we, we did it for the first time it was like his birthday or something. He invited me over for sleep over and all this stuff and and it was it was actually very Romantic I write about it in my blog. It was very sweet. It was a really great first experience for me however, any point did you say

K Anderson 10:07
I’ve got your birthday present here and then unzip? Got it, right. No, that’s a really great way. What a wasted moment.

Demi Wylde 10:21
missed opportunity, missed opportunity. And I will say I’m not I wasn’t as witty as I am now. So I was definitely more guarded back then colour guard. So So yeah, I definitely, it was a great first experience. There was a little mishap that happened afterwards, but you can read about that later on. But when Yeah, so back to back to showcase though. So as I said before, showcase was a big part of my growing up and me and my friend my my first group of friends kind of invited me to this Hey, we’re gonna go showcases we can you want to come with us? It’s like, what is that? I don’t even know what that is. Like, well, it’s this venue like the all these bands play and stuff. It’s you know, pretty much all ages at the time that even if it wasn’t a time, we would still sneak in. And so it was very, just whatever happens happens there. And it was in Corona, which is just the city over from where, where we were in Riverside, and Riverside, maybe an hour east from LA and it’s not that far from LA at all. Maybe like an hour from Anaheim Disneyland, too. So it’s very inventive. Is

K Anderson 11:29
it like, Is it like a distinct city? Or is it does it just feel like the suburbs of LA

Demi Wylde 11:37
is its own kind of weird. It’s mostly desert, truthfully, don’t be mistaken. By the by the name Riverside. There’s no River. It’s dried out. completely dried up. I think there was at one point, but yeah, it’s very desert. Kind of a college town. UC Riverside is kind of a big thing. And, you know, I went to community college out there as well. So it’s big. the downtown area is a big college area. But as as of that, yeah, it’s mostly families and stuff. And and

K Anderson 12:14
not much. But that like that’s that’s, like, kind of exciting when you’re a teenager like that kind of boredom.

Demi Wylde 12:21
Yeah, in a way. It’s like how much trouble can get into, you know, I was definitely that kind of that kind of kid. I’m like, What? What is this? I’m going to find something exciting to do and might be elite. Yeah.

K Anderson 12:34
Nine times out of 10. And I’m sorry, I cut you off. Before you were telling me about your friends who had suggested the base

Demi Wylde 12:44
rate. So yeah, this particular group of friends all my kind of like punk friends and stuff. They, they invited me for the first time to go when I was maybe like 15, or 16, or something, actually, my first boyfriend, that group of friends. And so I it took a little while for me to like warm up to x. I didn’t even know what it was. But they were go there every weekend. So after a couple of weeks, I ended up going with them for the first time and

K Anderson 13:09
Oh, sorry. Do you mean like you were when they first suggested it? You didn’t want to do it?

Demi Wylde 13:15
Yeah, cuz I was very nervous. I didn’t really know what it was. I didn’t quite understand what was going on.

K Anderson 13:22
Because because you would be breaking the rules or why why were you nervous?

Demi Wylde 13:27
No, I small town. Boy. I didn’t know what was going on. You know. I never been to a concert before. I’d never been to a show. I never seen musicians play. I didn’t know what it was. I was just very confused. But you said earlier that you were a punky kid. Yeah, more goth at that, at that, by the way. I love music. But I’d never seen live music. You know what I mean? And so

K Anderson 13:49
you weren’t just like, chomping at the bit to go and see bands play. Now I’m thinking about it.

Demi Wylde 13:55
It might have been more at first, my mom’s discretion. Because I think I told her about it at one point. And it’s just kind of like, I don’t know about that key mistake. I know. Well, she had to drive me there. She had to drive me there. She was kind of like unsure about it, too. So you know, I think it took a couple of weeks for her to kind of warm up and say, well, it’s this new group of friends that I’m in they go all the time. I’m sure it’s safe. Can I please just go and so she ended up taking me for the first time and yeah, it was exactly how you’d expect it. Yeah, I met them there. We saw this this cool, interesting band play. I don’t even ask me what it was. I have zero clue. I was very, very early on. So I was

K Anderson 14:43
like three chords and shouting like, let’s just assume that.

Demi Wylde 14:46
Yeah, basically. Yeah. That’s pretty much any band that you would go and see there was was very just like gritty punk music with not good music at all. I started going quite often. with them, and then actually, it kind of manoeuvre from that group of friends after we broke up to a different group of friends that still went. And, you know, it just kind of became our thing like we we we went all the time, we would occasionally see them there. And it was just fun. It was something to do on the weekend, because there wasn’t really much else to do. Let’s go to the mall, going to the mall. That’s just so American, isn’t it?

K Anderson 15:25
So then this so let’s, let’s go back to your mom driving you there the first time? Yeah. Do you like did you insist that she dropped you off around the corner? or was she now she

Unknown Speaker 15:36

K Anderson 15:39
and like, give you a sandwich bag. Basically,

Demi Wylde 15:44
I kiss her goodbye. Oh, and then she picked me up as she picked me up afterwards. My mom as much as she objected at first, like my mom saw a lot of me in her so my mom was definitely in the party girl when she was young. And so, you know, my mom might have been maybe not exactly showcase. So mom might have been around a group of friends that would go to a place like showcase or something like that, you know, at first she objective, but then she was like, You know what, you have a group of friends. I’m just happy for you. And at least I’m taking you rather than you’re going and sneaking out and stuff.

K Anderson 16:19
But like, but when she was picking you up, okay, so first of all, she was picking you up. So that I mean, kudos to your mom.

Demi Wylde 16:26
I didn’t start writing. That’s where I was getting a lot, a little later. Yeah. And then it was actually around that time that my mom had a liquor cabinet. So I think my first time drinking was at a friend’s house. The hula just around the block for me and drank vodka and like, threw up all night long, it was the worst thing. Um, and then after a while, you know, you kind of get used to it and stuff and and my mom had a liquor cabinet. So my friends would come over to my place, and then we’d kind of raid her liquor cabinet and fill it up with water afterwards.

K Anderson 17:05
I mean, it is a foolproof plan. Right?

Demi Wylde 17:07
It completely. But you know, she also didn’t quite care. She goes, as long as you’re doing it here she was that she was that mom she is. And so then it’s like, Well, okay, I guess we have free rein. So we would come over after school, and we would do this. And then eventually, we did start sneaking it to showcase with us. That took a little while for us to start doing that. But yeah, like, like most of my friends at that point hadn’t even drink for the first time yet. You know, when we first started going, but then yeah, eventually we started bringing booze in because they had a bar there. But that was only for the 21 and over. It was it was crazy. You know, we had, you know, 16 year olds there with 25 year olds and the same group and there’s a bar and all this. It was crazy. Like it that wouldn’t

K Anderson 17:57
fly now. Yeah, isn’t it? Isn’t it weird? What you just accept when you’re 16? Like this is Yeah, this is totally legit. I’m here with a 30 year old. Yeah. Exactly. Yeah. So okay, so then she dropped you off? Do you like remember that feeling of going through the doors and getting another first time?

Unknown Speaker 18:22

Demi Wylde 18:24
I mean, it’s just been so long ago, but like, I imagine it, it was kind of like, like, wow, I’m in a completely different realm now. And I this is something that is kind of now I feel like I accept on a daily basis whenever I go to a new venue or something or whenever I go to new club or whatever, but back then it was kind of like wow, this is a completely brand new experience for me. And it was just my mom dropped me off like it was like I don’t know it was just a very interesting time for me and definitely a lot of crazy experiences happen afterwards. But I remember seeing my you know, I used to go to Scott shows there a lot so like you know, think no doubt sublime ska music, punk and reggae. And some crazy experiences there were like, you know, I wanted to go see the sky band really bad. And so we would go Voodoo ghost calls would play there. Oh my God. That was one of the best times of my life. We do both calls.

K Anderson 19:33
I’m just smiling and nodding at this point.

Demi Wylde 19:36
It’s a long time. Yeah, you can look them up later on. They’re really great Scott Scott band from like, early 2000s 90s whatever. But um yeah, okay, yeah, so my first skosh oh there no one that I even knew was was playing there at one point at that at that show, but I just knew I wanted to go to this because there was a Scott night. And so me and my friends all went We got liquored up and stuff and, and one of our favourite things to do was jump in the mosh pit, or the skank pit at the scotch shows. And the mosh pit is basically the most violent like people just shoving each other and punching each other and kicking church as for no reason whatsoever, and I was just drunk enough that I got into the skank pit and I’m like, I’m not gonna like just rage and have a blast. And I get in. And it basically goes around in a circle. It’s like, like the world’s most violent I can go around.

K Anderson 20:36
So what’s the difference between a mosh pit and a skank pit is it just that one moves?

Demi Wylde 20:40
So I’m a mosh pits more they all move. So a mosh pit is kind of just more like a mosh pit is all arms. It’s all like punching and kicking or punching and elbows and stuff. Like you’re like kind of just raging with your arm and stuff. A skank pits all feet. So you’re kind of like kicking and all that stuff, too. But it all kind of goes around in a circle. It’s like the world’s most violent merry go round. So I get into the skank pit and I’m having a blast. I’m just like, yeah, that’s fucking cool. Like this music for the good. And the next thing you know, I feel somebody’s hands around my neck. Like just grabbing my neck and choking the shit out of me. And I’m like, wait, wait,

Unknown Speaker 21:19
wait, wait, what?

Demi Wylde 21:22
And like, I just like, I grabbed his hands. And I like rip them off. I like get out. And I’m like, What the fuck was that? And it was all like, it just continued going around in a circle. And I went back to my friends and like, someone just choked me out. In this case. It was wild. You know? I’m like, since

K Anderson 21:42
there was ever any resolution to this story. No, not at all. Did you find out who he was? Or like?

Demi Wylde 21:48
No, because there was so many people in that in that thing. It was just I didn’t even Yeah, there was no resolution whatsoever. It was just kind of a weird thing that happened there like some 20 year old like, choked me out a 16 year old. Wow. Just they got so into it, I guess. Yeah, it was. That’s basically what happened at these shows and stuff. You know, it was extremely violent. Fine, you know, just just extreme and and gritty and, and crazy. But as much crazy and weird and nuts as it was. It was also just fun to do.

K Anderson 22:24
So I want to just follow this up before we go any further and ask Have you ever crowd surfed?

Demi Wylde 22:31
Now? I wish I didn’t. I was not I didn’t have the balls enough to do that. Really? No, me either. Well,

K Anderson 22:37
also, like, I mean, I just have a general mistrust in human beings. But like, I’m also like, really big. And I just would. I just I think I think I always talked myself out of it. Like, I’d be too heavy for them. I’m just not gonna bother you. Yeah, yeah, you look sad as I do. But I’m like, six, three. So I just you know,

Demi Wylde 23:00
I don’t think that really matters. Because if you have enough people doing there, my fear is just falling. I don’t like falling. Well,

K Anderson 23:08
yeah, there’s that. Like, if you’re heavy, then people can go higher. That’s my point.

Demi Wylde 23:13
That’s my thing that I really wanted to do, nor had any interest in doing. My thing was always just like getting drunk on the stairs to my friends. And just like meeting people. That was like mostly what we did there. But it would be interesting. It’d be an interesting sensation. I

K Anderson 23:27
think it’s like doing this trust exercises when you’re doing group building, I think definitely, yeah, but it’s trust with a bunch of strangers who are also drunk. Yeah.

Demi Wylde 23:36
Okay. Here Here is one experience is not exactly crowd surfing. But when I was doing when I was doing drag in Seattle, I did my first choreographed routine with several dancers for the show. And I had never I’m not a big dancer, everything. So I spent like weeks kind of perfecting this, this routine. And one of the things that we ended up doing was kind of a lift. So that was the only time I’ve ever been like, kind of lifted by other people. But it was choreographed and it was I was kind of spun around with like, my legs in the air, you know, head back and everything. So it was it was a little crazy feeling at first, but you know, we perfected it. And we got it. We got it right. That’s the only time I’ve ever like kind of happened though.

K Anderson 24:22
But that’s very like that’s very different. Because you’ve rehearsed it with these people. And you’ve probably got their phone numbers as well. So like if something exactly did do something, you could go around and like suck it up. Right? Exactly. Consume later on, what am I missing? There’s lots of problems with the question that I’m about to ask. So please do rip it apart. But being someone who favours favours being someone who’s a fan of like a particular genre of music. That is And kind of mainstream gay. Was there like a big overcoming of prejudice on your own behalf to go to gay bars?

Demi Wylde 25:10
So I at first Yeah, so when I was I started going to gay bars when I was maybe 19 because there was an 18 over barn Riverside that we would kind of go to and then it might spend my first 21st birthday at the other gay bar in Riverside. So yeah, I mean, I’ve always been a fan of pop music. I’ve never like hated it or anything, but I have just a very eclectic person. Like I love all kinds of music. I love music of any genre, really. But yeah, like my formative years I was definitely kind of like more punk and rock and stuff oriented but I still did find joy in certain pop music and you know, all alternative rock bands as they run out chilli peppers are super major, major artists and stuff to like, you know, big name rock bands, you know, and stuff like that, too. So there was like a pop aspect of my life too during that time, but yeah, a lot of I don’t think there was really like a reconciliation of that but um, because it just kind of like felt like a natural flow of direction, I guess if you can think of it that way. But then there are certain there are certain bars and clubs that do play alternative music, if you will, or something that I did find myself and I found myself enjoying just as much as I would enjoy a pop club, you know, or even a rock club. It just depends on the vibe of where you’re at and like what you want to listen to and you know, sometimes I don’t really want to listen to pop music, or listen to something more melodramatic, you know,

K Anderson 26:49
more melodramatic than pop music

Demi Wylde 26:51
and pop music is melodrama. Pop music is melodramatic, but it’s melodramatic in a very broad sense. It’s it’s you know, kind of uplifting in a in a melodramatic way if that makes any sense at all.

K Anderson 27:07
So do you mean like melodramatic now? It doesn’t make sense at all.

Demi Wylde 27:13
Okay, I’m trying to think of like a good song. Think of dancing on your own by Robyn. Okay. Um, they’re very sad song. Yeah, so that’s that’s melodramatic. Yeah.

K Anderson 27:26
So what so what like what’s more melodramatic than that? Oh, like showtunes? Are you are you into shape? I absolutely not. I’m not into Yeah, I’m not into shape. It’s so fascinating to me, that people are into showtunes. Like, and it’s something that I can like, see from the outside. And I’m like, this should be everything that I love. Because it’s like, it’s ridiculous. It’s like self indulgent. Like it’s so dramatic. Like, why don’t I like, but it’s just I just, I’m just like, Yeah,

Demi Wylde 28:08
okay. This is where I draw the line though. I love Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Okay, have you seen Hedwig? Yeah, but you don’t care about it? Yeah, just just that was a foul literally a tattoo. I saw it on Broadway.

K Anderson 28:23
At some point that the origin of love thing. origin and love Yeah. Okay. See, ya know,

Demi Wylde 28:28
I mean, that’s, that’s as close to a show tune okay. to it. You know, as I can probably Yeah, but that’s still like a very rock ballad. Musical. Okay.

K Anderson 28:42
I mean, you know, I will say that I love Greece too. So, you know, I’m not incapable of loving music. I’m not Greece one. Greece one is no Greece. Greece Why me is sexist. Try. I mean, I mean, grease too. Is everything grease, too? Well, I mean, it’s sexist as well, but it’s just in the other direction. So rather than a woman changing herself for a man, a man changes himself for a woman so it’s like, I can get behind that. Yeah, and the songs you know, I mean, score tonight, which is supposed to be about bowling, but it’s really just about fucking production, which is about reproduction and do it for our country, which is about reproduction. You know, all these amazing sounds fascinating. I’ve never seen it so you’re not gonna rush out and see. Like voice is just caught up three, three semitones Do you mean talking about? Well, if anyone’s listening and they have a good recommendation of show a musical that’s better than grease two and Hedwig, please Do let us know. Yeah, please. We’d love to hear it. Right. Okay, so let’s talk about then the people that you went to the showcase with. So at first it was with the group that were friends with your first two week boyfriend. Right? And then when that when that split, was it a bit weird to go there and see them? Like, were you just shunned from the group or shunned is a strong word. Sorry, kind

Demi Wylde 30:28
of for a while. I mean, yeah, I mean, kind of for a while, because it was it was just kind of awkward to see them there. However, I was going with another group of friends, so we just kind of avoided each other. It wasn’t a big deal. Eventually, we did kind of like assimilate and it was okay, he stopped going. So it was kind of like, whatever. But yeah, I would go mostly with my friends Leah, and Brittany, and my friend Brittany’s other friend. And Amanda, occasionally. So it was it was just like most of the four of us. Amanda was like, back and forth between the two groups. So and then we would always like meet somebody there. We never got phone numbers or anything, but it always just like meet somebody there. Because it’s kind of like what you would do is just meet and hang out with strangers for a little while and get drunk.

K Anderson 31:19
And so land where you’re where most of your friends female at that time. Yeah, mostly.

Demi Wylde 31:24
I didn’t really have any gay friends until I was like 20. I did get hit on one time there actually about a cute punk kid. You know, Alfredo. That was the only time that happened. I did get his number that night. But I think he was doing heroin or something at the time. And it was just wasn’t a thing that I wanted to pursue. Yeah, there was a lot of that going on, too. There’s a lot of drug use and stuff during that time, too. It was not necessarily by me, but the people that I was around. And not so much my friend group either. But it was just always there at the venue like people will just get like, doing whatever in the bathroom stalls or whatever. It is very gritty, very nasty. Just kind of that that culture of like, you know, how fucked up can we get, you know,

K Anderson 32:10
something that you kind of just become used to? Don’t you know, I

Demi Wylde 32:14
never thought anything about it. Really?

K Anderson 32:17
Yeah, I wanted to ask you. So you said that you when you were younger, you were really gothy? And then you got into like that punk and ska thing. And it’s kind of something that’s quite common, I suppose for queer kids? Definitely. Yeah. So this is the point in the interview, where I asked you to speak on behalf of all queer Goths and punks. Do you have any kind of theories about what it is about those kind of scenes, that it’s appealing to queer kids?

Demi Wylde 32:49
I think it’s just that sense of otherness that I think is inherent in all of us, and the anti part of ourselves that are kind of like, well, if we’re not going to simulate, then we might as well just go the opposite direction, just completely I am. Yeah. And especially when you know, especially when you’re young, and you’re kind of like forming your identity and stuff. And you really start understanding that, like, there’s no, there’s no place for me in this kind of homogenous part of the world that that you know, is heteronormative and all this stuff, there’s not really a place for me. And so, I’m just gonna go where all the other weirdos hang out. And it’s definitely interesting, I think from a sociological and like, psychological perspective. But I think that’s the closest I can think of like, why it would? Why people gravitate, why queer people gravitate to that type of thing. It’s just that kind of inherent sense of otherness.

K Anderson 33:51
Yeah. And what’s really fascinating for me about punk is that for much of the same reason, they I’m assuming it was also very appealing to sis white Men of a Certain Age. And so it’s really interesting to talk about this club. And, and, you know, I’m making lots of assumptions here. So do correct me if I’m wrong, but thinking about those kind of spaces where queer kids are wrestling, wrestling, wrestling, wrestling, they’re up against groups of straight white men who are like, you know, speaking very broadly, the worst kind of human beings. He chokes me out truly. Yeah, yeah. Well, yeah, I mean, like, yeah, you bringing that up? kind of made me think of that, like, how was it being in that club? And did it always feel safe, despite the fact that they were there?

Demi Wylde 34:46
I never really thought about it like that. Because I always imagined it as a place where people go just to listen to music. And I mean, music is the great the great equaliser everyone loves Music It doesn’t matter what kind of music you love, everyone loves music. There are a few people that don’t and those are weird.

K Anderson 35:07
Yeah, it’s so weird.

Demi Wylde 35:09
You know, music is just kind of like the great equaliser, you know, I would hang out with with the straight guys I would hang out with with, you know, the girls, and it didn’t really matter who you work as we were all there for the same thing. So I never really felt my safety really, in jeopardy or anything there. I felt more I felt more at home there than I did in Riverside walking down the street. You know, I felt more. There had been times where my safety had been in jeopardy, just in Riverside walking down the street, because it was all very straight. Now. I think it’s like borderline magga people are kind of out there a lot. It’s really weird.

K Anderson 35:48
In California,

Demi Wylde 35:48
it’s Oh, yeah, yeah. Yeah, definitely. I mean, in bigger cities. Yeah, it’s less apparent. But yeah, if you go outside of the cities and stuff, like, for instance, when I was just in kingsburg, visiting my grandparents, they’re hardcore Republicans, and everyone around has Trump flags and stuff, and my aunt is completely brainwashed and all this crazy stuff. So

you’re lesbian? No, no, no, no, like my other hand? Yeah, I’m sorry. I know, your lesbian dad.

Not your lesbian aunts! Are Trump supporters. What? No, no, they are. They’re fully liberal people. But my grandmother, my grandfather, my grandfather less so I mean, he’s a supporter. Yeah. But he’s not loud about it. My aunt, however, I never really had an issue with her whatsoever she was, she was actually very close with me. And she actually informed a lot of my spirituality and a lot of like, the stuff that I’m into now. However, over the past several years, she’s kind of experienced a lot of trauma going through a lot with her husband and her health. I think that all that has kind of informed and plus the fox news cycle has just really kind of brainwashed her, and she’s a completely different person now than she was. In fact, my aunts were telling me that she was afraid that I was going to come and like storm their property at one point with all my anti money. Like, just crazy. I’m like, why it’s like, That’s insane. So she’s got these crazy ideas now that really are unlike her from my perspective. So yeah, there’s there’s a lot of that in California. There’s a lot of good things, too.

K Anderson 37:43
What were we talking about? I forgot to I was hoping you remember? Well, well, whilst we ponder it, I just want to like, talk about I read an article the other day, and so depressing about how I think it was like, I think it was from an American based publication about how white gay men are more likely to be republicans than they are anything else. And it’s just so depressing. I fly and gay men Really? Yeah, yeah. It’s just like, Can you not like just pick up a history book? blink, frustrating? Well, luckily,

Demi Wylde 38:23
that’s not really my experience. But and that’s not really the people that I know or communicate with. I remember what we were talking about. We were talking about safety.

K Anderson 38:33
Safety. Oh, yeah. So because for me, like, when I was growing up, I went to lots of, I wouldn’t really say punk band, like a more, that kind of post grungy type thing. But I grew up in Australia, and Australia is like, got this forever, really macho culture. And so yeah, you kind of have to, like, you have to really point out when someone’s a fag, like you did kind of a sport. So what my experience in those kinds of spaces at gigs and things was was to just be very, like, avoid by the people there. But you’re saying that’s not what happened to you.

Demi Wylde 39:12
I mean, at least their showcase. That was that was not the case. And I think maybe occasionally somebody might say something to me, but I would always brush it off. It wasn’t even like a it was even like a blip on my radar. I’m like whatever things by but I think when I was just walking down the street in Riverside, that was where I, where I really had that experience where, you know, at times, people would just drive by in their pickup trucks and like, throw cans of soda at me for no reason. And shout fag for no reason like that. That was just really bad stuff would happen there. And you know, my mom never understood if she never got it. I don’t even think she really knew that that was kind of happening to me. Because it was just kind of like that thing. It’s like, well, this is what I’m dealing with, you know,

K Anderson 39:56
it’s it’s hard as well because when those things happen to you like You’re you’re kind of socialised to think of it your fault. So you shouldn’t re lame.

Demi Wylde 40:07
Right? Exactly. So and especially because of the way I dressed and stuff, you know, I did kind of other myself at, to a certain extent, you know, just with the way I dressed and stuff now where a lot of black men wear, you know, bangles and jewellery and stuff. So I definitely was different than what people saw on normal basis, fit in and try to fit in and want to fit in. And so but when I was at a place, like showcase that was where I felt completely more myself than anything, even though I was around, you know, certain macho, straight people and stuff, like we were all there for the same thing, we were all there for music, we were all you know, I never was really bothered there. I always just kept bothered walking down the street by the pickup trucks, you know, such as ourselves. And, and so what happened,

K Anderson 40:57
like, when did you stop going to showcase I think

Demi Wylde 41:01
I stopped going probably around, like 17 or so. Um, I was probably 19 when it closed down, we stopped going probably around when we graduated truthfully, because, or even just before I saw, I didn’t finish high school, I actually dropped out my senior year. There was no way I was going to graduate whatsoever. I was a senior supposed to have 220 credits, I had 75. Just because I was very, like, anti school, the only classes that I really cared about were theatre, were English. And occasionally, like, you know, RT classes and stuff, like my art classes and stuff. But I didn’t care about math. I refused to do it. I refused to do homework even. I was like, I’m here at school to learn. I’m not learning. So why would I need to bring shit home for me to learn when I’m not learning it? It’s just, I was just very, like, this isn’t what I want to learn. So I’m not going to do it. So I would just fall asleep in class. I was really just antis. Oh, wow. Really, really bad student? Yeah. Just because like I think, I don’t know how it is in Europe. But I think you guys might have a little bit better of a school system than we do. Our school system is conveyor belt, learn this regurgitate and pass. Yeah, pretty much all of it.

K Anderson 42:28
I mean, I think that that’s kind of what school has become for everyone. I was just such a square. I was just like, yeah, I’ll totally learn this. I’m gonna go off and do it now.

Demi Wylde 42:38
So now me I was always a more abstract minded, like, I would love my art classes. I would love acting, I would love you know, the singing and stuff like that. I was just very kind of like a creative person. My biggest thing that I would always do was was writing so like, I would always, English classes was always like, my best classes.

K Anderson 43:01
So Oh, hang on. Well. So you didn’t finish? Where? Why? How did we get here? You didn’t finish out? Go?

Demi Wylde 43:12
Red Button. Yeah. Oh, when it closed? When it closed? Yeah, I think we probably stopped going just before the first semester of junior year, cuz I think it kind of started slowing down for us, we start kind of just getting more, doing more adult things. I think I got my first job when I was 17, just after I dropped out. So it was around that time that we just like kind of stopped hanging out there. And plus it closed down two years later.

K Anderson 43:38
Do you remember hearing about it closing down?

Demi Wylde 43:41
Yeah. In fact, I think my friend Brittany was the one that that told me that it closed down. And she was really sad about it. And you know, I was like, oh, like, wow, this was gross. So it was only a matter of time, really. But um, at one point, so my friend Brittany, a really good friend of mine. At one point, she wanted to do a documentary about showcase. And she started getting in contact with a lot of like, the bands that are played, there are people that were in charge of running the place and started kind of like coordinating this effort to make a documentary about this, this location, and is around that time that she and I actually visited again. And I think I was living in Seattle at the time as maybe like 23 or 24. And I was visiting and we decided to go hang out there and saw the old venue and stuff. I think I still have a picture of me like lying down in front of it just like on the floor. Like you that was like the last time that we were there. And I think she and I both like took a pen and like wrote our names on the wall or something like that because a bunch of people have started doing that.

K Anderson 44:52
But so that was the last time you were there. Then like when after it had closed and it had been closed for a few years. Yeah. What was that like going back

Demi Wylde 45:01
Um, it was very nostalgic. Especially because it’s just like, wow, we, we spent so much time here, we saw so many cool bands and stuff. And the same time I like I didn’t remember any of it because, you know, we were drunk for most of it or, you know, just just young, it had been a long time at that point. And, but, you know, it was just a lot of like, really good experiences, and a lot of like, really good times there that we had. And it was just very nostalgic being back, you know,

K Anderson 45:35
like, say, thinking back from where you’re at now, what did that venue mean to you? And how did it help? How did it help shape who you are?

Demi Wylde 45:45
Well, it really allowed me a space to explore.

K Anderson 45:51

Demi Wylde 45:53
even a more darker part of myself, which is, you know, definitely something that I work with now. I mean, I definitely work a lot with like, you know, sex, drugs, and rock and roll is pretty much my aesthetic. But it definitely allowed me a space to kind of like, just be myself and just have fun, which in a place where I didn’t really feel like I fit in either. And when I was looking for a place to, you know, either escape from real life or just be around people who are interested in the same stuff I was, it just offered me that type of place. And it was a great time is a great venue, I wish it would come back because I would totally go today if if it were still around. And so let’s just like to say for a second that you got the opportunity to go back to showcase for the night, and you happen to run into your 16 year old self there who is getting drunk underneath the stairs?

K Anderson 46:59
Would you have a conversation with him? And if the answer is yes, what advice would you give him?

Demi Wylde 47:06
I got really thinking about this. I would say number one, be careful with drinking. Because you have a tendency to go a little too far at times. Um, not so much these days, luckily. But just keep putting yourself out there. And I know that kid under the stairs, had a hard time talking to people at times. And I think that he shouldn’t have, he shouldn’t have fear of what other people would think about him, should he talk to them. In fact, I think that’s what held him back for a long time was was not being able to express himself or to be afraid of what other people might think about him if he did talk to somebody. So I would tell him, number one, you lay off on the drinking at times. Be careful with it. And then number two, don’t be afraid to talk to people because you never know you might actually meet and who you might connect with. My whole thing is is is that, you know, it took me a long time to just talk to people normally, and you know, to really kind of put myself out there. And you know, even something like this would have been something very difficult for me to do back then. Because I didn’t know how to do it. I didn’t really have those social skills. I still don’t know if I have the social skills

K Anderson 48:32
now. Every day is a battle. And I think it’s really good advice. And it’s really fascinating because I think I have had a really similar thing where I just was terrified of people, and the way that they responded to what I had to say. And I think I learned quite quickly that people were kind of about like, What the fuck are you talking about? So we’re just not talk. And it took me years to just get to the point where I was like, Okay, if you don’t get what I’m talking about, that’s cool, then I can just move on to the next person and see if they get what I’m joking about that. But for years, I was just crippled by that fear.

Demi Wylde 49:13
That just fear of Yeah, rejection of just just people not getting you and you know, even though you’re in a place where people are there for the same thing as you it was still difficult for me at times to even just talk to another person, I would mostly just hang out with my friends in like this little click over here. We would hardly ever they more than I would meet other people, but we mostly just stuck to each other and like, you know, that was just kind of how it was. Me. Yeah, it’s a very difficult thing. Like when you’re when you’re young, especially growing up from a small town. And, you know, I had a lot of opinions and a lot of thoughts and feelings and that necessarily didn’t resonate with other people that much and are people I just didn’t get it or you know, whatever, especially my family. Yeah. So it just added a lot of like, social anxiety to the mix. And you know, I’ve been a social situation now and I’m still kind of like Draven want to be here. But at the same time,

K Anderson 50:18
I love socialising. It’s interesting, isn’t it? Like, like I love during this podcast about in the hours, like, before an interview, I’m always just like, they’re going to hate me, or we’re not going to get along. I was going to be awful. I just didn’t know. Or like, should I just cancel? Why am I even bothering? And it’s so yeah, it’s so interesting, these things that are hardwired in you. Because I know people who are just deathly dull and so boring, but have no self awareness and don’t even think about the other person just are just enjoying the fact that they get to talk about themselves. And I’m just gonna pick it up perceive me, they’re gonna judge me.

Demi Wylde 51:00
Well, it’s always really funny. Like, especially because I find you a very fascinating interviewer because you’re actually like, like, this is a very intimate conversation. I love that when whenever I get to do this type of stuff, when you make that connection to somebody, and you know, it is kind of intimate and like, yeah, you’re talking about yourself as up it doesn’t feel forced. You know, that’s, it’s a totally different thing. But yeah, it’s just a very talk. It’s hard.

K Anderson 51:28
Oh, okay. So hang on, we keep meandering. So the advice is about drinking and being a bit bolder. Do you think he would listen to you? Probably not.

Demi Wylde 51:43
back then. But I think that he also, he also does have a heart and he also does have a very interesting mind. So perhaps if it was told to him, you know, authentically, I think he I think he was a kid that could read authenticity pretty well.

K Anderson 52:03
What if you told him in song? Maybe. Like, if I know how to write him you write a song, though? I mean, it’s like just to do a punk song Come out, and I can write him a poem maybe? Do you have any memories from the mosh pit, or from your own queer scene that you want to share? Well, if you do, please get in touch. I want to create the biggest online record of people’s memories and stories. Go to law spaces podcast.com and find the section share a lost space and tell me what you got up to. You can also find me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as lost spaces pod. For more on Deming, visit his website, Dimitri wild.website.com. Or follow him on twitter at Dimitri while and that’s spelled de MITRIWYL. de. And he’s also got a number of projects that you should definitely investigate, which includes the poetry book, or was nothing in the time of champions, his two blogs, hook up horror stories, and a deviants guide to sex and his podcast, a cosmic journey with Demi and J. So side note, I know this is all a whole bunch of information I’ve just thrown at you, and I will make sure to include links in the show notes for this programme. No spaces is not only a podcast, but a concept record as well. I have been writing songs about queer venues and the people who used to live their lives there. And we’ll be releasing songs over the coming year. You can hear the first single well groomed boys, which is also playing underneath my talking right now on all streaming platforms. If you liked this episode, I would really appreciate if you subscribed, left a review on your podcast player of choice or just told people who you think might be interested in giving him a little listen to I am K Anderson and you have been listening to lost spaces.


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