#11: Jonny DeStefano
Jonny DeStefano is the prime example of a Denver renaissance man; the creative entrepreneur has his hands full running Deer Pile, the venue above City, O’City, and, with life partner Christy Thacker, the monthly local arts and culture zine Birdy. But on the side, he’s also a musician and songwriter with the Hate Fuck Trio, a DJ and an artist, as well as a self-described fan of Jaws and Donkey Kong. Keep up with him if you can: DeStefano talks fast and loose for the 100CC questionnaire.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Jonny DeStefano: I would start a punk-rock band with Plato. He would be on lead vox, and I would play bass. Socrates would be on lead guitar, and Nietzsche would play drums. We would cover Warlock Pinchers and Bum Kon songs. Baudrillard would deejay before and after our sets. Why? For the fun.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
Noam Chomsky. His perspective and knowledge is not isolated or indoctrinated and is unparalleled. He calls it as he sees it: the bottom line. He’s the anti-toxin for a post-truth idiocracy. I appreciate his empathy, too, and his stance on protecting our environment is crucial. Chomsky’s warnings hopefully will be heeded. Among many others, I’m paying attention to Bernie Sanders and Stephen Colbert for the same reasons. Hasan Minhaj is also on my radar after his powerful speech at the 2017 White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
I don’t want to see any art trend die, but I would like to see the anti-art trend die. Basically, through art and comedy, I want to resist the greedy sociopaths in power who are afraid of the First Amendment, can’t take a joke, and want to destroy all the progams that contribute positively to our culture and planet.
What's your day job?
Coming up with fun ideas, making art and music and running the day-to-day operations of Birdy Magazine and Deer Pile. My partner in crime, Christy Thacker, and I delve into the artwork and writings of so many locally talented people and publish whatever resonates with us in Birdy. We collaborate with many businesses. We also do a lot of grunt work, so it isn’t so glamorous. But Birdy is a soulful endeavor, and that’s what we care about. Johnny Morehouse and I host free events at the Deer Pile, giving many people a safe place to shine, activate and build community. We all work hard and try to have fun whenever we get a chance. I also select music on KGNU 88.5 FM/1390AM every second Friday of each month from noon to 3 p.m., and I deejay the Denver Art Museum’s Untitled Final Fridays. Occasionally you’ll find me deejaying at City, O’ City and other places around town.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
I would help as many people as possible, beginning with my family and friends. I’d probably start an animal sanctuary of some kind. I would invest in renewable energy and education. I would do my infinitesimal part to bring light and knowledge to the world. I would get health insurance and fix my upright bass.
Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?
I stay here because I like to be close to my family. This is where I was born and raised. I love the four seasons, the mountains and all the sunshine. The sunsets are unbelievable. Even though Denver is becoming a destination for many, it’s still not overrun or overpopulated compared to the big cities. I only want to leave to see more of the world, but whenever I leave, I’m always happy to come back home to Denver. I like the down-to-earth people.
What's the one thing Denver could do to help the arts?
Invest, support, collaborate with your local artists, comedians, filmmakers, musicians, writers, etc. And pay them what they are worth. Everybody will win.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
Christy Thacker. She is a highly intelligent, sweet-hearted, multifaceted person. Her sensibility and taste in music and art is impeccable. I’ve never seen anybody work so hard and do so much good for so many people. She is blooming and beginning to find her voice. She is a sight to behold. I love her.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
I need to get the fuck out of Dodge, go to the ocean somewhere, and shake it like I don’t care. Apparently, I need to schedule having a life in my day planner. So I guess I need to get a day planner.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
By the way, check out my art show at City, O’ City. My artwork is hanging up through the month of May.