Seven Days of Demshitz

Kayaking's hardest-playing posse is transforming media while keeping the party train on the tracks

By Kyle Dickman

E.G. on Demshitz Drop, Chile

IT WAS 1 O’CLOCK IN THE AFTERNOON when the crew, myself included, woke up. Our first stop was the American-style café, Latitude 39, where everyone ordered Stout Burgers—an off-menu Demshitz creation of fried egg, bacon, ham and cheese piled onto a beef burger—and told stories about the previous night. The Seilers had gotten into a fight, four cocktail glasses were smashed, Graham got pantsed, and Jared had been dropped on his head on the bar’s concrete floor. Somebody went home with a local girl and broke a sink in his hostel.

Though everyone seemed to have a MacBook open and Norquist was editing footage, no one posted video from the Dirty Toilet Bowl or the previous night’s festivities. The Demshitz blog rolls remained silent. But Immler, the giraffe-chasing Swede, posted a video called “Hungover as Fuck” to Facebook. It begins with some Demshitz in a car asking, “What the hell happened last night?,” and transitions to three kayakers blue-angeling a 60-foot slide on the nearby Nevados. The video was set to 3OH!3’s Colorado Sunrise and the chorus—”I am a train wreck”—played with irony. In addition to sophisticated graphics of Pyranha’s logo that took Immler eight hours to create, the video showed Seiler yanking a hair from Norquist’s taint—the space between the anus and the testicles—and three Demshitz swinging their arms around as if they were penises. Hanging out with these guys was like being in Lord of the Flies, but to their credit, they owned it. Everybody knew I was a reporter.

Many in the industry find this crassness off-putting. Derek Turno, the paddlesport buyer at Diamond Brands Outdoors in Arden, North Carolina, refused to sell the latest Demshitz film, Dashboard Empanada. “Showing footage of drunken encounters with 16-year-old girls in South America is not a message I feel comfortable putting our brand behind,” he said.

That most of the Demshitz’s media links the party lifestyle with the dream of traveling the world and kayaking raises questions about their effect on the sport.

“Fun is great, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to go to a foreign country and treat people like they don’t matter: get wasted, ignore local culture and custom, and not pay attention to anything but your own desires,” said Doug Ammons, who soloed the Stikine and self-published a book called Whitewater Philosophy. “Surely we can have fun without being obnoxious and self-centered?”

At the same time, Ammons believes that the Demshitz videos are rapidly advancing the sport’s upper echelon, just as his film from the Stikine in the early 1980s and videos like Dashboard Burrito did in the 1990s. The evolution is more rapid now because of the sheer volume of media that the Demshitz, Tribe Riders, and other young chargers are churning out.

“The best thing these guys are showing us is that many of our preconceptions about difficulty and danger were wrong,” Ammons said. “But the next generation will show us exactly the same thing. More power to them.” NEXT PAGE >>