The September issue of The Blue & White is now on campus, and Bwog will continue posting tasty tidbits for your reading pleasure. Below, Peter Sterne sits down for a chat with Deaton Jones. If you are one of the few who don’t already know Deaton, here’s why you should.
Pretty much everyone knows Deaton Jones, CC ’13. His voice is recognizable, his anecdotes notorious, his energy irresistible. But even his closest friends have trouble pinning him down. “Deaton does so many things at once,” marvels suitemate Matt Grumbach, CC ’13. He seems to be everywhere simultaneously, and yet deeply immersed in the task at hand. He has an infectious vivacity and an appetite for new challenges, and is perpetually pursuing an exhaustive schedule. He can barely keep up with himself; at one point during our conversation, as Deaton explained his preference for stylish garb over sweatpants, he interrupted himself to apologize for having shown up in the offending garment. He ordinarily wouldn’t, he explained, it was just that he had rugby practice in an hour.
This is merely the latest in a long line of sporting endeavors. Despite eschewing the label of “athlete,” he likely could have been a member of more than one varsity team. He remarks that although he is “quite flamboyant,” one of the things he prides himself on is “that I can do the masculine things.” He continues, “It bothers me when people think that gay people are sissies.” Hence the rugby. While at college, Deaton has run in numerous races and triathlons, most recently completing the Paris marathon in less than three hours while studying at Reid Hall.
Deaton hails from Raleigh, North Carolina, a relatively conservative pocket of the country where he often felt out-of-place. “I don’t particularly like the South,” he admits. He found Raleigh’s homogeneity oppressive, particularly because of its pervasive homophobia. He was drawn to New York City, where one of his aunts, whom he describes as “the black sheep of the family” for her liberal and cosmopolitan sensibilities, had moved. And although he assimilated quickly, his roots emerge in displays of southern gentility.
Compared to “the normal Columbia student,” Deaton feels he spends significantly more time away from the fold, both at work and at play. He sees his numerous internships in fashion more as “real-world experience” than an entry into the rarefied world of haute couture, however. “I like fashion, but I’m not set on it as a career path,” he says. He applies the same laid-back sentiment to going out; he’s just having fun, he insists, not trying to hobnob with celebrities—although the Black Eyed Peas’ manager did once invite him to share a drink with the group at a club.
Deaton has an eccentric silliness and he enjoys dancing while nobody—or everybody—is watching. He has been known to dance so hard he splits his pants—which has happened on five separate occasions. Louise McCune, CC ’13, recalls one time freshmen year when Deaton told her to wear a costume to an otherwise ordinary lunch date in John Jay. She assumed he was kidding, but he showed up dressed in his aunt’s old fur coat with a strange belt—in short, a costume. “He’s incredibly adaptable,” says another suitemate. “[He’s] one of those people who you can never predict what he’ll do next, but you know he’ll excel at it.” McCune agrees; whatever he ends up doing, she says, “he’s always Deaton—consistently extraordinary.”