Asheville DJ Gets A Bear Visit During Solo Techno House Party
ASHEVILLE — Do black bears like to boogie down to techno music?
There might be at least one who digs the beat in East Asheville.
Jody Flemming, 50, a father of two, Realtor with Sarver Realty, and part-time fun-loving DJ who took up livestreaming dance parties during COVID-19, was spinning discs during a livestream last October, when a black bear came looking to join the party.
In a video now seen around the world, the large bear paced in front of the door, seemingly lured by the melody? Looking for a way to get inside, the bear then stood on its hind legs leaning on the glass and screen door, while Flemming obliviously bopped to his music.
“I just started playing and kind of got into the first track and I kept hearing this sound. I didn’t really know what it was,” Flemming told the Citizen Times.
“It was my neighbor in the street blowing their horn. That kind of alerted me that something was going on. And so I turned around — in the video it was really more backlit than it looks — and I just saw this figure. I thought it was maybe my neighbor coming to tell me my music was too loud. I got kind of halfway over and said, ‘Oh, there’s a bear there.’”
In the video, Flemming appears nonchalant, as if bears show up for dance parties to his house every day. He calmly walks to the door.
When Flemming finally realizes it’s a 150-pound black bear, in classic this-only-happens-in-Asheville style, instead of slamming the solid door shut or screaming, he reaches for his phone to snap a photo and actually opens the screen door to follow the bear.
But by the time Flemming gets outside, a neighbor’s horn blowing had scared the bear away.
Without missing a beat, Flemming the bear whisperer turns back to his turntables and finishes out his set.
Why, oh why did he not freak out when he saw a bear at his front door, Flemming said he’s been asked 1,000 times.
He drew on his other bag of bear tricks. Flemming said he was a ranger in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and also, bears are quite neighborly in his neck of the woods near Warren Wilson College.
“I’ve had a lot of bear encounters in the Smokies. I helped out with tranquilizing and moving bears, so I’m kind of familiar with what they’re like,” Flemming said.
“And, we get a bunch of bears over here. This particular one has been coming around lately, and we kind of just keep our distance and say ‘Hi.’ Whenever I saw him, I’d go out on the porch and watch him do his thing. I wish my neighbors hadn’t blown the horn and it could have played out a little more,” he said. “I was hoping the bear would come back.”
Flemming said as of Feb. 1, his YouTube has had more than 49,000 views. While the bear visited in the fall, he said he only posted it to his FaceBook page Jan. 26 because he thought “it might go viral,” and he was too stressed out for that during the election season.
Now, he said, he felt it was time to unleash a bear jam session.
He was right – his social media blew up, and he was contacted by the Daily Mail out of England and Inside Edition, an NBC TV news show, which aired a segment Jan. 29. The video also appeared on news sites in China and Finland. Licensing agencies also called, and he signed with one.
“It’s been wild!” he said.
If he makes any money from the video, Flemming said he plans to donate 20% to the WNC Nature Center, the city-owned zoo, to help with its natural environment habitats for native WNC animals.
While Flemming said his teenage daughter, Sadie, is most unimpressed with his newfound fame, his son Owen is proud, and the Asheville music scene has taken notice – he has already lined up more gigs since the video’s release.
What does he suggest people do if a bear comes a-knocking?
“Move in a deliberate manner, be calm, don’t run or do anything they can interpret as being an aggressive move and just close the door,” he said.
In other words, don’t do what he did.
Flemming said while he has had some haters, the response has been mostly positive with comments like, “This is the best thing I’ve seen all day,” and “This is exactly what I’ve needed.”