We traveled all the way to London town to catch up with two of the internet’s favourite Cypriot performers who collectively performed what is now known as Stavros Flatley for Britain’s Got Talent 2009 on ITV in the UK, but caused a massive uproar of laugher across the globe.
Arriving to meet us was a cheery Demetris Demetriou, who took us to his beautiful home in London, where we had the pleasure of catching up with the Irish Dancing duo.
Our thanks go out to his friendly family for their hospitality. And now for our very relaxed interview with Demetris and his 12 year old son, Lagis by Peter and myself.
(Please note this dialogue had to be shortened due to it surpassing 5 A4 pages, should you wish to hear the full audio from the interview drop a comment below)
OTI: Lets start with saying, we were watching some of your other interviews about the dance and what you said about it; that in these days of hardship people watch it and it makes them happy. We love that idea. Well done!
Demetri: Yea that’s the thing, to put a smile on their faces. And.. its funny how the first thing people do when they see me is to smile at me, then give me that look, then I have to say “Yes it’s me” and then they put their hands out and say how it was brilliant and thank me for it. Every response we’ve gotten has been positive, even on the internet I haven’t seen anything bad, and everyone has been very nice about us. I’m so proud that everyone took it like that.
OTI : Well you know its a bit of a humorous dance-act-kind-of-thing, but it wasn’t just silly but also quite technical as well. For example, some of those moves I can’t even do them!
Demetri: Actually it took us a while, we were practicing and practicing but uh you never know, somebody may get offended and say something negative. It was our homage to Micheal Flatley and how he moves and how he portrays himself on stage, it is and was just a lot of fun.
OTI: Was there any particular reason why Micheal Flatley? What was the inspiration?
Demetri: Because I think there’s nothing funnier than a little fat bloke trying to pull off the confidence that Mr. Flatley gave. I mean what’s funnier than a lil fat bloke doing that?! As Flatley is so toned, I thought it’d be even better for a fat bloke to do it. And especially when Lagi wanted to do it as well! As we both have the same sort of build… and I know he’s only young and he’ll go through the phase of going to the gym and works out and all that… but right now he just happens to have the same build as me. I mean he’s fit now, he plays football and rugby!
OTI: Cool, thats great! So tell us a little bit about Mr. Demetris Demitriou, the main man.
Demetri: Well me and my brother wanted to start a restaurant in Oakfield and we’d decided we would open a Greek restaurant and do food and maybe a little bit of Greek dancing. But when we opened, I was a little bit naive and thought that I knew enough about running a restaurant, when in fact I didn’t. So we had a bit of a problem with the food, cause it wasn’t great. It wasn’t bad food, it just wasn’t good food. hehe So people used to come in and eat and not come back, so we decided that along with the music and the dancing we’d start a little bit of entertainment. So what I did was come up with ideas on how to get people up to do the dances. So what we decided was to make the customer the star of the show, by getting them up and dressing them up and then getting them to do Micheal Jackson or Madonna and all that. Then the show evolved, and I decided that, since Micheal Flatley was huge at the time, I’d do that… and all of a sudden, the restaurant was so busy during the weekend that you couldn’t book for less than two to three weeks, and at some stage you needed to book more than a month ahead, it was soo busy. But only on the weekends! I mean during the weekdays I was in there on my own and then on the weekends it was packed again. This went on for a long time, I believe for around 8 years, but in the end I couldn’t do it anymore, I was working too many hours, doing Christenings on Sundays, getting home at 2/3 in the morning, and I also had the kids. I mean Lagi was only 4 when I leased it out. We bought the building and gave the restaurant away to do something else.
Lagi saw little bits of it and enjoyed it but I didn’t realise he had the bug! I didn’t realise that he liked to do that, and when I saw the advert on TV one day for Britain’s Got Talent, and I said for a joke “Wouldn’t it be funny if I went on there and did it” and he said “I’ll do it with you” and I thought he was mad cause he’d never done it before, so we put the video on and I said to him “fine, lets see if you can move” and after watching it 2 or 3 times he was breaking out all the moves, so I figured “Brilliant” so we set out all the moves. And I must admit that ever since I sold the restaurant, I’d never once done anything like this (for about 8 years now) so Lagis never saw me do anything along these lines…
OTI: So it was like embedded in his mind…
Demetri: Yes, cause its not like we do this regularly hehe and he got the hang of it. Even now when I watch videos of it I laugh. Bcause I know that if I had fun doing it, someone would enjoy it, but I didnt realise how mad or how much people would!
OTI: Hehe yea people love it! So in your act you tell us about a village in Cyprus. Is there any particular village in Cyprus that can be proud?
Demetri: What happened was, in the original skit, I used to say “Ladies and Genlemen, many years ago in Cyprus there lived a man who danced for the villagers, and he danced a special dance, but one day somebody stole that dance and took it around the world and became famous but here tonight to do the original riverdance is Stavros Flatley” but I didnt wanna tell them that Micheal Flatley who stole it hehe. But the village in Cyprus would maybe be Kontea, cause thats where we’re from.
OTI: Ah OK I’m slightly disappointed that it wasn’t my village hehe. So what is happening now with the restaurant?
Demetri: Well we still own it, but we lease it out. But I don’t know if they will change it or rename it, because it’s still called Sirtaki. I know they still do music but I don’t think they do cabaret and entertainent.
OTI: Maybe a ‘special guest’ appearance at some point?
Demetri: Oh Blimey!
OTI: hehehe so were you always known for Stavros Flatley or are there other personas?
Demetri: No no! There was others and one of them was a Greek ‘love-god’ called Stavros Dinatopolistavradopoulou, who was like a real flashy Greek, who loved himself.
OTI: Brilliant! We’ve been informed that people believe that they believe the acts got a bit of a pentozali flavour to it. So was your act inspired or adjusted by any Greek dancing style?
Demetri: You know what, we had a really long think about how we were going to do it and if we wanted to add any Greek moves, but we decided that because of the tattoo, there was no need to change anything. Because when you saw the tattoo, you knew who we were and where we’re from. We also wanted to fool everyone into thinking we’d come out and do some traditional Greek dancing. The way we saw it was, if we were gonna take the mick out of Irish Dancing, we were gonna do it like we meant it, and thats what we wanted to do… But IF we make it through to the next round, then we’re planning on maybe going a little more traditional and you would like it, but we won’t be one of those acts that just do the same thing, because we got enough up our sleeve. (you’ve heard it here first folks at OTI!)
OTI: Firstly congratulations! Sweet moves! We loved them!
Lagis: Thank you very much!
OTI: So tell us a little about yourself Lagi.
Lagis: Well… I’m 12, I go to Highlands School, I like playing golf and rugby and football and uh…. I ate cereal this morning.
OTI: hehe that’s good. Need to eat for those kinds of moves. So tell us something for our lady readers back at home…
Demetris: (To Lagi) They can ask your mum, tell ‘em good luck to them.
OTI : ooo… tough mum as well? Cypriot Style!
Lagis: hehehe yea exactly!
OTI: So Lagi, what’s your opinions on Andy Demitrious’ dance?
Lagis: I could watch him all day!!
OTI: hehe Well he was yet another Cypriot dance act to get a standing ovation! So how has your life changed since that lovely night?
Lagis: Well, friends at school have been the same and other people have been nice to me. People also recognise us, which is good.
OTI: Nice, moving on up! So tell us, do you do any actual Greek Dancing?
Lagis: Yeap, my favourite is sousta and I like sirtaki.
OTI: And you learned these from the restaurant?
Lagis: Yea like my dad would dance with the waiters and I remember one guy would do it really fast and no-one could catch up to him and they taught me to do the moves but I only do the children’s one. I also like the really slow one… vareta.
OTI: Nice man, so Demetris is there a Mrs Flatley?
Demetris: Yes her name is Karen.
OTI: hehe oh now we’re gonna have a lot of dissapointed female readers!!
Demetris: hehehe yea right!
OTI: …yea for both of you because we believe Lagis has a girlfriend too...
Demetris: well good luck to them if they can sort it out with the missus..
OTI: ..hehe so performing for a large audience is a daunting task, but performing in front of Simon Cowell must be something else! So what were your feelings before and after?
Demetris: Well before, it was really strange, because when you see the stage, the whole of the back is just buzzing, there’s loads of different acts…
Lagis: …and like boxes everywhere and like camera equipment…
Demetris: …so when they took us there, and said to us to wait, they leave you alone a little a bit, and Lagi just stood on the side. You weren’t allowed to watch the other acts.
OTI: Weren’t there other screens at least so you could see the others?
Demetris: nope nothing
OTI: Any particular reason why?
Demetris: I have no clue.
Lagis: I think its so you don’t know the other acts.
Demetris: …yea maybe, well anyway I just started pacing up and down. Yes once, twice, three times fine. But 15-20 minutes I’m walking…
Lagis: 15-20 minutes!? More like half an hour!
Demetris: Yea maybe hehe, and he’s going “Dad calm down, we’ll be fine!” and I’m like “I can’t I’m nervous” to which he responds, “We’ll be fine, just calm down!“. So I’m there going up and down, up and down, and then they say to us, “OK you’re up” and told us to get dressed I told them that I was sorry I couldn’t and needed to go out like this to which they said OK. So Lagi went ahead and I was still so nervous, so I thought to myself “I’m meant to be the parent and he’s meant to be the child!“. Just before we went on to talk to them, I thought about “what if they ask him something and he doesn’t know what to say“…
OTI: Lagi’s answers were very good though!
Demetris: ..yea and that’s when I thought to myself “Yea we’ll be OK” so we went to get changed and I know its probably bad parenting but I totally forgot Lagis was there, because I’m the most nervous person and I took my top off and waited there. Ant and Dec were there, and I got on with it. I probably should have looked back to see if he was ready or not, but obviously he did what he had to do, but you just forget. And although I’ve only ever done this for 200ish people in a restaurant, I could never remember what happened, and I’d told Lagi this before. That is exactly what happened. It was like “what the hell just happened!” but it felt so good and, I dont know, it was amazing! And I would do it again!
OTI: And what about you Lagis? Same feelings?
Lagis: Yea but I was more relaxed and calm.
OTI: Its because you’re a natural, man!
Lagis: Heheheh yea but you know what the strange thing is? I wish I could stay that mellow in tests. I dont get it! I start sweating and shaking….
OTI: Well maybe you are a bit more of a public person. We liked the way you handled Pierce, very well done!
Lagis: Well I was going to say something else but I didnt, I held back!
OTI: Well he did say it was one of the most entertaining acts!
Demetris: Yea well all three of them are really nice, but I differ from Simon Cowell (and I’m nuts about american idol and love the x factor, just because its nice telly you know) as you know that if these people wanna go and do this, then I’ll sit and watch them. Simon Cowell really knows what he is talking about. If he doesnt like something, and you know you put yourself in front of him, he will say so, and you expect him to do so. No one doesn’t know that he is gonna make his comments. So its even more nice when he says something positive. Piers and Amanda as well. I know that Amanda (being an actress) if she likes something she knows you will get away with it because youre doing what your doing. And I know Piers Morgan has met every star there is, so I know if he says he likes us, thats so cool. You know what i mean, its so cool. Another example is this guy on the radio called Nick Ferrari (quite well known in UK), saying that we’re his favorite act on the show! When you hear something like that you think “Ive been listening to his show for 10-15 years, and now he is talking about us!” You’re doing stuff that , I know this is gonna sound really stupid, your gonna go away and leave a footprint.
OTI: …so you guys realise that you have had an impact on many peoples lives?
Demetris: Yeah we made a footprint that everyone laughted at. And thats it, and whether it finishes now, tomorrow or next week, that footprints there. You go through life and you say I wanna do good stuff, be good with the kids and not do bad stuff you know. You take part and you leave stuff… now I’m getting all philosophical now.
Demetris: It is such a big thing that everyone liked it, even in Cyprus- I didnt realise we were gonna get that reaction!
OTI: Yeah it was massive. The news were talking about “the Cypriots that wowed the Britain Got Talent judges”. I dont know if you been approached by any Cypriot TV stations for any interview?
Demetris: Not one
OTI: Thats ’cause we are the best! Yet another OTI first! hehe
Demetris: I think it’s because, maybe they’re waiting to see if we get through to the next round. And if they dont come, thanks very much for the time you have shown me and good luck as well! I’m not going to be a Greek superstar.
OTI: You didnt take yourselves too serioulsy, however you’ve also shown you have the talent,skills and humour.
Demetris: We had to be careful and it paid off because even the yiayiades (grandmas) are saying nice stuff. And you know when a yiayia says you’ve done really well- then you know youve crossed everything, so the kids haven’t taken it so seriously, they just think “thank you very much”. The adults and the yaiayades, then you know you’ve done it! You’ve hit it. And you say “OK we’ve had a giggle and they didnt take it like it was some kinda of fad”.
OTI: (After Lagi leaves the room momentarily) Is Lagi gonna get any tatts?
Demetris: (laughing) NO NO. I was 30 when I done it. I had to go through my yiayia and she had to say that it was fine as long as it is meaningful. They all mean something. But it’s not about the tattoos, its what you are ‘damesa’ (points at his heart), you know what I mean. You could be tattooed ‘up to the hill’ , but if you’re a nice person, you’re a nice person. To be honest I’ve always believed that you got to be a good person otherwise you gonna get it back tenfold. So I’m nice to everyone , just in case!! I believe in karma.
OTI: One last message for our readers?
Lagi: Keep cooking those souvles, and cook them good so I can smell them over here! I will be coming back home soon!
Our thanks go out to Demetris, Lagi and their family for being so hospitable and giving us the time and pleasure of getting to know them a bit more than the TV showed us. We wish you all the best in the future! And hope to catch up with you again for a recount on what happens next!
We hope you have found this ‘short’ insight into the thoughts and lives of the guys behind Stavros Flatley. If you can vote for them! Even if you can’t… connect your facebook account to OnThisIsland.com to drop a comment and share this with your friends.