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Johnny Skandros Talks Scruff, Pride & Queer Travel Safety


We caught up with the app founder as he traveled for Pride.

As the summer continues to make us hot and bothered, we can certainly rely on our apps. If you have Scruff, you know it's one of the hottest digital cruising spots. But according to founder Johnny Skandros, it's more than just a hookup app.

We recently caught up with Skandros as he traveled for Pride. With a wide community of users and new innovative features, he explains how the app has become a lifestyle brand.

Out Traveler: How would you explain Scruff’s presence in the gay community today?

Johnny Skandros: Well we have an event listing within the app where we list events around the world. Right now, our team has personally created a global index of 50 Pride celebrations happening, from New York City to New Orleans to Madrid to Tel Aviv. You can see who’s RSVP’d to which events, so that’s really cool. You can go in there, see who’s attending, and make some friends before you go. I think that’s a really cool way to keep connecting our members.

How else has the app evolved since it launched?

We really want to be considered a social app, and we are a dating app as well. But we’ve tried to be more social by creating an event listing, by creating Scruff Venture, which is our travel feature. There’s a list of cities, and it tells you how many people are traveling to those cities, Airbnb listings, where to go, what to do. It’s really travel focused, which is definitely beyond dating. Our mission at Scruff is to connect guys nearby to the global gay community. We hope to continue to do that. Scruff is dating, it’s hooking up, it’s chatting, but it is much more than that.

What has surprised you the most about the way people use Scruff?

We hear stories a lot about people dating internationally, which is really interesting. When we launched our location search feature, we were the first to launch a feature where you could search for guys in other countries. So, we were surprised to hear stories where someone would “woof” at a guy, one guy would be in Australia and the other guy would be in the US. Before you know it, they met up and they’re married. So, international stories of connection are something we’ve been hearing over the years. That tells us it’s not just about who’s nearby. It’s a global app, a global community of people.

Tell me about your travel alert feature.

We feel a responsibility to our traveling members in the community. With that, we built a travel alert feature, where if you’re in a hostile country, you’ll get a pop-up of the laws that criminalize homosexuality in that country. That took us about a year to build out. So, if you travel to Saudi Arabia, you’ll get a pop-up alert that shows you the laws. We call them “gay travel advisories.”

How do you use Scruff when you travel?

I’ve had the opportunity to travel to some incredible places over the years and meet our members from London to Paris to Toronto. I’d have to say the city I utilized Scruff the most for was New Orleans. I recently attended New Orleans Pride which we sponsored, so it came in handy for finding out where to go and what to do.

What are some spots there you'd recommend?

I’d definitely recommend Café Du Monde. Their coffee and doughnuts are heavenly. If you’re in the mood for a drink, check out Blacksmith Bar, which is the oldest running bar in the United States, built in the 1700’s. They make a drink called “The Purple Drink” which is Bourbon and Everclear. It’s quite delish. For some gayness, Oz is a fun dance place. Look out for the queen of Oz, Persona Shoulders, who hosts weekly events there. She's a riot and blows a whistle when she's walking around the club, so you can't miss her. The Phoenix is also another gay bar I had a blast at. It’s a bit rougher and darker than Oz, which I enjoy as well.

And you live in Vegas. What would you recommend there for visitors who want to get away from the strip and Fremont?

I’m proud to say that I grew up in Las Vegas and it’s grown drastically since I was a kid. There is plenty to do off the strip and Fremont. I love Tivoli Village and Downtown Summerlin. Both are outdoor malls with shopping and amazing restaurants. One of my favorites is a steakhouse called Echo and Rig in Tivoli Village. For some adventure, I’d recommend Red Rock Canyon which is a must for hikers. We’d take field trips there when I was a kid. It’s really beautiful with an abundance of wildlife from coyotes to snakes. It’s worth it, trust me.

For more info and to download the app, visit Scruff.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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