One of Us: Drew Becher, Philadelphia Flower Show Honcho

As he prepares for the 186th Philadelphia Flower Show, the president of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society talks Bette Midler, Beastie Boys, and why his dinner-party guests should take caution.

Illustration by Andy Friedman

Illustration by Andy Friedman

My name is … Drew Becher, but my full name is David Andrew Becher Jr.

I am a … nature lover.

I live in … Chestnut Hill, one of the greatest neighborhoods in the country. My partner Eric and I have lived in a lot of places. We love the houses, the village, the people, and being next to the Wissahickon. It’s like being on vacation 24/7.

I grew up in … Dayton, Ohio, until I went to college. Life in Dayton was wonderful. That’s where I got my penchant for gardening, from my grandmother. That said, I don’t know that I’d want to go back. But it’s a nice place to be from.

One flower I just cannot stand is … red salvia. It reminds me of Shell gas stations, because when I was growing up, they always used to have the marigolds and red salvia. My favorite flower is hydrangea. White, specifically.

The most beautiful place in Philadelphia is … Race Street Pier. It is very New Philadelphia.

I came out when … I was 23 and living in Chicago. I had met Eric — we’ve been together for 20 years — and I knew he was the right person for me, so I started thinking, I can’t keep this a secret.

My wardrobe consists primarily of … clothes purchased in London. The clothes I buy there seem to fit me better. We go there a lot — we lived there for three years — and I go with a very empty suitcase.

The first concert I ever went to was … the Beastie Boys, in Dayton, for the Licensed to Ill tour. I lied to my mother, and we went. It was so much fun. But somehow she found out — and this was the concert where they had the big penis that came out of the stage. It was not a good time to be Drew Becher.

The last vacation I took was … to London for a wedding. Last year I went to Singapore, which is an absolutely unbelievable place. It was so overwhelming. So lush. So green. So clean. Even the subway system is pristine.

My most famous friend is … Bette Midler. I worked for her in New York, and I’ve known her ever since. She’s really cool. Even her public persona is not as cool as she is in real life. She’s a genius.

One TV show I cannot miss is … How to Get Away With Murder. It’s between that and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

My preferred method of transportation is … Uber. I use it all the time.

The thing most people don’t get about my job … is that we do other things than just the Flower Show. We plant hundreds of thousands of trees. We operate community gardens. We maintain all the beautiful public gardens throughout the city.

The last book I read cover to cover … was Steve Jobs, the Walter Isaacson book. About a year ago. I don’t get much time to read.

If you’re coming to my house for dinner … you should have a driver, because we’re pretty heavy pourers, and we like serving great wine.

My partner is always telling me … that I shouldn’t be so serious.

My biggest phobia … is cottage cheese — people that have that lumpy food and mix other stuff into it. That’s so gross. This morning, this one woman in our office had cottage cheese and put lemon on it, and I was about ready to hurl. And then I have one other phobia that I can’t say publicly. Sorry.

I certainly hope that the next mayor … wants to make Philadelphia beautiful.

Originally published in the March 2015 issue of Philadelphia magazine.