Getting ready for his visit to Vancouver next week for his Boy Midflight book release, we caught up with Charlie David in Whistler where he is currently working as the Art Director on 2 Frogs dans l’Ouest (2 Frogs in the West), to talk about his new novel Boy Midflight, coming out and life after Dante’s Cove.
Tell us about your new book, Boy Midflight. What is it about?
It is the story of 19 year old Ashley who has everything – looks, talent, and even a girlfriend. But soon he has to come to terms with his sexuality and the possible implications for his career as a male model. He begins dating Chris, but isn’t sure he’s head over heels in love. It’s not the knight-in-shining-armor feeling he thought it would be. Then Ashley gets the chance to leave his hometown in Canada to visit sunny California for a big modeling job. There he meets a kind slightly older man who takes his breath away but is he ready for real love or is it just infatuation? Will he go back to his comfortable life with Chris or explore this new-found attraction?
Does the story come from any personal place for you?
More than any other writing I’ve done in fact. I wrote Boy Midflight when I was eighteen years old and going to college in Victoria. So there’s a lot of ‘me’ in there, sometimes embarrassingly so. When discussing with my publisher though we decided that we should keep the narrative voice as ‘innocent’ and fresh as I was at that time. So it’s funny to look back on now – certainly many things about the way I saw the world, being gay and what love is are not the same as they are for me today.
The cover features two finalists from last year’s Next Gay Top Model competition. Where did the idea come from to connect the cover with the competition?
The Gay Top Model competition is really fun and benefits good causes. I was working with Terry on the competition by providing underwear and t-shirts from my clothing line for the models and the discussion about my books came up. As Boy Midflight was scheduled for release later that year we thought it would be an additional fun challenge for the contestants. And the guys are hot – so I knew they’d help the pick up rate of the book!
You are involved in a lot of things: movie actor, producer, television host, fashionista and now fiction writer. Which do you enjoy the most?
Tough question – I really enjoy all these different aspects of my life. I’m very fortunate that I very rarely feel like I’m actually ‘working’. I’m a bit of a Peter Pan and never want to grow up! Certainly the writing is a passion and gives me a lot of joy. My business partner Linda Carter and I thrive off of each other’s eccentric energy and don’t sit still for too long. We started our Vancouver based talent agency, CTM International and from that spurned Border2Border Entertainment, our production company and now we’re looking at bringing Rhino Africa, an inbound African travel agency to N. America. No wonder I don’t go on many dates! Maybe I should put a little energy into finding some romance!
You came out to family and friends relatively early in life and you outed yourself professionally in 2005. Which was more difficult?
Definitely coming out to family and friends – those are the people that had helped form my life up to that point. Coming out professionally just made sense. I knew when I started doing Dante’s Cove that the question was going to come up from the media and I’d have two choices – lie or tell the truth. I decided to just be open and it’s been very rewarding for me from both a professional and personal standpoint.
Did you find any roadblocks in show business when you first came out?
Certainly. There were casting directors who I thought would be my allies because of their own sexuality who after I came out began to only see me for stereotypical gay characters. That was tough to swallow at first. Now I’m cool with it – I realize this is show business and sometimes the business side of it can be rough. I’ve been on both sides of the table for that. Casting has so many variables that it’s both essential and nearly impossible for a performer to not take it personally. Now presenting my authentic self in both my personal and public life is how I choose to live. Sure I’ll get some work and I’ll lose some work for who I am and I’m prepared for that. Thinking about it too much would be self involved and unproductive.
Having just seen a local production of The Little Dog Laughed (which explored homophobia in Hollywood) I am curious to know if you felt any pressure to stay in the closet to pursue your career?
Of course. I had many friends in the industry from casting to other actors to producers warn me it would ruin the trajectory of my career. And perhaps in their eyes it did. Who knows? It was simply more important for me to shamelessly be who I am than pretend something for the sake of social norms and professional advancement. Honestly I feel like I’m in a time warp sometimes with these conversations, they seem so archaic in light of our human rights progress and yet I know they are justified questions. I do feel like we need to spend less time focused on who sleeps with who and more time focused on the social injustices in the world. It’s certainly time for us as privileged N. Americans to look beyond the comforts, rights and freedoms we enjoy here and broaden our aperture to the global movement for human rights.
Your first movie, Mulligans, saw some good success. Are you planning a follow-up?
Absolutely – although not in terms of a sequel to Mulligans. Between the film and novel I feel like I’ve told that story and it’s time to move on to other ones. I’ve executive produced a few projects since Mulligans including the documentary Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride by Vancouver filmmakers Morris Chapdelaine and Bob Christie. The film is doing very well on the festival circuit including winning the Jury Prize for best doc at the Montréal Image+Nation Film Festival. Our production company Border2Border Entertainment has a few film and TV projects being prepped for this year including the film Judas Kiss, a TV mini series based on my new book Shadowlands and a conservation and social responsibility series focused on green exploration from Capetown to Cairo tracking iconic species.
When we mention Charlie David the first thing people think of is Dante’s Cove. Do you mind still being associated so much with the show?
To be honest for a while it was something we were trying to stretch beyond and I think we’ve succeeded in some ways with my travel series Bump, by getting into producing and writing. I wanted to be sure I wasn’t completely pigeon holed into being a soap guy. But overall I have no issue with people remembering me from Dante’s Cove. That’s what happens when you have a successful cult show – you become associated with it forever. For better or for worse we were the first gay scripted series on the first American gay network with gay actors in many of the roles and I think it was a turning point that ushered in the opportunity for so much more gay media to be produced.
Any chance of Dante’s Cove coming back to television?
I don’t have any official news but that’s the word on the street. It’s coming back 4 more. Get it? The 4th season … coming back 4 more. Ahhh… supernatural soap operas – just silly fun aren’t they?
How disappointed were you when filming stopped on Dante’s Cove? Do you miss it?
Like any show there are things I miss and things I don’t… I certainly miss many of the people. We were very lucky to have a cast that got along so well (for the most part). There’s nearly always as much drama on screen with a show as there is off screen… That’s what happens when divas collide of both the male and female variety. I miss that my wardrobe rack only had like 3 shirts for a season and 3 of those were tank tops. I miss pretending to dodge fireballs. I miss rehearsing really awkward lines for hours on my balcony looking up at the night sky and praying for divine intervention. I miss practicing the make out scenes with the straight boy cast members – so many questions, so little time. I miss Hawaii.
One of your next projects, the movie Judas Kiss, is in pre-production. What can you tell us about it?
Years after graduation, a failed filmmaker’s visit to his peculiar alma mater traps him in a tug of war between his tortured past and a troubling future. Judas Kiss is an offbeat contemporary drama on a college campus alive with magical realism and aninventive musical score — a place where you can grab a second chance at your future. Like Sliding Doors and A Christmas Carol, it offers a window into a fresh destiny. I play the failed filmmaker, Zachary Wells, and will executive produce the project along with my partners Linda Carter and Derek James at Border2Border. I was drawn to the film because the writing is fantastic and I get to play a very dark and troubled character which will be exciting for me. Some of your readers may also recognize the name Brent Corrigan who also has a role in the film…
You were just in Whistler working on a Quebecois film, 2 Frogs in the West. What can you tell us about that? We didn’t know you spoke French!
2 Frogs dans l’Ouest is a beautiful film by one of my best friends, Dany Papineau. It’s a trilingual film in French, English and Spanish and is very much both a road film and a journey of the heart. We shot in Whistler in October, have been back for January and will finish our Spring session in April with a trip down to Mexico. Dany lives in Montréal now but was a Vancouverite for many years and we met shortly after he had shot a short film with a similar premise to I. He had aspirations to make it into a feature and I’ve followed the journey with him for the past five years. So when I found out it was moving forward I told him I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I am the Art Director on the film which is a title Dany very graciously bestowed on me – I get to make things look pretty or ugly as the case may be. And yes, with Quebecois cast and crew I’m getting to practice my French!
You’re set to release a book of short stories in the fall of 2010 as well called Shadowlands. What can you tell us about it?
Shadowlands is definitely a departure for me from the novels Boy Midflight and Mulligans which are stories which truly focus on love and relationships. The Shadowlands anthology is made up of tragedies essentially. There are stories of love but always bitten by crushing loss. The impetus came from my fascination with Greek and Roman mythology.
Many of the stories are re-imaginings of both classic and obscure texts but always with a homocentric perspective. In Pygmalion Revisited for example a sculptor who is commissioned by a monastery fashions a statue of St. Pelagius after his dead boyfriend. This post mortem obsession leads the sculptor to try strike a bargain with Christ to bring his lover back from the dead…. And then… Well you’ll have to read it. Another one of the stories is titled Lucretia Undone in which the title character is newly awakened to the acceptance that she is lesbian and seeks out her own ‘curative rape’. In The Twisted Glory of Ganymede a patient in a session with his therapist realizes that his pubescent crush with an older guy was in fact child abuse.
As the title suggests Shadowlands spews forth a lot of tortured darkness. Perhaps my next anthology will be something lighter and I’ll title it Rainbows and Sunshine.
What’s next for Charlie David?
I’m headed back to Africa in February and early March to explore through Botswana, Zambia, Kenya and South Africa. In March I’ll join my Bump crew to finish the episodes for season IV in London, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Antwerp. To be honest and I imagine that’s what you want from me and I did promise to be authentic – I’m running around trying to distract myself from the fact that I’m in love and it’s impossible because he’s with someone else. How’s that for the bleeding edge of honesty?
Boy Midflight Book Launch
Little Sisters Book & Art Emporium, 1238 Davie Street
Wednesday, 27 January 2010 @ 7pm – 8pm