Divine Magazine is very proud to present Actor, Author and TV Host Charlie David as our Author of the Month for December
Charlie David has been a host for E! Television, NBC, OutTV, LOGO, here! TV, Pink TV, EGO, Fine Living and Slice Networks on such shows as FYE!, SpyTV, Crash Test Mommy and his travel series Bump which shot over 100 episodes around the world and garnered a Hugo Television award. He has appeared as musical guest on VH1, BBC, CBS’s The Early Show, and dozens of radio shows.
In 2005 Out Magazine recognized Charlie in the ‘Out 100’ at their gala in New York. In 2007 the Philadelphia Film Society awarded Charlie with their Rising Star Award. In 2008 the Festival del Sol in Gran Canaria awarded their Best Male Actor Award to Charlie and the male cast of A Four Letter Word. Formerly in a rock band… okay, actually it was a boy band, Charlie opened for Destiny’s Child, Pink, Snoop Dogg, Rick Springfield and Black Eyed Peas.
A love of storytelling led Charlie to start Border2Border Entertainment Inc., a production company whose film and television credits include Mulligans, Judas Kiss, I’m a Stripper (series), Studlebrity, Balls, I’m a Porn Star, I’m a Porn Star: Gay4Pay and Positive Youth. Border2Border Entertainment’s films have been licensed to Showtime, Super Channel, HBO Canada, MTV/LOGO, Sundance Channel, Discovery Networks, The Movie Network, Movie Central, Hollywood Suite, hereTV, Encore Avenue, and OutTV in North America as well as finding a worldwide audience through international distribution partners.
Tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
I’m a storyteller, but I’ve been called worse names. The mediums for my stories are books, audiobooks, web series, documentaries, and films. I’ve been fortunate to have some of my own books published as well as produce and narrate the audiobooks for other publishing houses and authors.
My passions include travel, encounters with wildlife, SCUBA diving, mosaic tiling, and yoga. I live in Toronto and Montréal when I’m not living out of a suitcase.
So, what have you written?
I’ve written three books, some scripted films and television documentaries. The project I’m most excited about right now is turning my book of short stories, Shadowlands into a TV series. I’d describe it as dark romance… like ghost stories with gay dudes.
I’ve just received the green light from a network; I have the first three scripts written, and we’re planning to go into production in Spring 2017.
What do you love most about the writing process?
Exploring the hidden parts of oneself is most enticing to me. I’m of the opinion that the most exciting writing happens when our characters are brave enough to take risks, both in their actions and the conversations they have with one another. There’s nothing more tedious to me than reading small talk or the minutiae of a character’s life in a book. If the character is doing laundry, it better be in an extraordinary way or there must be an important discovery otherwise you’re wasting my time as a reader.
I’ve certainly been guilty of writing some trivial scenes but I try to write by the maxim of less is more. Perhaps that’s why I enjoyed writing Shadowlands. The inherent challenges of telling a short story really intrigued me.
Has your writing evolved since your first book?
Absolutely. It continues to evolve all the time. I’m inspired by other authors I read as well as from countless sources – television, films, magazines, blogs. The time when I’ve been at my best as a writer is when I am diligent about setting aside 1-2 hours a day (usually first thing in the morning) to write. The muse needs to know that you’re serious and also where to find you consistently.
Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than any others? Love? Action? Romance? Tragedy?
The most difficult for me often end up being my favorites and those are confrontational scenes between friends or lovers. I really enjoy digging into a completely uncomfortable but necessary dialogue in order for characters to transition to a different place – whether that’s to move past a grievance, to find a place of forgiveness or to decide their time together has come to an end.
What do you think makes your books stand out from the crowd?
I don’t think my books really fit the M/M romance genre but when readers give them a chance they are surprised and engaged in new ways. There are piles of engaging albeit somewhat written by recipe gay romance books. My writing is not that, and I don’t aspire to fit them into that.
I don’t write according to a recipe so for readers who are curious to wander off the beaten path I think my books offer something satisfyingly different.
One food you don’t care if you never eat it again.
What is your very favourite holiday destination?
My family’s cabin. It’s perfect for Christmas with all the snow and a big stone fireplace in the middle. The ice on the lake is generally cleared, so people go skating or play hockey. It’s really a magical place to be.
What are some jobs you’ve held? Have any of them impacted your writing? How?
Have I ever! I’ve clear cut forest for a golf course, go-go danced, was a typist for a doctor, worked at a PR agency, sang in a boy band, fought witches and warlocks on a TV show, and of course narrate gay romance novels in my underwear and cup of coffee in hand most mornings currently. My work life has been varied, fulfilling and surprising.
I guess the closest line I could draw from employment to writing would be the one day I worked as a go-go dancer to directing a documentary series titled I’m a Stripper. I think I was able to channel all the nerves, anxiety, and excitement of my one night in booty shorts into an understanding of the guys I profiled in the series. All the episodes are on my website – www.border2border.ca
Have you ever gone to a convention? If so, how was it? If not, do you think it’s something you’d like to do in the future?
I haven’t been and have been hearing they are so fun! I would definitely consider attending one in the future.
Have you ever written a scene where it has reduced you to tears?
There have been a few. The one that springs to mind immediately is the scene between the husband and wife in Mulligans when she confronts him with the knowledge that he’s cheating on her with their son’s best friend. Both in the novel and in the film – that scene always grips my heart.
When an unexpected attraction grows between Chase and his best friend’s dad, Nathan, will it have profound effects?
Chase never had many friends, but at college, he meets and forms close ties with straight jock Tyler Davidson—a connection he fears he’ll lose if he tells Tyler he’s gay. Keeping his sexuality secret becomes harder for Chase as he joins Tyler and his family at their idyllic lake house for the summer. It grows more and more difficult for Chase to avoid Tyler’s attempts to set him up with girls, and he’s tired of making excuses. Chase is ready to embrace the man he is, but he’s afraid of what it will cost him.
The Davidsons seem like the perfect family, but Chase soon realizes there’s trouble in paradise. Tyler’s dad, Nathan, has done everything to make a good life for his wife and children—including suppressing his sexuality and denying his needs for years. But like Chase, Nathan is growing weary of living a lie. What begins as an offer of support from Chase grows into an unexpected attraction that will have profound effects on everyone. Chase and the Davidsons are about to learn that there’s no such thing as a perfect family, but that perfection isn’t a requirement for friendship and love.
Chase let the sand run through his fingers again. He’d been doing this for nearly an hour, not sure what his next move should be. He was scared to leave the beach and also very scared to be alone. Because that was how he felt now more than any other time in his life: absolutely, completely, and utterly alone. He knew he should do something—at least move from his crouched position in the sand. His legs had long ago fallen asleep, and the numbness had spread through his body, creating an aching well when it reached his heart. It was as if a black hole had been created in the center of his chest, and everything that had been so beautiful and exciting about the world an hour ago was now being sucked into the bottomless dark pit inside him. Chase prayed that he too would be sucked into the dark chasm within and disappear. It would be a hell of a lot easier than walking up the steps and facing the people at the barbecue, who he was sure would now all be staring at him with narrowed eyes, if they hadn’t already gathered their pitchforks to drive him from town.
He knew he had to stand and make his way up the hill. Dusk had fallen and soon it would be dark. Surely most of the neighbors had already gone home. Chase smoothed out the pile of sifted sand and slowly pushed himself to his feet. Pinpricks danced up and down his legs. He rocked back and forth and kicked his feet to start the blood flowing again.
Chase turned to see Tyler walking up the beach toward him.
“Yeah, I’m fine. My legs just fell asleep….”
“I thought maybe you fell asleep. You’ve been gone a long time,” Tyler said as he reached Chase and looked him up and down. “Fine, huh? You know what my mom says fine stands for? Fucked up, insecure, neurotic, and emotional. So are you fine?”
Chase couldn’t help but laugh, but was surprised as tears filled his eyes at the same time. “Pretty much. Your mom said that?”
“Well, she had been drinking at the time. Forget about it, dude. Jim doesn’t know his head from his ass and my mom… she just wasn’t thinking.” Tyler reached his arm around Chase’s shoulder and gave him a squeeze. “It’d be totally different if she knew.”
“Oh right. That.” Chase felt another little twist in his gut, although it was nothing compared to his bruised feelings over Jarod.
Tyler bent down and picked up a handful of stones, handing some to Chase. He leaned back and then fired one from his hip, skipping it across the water. Chase tossed one of the stones up and down in his hand and then followed Tyler’s lead casting it into the lake. “So is everybody still up there or did they go home?” Chase asked.
“Most have gone home.”
“Jarod and Christie?”
“Yup, left about an hour ago, said they were going to catch a movie.”
“Is that all they said?”
“Yeah. What’s up, Chase?”
Chase skipped another rock and then turned to look at his friend. “It’s kind of like being a spy.”
“Being gay. Because nobody knows for sure until I tell them. People will be brutally honest because they think nobody’s listening, but I’m standing right there.”
“Why didn’t you tell me sooner? It’s been bugging me.”
“I didn’t know how you’d take it. If you’d be okay seeing me with a dude,” Chase said, looking out at the water. After a few moments he sat down in the sand, and Tyler joined him. The sun had dipped low on the horizon and sat like a colossal orange sinking into the lake. They sat watching the sky performing its evening light show in silence. Eventually Tyler spoke, still looking out over the rippling water, now alive with the fire of the setting sun.
“I, ummm… I love you, man. I just want you to know that. But not like….”
“I know, no sword fights,” Chase finished for him. “I love you too.”
“Maybe we can think of a little more macho way to say it though….”
“Go Steelers?” Chase suggested after a few moments.
“Yeah, perfect. Go Steelers.” Tyler tried it out. “Geez. That’s the first time I ever said that to a guy.”
“Me too,” Chase said, realizing how much he loved Tyler, how thankful he was for the friendship, and how truly far he was from being alone.
A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR – Charlie David
One of the most common questions asked by readers and from people who’ve seen the film is, “Did this happen to you? Is it your story?”
Thankfully and honestly the answer is no, although I think like all storytellers I drew on my life experiences and some of the most loving and interesting personality traits of people in my own life. Stacey, for example, was named after one of my best friends in high school and is a tapestry woven of four women in my life: my own mother, my grandmother, my manager and best friend Linda Carter, and a friend through my extended blended family—Sandy Webster Worthy, who graciously opened her home to me as a squatter as I penned this book. Each of these women is formidable, strong, and the epitome of a matriarch. Their personal lives and the lives of their children are one and the same, which is simultaneously an enriching experience and the source of a certain “loss of self.”
Stacey, like these women, brings comfort and stability through food and presenting only the positive, whenever possible, to her children. I think the empty-nest syndrome that all mothers face can be a point of crisis in their lives. I happily report to you that these women are each finding things to be passionate about and regaining a solid sense of the powerful women they are, post-child-rearing.
In the film, the role of Stacey is played by Thea Gill. We had first met through a director friend, Richard Bell, and then were able to work together in Hawaii on two seasons of the TV series Dante’s Cove. I timidly handed her the script for Mulligans one day over lunch and asked if she’d read it and consider the part. I of course had been a longtime fan since her work on Queer as Folk. The episode where she has an affair with the artist has always stuck out to me as having truly captured the inner turmoil of having a secret affair. Of course in our film, she would be on the other side of the knife….
The only other role directly inspired by my life is Tyler, played in the film by Derek James. Derek is one of my best friends and coincidentally is Linda Carter’s son. (Yes, the same woman previously mentioned, who produced the film with me, is my business partner and manager. Being best friends with someone AND his mother—well, it’s certainly been an interesting journey, but that, my dear reader, is another book to come….) Tyler and Derek are essentially one and the same. The extremely charismatic, handsome, charming, and funny guy you see in the film is very close to my best friend in real life. This is in no way to take away from the fantastic job he does in the movie. Comedy is a gift bestowed on few in my opinion, and Derek got it in spades.
Nathan in a way is a doppelganger of myself. It’s a reflection on the road not taken for me in trying to live a closeted life. When I was growing up, I always sensed that I was different and desperately wanted to fit in. But no matter how I tried, I always sensed I stuck out. Part of wanting to “be like others” was going through various phases of acceptance with my sexuality, starting with denial! The response to Nathan’s story has been the most poignantly rewarding, as both men and women who’ve come out later in life have resonated with his journey of self-discovery and ultimate acceptance.
We work-shopped the original scripts for the film in Vancouver through the Cold Reading Series, a supportive group of actors, writers, producers, and directors who come together with a live audience to hear new work. Actors are cast on the spot and sit in a semicircle on the stage of the character-filled Anza Club to read the script “cold”—no preparation, no performance—just living and breathing the words as they are. This is an extremely valuable tool for a new writer like myself because I was able to see and hear my story come to life. I was fortunate to workshop the script over the course of two summers and was able to sit in the back of the theatre making notes and drinking beer. Did I fail to mention that? Oh yeah, we drink through this process, just to calm the nerves, of course. In the beginning I drank a lot and wrote little, mesmerized by the magic of hearing actors speak words I’d written. As the series progressed, I wrote more and drank less… okay, I drank about the same but discovered the true value in working with a positively constructive group of like-minded individuals.
The founder of the Cold Reading Series, Lori Triolo, introduced me to actor Dan Payne. They had recently worked together on the Canadian television series Alice, I Think, of which Dan was the star. After seeing Dan read, I knew he was the major contender for the role of Nathan. He had the same easy humor, charisma, and showmanship as Derek—and they looked alike. Some actors previously had presented Nathan in an almost lecherous way. The line here is really drawn in the sand and it’s an easy misstep for an actor to go from relatable to creepy. The intent in the story is never to imply paedophilia. Chase is a grown man, about to enter a master’s program in university. The age difference is important obviously but this is not a “Come here little boy, I have candy” situation. There is enough unfounded media attention thrown at statistically unwarranted correlations between paedophilia and homosexuality. They are far from one and the same. Paedophilia is a disease and homosexuality is a beautifully natural expression of sex and love.
There is, however, a commonality in both gays and lesbians for one partner to sometimes be significantly older than the other. By “significantly,” I’m speaking of approaching or greater than a ten-year range. I think this isn’t uncommon in heterosexual couples either, but we may see more of it in the LGBT population simply because of cases just like Mulligans. Men and women coming out later in life feel like they are experiencing their youth again and are therefore attracted to a similar youthful energy. LGBT youth, often coming from unsupportive homes, and sometimes in fact estranged from their families, seek the comfort and security that someone older can provide for them. It’s not always, but sometimes, a subconscious replacement for supportive parenting.
At any rate, Dan Payne brought vulnerability and honesty to the role without compromising his masculinity and in the process added a whole new slew of male fans to his extensive female fan base. If you haven’t seen his calendar, check out his website and you’ll see why it’s so easy to fall in love with the man.
The role of Birdy was sheer whimsy. She was like a sprite in my mind, spreading her humorous and sage advice at just the right moments. Any subconscious inspiration was most likely gleaned from my younger sister Colleen. She always seemed acutely aware of “what’s really going on” even from a young age and was never afraid to speak up to our commandeering father. In fact she was always ready to have an adult conversation with anyone from the time she was three.
We truly lucked out in casting Grace Vukovic for the role. She was a fresh face on the roster of the talent agency I own with Linda in Vancouver and coincidentally was family friends with Thea Gill. Thea had in fact known Gracie her entire life and held her in her arms as an infant. Grace was an absolute pro on set, arriving every day fully prepared and never failing to make us laugh.
These are the Who’s and What’s but why did I tell this story? First it came from a place of necessity, I suppose. Linda had given me sage advice when I was deciding to come out. I’ve always dreamed since being a little boy of having a career like Tom Cruise—he was my absolute hero. I knew by coming out I was potentially smashing that possibility forever—which I’ve found was actually infinitely more important than following the inauthentic path already laid out by the likes of Rock Hudson, Tyrone Powers, Sal Mineo, and countless other actors who were slaves to the Hollywood system and what it dictated society would accept. Now is a different time, a time of change and growth, and the trail I’m trying to create will hopefully benefit the next generation more than it could ever benefit myself. Linda’s advice was that by coming out I would surely lose some roles and gain some roles (which has proved true thus far), and the best thing I could do was to create my own work.
I had written a few screenplays before Mulligans, but they involved underwater sequences, explosions, and basically the parting of a sea…. Not realistic as a first feature, but I was dreaming big as I’m apt to do. Linda said, “No explosions, no car chases, no animals, few characters, few locations—and roles for you and Derek. Go.”
And so I went and the first incarnation of Mulligans was a frat comedy—seriously. But as I continued to imagine and explore I found that the true core of the story didn’t lie with the characters Derek and I would play at all, but rather in the relationship between the parents. I tried to create an engaging story that we could realistically manifest into our first full-length film and to keep the explosions within the drama and dynamics of the family.