Interview with David Charles


I was on BART reading an old interview with Matthew Barney when a guy standing and holding the bar next to me leaned into my space and asked if I liked Barney’s work. I had seen a Barney show at the SFMoMA (not the major 2006 show, but a more recent, smaller show) and have to admit I did not, in fact, like it. I would still like to see at least parts of the Cremaster series someday, and the interview I was reading did make me think more favorably of him, but still: the show sucked.

The guy nodded. At the next stop, the person sitting next to me got off the train; I slid over and he sat down next to me. “How do you like the new seats?”

I liked them fine, but I’m not good at keeping transit conversations going. But then he said something too interesting to pass up. He’d worked on the set of the last Cremaster film.


Ends up he is an electrician and has taken journeyman work on many film sets. He’s never been an actual gaffer or best boy or anything, but he has gotten around. Including work on States of Grace, Orgazmo, and a T.C. Christensen scifi family comedy. Crazily, of all those goofy Mormon connections, it was on the set (on the set!) of Orgazmo that he actually met with missionaries.

I had my little mp3 recorder in my bag and he let me start recording a few minutes into our conversation.

Sensitive readers take note: I’ve only barely censored his language.


Th: Okay, it’s on. I think. Anyway, you were saying.

DC: Yeah. No, the funny thing was that same buddy almost got me a job on the set of this movie called Latter Day too, but I had promised my mom to come home to Colorado and rewire her kitchen and stuff and I couldn’t hardly ask her to switch up the plane tickets. Besides, I was still pissed at movies then. I only regret it now because—I don’t usually mess with actors, but it would’ve been cool to meet Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Course, didn’t know back then he was gonna be the next Brad Pitt, you know? That Inception was the s**t.

Th: Sure.

DC: But that was before I realized I had this Mormon thing going.

Th: Yeah, I was noticing that. Ergo, you know, recording it. Like I said. Um.

DC: You knew Barney’s Mormon?

Th: Sort of, at least. I mean—I don’t know how he feels about it these days.

DC: Yeah, who knows. So there’s him, that States of Grace; I did a movie with that Heigl girl. Never talked to her. I worked with a guy in Utah makes those kid movies and pioneer movies and s**t? You know who I mean?

Th: Like, Work and the Glory?

DC: I don’t know the names of ‘em, man. I did this one about a kid who turns into a bug? B movie crap.

Th: Holy schmokes. I think I know what movie you’re talking about. He also did Horse Crazy? I own that movie. T.C. something. Came out back when I was working in a video store. Back when that was, you know, a thing.

DC: Ha ha! Yeah.

Th: So who was better to work for—Trey and Matt, or Dutcher.

DC: Dude, I don’t work with directors. I just do my job and go home. I don’t think I’ve ever even seen a movie I worked on. TV though, I like TV. Not the job, but watching TV.

Th: What shows have you worked on?

DC: Bunch of weird vampire stuff for kids. Probably crap. Like four different shows, all with vampires or some such s**t like that.

Th: You know Mormons in your personal life or just professionally?

DC: Yeah, man. This is a funny story. I was working on Orgazmo, right? And I leave the set and there’s a pair of f*****g missionaries—excuse me, elders—right there. I think they’re actors so I wave all friendly-like and we get into this conversation and next thing I know me and my girlfriend are learning about f*****g Joseph Smith and s**t.

Th: How was that?

DC: F*****g awesome, actually. Loved it. No doubt in my mind that he was a prophet and stuff. No doubt. But, man, I love smoking too much. I’d rather die young and work it out in hell, you know what I mean? Also chicks.

Th: Sure. I mean, no, but, um, that’s cool. Party hearty. Et cetera.

DC: Yeah, yeah. Nothing in the world like a cigarette. I mean—I’ve shot up before but that s***’s dangerous.

Th: So’s electricity.

DC: Exactly. Gotta keep that stuff in rubber, man. Just like your d**k. F*****g learned that the hard way. Got a kid down in LA. Mother won’t even let me call on m************g Christmas, if you can believe that. I should maybe get a lawyer or something, but I figure he’ll grow up. I’m not hard to find.

Th: Was that the girlfriend you met the missionaries with?

DC: Nah, man. That was earlier. She was great though. Shoulda had a kid with her instead. You know what my kid’s named? M***********g Harold. You believe that s**t?

Th: Did she quit smoking?

DC: She was some health nut. She was into, like, yoga or some s**t like that. She never smoked except probably in high school. Everyone tries it, right? But no, she f*****g hates Jesus. Blames him for war or some dumb s**t like that.

Th: Not you?

DC: Nah, man. It ain’t Jesus’ fault what stupid s**t people do. And that Book of Mormon? That’s my s**t!

Th: Yeah?

DC: Yeah, man. I bet I’ve f*****g read it more than you. I read through that s**t three, four times a year.

Th: Yeah?

DC: That Moroni—the first one—he’s my boy. Love that dude.

Th: Why’s that?

DC: He kicks a*s in a totally righteous way. Not like a surfer but like a churchman. I making sense? If I’d f*****g known about Moroni when I was a kid I’d probably not have some f*****g kid I never see in LA. That’s for sure.

Th: It hard to be up here so far from him?

DC: S**t, I don’t know. I don’t think about it much.

Th: What about being here so far from movies?

DC: Yeah, right. Movies was never a real gig in my opinion. ‘ll get you laid, but it’s not steady work, you know?

Th: What you doing now?

DC: You know that new apartment building going up in The City? By the bridge?

Th: The Bay Bridge? That tall building?

DC: Yeah. I’m laying wire. Lotsa internet s**t too, not just electric.

Th: That’s better than movies?

DC: It’s predictable. It’s, you know, made to last. I like stuff that lasts.

Th: But—while sets and stuff don’t last forever, movies do. Anyway, they can.

DC: Yeah, I guess. Never thought of it like that. Pretty good point.

Th. Hope Orgazmo doesn’t last.

DC: Ha ha!

Th: But you’re done either way.

DC: For now. If someone asked me I would. If I wasn’t working. Tons of commercials get shot around here. I was offered a spot by a buddy couple months ago but I had the flu or some s**t like that and couldn’t. It was cool though. He showed it to me later on YouTube. Like a stunt-car-driver thing.

Th: You do any creative stuff in your spare time?

DC: Nah, man. It’s all b******t anyway.


Then we talked a bit about baseball. He got off at Montgomery.

About Theric Jepson

Theric Jepson writes (and writes about) fiction, comics, movies, and other unholy things.
This entry was posted in Community Voices, On-screen and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Interview with David Charles

  1. Wm says:

    I miss BART.

  2. Jonathan Langford says:

    This is actually kind of hilarious, in its own way. Also feels vaguely like off-the-wall research for someone’s creative writing project…

  3. Scott Hales says:

    This is fantastic stuff. It makes me wish I talked to more people.

    And it makes me wish I still rode the city bus to school.


  4. James says:

    Poignant. Is that the right word for it? I think it is…

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