Charlie David starred in Dante’s Cove, Mulligans, Judas Kiss and now is at the helm as director and star of the award-winning series Shadowlands.
Charlie David has worked as a host for E!, OUTtv, PinkTV, LOGO, NBC, Fine Living and Slice Networks. According to many directors and producers that have worked with him, Charlie David is as humble and kind as he is talented. The entertainment entrepreneur has been referred to as “an amazingly talented and creative entrepreneur”, “a consummate professional”, and “a pleasure to direct, a natural, very telegenic host, and a true gentleman.”
I’m a Porn Star is a feature documentary exploring the lives of men working in the gay adult entertainment industry.
There are an estimated 370 million pornographic websites online. Porn is now a thirteen BILLION dollar business. So who’s doing all this moonlighting? Turns out – probably some people you know. I’m a Porn Star is a documentary revealing the inner workings of the gay adult industry.
I like to make films about sexuality – how we as a society embrace or are repulsed by it, what some see as artistic expression and others view as pornography, and where the seeds for these often very visceral reactions begin.
I’m a Porn Staris entertainment but it also delves into a provocative new era of sexual liberation and expression. Living in a domestic post gay liberation era we are now bombarded with the male form undressed for pleasure, for provocation, and as a catalyst in advertising and media. I wanted to explore how young men are being conditioned to perceive their own bodies, their constructs of masculinity, and the disintegration of labels around sexuality.
A decade ago we consumed pornography in magazines or buying DVDs and VHS tapes. Today the studio giants in the adult industry have been gutted by the Internet auteur and are struggling to reinvent themselves before it’s too late.
A millennial gay porn star could make a living with film and was truly the star of the community in a time when Hollywood was still afraid to come out of the closet. Today a gay porn star likely has another job to pay the rent, which usually includes ‘club appearances’ or online hustling.
At the turn of the century we were still shocked by the AIDS epidemic and many studios began routinely testing their stars and only filming safe sex. Today in spite of rapidly rising rates of HIV transmission in youth – bareback scenes are in vogue and receive special promotion on many websites.
In 2000 it was risky business getting into adult entertainment. Today in a volatile economy, more and more young people are using it to ‘put themselves through school’ or because like the new Queen of Pop they’ve also been bitten by the Fame Monster.
‘Boys will be boys’ as the saying goes and we were invited onto a pleasure island while filming I’m a Porn Star. As a young twenty-something, I witnessed several handsome friends suddenly working in the adult industry – either as strippers or in adult video. I always wondered how much was enough for them to say yes to that world and the lifestyle that went with it.
To what extent will a young person push their body, their will, or their sexual preference in order to grab some quick cash? The answer of course is not easy and each subject we worked with presented their own set of motivations – everything from lust for dollars, an addiction to attention, or simply loving to have sex!
Directing the I’m a Porn Star documentary was such an adventure because I was able to immerse myself outside my comfort zone, grow and be challenged by the experience. There were many times while interviewing when I had to keep my fist planted firmly under my jaw so it wouldn’t fall to the floor. These guys are shocking, competitive, profane, relatable and endearing. Perhaps they’ve made choices that there’s no turning back from or perhaps they’re brave enough to live the sexually liberated lives we all secretly fantasize about.
INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTOR CHARLIE DAVID, Director of I’m a Porn Star documentary
What was the genesis for I’m A Porn Star? Was this your brainchild or were you approached by someone else to take part?
I was approached by OutTV Canada to create a film that somehow reflected a change in the queer experience over the past few decades. I decided to look a little beyond the obvious political landscape and explore adult entertainment and how it’s been impacted by technological, social and consumption advances and new norms.
Porn is ubiquitous now – creation and engagement are high across all social classes and so a deeper look at the people who make it their career despite it still being a taboo fascinated me.
This isn’t your first documentary, but it’s the first with people who are fairly well known, at least in the porn world. Did you have an easier or harder time getting them to open up for the camera?
I’ve been really fortunate with my documentaries that my subjects have been extremely comfortable and forthcoming with me. I also do interviews in the casting and vetting process so I won’t work with someone if I think they’ll be flat or problematic in a show.
For this project, there are many great looking guys who take awesome photos or make great sex videos but in an interview situation or to follow them around in real life with a camera would be a terribly boring experience both for me and for an audience. Those early interviews and doing some research before considering production is very important. It’s casting essentially and a dynamic story line and compelling characters are tantamount to having any entertainment experience succeed.
Working as a host on the travel show Bump for 6 years really cut my teeth as an interviewer. We filmed 120 episodes all around the world and there were some great interviews and some that were painful teeth pulling experiences. I think that process of learning how to get a person comfortable with me and asking the right questions so they share freely and openly was like boot camp for becoming a film director – especially of documentaries.
Were there any revelations you had while making this or any moments that really stood out to you as being eye-opening?
I went to some shoots with various companies prior to filming and seeing the use of injectables like Caverject to get erections for filming was certainly eye-opening. There really are a disproportionate number of straight identifying men working in gay pornography. Some of the feedback on my doc and on blogs I’ve read, the comments seem to obsess with who’s straight, who’s gay, is it subconsciously homophobic that we have so many straight guys doing gay work, etc.
Honestly I don’t understand the obsession with these questions or lines of thinking. It seems so old-school to me to be labeling sexuality so rigidly. There’s a continuum of sexuality and these guys along with all humanity fall somewhere on the spectrum. However, because of the obvious fascination, I decided to do a follow up documentary, I’m a Porn Star: Gay4Pay which explores this.
Coming from a fairly liberal place like Canada to the US, do you find that there’s a more puritanical view of sex here in the US than there is in Canada or is the opposite true?
While we may vary on other norms in terms of sex within culture my experience living in Canada and the USA has been that we’re fairly similar. Our countries are geographically immense and there are plenty of pockets of conservatives, progressives and moderates in both.
You wear a lot of hats, but where are you most at home? Is it performing, producing, writing, directing, or something else?
At this point on my journey I love directing and producing. The documentaries are really fun but I’m looking forward to directing some scripted films & TV as well. I’m certainly open to being contacted by studios or independents to direct.
You said in an interview with Out Visions that your work resides in “a little niche within a niche,” but do you see the audience for what you do expanding more rapidly now than it was even a year ago?
Yes, I think there’s a growing hunger for content and the type of sexy, off-beat, gay-centric shows and films I make. There are emerging markets and growing populations that want to watch compelling films about the gay experience and that’s what I do.
You also mentioned in that interview that you have received communications from people whose lives were impacted by your work. Would you care to share any one of those with us?
Most of the emails and letters I receive come from either a Dante’s Cove fan or from someone who has just watched my film Mulligans. I think with Mulligans the inter-generational relationship between the father and his son’s best friend is compelling, arousing or relatable in some way to a lot of people. It’s also a story about a family man who comes out in his forties and for a lot of men living in those more conservative pockets of the country I think this also strikes a chord.
Is there anyone you haven’t worked with yet that you’re dying to work with?
Of course, there’s a huge list here! We’re actually preparing I’m a Porn Star: Gay4Pay, which will dive deeper into the lives of the straight dudes who work in gay porn since that seems to be such a fractious topic. So in the adult world we’re starting to compile a wish list and are certainly open to your readers input.
In the mainstream I’m a huge fan of Xavier Dolan’s work as director, writer and actor.
Anything else you’d like your fans to know or perhaps anyone that’s discovering you for the first time?
I love when an audience interacts with a film. So I invite your readers to watch our work and rate it, review it, share it, comment on it and discuss it. My documentaries are meant to be kindling and I hope they start a conversation.
Marc Devigne is a prairie boy originally from Winnipeg Manitoba in Canada. Marc is a diversely experienced Canadian singer, songwriter, musical theatre performer and actor currently residing in Toronto. He stars in the new TV series Shadowlands.
With a well-rounded experience base that ranges from being a finalist on “Canadian Idol” in 2003, to international touring with various theatre companies and session work as a studio vocalist, Marc Devigne has a strong passion for music and performing in general.
As a songwriter, Devigne has co-penned music with an impressive array of Canada’s leading songwriters such as Stephan Moccio, Amy Sky, Mark Masri, Greg Johnson, David Martin, Luke McMaster and Simon Wilcox. Marc’s infectious stage presence and performance experience have afforded him the opportunity to appear on 2 PBS specials; a Mark Masri PBS special, as well as “Bailamos! Live at the Empire”.
Marc Devigne’s infectious on-stage energy is a testament to his broad range of Musical Theatre experience, such as touring with Rainbow Stage, Persephone Theatre, Theatre Calgary, Ross Petty Pantos and Koba Entertainment to name a few. Devigne has also performed as a featured soloist for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and Toronto Symphony Orchestras.
Recently, he has toured extensively throughout North America as a Vocalist for various musical groups, such as the latin-themed cross-over group “Bailamos” and Popera group “Vivace”, of which he was a founding member and director, and displays an impressive ability to perform in almost any genre. Marc’s decade of experience in the Canadian Entertainment Industry has allowed him to develop a deep network of trusted industry contacts and allies, and he has been privileged to mentor with Dominic Denny, former president of Canada’s Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, as well as prominent Entertainment Lawyer, Michael Levine.
With all of this under his belt and the full-force of his rolodex of industry supporters behind him, Marc Devigne is a multi- disciplinary force to be reckoned with, and now focuses on developing his most exciting musical project to date – Citizen West.
INTERVIEW WITH MARC DEVIGNE
Marc Devigne stars at Xavier in episode 3 ‘Pygmalion Revisited’ of the Shadowlands series. In the story a painter (Charlie David) who in mourning the loss of his lover Xavier (Marc Devigne), becomes obsessed with creating a realistic painting of him. The resulting piece is so beautiful and life-like that he is drawn under its spell.
What were the main challenges and fears you had in your role?
Marc Devigne: When Charlie David first approached me with the script, I was nervous at the prospect of playing the role of Xavier. It had been a while since I had been in front of the camera and had never played a role such as this one. It took a lot of vulnerability but I knew it was an important, relatable story of love that can transcend limits and barriers. Everyone can relate to love and loss.
How much of yourself goes into a character?
Marc Devigne: For this specific role, a lot of me went into the character. Charlie and I revisited the script and worked the role of Xavier into a French singer/songwriter artist. The role was adapted to allow me to perform a song in the episode that I believe related beautifully to the characters’ love story.
How much were you able to relate your own experiences to create your character? And how much did you have to research or imagine?
Marc Devigne: There’s a lot out of my own experience that I could relate to role of Xavier. Other than the obvious things, such as singer, artist and love of life, Xavier’s illness was something that I drew from very personal and painful events in my life having witnessed the horrible effects of cancer.
What aspects of the Shadowlands series are you excited for an audience to experience or discover?
Marc Devigne: I’m excited that people get to experience 3 very different stories, styling and feelings with a similar underlying theme.
Romance between men and between women was common place and written about in Greek and Roman mythology. Why is it important to continue sharing these types of stories today?
Marc Devigne: It’s important to me because these stories often times transcend gay or niche themes and storytelling. They are human stories with universal themes that a lot of people can relate to. It’s important for people to broaden their views and I think that by sharing stories where people can draw similarities to their own life or experiences, makes us all one step closer to realize that we’re all humans on this earth living and sharing more similarities than what often times is believed.
What was the hardest scene for you in the Shadowlands series to do and why?
Marc Devigne: Xavier’s “final” scene was definitely a difficult one. It was emotionally and physically draining to stay in that state of exhaustion and low energy for quite a while while we were shooting. Between takes I would remain in character to ensure that the scene remained as truthful as possible. It was also difficult to see my co-actor crying and devastated within the scene. It felt awfully real at times.
Who is a major influence for you and on your creativity?
Marc Devigne: Music constantly influences my creativity. It can affect such a broad spectrum of feelings and emotions.
In addition to acting, tell me about the other areas of entertainment you’re pursuing.
Marc Devigne: Other than acting, I’m currently pursuing Music. I sing with a number of groups and projects internationally. I’m also currently working on my own music and drawing a lot of inspiration from French music. I’m really excited to be releasing my own music that reflects this part of my culture.
With so much going on in the world today, what’s your motivation to be a performer? Do you act to explain? To get away? To move past? To widen our knowledge? To incite a conversation?
Marc Devigne: I do it because I have this innate feeling that it’s what I’m meant to do. Because music and performance are the best and only ways I know how to express myself to a degree that is fulfilling and truthful. It’s my form of creativity, of expression, and hopefully my small piece of contribution to the world.
What’s next for you as a creator/actor/performer?
Marc Devigne: Keep pursuing all venues and experiences that excite me. Creating original music. Collaborating with great creative minds, and hopefully remain inspired and motivated to keep doing what I love. Keep learning and keep creating… those are some of the greatest gifts.
Follow Marc Devigne and listen to his music using the links below: