An interview with Charlie David, the star of ‘Judas Kiss’
by David Goldberg
In recent years, out actor Charlie David has staked himself a lovely niche in the gay film and TV world, with roles on series like Dante’s Cove and the film Mulligans, which he also wrote. David’s latest project, Judas Kiss, involved him as a producer and an actor. David spoke to OutSmart about producing, directing, and, of course, James Franco.
David Goldberg: What attracted you to this project?
Charlie David: The script spoke to me in the first place. There were so many elements that I wanted to explore and in some ways resolve from my past, and this script allowed me to play safely in that place. The story is not an easy one—we’re dealing with difficult themes like sexual and domestic abuse, finding one’s life purpose, and reflecting on negative choices we’ve made in the past. College is a time of exploration—sexually, finding oneself away from parents, and honing in on a profession. I explored a lot of that in my first book, Boy Midflight, which was written while I was in college. I definitely think that Judas Kiss will speak to today’s youth and to anyone who thinks about what a second chance could bring them.
You executive produced and starred in this film. What is it like being involved in multiple aspects of making a movie?
I was actually working on a business plan for another film when I was sent the proposal for Judas Kiss. The character of Zachary Wells intrigued me, so I asked for a script. Soon after that, director J.T. [Tepnapa] and producer Carlos [Pedraza] flew to Victoria, Canada, where I was living at the time, and we made a plan to move forward. Carlos and J.T. are very much co-creators with their team and always remained open to suggestion while carrying forward with their vision. Certainly there were many times through pre-production, shooting, and post when we got into lengthy discussions, and it’s a continual process. Making a film is very much like raising a child in that it takes a small army of like-minded people to see it through. I’ve felt extremely fortunate through the entire process to work with such a great and dedicated team. There are days when you want to pull your hair out and rewarding days—just like any other job, I suppose.
Are you interested in more work behind the camera, namely directing?
I’m actually directing for my first time this fall, so I’m in the middle of production now on SCARLE+: Our Positive Youth, which is a documentary following four HIV-affected or -infected youth in four different North American cities. Growing up in the 1980s and ’90s we were hammered with terrifying statistics of HIV/AIDS. Thirty years in, we are still learning. What education do youth receive now and why is the youth infection rate still the highest? We have seen retrospective documentaries about the AIDS crisis and interviews with survivors, but what about the positive youth of today? My goal is to feature accessible and inspirational individuals and the often-rocky road that they’ve traveled to get here.
Each of the four doc subjects has been selected to create a dynamic perspective on the reality of living positive. Medical, psychological, and educational experts will also weigh in to provide up-to-date facts and a historical context to the reality of living positively. As we’ve been shooting, we’ve realized how powerful these young people’s stories are—it’s definitely been an emotional and therapeutic process for all of us involved. [You can find out more info on SCARLE+ and see a video teaser at http://www.indiegogo.com/SCARLETFeatureFilm.]
Gay TV and films have been known for their sex scenes. Where do you see depictions of gay sexuality on TV and film heading in the next few years?
That’s a tough question—we seem to be on this constant pendulum from oversexed to prude and back again. Or maybe that’s just me! I think it’s really all a matter of how it is handled and presented as opposed to simply having sex or nudity for the sake of having it. There are examples of the human body being used in an extremely powerful way—like when Mary-Louise Parker approaches Patrick Wilson in Angels in America to discuss their marriage and she stands there nude—completely vulnerable, honest, and authentic. And then there are cases of floppy cock everywhere for seemingly no purpose but to be “cutting edge.” That’s not cutting edge in my opinion—it’s lowbrow.
Is it difficult to transition from “gay media” in and out of mainstream projects?
That’s a question for James Franco—he seems to do it flawlessly, although James’s repertoire lately seems to be very gay-centric, much like my own. At any rate, if you track him down for an answer, let him know I’ve put out new slippers on his side of the bed.
Judas Kiss is available from Wolfe Video (wolfevideo.com) on October 25, 2011.
David Goldberg is a frequent contributor to OutSmart magazine.