You'seen him turning Madonna's nightmares into reality, and you've been staring at his videos wondering if it was always him beyond the multiple faces of Liza, Barbra, Gaga, Sue Sylvester, Cher or even Rocco and Lourdes Leon.
The very talented Charlie Hides stops by at MadonnaTribe and talks about his work, his passions, and being a fan with a (fab!) sense of humour.
Charlie, welcome to the Tribe. Fans are loving your Madonna Nightmare Videos but you have a much longer story of fantastic characters behind it. How did it all start for you?!
I’m glad to hear that Madonna fans are enjoying the videos. Some people think I’m being mean to her but I wouldn’t take the time involved in making these videos if I didn’t have a huge admiration for her or any of the other artists I portray. (Cher, Cyndi Lauper, Barbra Streisand, Paris Hilton, Justin Bieber, Liza Minnelli)
My background is in stand-up comedy and character based sketch comedy, I’ve been doing it professionally since I was 20 years old.
Several characters you impersonate are your own creations, when did you switch from Kandi, Laquisha and Angelina to the Queen of Pop?
I’ve made many videos featuring original characters; In June I made a video about a singles dating web site …It featured celebrities and original characters talking about what kind of date they were looking for. I needed a strong ending and had a brainstorm, “single mother of 4” Madonna could be looking for “anyone who hates Lady Gaga!” There was a huge reaction to her 10-second appearance in that video so it got me thinking about what kind of video I could do that featured her.
To tell you the truth I was very surprised that I could even look like her and I was even more surprised by the reaction. The first Nightmare video has had over 370,000 views on YouTube.
We've been reading a lot about Madonna Vs Gaga in the press, how did you come up with the idea of transforming that into an on going comedy challenge between them?
It wasn’t a plan. The response to the first video was so overwhelming I had to follow up with a second instalment.
They are both such talented, fascinating and creative people who are always making news, there is plenty of material for me to comment on as a comedian. There were so many comments from Gaga and Madonna fans arguing with each other about who was the better artist I thought I could play with the idea of an on-going feud.
There have been a lot of Madonna parodies out there, also a few ones devoted to her and Gaga, but I have to tell you that the minute I saw the first image of your Gaga answering the phone “Sorry, never heard of you” with the collection of Madonna covers on her coffee table and her “To do list”, I thought there was something special in what you were doing.
How do you manage to nail down such things in such a striking way? Sometimes it looks like you’re able to read into these ladies mind.
I guess I have unconsciously tapped into every artists’ fear of being past their “sell by date”. Creative people know that the entertainment industry can be fickle and that the public’s attention and interest can fade in favour of whoever is new and different. A long career has highs and lows and along the way the ego takes a ride. Seeing two hugely talented egos interacting is fun.
How would you describe your personal relationship with Madonna as an artist?
I have a huge respect and admiration for her creativity, ambition, drive, commitment to self-expression etc. I’ve always loved how outspoken she has been about issues she cares about and how she has responded to fierce criticism. I love strong, confident women and she is among the strongest the world has ever seen.
And what is your own view on this whole fighting divas thing?
It doesn’t exist.. except in the imagination of the fans and in my comedy videos. Of course the two women are aware of each other but they have busy careers and families etc. I don’t think they give too much energy to worrying about what the other is doing.
You and Madonna have in common a great attention to details. It’s impressive to see how up to date you always are with the latest hairdos and looks, fashions etc. How much work is there behind your videos and how do you do it?
Well, they say “God is in the details”. Youtube is a visual medium so I try and make the videos look as good as I can and since I do a new video every Wednesday it makes sense to try and have the characters looking the way they are being seen in the mainstream media. My comedy is about imagining what these legendary women might be like in their private lives, so keeping the looks current makes the comedy a bit more believable.
Fortunately I studied fashion design so I can quickly sew up a passable copy of dress or costume that will work on video. I filmed the Hydrangea video a few days after the story went viral, I looked at lots of pictures of Madoona at the Venice Film Festival and made a copy of the dress she wore, It had no zipper and was held together with pins in the back and only came down to my waist since Madonna was behind a table. Because Gaga changes her looks every two minutes I tend to create costumes that look like something she MIGHT wear.
Were you expecting the Madonna Gaga nightmare series to become so popular when you started filming?
No, not at all. The first one was uploaded on my birthday and went viral overnight. I was shocked as I didn’t think it was that much better than the videos I’d done before. I only made a second one as a response to people asking for more and it’s grown from there. I think because Madonna has been out of the public eye, busy making a movie, her fans are hungry for new music, videos etc. My videos pretend that she is struggling with “being forgotten” but of course, she is still the most famous woman on the planet and millions of people are interested in anything to do with her.
How do you decide the direction in which the story evolves?
That’s a good question. I usually write my videos over the week-end and film on Monday and Tuesday then edit on Tuesday night and upload to YouTube on Wednesday. I keep my eye on the news, gossip, fan sites etc. and try to incorporate current events. Because of the way I work I’m able to incorporate breaking news into my videos. As I was finishing up my Hydrangea video Madonna uploaded her “Apology” video to Youtube so I quickly wrote and filmed a parody of the Apology.
I was in the middle of filming my latest Madonna video when a snippet of “Give Me All Your Love” was leaked on the internet. So I uploaded the video quickly and it went viral in minutes.
What should we be looking for in the upcoming episodes? Are any more divas joining the club?
The truth is I have no idea what is next. I imagine with the Movie W.E, the new album and Superbowl Half Time show will create lots of possibilities. I have had lots of suggestions for different celebrities (Mariah, Christina, Celine) and I’m working on some new original characters. When I upload my newest video every Wednesday I almost never know what I will be doing the following week. The leaked Demo Tape should be fun to play with. Who leaked it? Gaga?
Aha, that's a good question, too. Madonna said that her true fans wouldn't do such a thing...
Speaking of which, what do you say to the Madonna fans who think you are being mean or overly critical?
Well, I’m a comedian and there is always a bit of a sting in every joke. If I made a video about Madonna and rainbows and fluffy kittens it would be boring.
I remember seeing the Blond Ambition tour and being blown away by her amazing talent and energy. I paid an outrageous amount of money to see Madonna in Up For Grabs , the play she did in London’s West End and was the first in line to see Evita. I’m a fan. But I also comment on current events and pop culture and she’s the Queen of pop, so it would be disrespectful to ignore her.
Have you heard any word from her camp?
No, not yet. Kylie tweeted about me recently and Cher is a fan of my videos. I’d like to think Madonna would appreciate how much time, energy and creativity I put into making my videos. They say “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” I would hope she could see that intent behind my imitation is to entertain and amuse.
Congratulations on the success of your youtube channels. Are you excited?
Yes, I enjoy making people laugh and the comments and feedback are overwhelmingly positive.
How is dealing with an internet audience different from acting on the live stage?
During a live show people can’t pause and rewind or watch it over again. The comedy can be more subtle. Also I can play multiple characters in 3 minutes, something I’d never be able to do live.
Besides Charlie Hides TV what are you currently working on and what’s coming up for you in the future?
I continue to perform live all over the UK and will continue making a new video every week, at the moment that’s keeping me very busy. Since I tend to do videos about current events i never know what's gonna happen and it keeps it interesting.
Thank you so much for stopping by, Charlie, and thanks for the fun! See you on Charlie Hides TV!
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