Life has certainly changed for former adult film star, Charlie Harding. Charlie hit the scene in a big way in the adult film industry and since retirement has transitioned into mainstream entertainment as a host of Underground, a travel series on HERE TV, musician as lead singer with Probe 7 and as an artist, using recycled materials and a myriad of mediums. Music and art have served therapeutic for Charlie, who is very open about his battle with bipolar disorder.
I sat with Charlie after a recent visit to one of his club nights at Tool Shed in Palm Springs, where Charlie can be seen greeting guests and keeping the party going.
What are the biggest misconceptions about being an adult entertainer?
There are a lot of misconceptions.
One is that we are the lowest of the low. There are those that do take advantage of others and just like in any industry, acting without ethics. But there are also a multitude of us that are professional, view this as a career and act accordingly. Also, we are many people’s dirty little secret. Almost everyone watches porn, most just don’t admit it.
Another is that all adult actors are escorts. That simply isn’t true.
Another, many assume it’s ok to talk dirty, say inappropriate things and grab and grope and molest adult actors whenever they see us. We are people too, so respect our boundaries and ask first.
What made you retire?
I had built up the brand of “Charlie Harding” to the point that I wanted in the industry. At that point I was ready to diversify and use the “gay fame” to create non-porn opportunities and ventures. At that point I became the spokesperson for a gay erotica book line, started writing articles for a couple of publications, continued to do public appearances, started doing event coordination, hosting weekly shows and parties at local bars, and moved into mainstream acting.
You are open about your battle with bipolar disorder. How does this affect your approach to daily life? What advice would you give to someone suffering from Bipolar Disorder?
First off, the advice… remember the mood swings are irrational and caused by a chemical imbalance. They will go away, you just have to ride it out. Get medical help. Think of it like this… a diabetic has to take insulin because of the imbalance in their bodies, and you have a chemical imbalance too, take your meds. Talk to a therapist. Sometimes one of the best coping mechanisms is having someone to talk to.
Also, pick up a hobby that you can focus your energy into when you are manic and distract yourself from your downward spiral when depressed.
Daily, I assess my moods, figure out where i am in my emotional cycle and adjust my responsibilities accordingly. As I cycle into a lower energy, minor depressed state I pull back on what I expect to accomplish. As I get manic, I focus on completing the tasks at hand and staying busy.
What was your growing up as a gay man like? What is your coming out story?
I grew up in a small town in Tennessee. I wasn’t out in high school, but somehow some of the guys new. I was bullied and verbally assaulted almost every day through high school, but just built up a wall and ignored it the best I could. I threw myself into activities like chorus, acting, my athletics, my classes, etc…
I finally came out to myself and everyone else my senior year of my undergrad degree. Age 20. A few folks already suspected, many in the gay community in Washington DC, where I was in school knew as I had been exploring the bars and neighborhoods and such for about a year, but I kept that life very separate from my collegiate life.
You use painting and music to work through being bipolar. I love the concept of your art – using recycled items from all walks of life to create. What is your creative process when painting something new? Do you get an image first, sketch it first, find the materials? Walk us through the process.
I feel out my mood. Next, I choose a recycled canvas from my stash, depending on what size I want to work with. Then, based on my mood I will choose colors that fit my vague vision. I let my emotional state direct my choices in color and the style I will use. I try to get to a focused emotional mindset and let my hand be guided by that feeling. Check out www.charliehardingart.net for a preview of my work.
You recently joined the band Probe 7 as their new lead vocalist. How did you establish this relationship?
Brent Heinze and I had met about 8 years ago and kept in touch a bit over the years. It just so happened that he and his husband and me and mine all moved to palm springs at almost the same time. We rekindled our friendship and started talking about interests and passions. Music was the main one we shared, and we decided to see what we could do together. Visit www.probe7music.com for more on the band.
Was it difficult joining a band already in existence?
It wasn’t difficult to join actually. The band had taken a hiatus for a while and Brent and I decided that it made sense to loop our music project in to the existing band name and connections and following and evolve it as a duo.
The band is made up of such a variety of backgrounds in terms of the artist involved and the group covers a wide variety of sounds. How do you create your songs and shows with such a diverse background?
We basically used the old incarnation of the band as an influence and then head in a different direction. Brent and I do have very different backgrounds, but both have a love of 80’s synth music, he also having a more goth and darker focus and me with a more dance and energized mindset. Together we make a great combination with a mutual respect for each other’s abilities and styles. We write everything together, Brent focusing on the base music, both of us write lyrics and I focus on vocal melodies and harmonies.
You will be working with Billy Clift on the upcoming videos for Probe 7. Billy is a great storyteller with films in the LGBT world. How do you choose who to work with and place your trust in?
Billy and I have worked on multiple other projects together. He is the director/producer for UNDERGROUND, the travel show I star in and host. It was a natural fit with us to work together on the video. His vision and style are exciting and empowering and I knew we would produce an epic end result.
You and your husband, Scotty Rage, are so damn hot! What are your tips for maintaining a great relationship?
It takes extremely open communication. It takes compromise and respect for each other’s opinions, even when we disagree. It takes couples therapy. It takes understanding that people evolve over time and that the relationship will to.
Rapid Fire Questions:
Celebrity Crush: don’t really have one
Most Embarrassing Song in Your Playlist: actually don’t have a playlist. I listen to everything from classical to dance and EDM to some country and a lot of pop.
Guilty Pleasure: gourmet food. Amazing restaurants.
Superhero that you would cast yourself as: Emperor Vulcan (look him up) or Doctor Strange
Worst date: a blind double date in high school with a girl! The other couple consisted of a girl I was friends with and the absolutely worst bully I had to deal with at school.