Few things on the World Wide Web make me laugh as much as Charlie Hides’ weekly YouTube videos. They may only last a few minutes, but the outrageous celebrity impersonator recreates what all fans of pop music have longed to see – just pure diva mayhem, with name-calling, wigs and egos. In each video Charlie emulates music divas and does it flawlessly. He captures Madonna’s smirks and her English accent, while reminding the world of her loathing for hydrangeas and Lady Gaga and helping Malawi as a tax-break. Cher’s voice and mannerisms are hilarious, as the ageing diva reminds everyone that she is an Oscar winner, following her signature line “Whoooo?”
You see a startling Liza Minelli attempting internet fads, such as ‘planking’ or ‘milking’ and usually getting hurt along the way. Recently Charlie has impersonated a dazed and confused Lana Del Rey, who spews out philosophical nonsense and explains her pout as a result of a peanut allergy. The cherry on top is that Charlie’s videos are fresh of a scandal; we see Madonna’s daughter Lourdes being grounded following her smoking incident and we see Mariah Carey and Nicky Minaj having a rap battle. However there is wacky and wonderful snippets, which leave fans thirsty for more; there is Madonna trying to seduce Harry Styles by reminding him “everything is okay under the hood,” Gaga admitting to wearing vagina wigs and Cher reminding the novice divas that she performed on Noah’s Ark.
After watching for mere minutes, you immediately believe you really are watching Cher or Madonna. The wigs, make-up and celebrity inspired clothing makes Charlie’s videos just that much more realistic and like the divas he emulates he too is a perfectionist, perhaps without Kabbalah or an Oscar.
I had the privilege of asking him a few questions about his life as a performer and his hilarious videos. Underneath all the diva drama, he is a sweet and optimistic man albeit with a self-confessed dark sense of humour, who has built a rapport with his fans and continues to make thousands laugh.
Charlie, can you talk us through the production of one of your CHTV videos?
Most weeks I don’t decide what the week’s video will be till Monday, I usually have several ideas and I scan the news to see if Mariah Carey has slapped Nicki Minaj or if Madonna’s gotten naked in concert and then I do a quick re-write to incorporate some current events if they fit into one of my ideas. On Monday night, I plan out the shoot, set up the camera and lights, gather props and choose costumes so that I can start filming on Tuesday. I get up early and work through the day, depending on the number of characters I’m playing it can be a LONG day. I edit late into the night. Usually the finished video is uploaded in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. Sometimes I take a cat nap on the office floor at 5 AM, while the video is uploading to YouTube. Once a video has gone live I post it on my Facebook page, send out a tweet then go to bed tired but happy.
Have you always been a performer?
Yes, I was in all the school plays, sang in the choir and started doing stand-up comedy as a teenager, sneaking out of the house when my parents were asleep to go to open mic nights and so on. I got addicted to the sound of applause and laughter at a very young age.
You are a superstar in your own right, but were there days when you felt your dream or passion was silly or pointless? What helped you overcome any doubt?
I’m far from being a superstar but I’ve always been a dreamer and sometimes enjoy the dream more than the reality. Like when I used to make sand castles as a kid, the vision of what it was going to look like was very real to me, I loved the process of working to make it become real so that everyone else could see what was in my head… once it was done, I’d stand back, admire it for a few minutes then walk away, ready for the next project or dream…dreaming is the point – but you also have got to get your hands and feet moving. I’ve never felt that dreaming was silly, when I got told off as a kid for being a “day dreamer” I remember thinking, what’s going on in my head is way more interesting than this boring math class.
As for doubt, I just put things into perspective. What’s the worst that can happen if something goes wrong? I’m not going to become homeless if a joke doesn’t get a laugh or if someone tells me I make an ugly Lana Del Rey.
What have you learned about yourself through making CHTV videos?
I’ve learned a lot. That I can work to a deadline and that I work well under pressure; that challenging myself is good for me. I’ve always been a workaholic but now I’m learning the importance of making time for family and friends, I’m learning to balance.