Randy Ham sits down with Comedian-Actor-Musician-Writer-Television Personality-Radio Host David Hill for a lively one-on-one.
Dave Hill is one of those guys you know of, without knowing you know of. He’s made appearances on HBO, Cinemax, Comedy Central, and BBC America to name a few. Dave has written for the New York Times, GQ, Salon, the Huffington Post, Guitar World, and The Believer among others, and is a frequent contributor to public radio’s This American Life. Because he’s not busy enough, he’s also in a band, and was just announced as the host of WFMU’s new radio show debuting in January. To top it all off, Dave’s first book, ‘Tasteful Nudes,’ was released in September. It’s a great collection of vignettes with subjects ranging from the fun (Clothing Optional Cruising Around Manhattan) to childhood trauma (Maureen McGovern Concerts With Mom) to more serious subjects (Depression and Loss). Each section is entertaining in itself, but strung together make for a strong narrative in the life of an entertainer. Dave was kind enough to take time out of his busy multi-hyphenate lifestyle to answer some of my questions.
Randy Ham: Comedian-Actor-Musician-Writer-Television Personality-Radio Host. How does it feel to be a Multi-Hyphenate, like Justin Timberlake or Beyonce?
Dave Hill: It feels great and the sex is incredible. I’ve long considered myself to be the older, white, male Beyonce, so it’s nice to hear someone else draw the comparison. And, as best I can tell, Timberlake and I can both be talked into just about anything, so we’re not entirely dissimilar either.
What made you decide that Comedian-Actor-Musician-Writer-Television Persoanlity-Radio host wasn’t enough, that you had to add Author to your list?
I figured if the author thing works out, it will enable me to eventually leave the house less and slowly enter my Howard Hughes phase with purpose. I envision a day when I will spend most of my hours with an old, moth-ridden blanket over my legs as I organize my ketchup and sugar packet collection and sift through coffee, blood, and urine-soaked pages that will be collected daily by some bright-eyed assistant at my publisher. When I’m not writing, I will sit in the dark, hammered on scotch and playing my theremin. That is the plan anyway.
Do you still get the sweats when you hear Maureen McGovern music?
I’ve made my peace with Maureen McGovern for the most part. I have, however, traded in my collection of show tunes vinyl just to rid myself of unnecessary, painful memories. The Judy Garland stuff stays, though.
How’s things with Valley Lodge? Tour plans for other Asian countries? South Korea? Thailand? North Korea?
Things are good with Valley Lodge. The guys and I were talking about it the other day and we all agree we’re pretty awesome. We finally released a new, third album called Use Your Weapons, available now in the futuristic mp3 format on iTunes and then in the new year on CD if you’re a goddamn caveman. As for Asian invasions, North Korea is the dream, especially given my close friendship with the late Kim Jong-il, but at the moment we only have plans to tour Japan at some point in the new year. In a perfect world, we’d be largely unknown in our native America and ridiculously huge in Asia. So far, we’ve only figured out the first part of that equation.
Fitness seems to be an integral part of the Mulit-Hyphenate lifestyle. Do you feel more motivated to run now that you have achieved this level of fame?
Being in a glamor profession and all, there’s a lot of pressure to stay beautiful around the clock. However, it seems like I pretty much live in the eye of a poonstorm no matter what kind of shape I’m in. My strength has never been in the visual, though- I tend to draw people in through mind control and gifts of cold, hard cash. That said, I try to run at least twenty miles a week when I can because it helps keep me from becoming a danger to myself and others. Also, I like to wear my clothes as tight as possible, so it’s important to keep my flab levels stabilized as much as I can.
The chapters on your depression and your mother’s passing were so perfectly done. Considering that the bulk of the book dealt with nudity, music, and ice skating, was it difficult to write them, and find a way to make them work in a book of humor?
Thank you. Yes, it was a little tricky to talk about that stuff along with all the other topics in the book, but I wanted to see if I could write about those topics in a hopefully different way than I’d seen before, especially since they are both things very commonly experienced. The challenge was to say something new. Also, I figured if I showed my sensitive side a bit, it would totally lead to boning.
Are there plans for a follow up?
Yes, I’m slowly but surely writing a new book for blue rider press, a Penguin imprint, right now. So far, it’s mostly about Dokken, but you know how first drafts can be.
Do you ever get the urge to moonlight as Santa again?
For the most part, no. The thrill of being Santa is fleeting. For the first five minutes after walking into a room, you’re on top of the world. After that, you’re mostly some creepy guy in a red velvet suit and a gin-soaked beard. To keep that Santa high, you’ve got to keep moving. It’s cruel, really. For me, it turned out to be one of those “Be careful what you wish for” scenarios. That said, the sex was incredible. But even that didn’t make those dry cleaning bills worth it.
The Chelsea Hotel could have been a book in itself. Any juicy tidbits you left out?
I wish there were a lot more dark secrets to share, but there’s nothing really scandalous unless I went into greater detail about peeing in the sink a lot more often than I’d care to admit. But you deserve better than that. One time I did get to talk with Ethan Hawke, who lived down the hall from me at the time, about the hassles of taking out the garbage, which was pretty cool. And Arthur Miller walked into the lobby one day but I wasn’t paying attention and missed him. In general, though, it was a fun and interesting place to live and I’m glad I got to spend time there while the original manager, the legendary Stanley Bard, was still at the wheel. Also, I didn’t plan on this, but living there seemed to make me about 10% more interesting to people I’d meet at parties and stuff, which was a welcome boost when I was just a pale, shy young man, newly in town from Cleveland. Also, the sex was incredible.
What’s left to add to your Multi-Hyphenate lifestyle?
Assuming Ice and Coco stay together forever, not much really. I’m excited, honored, and extremely nervous to be doing a new radio show in the same time slot as the great yet sadly ending “Best Show on WFMU” on Tuesday nights starting in January on WFMU. And if I could work in any capacity with David Lee Roth at some point that would be pretty great. I’d also like to meet Morrissey and get a pet Newfoundland. Anything else beyond all that would just be gravy.
Photo: Michele Crow