At least not in the traditional sense. And he probably shouldn’t be. But, he’s sorta mine. He has been mine for a really long time. I don’t even think he knows this, even though it’s common knowledge that I have always been attracted to the Byronic hero that he exemplifies: highly intelligent, arrogant, oversexed, morally unstable, charismatic, self-destructive, intense.
So, it is after I’d only heard about Chad Holt’s local episodes (the hilarious and telling similarity in sound to Childe Harold is not lost on me) that I started the Chad Holt Project with a friend. We had no goal other than to just be Chad Holt fangirls. We read every edition of Whoopsy, reveling in the drugs, deviance and all around Byronic rock and roll lifestyle Chad led. Was it real? Was it all exaggerated? We didn’t know and we didn’t care.
We’d been fangirls for several months when I got an instant message one day from THE CHAD HOLT himself. He asked if I wanted to be his girlfriend during 2-for-1 sandwich month at Thunderbird Subs. I declined the generous offer, but so began the beginning of one of the most influential relationships of my adult life. I started to hang out with Chad and got a glimpse and to be a part of that bacchanalian life he was living, that I kinda wanted to live myself. And when I felt I had gone too far, I could sit back as voyeur and watch him go even farther. It was mesmerizing. I eventually started writing for him at Whoopsy.
We had a lot of fun. We did a lot of drugs in bathroom stalls and hidden closets, I met a lot of people, I did a ton of things that up until then I had only read about. And instead of just this primal, drug-addicted, felonious, cocksure, punk rock magnate of underground Austin, I got to know a person with real vision. Someone who could see past the white noise. I discovered a person who sees a need for things and instead of saying “Hmmm, someone should put that together some day,” he figures out a way to just make it happen. He is the living manifestation of the true DIY ethic.
I’m not saying he’s not kind of sleazy and slutty (he may not be so much anymore), because he is definitely all those rotten things you think of people like that. But, that’s not all there is to him. I’ve never known anyone who only lived by the rules he made for himself, even in the face of possible prison time. I’ve never known anyone who is able to read what people are about in the first minute of meeting them. Despite his self-indulgent ways, he is greatly empathetic to the world around him.
I asked for a screener of Total Badass because 1. I wanted to write about it, which I haven’t been able to do properly this week and 2. because I was still in Austin then and I knew he was sort of in and heading toward a shit storm while it was being filmed. I think the film is great. Unapologetic is a great word for it. Schizophrenic, but intelligent. It also gets hyperbolically self-indulgent when, as Bob Ray breaks all documentary rules, Chad Holt takes over the filming. I can see why Bob Ray sort of tried to walk away. This part of the film was very hard for me to watch, because I saw what I knew was coming. And it was bad.
The film is rough. It’s blue. It’s sometimes racist and definitely pornographic. It promotes drugs and free sex and all of the things you sometimes think about but definitely don’t talk about. It’s hard to watch. It’s very hard to watch.
Chad Holt weaves himself an unusual path. A path forged on collateral damage, mutually assured destruction, broken hearts, broken lives, imprisonment, isolation, sex without consequence or responsibility and psychological riot. Like all great heroes in the spirit of Byron and unlike most other heroes of great stories, Chad Holt is not fundamentally bettered by any of this. It has not forced him change his DIY aesthetic. He is still that guy who breaks the rules. He is still that guy that’s gonna do whatever the fuck needs to be done and he’s still going to do it the way he wants to.
Chad Holt is not a hero. And you may not like him very much after this movie. But, he’s probably the closest we’re gonna get to a true modern day anti-hero. A Byron of today would have approved.
Come see Total Badass play TONIGHT at Zeitgeist: http://on.fb.me/9psKad