When Queerty sent Matt Baume to interview Chris Crocker, one of the big surprises was that he’s actually a pretty quiet, thoughtful young guy when the cameras are off.
Davey Wavey’s similar, in that he ramps up his charisma for the web. In part one of our Davey interview series, we saw how he got his shy start as a YouTube personality. In part two, we talked about some of his early hits, and how he modulates his voice for a straight, young, female audience.
So is the Davey Wavey that we all know fake?
“The message and the things I talk about are authentic to who I am,” he says. “But in the same way that a newscaster would talk differently at work than he would at home…you have to play to the medium that you’re on.”
He goes on, “On YouTube you’re competing with all these little boxes around you of places for people to click. And you have to turn it up. So I think I’m a more charismatic, more animated, more interesting version of how an I am in real life.”
That includes subtle adjustments for YouTube audiences. For example, when he looked at his audience retention data (YouTube provides a detailed chart that shows authors when their viewers lose interest) he saw that viewership dropped whenever he paused for a breath.
As a result, he now edits his breaths out of his videos. Davey Wavey hasn’t taken a breath online in four years.
But in real life, he’s calm, measured and thoughtful. It’s such a departure from the wacky online character that he can come across as a bit of a blank slate if one regards him in contrast with that persona. Were it anyone else, he would seem perfectly normal; but when compared to the man in the YouTube videos, the real life Davey comes across as uncluttered as his apartment’s decor.
He also takes plenty of breathers for the sake of his sanity. Davey doesn’t drink, and he goes to bed around 9:30. His favorite way to recharge is hanging out with his neighborhood friend, cooking, going for a hike, or not answering his phone for a while.
“I have to prioritize those things to stay in balance,” he says. After all, the world won’t stop turning if he takes a break from YouTube. “We’re not curing cancer,” he says.
But it’s still rewarding work. He thinks of closeted gay kids in an isolated place, seeing an unapologetically out gay man, and hopes that he can be a source of strength.
And becoming an online personality is just fun. “For me, it’s was crossing things off a bucket list,” he says. “Like jumping out of a plane with my drag queen friend.”
Or: “I got to climb a volcano. I got to swim in a pool of lube.”
That lube adventure was a little scary for him. “I thought to myself, I’m going to go underwater and they’re going to reach down to save me but I’m going to be so slippery I’m not going to be able to get out. I’m going to drown.” (He didn’t.)
So now that he’s crossed off so many life goals, what’s next? Television, he hopes. He’s currently serving a self-imposed sentence in Los Angeles, where he recently bought a unit in a West Hollywood apartment complex.
In keeping with his online career, the complex is one of those panopticon-style developments, common in LA, where all the units face each other as though in a constant state of surveillance. Inside, though, he’s remodeling to make the place more cozy. Wires protrude from the kitchen walls, and the appliances are so new he was peeling off protective plastic to use them when we visited. The decor is minimal and possessions are few, as though Davey’s not sure that he won’t decide tomorrow to move across the globe.
But he says he won’t. “I’m committed to LA. I need to be here because YouTube is here, YouTubers are here, production is here. So it makes sense.”
He adds, “I’m also here because I think the next chapter of my life will involve TV. … my ideal role would be not just being in it, but being part of the project.”
He was just on a Bravo show about dating. (Though one gets the impression that Davey’s career already demands as much attention as any relationship.) He found it a little difficult to just sit back and perform without having a final say in the editing.
So sometime soon, you might start seeing Davey Wavey’s name listed as Executive Producer on an actual TV show. Or maybe you’ll see his real name? He’s avoided it for years, in part because he didn’t want employers to Google him and find his racy videos. But now it’s looking like those might actually be an advantage, so he may be stuck as “Davey Wavey” for the rest of his professional career.
“My mom still calls me David, though,” he says.