Only a few weeks in and this column is not just introducing Human Events readers to pop culture warriors to support, but to me as well! In his recent interview, Thaddeus McCotter mentioned this week’s guest, Richard Gabai, and I was intrigued. Gabai is an Emmy-winning producer, as well as a director and musician. McCotter describes him as “a Renaissance man – auteur, actor, singer, guitarist, and songwriter. He embodies the creative ideal.”
Pop Culture Warriors with Lisa De Pasquale is an interview column dedicated to the significant work of freedom lovers who chose the path of more resistance. Not only are these pop culture warriors fighting the predominant groupthink in entertainment, but also the predominant groupthink on the right side of politics that entertainment doesn’t matter or that the pop culture war is lost. The purpose of this column is to highlight their projects and contributions to expand freedom in new, exciting, and counterculture ways.
Tell us about your diverse background in the entertainment industry.
I’ve been enjoying an eclectic career in acting, music, writing, directing, and producing. Most shockingly, last year I won an Emmy.
My career started with me playing night clubs with my band The Checks, acting in and then directing a series of cult, genre, and family films including the Quentin Tarantino favorite Vice Girls, the Genesis Award winning, The Bike Squad, and the groundbreaking Call of the Wild 3D. Tarantino told me himself that he loves my “classic” movies like Assault of the Party Nerds, Virgin High, and Vice Girls. He invited me to the premiere of Once Upon A Time in Hollywood but he didn’t ask me to be in it. Hmmm. That phone could still ring!
Lately I’ve focused on producing and directing thrillers like In/Sight, which was theatrically released, with Yahoo Movies calling it, “Well Directed and Acted from Start to Finish.” The film stars Natalie Zea, Sean Patrick Flanery, and Christopher Lloyd. That created the opportunity for me to make several films back-to-back for A&E Networks and the chance to work with a bunch of great actors and crew. More recently I directed two films for the Hallmark Channel, shot a western in New Mexico, and was fortunate enough to be on the team that produced the drama series, The Bay, which won the Emmy for best streaming drama series in 2020, and was nominated again in 2021.
I’ve always kept my guitar close by. I’ve managed to get song placements in several films and TV shows, and still play the occasional night club gig.
What do you think Andrew Breitbart meant by “politics is downstream from culture”?
I’m honestly not smart enough to interpret anything Andrew said, but since I’m not a politician I am obligated to not dance around and answer the question you asked. Perhaps he meant that politics will always be ethically and morally one notch below popular culture. If you can drop four letter words and lingerie in primetime, having them in politics is certain. Blessed to have known Andrew. He always made me laugh and taught me something.
Who inspires you?
Those that walk the walk that they talk. I would start with Moses, check in with America’s founders, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr, The Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Schneerson, Ronald Reagan, Andrew Breitbart, Ben Shapiro, and even Bernie Sanders. I think the things he says are ridiculous, but I am inspired by his consistency and conviction.
What was your childhood pop culture obsession?
It was and most certainly remains Rock and Roll. I remember buying Warren Zevon’s Excitable Boy, Queen’s News of the World, and Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town on vinyl and spinning them constantly, often with my electric guitar in my hand trying to figure out the riffs. There are now over 30 guitars in my collection; I am a guitaraholic and I’ve just entered another 12-string program. This one’s a Gibson.
What was your first concert and how did you get there?
One of my best memories. My brother David and I were dropped off at the Forum in Inglewood, California by our parents to see Queen. I was about 12 and he was 14. They gave us each five bucks for a T shirt and told us to meet them at the Denny’s across the street when the concert was over. If parents did that in Inglewood today, they would probably be visited by Child Protective Services. It was incredible. Freddy Mercury was a one time in history phenomenon. The concert was beyond legendary and it was really freaking loud! As my brother and I walked across the huge parking lot after the show we could not hear each other speak.
Tell us about the last movie, TV show, book you consumed for entertainment.
I really enjoyed the last Bond film, but was thoroughly entertained, moved and inspired by King Richard. Amazing story of unyielding commitment and keen instincts. Great filmmaking and an amazing performance by Will Smith. My wife and I just finished season four of Yellowstone. That show is awesome. A guilty pleasure with class. We are both in love with Beth (portrayed by Kelly Reilly). Amazing what can make a marriage work! Haven’t had so much fun watching a TV show since Mad Men. The latest book I’ve consumed for entertainment is Criswell Predicts, From Now to the Year 2000, published in 1968. The only prediction in the book I found that came true was that children will get their “education from a TV screen.” The part about “education memory pills” hasn’t happened yet, but there’s still time!
What would you say to readers who say they’ve opted out of the pop culture war?
It’s like the mafia, you will keep getting pulled back in.
What can readers do to support you and your projects?
My Double Life album is streaming on all of the music services, as is the single “We’ll Be Back Again,” that we released with a pretty cool YouTube video that my daughter Mimi designed. Most of my movies, like In/Sight, Imaginary Friend, In the Dark, The Wrong Woman, and Call of the Wild can be found on all the usual services like IMDB TV and Tubi. My western, Justice, is streaming on Netflix. I’m developing a thriller about free speech with my brilliant pal Thad McCotter that we plan on shooting this year, so keep your eyes open for that. I always enjoy collaborating with colleagues and chatting with friends and can be reached on all the usual anti-social media platforms as well as my website http://www.Gabai.net.