Charles Karel Bouley
|Charles Karel Bouley II|
November 7, 1962|
Miami Beach, Florida
|Occupation||Talk radio host, author, entertainer, singer|
|Known for||Entertainer, vocalist, political and social commentator, comedy, journalist, celebrity photographer|
Charles Karel Bouley, known on-the-air as Karel (pronounced ka-REL), is an American Entertainer and talk radio host and author. He began as a comic and vocalist with 1995's album "Dance...Or Else" and was signed to Jellybean Recordings under John "Jellybean" Benitez. While promoting a record, he was signed to do a radio show on KYPA Los Angeles called "Different After Dark." His life partner off-air, Andrew Howard became his co-host on-air and within two years the duo made history as the first openly gay radio talk show hosts on KFI in Los Angeles. in 1998. Howard died suddenly of a blood clot in 2001.
Karel stayed at KFI for almost two years. After a shift in management at KFI Karel and others were let go but he soon landed a high-profile show in San Francisco, the #4 Arbitron Market in the United States, on radio station KGO. He was fired from KGO in November 2008 when an engineer left his microphone open and his profanity laced off-air comments about Joe the Plumber were broadcast live. Bouley was forced to re-invent himself, returning to stand-up comedy, writing for the HuffingtonPost and re-entering radio with a self-syndicated show heard first on Energy San Francisco and KRXA Monterey/Salinas/Santa Cruz. The show aired five days a week, going nationwide after negotiating a satellite hookup with GCN, Genesis Communication Network. In November 2011, Karel returned to KGO, but he was again let go in February 2015.
Bouley has been a writer since he was a teenager, for both local and national publications. He was a photographer and writer for the R&B Report, an entertainment reporter for Genre Magazine and The Advocate as well as a political columnist and blogger for Advocate.com. He was asked by Ariana Huffington on air to blog for her new site, the HuffingtonPost, where he has maintained a high profile column for eight years running. for The Huffington Post, His editorials have appeared in The Wall Street Journal. He was also an editor and columnist for The Advocate.com, and a celebrity columnist and photographer for Billboard Magazine.
Charles Raymond Bouley, II was born November 7, 1962, in Miami Beach, Florida, to Charles Raymond Bouley (1929-1987) and Rose Marie (née Tremblay) Bouley (1930-2003). He has been an entertainer since childhood, emceeing his first event in 7th grade, the talent show, "Car Wash", at his junior high school. While attending Long Beach Poly High School, Bouley was editor of the high school's newspaper, "High Life." and reviewed plays for his school paper for free by taking the words "high school" out of the paper's masthead and getting on all the PR lists. As a member of the press he was able to be included on press-only lists for premieres and openings in the Los Angeles area. With this type of press access, Bouley began attending stage productions and writing reviews of the shows for publication in his school and community newspapers. Unable to afford movie tickets, he became an usher at the Long Beach Terrace Theatre so he could review the new releases.
Bouley attended community college in southern California and then university on scholarship where he majored in theatre with a minor in journalism, but left to work in the field before graduating. Karel went on to work for Billboard Magazine; his affiliation with the publication gave him further access to music concerts and after-concert parties.
Before his radio career began in the late 1990s, Karel was a stand-up comic and recording artist. While getting very little attention from the LGBT press, his 1995 album, "Dance ... Or Else," attracted critical notice in the mainstream press, it was named #10 pick-of-the-year by "Billboard"'s Dance Music editor Larry Flick. Karel later recorded the single "Don't Stop" with Steve Bronski and the single "I Am" with Jellybean Benitez as well as "Take Your Heartache Away" also on the Jellybean label. Many projects featured Thea Austin, a personal friend of Karel and former lead singer of Snap!!. Bouley also owned a graphic arts company and worked as a celebrity photographer, imaging celebrities such as Michael Jackson and Diana Ross.
Radio talk show host
Bouley, along with his domestic partner, Andrew Howard, started in radio at KYPA Los Angeles, were featured on GayRadio KWIZ 96.7 FM in addition to Triangle Broadcasting based in Palm Springs, California. For the latter, the duo hosted a morning program, "Good Morning Gay America".
Professionally known as "Karel and Andrew", Bouley and Howard became the first openly gay radio talk-show hosts on a U.S. major-market radio station in 1998. Hired for the afternoon drive slot at Los Angeles' KFI, the duo replaced KFI mainstays John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou. "I'm sure there are a million gay [radio] hosts, but not many of them are open, and no one had ever appeared on the air as a gay couple," said Ron Rodrigues, editor-in-chief of Radio & Records magazine. " The backbone of their on-air banter was their contrasting world views. Bouley, who dominated the conversation, could be stopped in his tracks with one, well-placed word from Howard". Al Peterson, an editor at Radio & Records magazine said, "They didn't feel like it was their job to be the poster boys for the gay community or to effect social change, just because they were the first openly gay hosts who were partners off the air."
In March 2000, "Karel & Andrew" was moved from the afternoon-drive slot into the evening-drive slot to accommodate the nationally syndicated Phil Hendrie Show. The show followed Hendrie's until April 2001 when the station again went through changes. Karel & Andrew took a three-week vacation while the station worked on a new spot for them however Andrew Howard died unexpectedly on May 21, 2001. David G. Hall, KFI's Director of Syndication, was quoted at the time of the change as saying "KFI might still find a spot" for "The Karel & Andrew Show," stressing that the team "haven't been terminated." The station's programmers said they were preparing to return "Karel & Andrew" to the airwaves by putting their show on another Clear Channel station but Howard's death ended those plans.
Following his partner's death, Bouley returned to KFI and hosted a talk show there until station management changed and he and others were dismissed in April 2002. Seven months later, Karel was hired as an on-air host by the most successful San Francisco radio station at the time, KGO, for the weekend evening time slot.
Karel's live stage show "Karel Stands Up" began in 2008 and he has done over 100 shows since then, to great acclaim. He maintains an active Youtube channel and a dedicated Karel Cast App. Bouley has appeared on television, having completed two seasons on TNN's Ultimate Revenge with Ryan Seacrest. He also wrote and directed a 60-second spot, Barbarians At The Gate of Our Future, which won second place in the GLAAD "I Do" Marriage Equality project. Bouley has been a fill-in host on the Bill Press radio talk show and has also appeared as a guest commentator on topical issues on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News. He has appeared as a frequent guest on TV and radio as a Macintosh Computer expert. On August 4, 2010, Karel appeared on the nationally syndicated Alan Colmes Show to discuss that day's controversial decision to overturn California's Proposition 8, and once again allow equal marriage rights for gay people. The next day, Colmes appeared on The Karel Show, referring to him as a "trailblazer" for the rights of gay citizens.
In 2004, Bouley authored a book of essays titled, You Can't Say That. In this well-titled book, he speaks frankly about a wide range of topics. The book was published by the LGBT publishing house, Alyson Press. Karel also contributed to "When I Knew" by Robert Trachtenberg, stories of "coming out" directed at Gay and Lesbian youth.
Bouley's second book, Shouting at Windmills, BS From Bush to Obama was released in June 2011, and is now in bookstores, and Amazon Kindle. This wide-ranging book of essays chronicles the end of the Bush Era and Obama's rise to the presidency. It also reveals what life is like after a very public firing and puts the "Joe the Plumber" issue to rest.
Appellate court battle
Following the sudden death of his domestic partner, Andrew Howard, in 2001, "Charles Karel Bouley II" went on to file and win a lawsuit in the Court of Appeal of the State of California in Los Angeles County to establish the rights of domestic partners to be recognized as such and giving them the right to sue for wrongful death: AB 25 of 2005, the "California Domestic Partnership Law". This court victory effectively changed the wrongful death laws in California for domestic partners, as well as making them retroactive.
Following Karel's victory, which effectively changed case law in California, Governor Schwarzenegger, when signing AB 25, wrote: "This legislation ... is about civil rights, respect, responsibility, and, most of all, it is about family. Therefore, I am honored to sign one of the strongest domestic partner laws in the nation."
- In November 2008, when Bouley was hosting his weekend 7–10 p.m. call-in program on KGO the sound engineer failed to mute Bouley's microphone during the national news break. When a reference to Joe the Plumber came up during the news, Bouley was clearly heard on-air ranting: "Fuck goddamn Joe the goddamn mother-fucking Plumber! I want mother-fucking Joe the Plumber dead!" Following the news break, Bouley profusely apologized to the audience for the incident, explaining he was told his microphone was "dead," and that his words were never intended to be aired. He also explained that to him, "Joe the Plumber" was a fictional character and he meant no harm to anyone. Bouley's comments earned him the title "pinhead," for the second time, from Fox's Bill O'Reilly on The O'Reilly Factor, Monday, November 3, 2008. The remark also earned him a spot on the "40 Most Obnoxious Quotes for 2008" in the "Right Wing News". He was rated an impressive #8 of the worst. KGO issued a news release on the afternoon of November 11, 2008 stating that he had been terminated. Bouley stated in November 2008, that he does take responsibility for the incident, and later said, "I am sorry anyone thought I wanted a real person dead, I did not. I am sorry that anyone has to go through any trouble over what I said while making tea in my home studio kitchen with my always live mike. Karel also reiterated that he was told by the inexperienced KGO engineer that his microphone was off. The engineer, who had left the studio to use the restroom, had been told, he says, to make sure the microphone was dead during breaks, because Karel talks to his video chat room during the break, often using language inappropriate for the airwaves.
- In March 2007, Karel wrote the following for the online The Huffington Post, regarding reports that White House spokesman Tony Snow had developed colon cancer: "I hear about Tony Snow and say to myself, well, stand up every day, lie to the American people at the behest of your dictator-esque boss and well, how could a cancer not grow in you? ... I know, it's horrible. I admit it. I don't wish anyone harm, even Tony Snow. And I do hope he recovers ... and surrounds himself with friends and family for his journey. But in the back of my head there's Justin Timberlake's "What goes around, goes around, comes around, comes all the way back around, ya ..." When controversy immediately ensued, Bouley replaced the draft and the inflammatory statements were removed with a notation that it had been edited from the original version. The original post, however, got wide airplay on television and the internet, and was widely circulated in print, compelling Huffington Post editor Roy Sekoff to speak out about the issue on The O'Reilly Factor shortly after the row.
- In June 2004, Karel opened his weekend KGO program with a clip of The Wizard of Oz song, "Ding-Dong the Witch is Dead!" as a "tribute" to former President Ronald Reagan, who had died earlier that day. He went on to rant about Reagan during the first two hours of his show because of what he saw as the inaction of Reagan and his administration in the face of the developing AIDS crisis, propagating the perception it was a "gay disease". The Monday following Reagan's death, Bouley was severely criticized by listeners in addition to being strongly reprimanded by KGO management. He later apologized on the air, not for what he said, but for choosing to air his comments the same day as the former president's death. He later included an open letter of apology to Nancy Reagan in his book You Can't Say That. Bouley later added:
I was in fact disrespectful that day and there's plenty of time for that later. A generation of young gay Americans died on Reagan's watch, and it was OK because basically they deserved it for living the 'lifestyle'. Say something against the person that is partially responsible for those attitudes before he's put in the ground, and that's classless. Let the gay man inside of me out in his righteous indignation, and he gets slapped under the guise of propriety. Next time I will let the dust settle. But when it settles ....
In 2008, Bouley returned to stand-up comedy and re-entered radio. Billed as Karel Stands Up!, he is regularly seen performing his uncensored stand-up comedy to sold out audiences in the former Rrazz Room, in San Francisco and at Planet Gemini in Monterey, California. He has also appeared with Bruce Vilanch at Cobb's Comedy Club, in San Francisco. He has performed at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles and at The Laugh Factory in Long Beach, California.
In March 2009, Bouley was employed by San Francisco's KNGY as well as by KRXA in Monterey, California, his only remuneration coming from ad revenue and unemployment benefits. Shortly thereafter, he was hired by San Francisco's Green 960, which became his home station. Working from his home studio, he had been his own producer, engineer and ad salesman for over two years. In January 2010, Bouley was hired by KKGN, San Francisco. KJRB, in Spokane, Washington has added Bouley's show to their lineup. as has KGOE in Eureka, California, Green 1640 in Decatur and Atlanta, Georgia, KJFK Reno, WXMR in Vermont and WVNJ in New Jersey, and some areas of New York. "The Karel Show" went into syndication in December 2010, after Bouley negotiated a satellite hook-up with Genesis Communication Network. In November 2011, Karel added an FM station, KNWZ 94.3, to his lineup on Sundays, 5PM to 7PM, also serving KPLM, KPSC, KPSF, KPSH, KPSI, KPSI-FM, KPST-FM, KPTR, KRCK-FM, KUNA-FM, KVLA-FM, KWXY, KXPS, California Radio Markets Bakersfield, Chico, Fresno, Los Angeles, Merced, Modesto, and Oxnard-Ventura
Return to and departure from KGO And Forward
"They say home is where the heart is and I definitely left my heart at the KGO studios. It's my radio home, my flagship," Karel states. Jack Swanson, KGO's former operations director, had been supportive of Karel returning to the station for some time.
February 2015, Bouley was again fired from KGO, this time due to continuing budget cuts by KGO's current owner, Cumulus Media, including the replacement of local programming with low-cost national syndicated shows.
Karel started a podcast and online show in 2008, and the Karel Cast in 2018 is available on every major streaming service, ProgressiveVoices Network, Genesis Communications, iHeart, iTunes, Spreaker, TuneIn and more. The show is heard Monday through Friday and there is a dedicated App in all the App stores.
In 2014 Karel signed a deal with Free Speech TV to begin the self-produced show, Karel's Life In Segments. The show airs weekly and in 2019 will be entering its fifth season for the network. The show is part reality show, part talk show, or "reality chat" as described by Karel in the media. The show follows Karel through his life as an entertainer, author and talk show host, merging topics from pop culture and the news with issues facing Karel (and viewers) in daily life.
Karel released the single in 2017 after the contentious election of Donald J. Trump. That song featured Thea Austin, Morgan Mallory and Daniel Charleston and featured a video as well.
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