My most cherished achievement-----Charly Boy
Maverick Charles Oputa, popularly known as Charly Boy, regales us with what it takes to be 55 and why he seems not to be getting old like the rest of us. He took time to explain what his most cherished achievement is.
You seem very good with manipulating perceptions, is that how you have managed to keep the brand visible for the past 28 years, when some of your contemporaries have long ago fizzled out?
There was always a method to this madness, that's not for the faint hearted. I have always said, that it takes depth to be Charly Boy, because he is not just about the rings, tattoos, body piercing or even his gragra. Building a brand of all times needs a lot of re-branding, re-engineering, revitalization in order to keep it still relevant in the consciousness of the people. My people easily forget, and I plan for them never to forget this phantom we have now come to admire as Charly Boy. That is why the brand means different things to different people, and Charly Boy is everything you think he is and a bag of chips.
I guess many people miss the fact that I am a communicator and as such, I speak different body languages. You see, once people become aware of your presence and perhaps a little intrigued, you will need to constantly stir their interest before it settles on something or someone else, and you need not be too obvious. Instead, I made the brand hard to figure out, by sending mixed signals, both tough and tender, both spiritual and earthly, both innocent and cunning. A mix of qualities suggests depth, which fascinates even as it confuses.
What makes you tick, what's responsible for your staying power?
First it is the belief in self maybe as a result of my pedigree. Then it is the courage of being Charly boy. The way of the heart is the way of courage. It is to live in insecurity, it is to live in love and trust, and it is to move in the unknown. It is leaving the past and allowing the future to be. Courage moves in dangerous paths, life is dangerous and only cowards can avoid the dangers, but then they are already dead. A courageous person will always move into the unknown, even though there is danger, he will take the risk. You see, the heart is always ready to take the risk, the heart is passionate, the heart is a gambler but the head is a businessman. Like Charles Oputa, the head always calculates, it could be cunning too, but the heart is non – calculating.
As Charly boy, I have always had the courage to live on the edge, and marrying that with tremendous passion for the things I got involved with. God has blessed me with tremendous staying power, giving up has never been in my dictionary, especially for things that not only brings me joy and fulfillment, but add value to my people and my environment.
Your private part (the book), was it another medium for re-engineering the brand?
My Private Part is a testimony of my life as Charly Boy, my goofs, my struggles and my conquests. It is meant to be a signpost to the Nigerian youth, saying 'whatsoever you choose for yourself, as long as you are devoted to it, you will be blessed'. The love and support with which the Nigerian youth have received the “Charlyboyism” message has given me a renewed sense of purpose. They have all encouraged me to dig a little deeper, kept me on my toes and made me come up with more.
The Private Part is a book that seeks to reveal the deeper parts of Charly Boy, it is a compilation of the different activities of the man behind this image, Charles Oputa and what he has been through to keep the image extremely active and controversial for over 25 years.
Charly Boy's image in this part of the world came as a shock to a lot of people and it took only consistency to turn it around to be accepted by the society as a norm, for Charly Boy of course. His controversial ways have brought mixed feelings from friends and foes amongst which are admiration, disgust, anger, confusion, amusement, respect, loyalty and expectation. While his image is in full glare for all to see, his sensitive nature, love life and deeply rooted family upbringing are not.
My Private Part, therefore, brings out the true nature of the brand Charly Boy, as he represents these various constituencies effectively. The arrangement of the book using a scrap book style is in the Charly Boy manner, —unusual but serious and understandable. The concept, being one designed to make the reader probe deeper and understand better. At the end of the day, the reader is left with his own conclusion about what kind of man Charly Boy really is. I wonder what that would be crazy? Wise? Creative? troublemaker? It's all up to the reader. Whatever one does, always be consistent, be exceptional and stand out from the boring crowd! This is the philosophy of the enigma, Charly Boy!!!
At 55, what would you say is your most cherished achievement?
A lot of people get frustrated, because they get carried away with either societal conformity, peer pressure, overbearing parental pressures, keeping up with the Joneses. Most Nigerians are just a bunch of hypocrites. Do you know the pain I went through when for almost 15 years all that I had was my dreams and an empty pocket? Do you know what it means to leave your comfort zone and venture into the unknown in a society that negatively branded me, not giving me a chance? Do you know the battles one has fought not only for self respect, but respect for labour, respect for character, respect for the poor and the less privileged? Do you know how many times I have been beaten up by the Army, the Police, NDLEA, etc just for standing up for other people's right?
They said 'he can never be'; now look at who is having the last laugh. Yes, Charly Boy. That's my most cherished achievement, being me Charly Boy!
How does it feel to be 55?
At 55, it feels like 35 and its good to know that I can still break some moves as if am 25. When I look at some people who are 45 I keep wondering how I look this good at 55. Then, I know I can only thank God for the stock I come from. I think its all in the genes; I can't say that I go out of my way to maintain this youthful look, but then, again, it might just be a case of attitude. I think as Charly Boy, I have the right kind of attitude for the things that bring me joy and make me fulfilled. On top of all that, I get paid for it. How lucky can you get, you just can't beat that.
I owe my looks, my youthfulness, my dexterity, doggedness, tenacity and tremendous focus to the magician of all times, Charly Boy. If you see him, thank him for me and that is why I will forever remain faithful to the brand that has brought me fame, contentment and joy. So, if you want to feel like me when you are 65, eat and drink from the fruit tree I live off on, imbibe the Charly Boy philosophy of being free and never saying die till you try.