Ten years after the death of the famously eclectic guitar maker and nine years years after a documentary about the life of the Mill Valley folk hero screened at the Mill Valley Film Festival, the short film is screening at the O’Hanlon Center for the Arts as part of its Art Film Friday series on Nov. 10 at 7pm.
The Legend of Toilet-Seat Charlie, a 12-minute documentary by Mill Valley native Jeremy Kaller, celebrates the life of the local icon and inventor of the toilet-seat guitar. Deal, who died in October 2007 at the age of 72, was widely revered throughout town as a bridge to an era of eccentricity in Mill Valley.
Deal famously stated that he “was sitting on a good idea” in 1965, when he envisioned his toilet-seat guitar. Deal would eventually sell his Deal Guitars around the world, with members of Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead among his customers, while also rocking out with Huey Lewis and John Cipollina of the Quicksilver Messenger Service.
“It’s nice to have some of this recaptured, especially on Charlie’s behalf, because he certainly was the icon of Mill Valley if not all of southern Marin,” said event producer Steve Bajor, a friend of Deal’s who is featured in the film, said a few years ago about Deal. “The fact that a guy can go through his whole life and literally not make an enemy is almost unheard of. But he was able to simply with his enthusiasm and his friendly nature.”
Kaller connected with many of the locals at the heart of the music scene in the 60s and onward, including former Jefferson Starship keyboadist Pete Sears and Neil Young guitar tech Larry Cragg. Local legend Austin de Lone allowed Kaller to use his song, “The Legend of Charlie Deal,” in the soundtrack.
“Charlie had a lot of friends in the community, and they were all excited to help out,” Kaller said.
Kaller remembered Deal from his childhood when he’d see him pedaling around town on his bicycle, often carrying a toilet seat that would serve as the body of inimitable guitars. Deal’s toilet-seat guitars became famous beyond Marin in 1984, when one of them on the wall at the was featured in the cover image of Huey Lewis & the News’ album Sports.
When the album went platinum, Deal told the Mill Valley Record that he wouldn’t make any changes to his lifestyle even though more than a million homes contained a picture of one of his toilet-seat masterpieces.
“He was very much one of the great characters that Mill Valley has ever known,” Bajor said. “You had Bill Graham living up on top of the hill and on the other side of things, you had Charlie Deal riding his bicycle down Miller Avenue.”
The 411: O’Hanlon Center for the Arts hosts a screening of The Legend of Toilet-Seat Charlie, a 12-minute documentary by Mill Valley native Jeremy Kaller, as part of its Art Film Friday series on Nov. 10 at 7pm. Kaller will be on hand for a post-screening Q&A. $5-$10 donation requested. 616 Throckmorton Avenue. MORE INFO & TIX.