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Entertainment

Off Hollywood - David Liebe Hart

"After Jim Henson died he visited me and said, 'I want you to teach kids about Christian Science and I want you to do it on Public Access.'”

by Jennifer Juniper Stratford
Apr 24 2012, 4:00am

David Liebe Hart
Actor, Musician, Puppeteer
Junior Christian Science Bible Lesson Program (1994-2008), Good Times (1976), Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job (2007-2010)

For 14 years David Liebe Hart produced a public access show called the Junior Christian Science Bible Lesson Program starring a small cast of puppets that sang songs about the teachings of the Church of Christian Scientists. Each episode began with a puppet who welcomed you to a place where “all are accepted and none are rejected.” Then it barks orders to start the music.

His show became a staple of Hollywood public access and a part of the neighborhood’s history. In 2006, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill that eliminated the requiring cable television companies to give back to the public by providing them a studio to exercise their First Amendment rights and make non-commercial television. By 2009 all the stations in Los Angeles were gone and the television programs by the outcasts of Hollywood were cancelled.

Showbiz hasn’t been easy for David Liebe Hart, even after considerable recognition from his appearances on Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show Great Job. He still pays his rent by singing outside of the Hollywood Bowl and selling portrait sketches and CDs of his music at the La Brea Tarpits. Recently he started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to record a new album and it’s got a long way to go. When we met he told me he was hungry and asked if I would treat him to lunch. As he scarfed down a sandwich we talked about his career in Hollywood.

VICE: Did you move to Los Angeles to become an actor?
David Liebe Hart: Yes. I moved to Los Angeles in 1976 to pursue a career in acting and music. I thought I had a pretty good chance at being a comedian, and always had the dream to be on TV. When I was younger, I had the chance to come to Hollywood to be in Porgy and Bess. I wanted to play Opie’s brother on The Andy Griffith Show. My mom did not want her child getting into acting at such a young age so it didn’t happen until I was older. I moved to LA when I was about 22.

What was the first thing you did when you came to Los Angeles to try and break into the industry?
I was raised Christian Scientist so I went to the local church in Hollywood and met a lot of the famous Christian Scientists who helped me get auditions on different TV shows. I was on Good Times, What’s Happening, Star Search, and The Gong Show. I also took acting classes, music theory, voice, and piano at LA City College.

How did you become interested in puppeteering?
I grew up in the south side of Chicago area during the 1950s. Back in the 50s they had puppet shows galore. They had Howdy Doody, which was a marionette with Clarabelle Clown, Garfield Goose, and Buffalo Bob. These were local shows that aired in black-and-white and the shows were funny.

Is this what lead you to create the Christian Science Bible Lesson Show?
Before Jim Henson became famous he had a local show that had a lot of strange puppets. He was also a Christian Scientist and he was my Sunday school teacher. After he died he visited me and said, “I want you to teach kids about Christian Science and I want you to do it on Public Access.” Right now I really just want to get back on television and I want to be on a series working Monday through Friday. I’m tired of being a street performer. It’s very hard to pay the rent this way.

Do you feel safe talking to me about your abduction experience?
When I was a child I was abducted by Korendian aliens. They took samples of my skin and my blood. They hadn’t tested a black species yet. Many, many years later right at this very bench is where I met a beautiful woman who looked like Bettie Page. She told me she was an extraterrestrial. At first I didn’t believe her. She took off her sunglasses and I saw that she didn’t have pupils like we do. Then she pulled off her shoe and her big toe was in the middle instead of on the side like us humans.

I have heard about this extraterrestrial. She is the one who taught you the salutation “Salame!”
When two UFOs meet in space they say “Salame,” which means “Goodwill and peace and protections in your travels.” She taught me that salutation. When I went to work for Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job, the first song I wrote was called “Salame.”

After “Salame” became a big hit on the show, you were contacted by a different extraterrestrial named Quizelquoy, who was concerned that you capitalized on a very dear Korendian saying.
Yes, Quizelquoy was Jezebel’s protector. He said, “We’d really appreciate you not using extraterrestrial language because we want our privacy and you’ve infringed on our privacy by using the word Salame.” I was just trying to share their message. The sad thing is that Warner Brothers owns the rights to that song.

Last I heard, Jezebel had revealed to you that she was also an insect.
In her human form she looks like Bettie Page but her other form is a large insect. She’s ready to step down from being an elder-master and be with me, but I’m a little freaked out about her being an insect. She said that her and Quizelquoy have been watching me and they want to take me to Star Korendor because they don’t like the way I have been mistreated on Earth.

Do you feel like you have been mistreated by Hollywood?
I’ve been faced with all kinds of unkindness and racism in Hollywood. What hurts is that people from my own Christian Science religion have turned their back on me. I went by all of their rules and morals, no sex outside of marriage, I volunteer, help senior citizens, but they have refused me.

I am aware that at one point in your struggle to make it in show business, you became homeless. Can you share how that happened?
I went on auditions and I did a lot of extra work, but it was hard to make money. I started working as a street performer to be able to pay the rent. Then someone in my family died and I was the only person who could help pay for the funeral, so I was out on the street.

How long did this go on for and where did you sleep?
I slept behind bushes for a little over a year. Someone from the Christian Science Church gave me a job to make extra money and I was able to get an apartment again.

If the Church helped you out when you were homeless, why are you disappointed by them?
I met a very beautiful woman there named Sonia Ruud. She was a white woman and the church brainwashed her into thinking it wasn’t acceptable for a white woman to date a black man. So she dumped me. They also don’t accept any of the music I write for their hymnal.

When facing opposition from the Church of Christian Scientists, did you ever consider looking into the Church of Scientology? They seem to be able to hook actors up with jobs in Hollywood and they also believe in extraterrestrials.
Scientology is not a religion. It’s a cult. They take advantage of people by taking their money. They don’t help people who are down and out. They don’t supply food and shelter, like most religions do. I am a very dedicated to Christian Science because I strongly believe in their philosophy. Even if they don’t want me and they just want Val Kilmer.

Many of your fans consider your song “No More Blues About Sonia Ruud” to be one of your greatest hits. One of my favorite songs of yours is “I Remember,” where you reminisce about the days of black-and-white television.
Back then the shows were well-written and funny, and the stars were enormously talented. There was no violence or drugs and they didn’t think it was funny to just make fun of people. My favorite was Jackie Gleason of The Honeymooners. He had great timing. The Honeymooners is the only black-and-white show that went to color and it got better.

Can we close with a prayer that can guide us through this new era of television?
Let God be your agent. Let his infinite power permeate our divine mind to obey and adore our love for one another. All races of people, this bread of life, let truth and love conform our thoughts and actions.

Previously - Off Hollywood - Joe Dante

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