“It doesn’t appear to be so much as a television show as it seems more like some kind of unusual film maybe from the sixties or seventies.” Cadillac Bill of The Cadillac Bill Show on Cable 14 uses his dry English humour and his love for Hamilton to showcase what he calls Hamilton’s “subculture, the underground kind of cool stuff.” This includes a segment on a fetish boutique on James St. S, Dungeon Diva’s and interviewing members of The Hammer City Roller Girls. Each episode, Bill travels around Hamilton filming and documenting events, musicians and interviews locals on the street. “Hamilton’s got a rich history. It’s an older city than Toronto. A lot of artists, a lot of people around Canada came from Hamilton so there’s a big music influence here.” He’s interviewed local stars like Ginger St. James and Tom Wilson. He teaches his audience about the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets, speaks to ghosts (which he adamantly tries to convince me were real) and conducts interviews in the bathroom at This Ain’t Hollywood bar (what?)!
The Cadillac Bill Show is definitely a passion project. It is made on a shoestring budget with the use of two Canon digital cameras. But the lack of network T.V. money hasn’t stopped him from dreaming big. He says of future guests of the show “Lindsay Lohan, maybe the Queen of England; these are the people I’m hoping to have [on].” Bill does have some help while shooting, usually from members of his band, The Creeping Bent, who accompany him on his excursions. The set which is located in Bill’s basement is made of metallic door curtains, the front end of a Cadillac for his desk and his wardrobe consists of a snazzy gold jacket and a bow tie. Jimmy Fallon may be more famous but when it comes to fashion, Cadillac Bill has it in the bag.
Sitting behind Bill during on–set segments are members of The Creeping Bent. He refers to them as the “Ed McMahon” of the show. Bill has been with the band for around 20 years now and they have toured across Canada six times.
It may sound like the normal setup for a late–night talk–show but it is rough around the edges, gritty, funny and sometimes even informative. Yes, it may not look like the most professional show on T.V., what without the heavy editing and lack of special effects, but there is something refreshing about watching a guy with his camera show you people and places you may know. The show has a very “local” feel about it and that’s not a bad thing. Bill has the opportunity to interview members of the famous heavy metal band, Anvil, but then showcases unheard of amazing local talent like the 12 year old songstress, Kyra.
“I love Tom Green and Stephen Colbert, but my show isn’t really like that and I would love to be able to say ‘yes my show is like such and such’ but I can’t think of anything it’s like. It’s just a bit different; it really is.”
British born Bill Boyd–Wilson a.k.a Cadillac Bill, has a long and sordid past. Well not so sordid but he does have quite a history. He was born in England but moved to Toronto with his parents and sisters when he was only 10 years old. His father’s job as a banker moved the family all over the world including Hong Kong, California and Scotland. Both of his sisters now live and work near San Diego but for whatever crazy reason, 20 years ago Bill decided that the city of Hamilton was the place for him. His parents were supportive of his creative leanings but his father still wanted him to have a practical job. “...my dad really urged me to learn a trade like becoming a plumber. Instead, I became a welder and later, got my DZ truck driver’s license. I worked for a while as a welder for three years and drove trucks for 10 years while I was doing music. I am presently working for the Hamilton Public Library driving the ‘Book Mobile’.”
As a teen and a young man in his early twenties, Bill was passionate about filmmaking. He even took a summer film course at U.C.L.A while visiting his family who were living in California at the time but when he came back to Toronto, he discovered his interest in music. “I was living with the Cowboy Junkies in Toronto as a filmmaker making rock videos and the Cowboy Junkies were just starting out and I was thinking that they were having a pretty good time and I decided I would start my own band.” The Cowboy Junkies went on to much success during the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s. Cadillac Bill received a lot of college radio play in the ‘90’s and his music videos were featured on MuchMusic.
For all of the fooling around that he does on his show, Bill Boyd–Wilson is a bonafide artist. Besides his love for music and film, he’s involved in creating comics, photography, writing stories and screenplays. He even took Classical Animation at Sheridan College. “I’ve always been interested in being [in] entertainment like storytelling or drawing or making films or making kind of weird music so I’ve always been interested in all kinds of art.”
Cadillac Bill may not be a millionaire (yet) but you certainly get the sense that he is having a great time doing what he loves. “I just figured I’d do a show that’s kind of a spoof of talk shows, kind of making fun of them very slightly and at the same time promoting Hamilton.” V
For more information please visit facebook.com/thecadillacbillshow, youtube.com/boydwilsonfilms