Meeting David Kealhofer ’13 opened my eyes to the world of self-important musicians, the non-sex appeal of badminton, and what makes a man into a movie star. Our interview came on the heels of some healthy WSO and Facebook stalking (on my part), although David proved even more pleasant than his few profile pics suggest.
What’s the deal with your WSO picture with a Santa Claus beard?
I had a buddy in high school, and we decided we were going to do our senior page in the yearbook together . . . This is practically like getting married, probably more serious than the prom. So we’re doing our senior page together and it needs to be clever, right? At this stage in our lives, we were both very into the German composer Richard Wagner from the late 19th century. Horrible racist but also a great German composer.
Which of those two aspects appealed to you most for the senior page?
The great German composer. Hitler was a fan, and there not that many clubs I want to join that Hitler was part of, but the Wagner fan club I’ll join. We thought about the story of Wagner’s most famous work, the 16-hour opera series, The Ring of the Nibelung. The whole thing reads as Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and World of Warcraft. It’s really dorky â€“ it’s even frowned upon by musicians. You’re sort of like one of those people who likes to watch porn involving animals or people dressed up as animals or â€“
[Hurriedly] Yeah, yeah, something like that. Rough. But this was a thing you guys were drawn to?
The thing is, Wagner has an instant appeal. You’ve probably heard Ride of the Valkyries, from the second opera in the series. We were like, “Man, Wagner kicks ass, we like Wagner, we should make our page sort of roughly Siegfried-themed.” He’s the hero of the series. Siegfried only arrives some six, seven hours in; he dies like nine hours later. But he’s great, he has this great tune . . . So how can we do this? We found some really dopey costumes, but it all doesn’t work unless we have beards. So we spent six hours making beards for ourselves.
Six hours making beards. What did you make them from â€“ and so it totally wasn’t Santa Claus in that case, was it?
No, not at all. More like Norse hero. Anyway, we found braided yarn and had some liquid latex.
And you decided the Siegfried beard was something you then absolutely needed for your current WSO picture?
Actually I just don’t have that many pictures of myself.
How has your previous life as a music-loving beard-maker carried over to Williams?
I ran cross country this year, badly. It’s a lot of fun, and that was good, but yeah. I also play the cello. I am lot more serious about cello than running, though in high school I was maybe too into running.
Done with Wagner?
Wagner is like someone wearing too much makeup. He’s not that great â€“ or it’s just ridiculous and overblown, nonsensical, “suspend your disbelief” kind of thing. I also actually played badminton until senior year, but I said, “David, you should be fast at track,” and I had convinced myself that the only reason I wasn’t sexily fast at track was badminton. Badminton gets you next to zero girls, but say you run a 4:20 mile? Everyone knows what that means.
What does that mean?
You’re like Brad Pitt. But I did love badminton. I was almost at the point where I was training two hours a day over one summer to launch my singles career. You may not know this, but in badminton singles is â€“ you might giggle at this â€“ a lot more endurance and strength, whereas doubles is speed and strength. Now I haven’t played in a year and a half. But I do enjoy cycling. I think it’s really cool. I feel like Clint Eastwood.
Clint Eastwood on a bike?
Well, how many Clint Eastwood movies have you seen?
Two or three maybe . . . none with bikes.
I’ve seen a lot of Clint Eastwood movies, and I’m a big fan. He’s super masculine . . . anyway, Clint â€“ there’s a shot in every single one of these movies where he rides into town and delivers the 1000-mile stare. He sort of squints, frowns, switches the sides of his cigar in his mouth and rides off.
You achieve all of these things on a bicycle?
Well I can’t ride a horse, so I do what I can do. And I get to go through different cities and things too. You know how people say, “Kids these days, they always want more and more stuff thrown at them.” It’s like running with more and more stuff thrown at you, you see more of the world in the same amount of time.
And easier to switch your cigar.
It’s generally easier to smoke a cigar while riding than running.
And I’m not sure what else I should tell you about me, but I can tell you who I idolize. It’s a pretty long list, so I can give you some highlights. Like Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, probably the most accomplished musician of the 20th century but also, you know, sex god, et cetera. Not actually at all, but that’s what people like to think. He’s so cool. He’s like Yasha Haifetz, the most famous violinist of the 20th century, though everyone hated his guts because he was such a jerk. “The virtuoso who can’t get along with the world” â€“ that’s him. He believed a musician should have absolute control over every aspect of his performance, and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau embodies that. No one could touch him. Beyond him, well, this makes things a lot tougher. Though one person is Corey Watts [’10].
He’s so cool. There are lots of cool people here, but I really want to be like Corey Watts when I grow up.
In which way?
Corey Watts is serious. Corey Watts knows what’s up. When I visited, I went for a run where I was too slow for Corey Watts. Had it not been for that, I would have been really torn about where to go and stuff, but Corey Watts really sold it. I don’t know him really well, but I assume everything good about him.
So Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Corey Watts.
I guess for brevity’s sake, I can say Milla Jovovich because she’s really good-looking.