Models Charlotte Free and Gryphon O’Shea are totally one hundred percent dating! So said the fashion forum headlines last year when people found out that the pink-haired, sweeter than candy face of Maybelline had found herself a Vogue Hommes Japan cover boy to be her boyfriend. But they’re not just dating, they’re head over patent plastic platforms in love, and they want to change the world together!
If Charlotte Free is the Childlike Empress/ Moonchild from The NeverEnding Story, then Gryphon O’Shea is Bastian, the one who saves her. When asked why she was given that nickname by an anonymous user on Tumblr, she replied, “Gryphon gave it to me back in 2008, because I was trapped within myself, and I was lost until I found him.” According to the book, Moonchild is representative of dreams and the imagination of mankind, and you can only meet her when you give her a new name. We think she grew up, got her hands on some pink hair dye and bad-girl eyeliner and the world renamed her Charlotte Free! But she never grew out of her dreams and imagination. The 21-year-old lovebirds met five years ago at a Los Angeles rave. Gryphon was wearing a blue and purple furry cat outfit, and Charlotte an equally fluffy rainbow getup. They became living, dancing proof that if it’s meant to be it will find a way, when they lost contact for four years and found each other again just last year at a New York Fashion Week after-party. They’ve been living a real-life other-worldly fairytale ever since. i-D caught up with the model couple on their way back from a week-long stint at Burning Man in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. In between security officers telling them to move their car and lots of whispers and giggles at the festival crowds around them, Charlotte and Gryphon muse over how they met, their future together and their joint gift to the world: experimental electronic music. As you do when you’re young, beautiful and in love.
How was Burning Man?
Charlotte: Amazing, it was my first Burning Man, I’ve wanted to go for so long, and this is the first year I’ve been allowed to go.
Gryphon: We have a team camp that we run and lots of events like fire performance, dj’ing, cooking meals and sharing them out.
C: We try to get everyone as involved as possible. Gryphon was supposed to fire-perform, but he didn’t get a chance. We’ll be performing next year though, we’ll be spinning fire!
Do you both spin fire?
C: I’m learning right now, but he’s an expert, he’s so beautiful at it. You can watch him if you look up Gryphon O’Shea on YouTube. I do aerial acrobatics. Gryphon’s also going to learn that. Hopefully by this time next year he will be at the same level I am.
What are you guys up to today?
G:Driving! For about 16 more hours. Just to get off the desert, because there are so many people leaving, it took us 12 hours to drive three miles.
Did you get much sleep?
C: No, we barely slept all week. By the time we go to sleep it’s light out and 100 degrees. The only sleep we got was in a puddle of sweat and dust, so we’re excited to be [going] home. It’s my little brother’s birthday and I’m so excited to see him turn 12.
What did you get each other for your last birthdays?
C:Gryphon got me the most beautiful glass vase. Our friend is a glassblower, and he uses metal and copper and gem stones and minerals, and he tries so hard to make every piece a hundred percent unique. He took me to this gallery in Santa Barbara, and I go downstairs and look in the corner and there’s this one that was just so beautiful; that was mine. His name is Jake Relik. I got Gryphon a vintage analogue polyphonic synthesiser.
G:She got me an Oberheim Matrix 12. I’m a sound designer, and it’s one of the most programmable, gorgeous instruments in synthesiser history. It’s my favourite thing in my studio. We go pretty all-out with presents for each other.
C: Gryphon’s got me the best presents I’ve received from anybody.
What were your first impressions of each other when you met five years ago?
G: I saw Charlotte and she was with a group of people who I kind of knew, and she was just the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. She had this energy and I knew that I had to get to know her, I never thought I would actually end up being with her though.
C: I had never liked a guy like that before; for some reason there was something about his face that I couldn’t get over. He looked so unique and he was so tall.
Gryphon, can you describe Charlotte in five words?
G: Colourful, cat-like space child.
Charlotte, can you describe Gryphon in five words?
C: Likeable, talented, dedicated, kind and gorgeous!
Charlotte what’s your favourite feature of Gryphon’s?
G: Just his soul. Even if he didn’t look the way he does or operate the way he does, it’s his soul I’m so attracted to. His core being is so perfect and special and angel-like.
Gryphon, what’s your favourite feature of Charlotte’s?
G: Her imagination.
Do you wear a lot of each other’s clothes?
G: Yeah, our clothes are pretty interchangeable. Unless it’s a dress or something.
C: Yeah, I put Gryphon in a lot of my dresses! We share all of our clothes. Gryphon just looks cute in anything I have because he’s tiny. He’s a tiny little Southern Belle!
Have you got your own place?
C: Not yet, we’re looking at homes, because we want to have a music studio.
G:I do lots of experimental music with electronic and acoustic instruments. Not dance music but lots of stuff that sounds electronic, using instruments processed heavily by different effects and sliced together.
If you were both characters in Dragon Ball Z, who would you be?
C: Gryphon would be Goku, because everybody loves him, and he’s so charismatic and kind, and has such a good heart, but would also be a really strong, fierce badass when he needs to! And he sometimes has black hair and he sometimes has blond hair, so he’s definitely Goku!
G: Charlotte would be Gohan.
C: Because I have to overcome so many obstacles in my mind to be as strong as I am.
Do you have the same group of friends?
C: I don’t have any friends, so I spend a lot of time with Gryphon’s friends.
Why don’t you have any friends?
C: I was in a relationship for three years in which I wasn’t allowed to have any friends apart from on the internet, so any friends I had in real life I didn’t get to speak to anymore. I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere where I could meet people either.
That sounds horrible.
C: Yeah, it sucked. I mean I’ve never had a problem making friends, I’ve always had millions of friends; just at this time in my life I don’t have any.
Why did you make a joint Instagram?
C: We’re always together. I figured if I made my own Instagram, it would be pretty big because when we first made it, I was a lot more established than he was, so we just thought, “Let’s make it together, it will be more fun.” It’s like our little scrapbook, every place we go we take a picture.
Who uses it more?
C: I use it a little bit more, but Gryphon uses it a lot too. I only use it to post photos, I don’t really look at other people’s. I’m not interested in anyone else’s business unless it’s a musician.
G: Yeah we only follow The Prodigy and my little brother.
Do you both like the same kind of music?
G: Yeah, we like a lot of the same stuff, and we also like a lot of different stuff.
C: Not really…
G: I like a lot of stuff you don’t like.
C: No you don’t!
Gryphon, do you follow Charlotte’s Tumblr?
C: He doesn’t really go on Tumblr. I don’t really go on Tumblr either. I don’t follow anybody.
I love all the sea-slugs and jellyfish on your Tumblr.
C: I try to put effort into getting original content for it, so I really appreciate that, thank you!
Where do you find it all?
C: I will literally just research an animal, and find pictures of them on Wikipedia and Google Images, but it’s the research that means the most to me. I try to spend a lot of my time researching strange animals and cool stuff that I find interesting in the environment that is just as amazing as something that wasn’t real. That’s my whole goal. I want people to realise that we have a fantasy world right here.
What kind of parents do you think you would be?
G: All I really care about is having mutual trust with my kids, and that they know I have their best interests at heart. Giving them all the wisdom they need to get through life, and not being too strict because of what I think is right or wrong for them, but giving them the foundation to make the right decisions themselves.
C: I just want to be able to teach my kids everything and be able to answer any questions they have, because when I was a kid I was really inquisitive and nobody really helped me out, I was really lost. I just want to make sure my kids have every answer they want.
[lots of laughing]
G: Sorry, we’re at this In-N-Out Burger right now, and there are tons of crazy people who have just come out of Burning Man all over the place, doing silly things.
G: Walking around in silly little outfits. Weird people making their shirts like Batman and into bras and stuff.
What are you two wearing?
G: I’m wearing a pair of custom leather shorts, a black denim cargo belt and that’s it.
C:I’m just wearing a leather bra and shorts.
G: We’re covered head-to-toe in dust.
C:We’re covered in moondust!