If you are a fan of car and reality TV series, the chances are that you have heard about Gas Monkey Garage, the custom shop that specializes in restorations and repairing run-down cars. The shop was a location for filming the reality-styled series “Fast N’ Loud,” which brought popularity to Gas Monkey Garage. The shop is owned by the businessman, entrepreneur and car expert Richard Rawlings, who was also the series’ main cast member. The series focuses on jaw-dropping car transformations performed by Richard’s highly skilled crew, Monkeys. As with any workplace or reality series, the crew members and employees come and go, and Gas Monkey Garage is no different! One of those skilled mechanics who left the shop is Charles Cimino. What happened to him, and why did he exit the shop and the series? Let’s take a look!
Who is Charles Cimino?
Charles is an expert mechanic and reality TV star, who stepped into the limelight through appearing in the “Fast N Loud” series. He was born in Dallas, Texas, where he spent most of his life. Not much information is known about his childhood and education, except that he matriculated from high school, and then worked in various garages. Talking of his previous job experiences, he revealed where he worked before coming to Gas Monkey Garage, saying: ‘I had a job prior to this, working in a commercial AD company. Basically, I’d go to big facilities and hang all kinds of a/v equipment, TVs, cameras, and anything network related. So I have a background in electronics, that was kind of a good segue into my job here at the garage.’
Charles has an interesting nickname, ‘Sleeveless,’ which he got because he wears t-shirts without sleeves. That is not the only nickname he was bestowed with; during his short stint on the show, the ladies called him “eye candy” because of his fit physique and tattoos. In his introduction video, he was asked whether it was fun to be teye candy, and he replied: ‘If you are really talking about eye candy, Dustin Deliown, shirtless, does not get much better. My boy! I love you!’
Gas Monkey Garage
Contrary to popular opinion, the automotive shop was founded long before the series “Fast N’ Loud” was conceived. Richard launched the shop in 2002, and gathered an amazing crew of experienced mechanics who would perform jaw-dropping transformations under his leadership. In the beginning, it was a small 1200 – square foot shop in Dallas, that didn’t even have water, or air conditioning. In 2004, Richard hired the Fort Worth mechanic Aaron Kauffman, and the two began restoring old cars and selling them for profit.
Working tirelessly, Richard constantly upgraded the business, and eventually hit the jackpot when he managed to pitch the show to the Discovery channel, and get a green light. Ever since, the popularity and success of the show has skyrocketed, so that today, Gas Monkey Garage is not just a shop but also a tourist location, as many fans come to take photos of Richard’s legendary garage, housing some of the most creative and amazing vehicle builds.
From Red to Green and with a helluva lot more attitude, this '68 Mustang is about to go through one big transformation. You saw us refurbish Richard Rawlings Green Mustang on Fast N' Loud, but get ready to see us fully build one!
Posted by Gas Monkey Garage on Friday, September 11, 2020
“Fast N’ Loud”
After pitching the show to various networks for years, Richard finally got lucky when Discovery saw potential in his idea. In an interview with Joe Rogan, Richard revealed how he came up with the idea, saying: ‘The shows that were on were too much bravado. I dug it and my friends also. I thought they were missing a big chunk of the market, so if you could tone down that part and still have a cool brand and get the moms and kids to watch it, hopefully it’s a lot successful. So that’s what I did!’ The series premiered in June 2012 and ran for 16 seasons, concluding in 2020.
During its eight-year run, the show featured numerous interesting characters and mechanics, such as Aaron Kauffman, Christie Brimberry, Jason Aker, Mike Coy, K.C. Mathieu, Jeremy Cheatham, Jordan Butler, and Tom Smith, as well as Charles Cimino.
How did he become a part of Gas Monkey Garage?
In the video “Meet the Monkeys,” posted on the shop’s official YouTube channel, Charles answered various fans’ questions, including the story of how he started working at the garage, saying: ‘My job here at the gas monkey is probably due to the fact that I’ve known Aaron for several years. He and I actually met around ’99 or 2000. We’ve had a long history of hanging out and building stuff together. We actually worked at a couple of places prior to this.’ He continued by saying that he worked his way in, and reconnected with Aaron. After that, the ‘No Sleeve’ Charles got his foot in the door and started working at the garage, becoming the wiring guy.
Charles first appeared in “Fast N’ Loud” in 2015, and was introduced as a new monkey in the crew. He made his debut in the episode “Rocking ’76 G10 Van” which featured him and the crew renovating a ’76 Exploration Van. Besides ‘Fast N’ Loud,’ he guest appeared in the spin-off series such as “Master Mechanic,” in which he was featured alongside his friend Mike Coy, and Jason Aker. Although his background is mainly in electronics, Charles has always been interested in cars, and harbored some valuable experience working on various car projects. As it turned out, Charles just applied his knowledge in electronics and fabrication to cars, and proved to be a very skilled mechanic specializing in car wiring and light fabrication.
His favorite project in the show was the restoration of a ’67 Dodge Dart. As he revealed in the show, he had the most fun building and wiring this car, as many believed that it was an impossible task; of course, the crew proved the skeptics wrong, and once again displayed their expertise, justifying the title as one of the most skilled, productive, and effective teams. He also revealed that his lifetime career dream was to build the K20 Silverado from the movie “Fall Guy,” driven by Colt Seavers.
What happened to Charles Cimino?
Although he appeared in only six episodes of the show from 2015-2017, Charles became very popular for his goofy personality, humor, and staple mustache. Gaining the reputation of a ‘class clown,’ he amused the audiences with his funny accents and occasional acrobatics. So, when he disappeared from the show in 2017, many wondered what happened to him, and whether he had a fall out with Richard or Aaron. The truth is – nobody knows!
Despite his celebrity status, Charles has never been vocal about the show or given any interviews. Fans tried to get some answers by writing on his social media, and asking him about the show, but he’s never revealed any information regarding his exit. Whether he chose to leave the shop or was fired will remain a mystery! What is interesting is that Aaron Kauffman, the main mechanic, left the shop and the series during the same year Charles did, so some fans thought that it might have influenced his decision, given that Aaron found him the job at the shop. In addition, it was pointed out that after two years of working at the garage, Charles wanted to branch out and start his own thing, rather than work for Richard.
Where is he now?
Even though he hasn’t shared details about his exit, he wrote to one of his fans that after Gas Monkey Garage, he started working independently. According to the latest reports, he’s living and working in Scottsdale, Arizona. Unfortunately for his fans, Charles is not the most active person on Instagram, and posts a photo only every couple of months. Judging from his Instagram, he’s continued working on cars since he left the show. In most of his photos, he is seen at a garage fixing cars, and attending auctions and automotive events.
It’s believed that he found employment at Barrett-Jackson Builds (as some of his photos are tagged). Additionally, he’s appeared in several videos posted on the official Barrett-Jackson Builds YouTube channel, such as “Barrett-Jackson Builds: 2 Fast 2 Furious Camaro”.
What inspired his tattoo of a Day of the Dead Woman?
As he’s said, he often gets questions about his numerous tattoos. In a video, Charles revealed the inspiration behind the woman on his arm, saying: ‘The actual Day of the Day tattoo is iconic Hispanic culture tattoo. I’m half Hispanic. My mother is Hispanic, so it was a no-brainer. I love the tattoo and the idea, so it was just something I wanted to get, and it’s permanent.’
Although Charles wasn’t a regular member of the show, he left his mark on the audience enough to make them wonder about his time at the Gas Monkey Garage and his current project. As an engaging, funny, and humorous individual who contributed to the show, he may appear in a new series or start his own thing as he always wanted to do.
What Happened to “Fast N Loud”?
While fans were waiting for the announcement of the 17th season, Richard appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast in December 2020, and revealed that the show had ended, disclosing: ‘”Fast N’ Loud” is no more. I have exited Discovery, and I am a free agent. We’re gonna be doing some cool things in 2021. It was a perfect storm, and it was time for me to expand. I got to the top of that mountain at Discovery, and there wasn’t anything else for me to do there.’
Richard also talked about the creative challenges while filming the series, saying: ‘There’s only so many times you can buy a car, fix a car, and sell it. And it was time to make some changes and make it more fun.’
— Pro Sports MVP (@ProSportsMVP) November 13, 2017
Pushing for answers, Joe Rogan asked Richard to describe his conversation with Discovery executives. Richard refused, saying that he signed a contract after exiting the show, which prohibited him from sharing information, especially damaging details about his collaboration, the main monkey adding that bad-mouthing Discovery might cost him a $25,000 fine per occurrence.
Trying not to reveal too much, Richard talked about launching his podcast and venturing into other businesses, which he couldn’t do under Discovery, revealing: ‘When I signed my deal with Discovery, social media did not even exist, so I signed off on all media, so up to this point, I could not post. If I went out and bought a car and my camera crew wasn’t with me, I took my phone and wanted to post it, I wasn’t allowed to do it.’
Why did Aaron Kauffman leave Gas Monkey Garage?
Aaron Kauffman – sometimes referred to as Bearded Wonder – left the series during the 12th season, which was a massive shock to the show’s fans and to Richard. After 14 years of working together, Aaron decided that he had had enough; in the particular episode, he tells Richard: ‘To quote Stevie Nicks, I have to go my own way.’ Many were upset to see Aaron leave, and there was a lot of speculation and theories about why he left in the first place.
If you are a fan of the show, you know that in the later years of its run, the show became known for drama and controversy, as many members left it or were fired, such as Jordan Butler and Tom Smith. It seemed that the new direction the series took wasn’t agreeing with Aaron, who also wanted to pursue other projects, and be more creative with the builds. After exiting the show, he revealed why he left, saying: ‘I wanted to build cars that were big or bigger, and TV needed cars that were much smaller than that. On top of that, there were some growing issues and professional differences of opinions, so I decided the time had come, and I could see the fork in front of me.’
Aaron wanted more flexibility and freedom in choosing the projects and setting deadlines, which is another reason he left. According to his statement, the crazy and erratic schedule took a heavy toll on him; he also wanted to start his own shop, and with the amount of time he spent at the Gas Monkey Garage, that wasn’t possible. Aaron said: ‘There were some things that I wanted to do for a while, and we have been building cars; we have been busy. There are some things I want to change, and for direction I wanna do different things and here I just can’t do both. We build so much and we build so fast. It absorbs every second of my time.’