High Times Greats: Kinky Friedman

An outrageous interview guaranteed to offend everyone.
High Times Greats: Kinky Friedman
Kinky Friedman by Scott Heiser

For the December, 1979 issue of High Times, Larry Sloman conducted an irreverent interview with the man who brought Frisbee to Borneo, Kinky Friedman. On the occasion of the comedian/musician/writer’s birthday November 1, we’re republishing it below.

Right now, the hottest nightclub phenom in New York is a mossy-haired Hebe from the heart of Texas who alternates poignant state-of-the-culture anthems with broad parodies like “Asshole from El Paso” and who, between songs, manages to offend every conceivable ethnic and racial affiliation. Kinky Friedman is, as he would say, hotter than a set of jumper cables at a n#gger funeral.

So they come from all over to the Lone Star Cafe to eat the three-alarm chili and drink the Texas brew and wait till, sooner or later, the Original Texas Jewboy dumps on their ethnic persuasion. And they Jove it. Kinky’s audience is like a cultural mosaic. A few hippies searching for the Fillmore. Some uptown blacks, Some Scarsdale Jews. Bikers. Gays. Boat people. Nearly every celeb from Andy Warhol to David Halberstam has been around to catch the Kinky Man’s act. And, depending on what season it is, you’ll most likely find Goose Gossage and half the Yankee bullpen or John Davidson and the entire Ranger defense singing along on “They Ain’t Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore.”

If there weren’t a Kinky Friedman, we would have had to invent him. A cigar-chomping menorah-glitter cowboy spewing racial epithets while singing some of the most sensitive lyrics ever writ. Kinky’s got a terminal case of cultural schizophrenia—a Jew who grew up in the Lone Star State, who came to terms with being a 20th-century American while teaching Borneo natives how to use the Frisbee in the Peace Corps, and who operates under the theory that even bigots need some entertainment in their dreary lives. His abusive, corrosive stage persona makes Don Rickies seem like a shoo-in for a National Brotherhood Award. He is truly a man for our times.

By the time Kinky was 13, he had already evidenced the pangs of his restless creativity by rocking the folks in his hometown of Kerrville, Texas, with his grade-school anthem “Old Ben Lucas” [“Old Ben Lucas had a lot of mucus, hanging right out of his nose / He’d pick and pick till it made you sick, but back again it grows”). This song later surfaced in a Hollywood film, Prime Time, that called on Kinky to snort a 25-foot line of what the Jewboy calls Peruvian marching powder before breaking into song.

After four years of college at the University of Texas at Austin, where he majored in Literature and Jungle Languages, Friedman wound up in Borneo as a member of the Peace Corps. While in the jungle, he wrote some of his most powerful songs, like “Ride ’Em, Jewboy,” the first pop song about the Holocaust.

Kinky made his musical assault in the country-western casino of Nashville with Sold American, his first album, which was issued on the Vanguard label. After a few years of being the litmus test for anti-Semitism and on the verge of mass acceptance from the conservative Nashville music establishment, he left to seek his fortunes in the whiter pastures of Tinseltown. During this period he released a second LP, Kinky Friedman, on the ABC-Dunhill label, which moved one critic to comment that it “sounds as if this poor Jewboy has been possessed by the spirits of Jim Croce, Cowboy Copas and Lenny Bruce simultaneously. ”

In Hollywood, Kinky totaled his karma; and after a year spent cracking the movie world in various cameos, he finally retreated, hermit style, to his family’s ranch in Kerrville. There he penned more significant ballads of our time, like “Take-It-Easy Trailer Park,” in between shooting pool and eating oysters. Near the end of 1975, Bob Dylan requested Kinky’s presence on the Rolling Thunder Revue. After that tour, a third album, Lasso from El Paso, was released, featuring the Rolling Thunder people and stars like Eric Clapton, the Band and Ringo Starr.

Today, Friedman is rapidly becoming a legend in his own mind. Just check out Joseph Heller’s bestseller Good as Gold. Right there on page 430, a former governor of Texas tells Heller’s fictional hero Bruce Gold, “‘Gold, I like you. You remind me a lot of the famous country singer from Texas I’m crazy about, a fellow calls himself Kinky Friedman, the Original Texas Jewboy. Kinky’s smarter, but I like you more.’” And, next page: “‘That Henry Kissinger,’ the governor went on, ‘Funny looking fellow with that nose of his and bumblebee mouth. Had hair like Kinky’s, but Kinky is smarter.’”

Heller ain’t whistling Dixie there. Friedman is one smart boychik, and now, just past 30 and with three legendary LPs under his belt, he is about to break out like Willie and WayIon did last year. High Times caught up with the Kinky Man in New York City, where he is now living. With new management behind him, Kinky was busy mulling over several recording and motion-picture offers. He was also wrapping Hanukkah presents for his folks back home in Rio Duckworth, Texas. With a heavy snow falling outside, and with an old Van Dyke Parks album playing softly on the stereo, Friedman gave us a revealing glimpse of the man behind the misanthrope.

High Times: Watching you perform at the Lone Star, alternating those incredibly poignant songs like “Ride ’Em, Jewboy” and “Sold American” with the crude patter, always tottering on the brink of bad taste but always pulling it off—there’s a certain magic in what you do.

Kinky: I’m not really that great. I just have a brilliant pharmacist.

High Times: Kinky, you’ve sort of become the darling of the New York cocktail set, attracting everyone from famous literati to Warhol to hockey players. It’s a vast panorama of people who have jumped on the Kinky bandwagon. Who’s your best audience? Who really understands you?

Kinky: Well, you come to see what you want to see, you know. Audiences are very different. Like, in Texas, I’m taken literally. I’ve always said that bigots need to be entertained too. I’ll finish a show there and some of the audience is yelling, “More n#gger jokes!” One guy after the show told me, “Kinky, you’re the loosest Jew I ever met.” And in New York, they come backstage and say, “How refreshing. It’s so refreshing.”

High Times: Well, are we to take you literally? I mean, do you basically hate Negroes and women?

Kinky: No, no, I’m rather fond of Negroes. I hate all slits, though. I like Negroes. I don’t like their music or their food very much. But I’m fond of Negroes. Want to hear one of my best n#gger jokes? You know why Negroes wear broad-brimmed hats?

High Times: No.

Kinky: To keep the birds from shitting on their lips. You know the Friedman family motto? I don’t think this has ever been published anywhere, but it’s true: The Jews own the world, the Catholics run it, the Protestants work it, and the n#ggers and the Mexicans basically enjoy it. I like all of them. I don’t see why I shouldn’t be able to cover the spiritual waterfront. I mean, why have to hire a pet Italian to tell Italian jokes and a pet n#gger to tell n#gger jokes, a pet Heebie-Jeebie to tell Jewish jokes, when the same man could tell them all? I’ve just got to decide whether the jokes should come between the songs or the songs between the jokes. One of these days I will. In the meantime, I’m a stand-up tragedy. What the hell.

High Times: Another group you seem to satirize is your basic gays.

Kinky: Well, I’m not a fagola myself. Know what we call a queer in Texas? Anybody who likes girls more than he likes football. I wrote one fagola song called ‘‘Homo Erectus,” and I wrote it when I saw an alligator crawl into Bloomingdale’s department store and order a T-shirt with one of those little f#ggots on the pocket. Frankly, I think we’re all unconscious fagolas, because, like I’ve often said, hosing is one of the most overrated things in America, and taking a dump is one of the most underrated. I like fagolas, like that guy in San Francisco, Harvey Milk, the one that was killed. I thought he was a heavy guy. Harvey’s last words reportedly were: “Is that a pistol in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?” No question about it, the fagolas and the Peruvian-marching-powder people got the whole disco trend going.

High Times: There were rumors you were going to adopt a gay baby….

Kinky: No, that was false. Actually, my plan at that time was to adopt an adult Korean.

High Times: Have you ever had any tension conventions at any of your performances?

Kinky: Yeah, but not with Negroes. They’re right on the Richard Pryor wavelength, right off the bat. Negroes love me; I don’t really know why.

High Times: Maybe it’s your hair?

Kinky: Quite possibly so. The tension convention is with the women’s liberation people. I was once at Buffalo University, and I did my women’s-lib song, “Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed.” All these slits started charging the stage, tearing at the equipment. Some of them were sobbing hysterically; I couldn’t believe it. The cops came and were hauling these chicks off, and I was yelling, “Why don’t you lick my salt block, honey?” We needed a police escort to get out of that bugger. Berkeley takes things literally. Buffy Sainte-Marie takes things literally.

High Times: You had a run-in with her, didn’t you?

Kinky: We had a fairly tedious scene in San Francisco. I think that I deal with the Indian cause probably as heavily as Buffy does. We did a song called “Kind of Like an Indian” where I wear this big Indian headdress and all the guys in the band wear these little dime-store headdresses. And it’s fairly humorous. She came out onstage during our set and tried to grab my headdress, and she was running around just outrageous, and I said, “Well, if we can just reach one person, I think I’m a success.” It was fairly ugly. But it’s a sin to be gloomy. It’s important to laugh. I like to elevate people’s spirits. Be whatever the hell you are. I mean, Indians can be Jews, Arabs can be Negroes, and everybody can be an American. It’s all a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.

High Times: But you do seem to have a certain hard-on toward women.

Kinky: Well, as Tom Baker says, dames is grief. He also said a man without a woman is like a neck without a pain. I don’t know. Some people have called me a male show-business pig, but I’m not, really. I’m not a great admirer of women. I find that the songs written about them are more worthy than the women. The songs Hank Williams wrote about his wife are far more beautiful than his wife ever was. I just tend to ID with men, that’s all. My attitude is that a man can live with his wife for 50 years and still she doesn’t understand him, whereas he can go down and talk to the man at the Greyhound station and tell him his life story in five minutes and he would understand. My view about women is basically adolescent, I have to admit. I don’t hate them. I like to get a little kosher pussy every once in a while.

High Times: What’s your favorite type of woman? Do you have a favorite color? What do you look for in a woman?

Kinky: I look for eyes… the way they laugh, their ass, their legs, their feet. I don’t like women with large zoobers. I like women that have a lot of character, that are real people. I never hosed a French woman or an Italian or one of those. I would like to do that sometime. But I’ve hosed virtually every other. I’ll get married in the next couple of years.

High Times: How about in your sex area? Do you consider yourself kinky?

Kinky: They don’t call me Friedman for nothing, hoss.

High Times: What’s the kinkiest sexual act you’ve ever committed?

Kinky: I’ll have to take a spiritual rain check on that one. Let’s get out of this one area; let’s take a lighter thing that’s not quite so heavily philosophical.

High Times: Huh?

Kinky: Women are beautiful creatures as long as they don’t try to be too serious and earnest. If they are, they’re wasting their time and spoiling their beauty. Do you know what kind of girl I like? I like one that looks like a French newsboy. When I was going to go to Boogerland in the Peace Corps, I liked the idea of a blond-haired British girl driving a jeep. Some ambassador’s daughter or something over there. I think that would be attractive, a woman driving a jeep. A chestnut mare is good, you know.

High Times: Didn’t you have a kind of tragic thing happen with a woman right before you went into the Peace Corps in Borneo?

Kinky: Yeah, it was in Maine, before I left, during the cultural-empathy period they made us go through. I don’t want to reveal the name, in the interests of national security, but this girl was putting a lip lock on my lobster one evening and she knew I was leaving for Borneo. So she started crying, and I noticed that her tears were falling right on my penis. It was humorous to some, but it was really very touching. She was sending my penis to Venus, and right afterward I said, “Would you like a beer for a chaser?” My friend Dylan Ferraro, of the Eyetalian persuasion, has a theory about women—the cigarette theory.

High Times: What’s that?

Kinky: That is how, after you hose a woman, how long it takes before you go for a cigarette is a very important indication of your feelings for the girl. Normally it’s about 20 seconds after you come. If you take a minute and a half, that means you feel a certain fondness for the girl. And if it’s as much as five minutes, it’s love. Love to me is… I’m into the old thing of Dr. Zhivago and Joe DiMaggio. I think that love can cross miles and centuries. I watch soap operas, too.

High Times: How about Borneo? You were there a couple of years with the Peace Corps.

Kinky: I was the man who brought Frisbee to Borneo. I did. My mother sent over about 50 Frisbees, and I taught the children over there how to play Frisbee—they’d never seen one. And then some of the natives stole the Frisbees and used them to make their lips big. Upset my program quite considerably.

High Times: Were you a missionary of sorts, too? Did you introduce them to religion?

Kinky: No, I belong to the Church of the Latter-Day Businessman, basically, and I feel that for all the people that are Gentiles, may the little baby Jesus smile upon you, and for everybody of the Jewish persuasion, may all your wishes be little gefilte fishes. And if you’re driving, don’t forget your car. But Borneo was amazing. Imagine yourself in a place like that: no television, no cars, no parking meters in the whole country. You sit there and listen to your hair grow and eat oysters and go out fishing at night with torches on the river. They never catch any fish in Borneo because the rivers flow too fast. But they get drunk as hell and fish and have fun. I did that a lot. And their word for fishing, translated, means “visiting the fish.’’ It’s a nice way of looking at things. I had a wonderful time, and I left a lot of people on the other side of a dream over there. I’d like to go back sometime.

Over there, every week they’d fly out some Peace Corps guy in a helicopter who’d snapped his wig and send him back with an American psychiatrist. When I got back they tried to draft me. I saw pictures of Vietnam, and the Vietnamese wear these funny little hats with pointed tops that looked just like the people in Borneo that I was working with for two years. So I got a rabbi and the Peace Corps director and my shrink to all say that I had to be “returned to my own culture.” And I got out of the draft being declared a certified madman.

In many ways it’s easier, I think, to have been in Vietnam than Borneo. Take a man completely out of his culture, where he has no Bob Hope, no USO, no TV dinners, no nothing, and no friends to talk to. That will do it to you. Imagine me—a little Heebie-Jeebie—there in the jungle listening to Radio Pakistan reporting the Six-Day War, reporting that Tel Aviv was in flames and all the Jews were being driven into the sea. Or listening to the World Series—Detroit and Saint Louis, at four o’clock in the morning. It was the best World Series I ever heard. You get stoned there and you walk home…

High Times: Get stoned on what?

Kinky: Betel nuts is the best. Chew betel nut and drink some tuak, which is rice wine, and smoke any kind of ganja. And you walk home, you don’t know if you’re in Hawaii or on Mars or what. You see these giant ants—it’s beyond belief. You feel great power when you’re stoned over there, 12,000 miles away from anything you know. But I wasn’t into any Peruvian marching powder over there or anything. I don’t know if you know this, but when I lived in Hollywood a few years back, I used to do a lot of your Irving Berlin White Christmas. Other people turned me on to it: the Captain and Toenail, Barry Antelope, The Disappointer Sisters, Olivia Neutron-Bomb, we all took drugs together. Anyway, I finally stopped snorting cocaine about two weeks ago, when Bob Marley fell out of my left nostril. But Jews have had cocaine around for thousands of years, man; we always just called it horseradish, that’s all.

High Times: How about you—do you find drugs inspiring when you write?

Kinky: No. They’re totally nonfunctional. All I do now is drink Perrier and eat asparagus tips. No, what do you call those little buggers?

High Times: Bean sprouts?

Kinky: Yeah, bean sprouts. Seriously, I like fish ice cream and big hairy steaks and a little bit of Chateau de Catpiss every once in a while.

High Times: But you’ve pretty much given up drugs?

Kinky: Well, I’ve always said that reality is only for those people who are afraid to face hard drugs. I don’t think drugs are very good. They give you a real Swiss-cheese effect. Marching powder never does it for you; cocaine, if you take it long enough, you’ll find that you have a brain about the size of a LeSueur pea. It’s a silly fucking thing. Now gorilla biscuits, Quaaludes, that’s a truth drug, that’s the problem there. You say exactly what you feel, and it’s dangerous to do that. But it seems that people who are on drugs are some of the sweetest people in the world. I mean, just the nicest, the people who are spinning out of control. But I have no advice on whether people should take drugs. My attitude is you got to find what you like and let it kill you. You never know what the monkey eat until the monkey shit. For me, the architecture of my personality is so repellent already that I don’t need to do things like cocaine. But I’m not against preservatives.

High Times: When you came back from Borneo, and started on the show-biz trip, there was this heavy Jewish emphasis—Kinky and the Texas Jewboys. That seems to be toned down now.

Kinky: Well, if it hadn’t been for the presidents of all the record companies being Jewish, we definitely would have had something a lot heavier than Frank Zappa and the Mothers had, you know. Something really commercially successful. But the problem with it was—I figured this out in the jungle—was that I was the bastard child of twin cultures. I was authentically Texas and Jewish.

High Times: What does that make you?

Kinky: A jet-set gypsy. You don’t fit in anywhere you go.

High Times: Well, what’s the Texan in you like? What’s the Jew in you like?

Kinky: All right, I’ll tell ya. I’m proud of both heritages. The Jew in me practices/preaches gentleness, kindness, sensitivity, and all the qualities that your average brontosaurus material, your Texas bullethead, might not have. Okay? Or might well learn from. But it’s also the same Jew who marched into the gas chambers playing accordions and violins, you know? Some of them did, anyway; a lot of them didn’t want to make a scene. You’ll notice that there are no closet Texans. So Jews can learn from Texans on that. To be proud of what you are and stand up for it. Jews can’t help being what they are, and they can’t get away from it, no matter what they do. I think old Isaac Baldhead Singer once said the one illness the Jews don’t have is amnesia. They never forget. I’m glad we can cover the spiritual waterfront that way. It’s important. I like people like Will Rogers, Anne Frank, fucking people that didn’t feel sorry for themselves. I think that Judy Garland, LBJ and Lenny Bruce were too much. They were spotlight diggers, as Dr. John says; they might have been incredible people, but they wanted people to love them more than anything else in the world. Well, we can’t hit the stage hating the world; you must have something to say that means something and communicate it in the Woody Guthrie spirit, which I’m doing today, because I’m currently on the Brooks Brothers label, as you may know. But I will record again soon; I’m threatening to do that.

High Times: You said you had some resistance at first from the record companies because the executives were Jewish?

Kinky: “Ride ’Em, Jewboy” freaked them out. It’s amazing how many people hear the first line in that song [“Ride, ride ’em, Jewboy / Ride ’em all around the old corral”] and laugh, and by the end of the song they don’t know whether to shit or go blind. This big Heebie-Jeebie rabbi, a guy that drives a Yom Kippur Clipper—that’s a Jewish Cadillac, it stops on a dime and picks it up—wrote in a rabbinical journal that “Ride ’Em, Jewboy” was the only western translation of what is essentially an eastern experience, the Holocaust. It’s the only pop song of that genre. But frankly, it hasn’t kept me in cigarettes. But I’ll tell you what, cowboys and Jewboys are similar in a hell of a lot of ways besides the fact that they both wear their hats indoors.

Texans don’t know about Jews, though. The only Jews they’ve ever seen are like in National Geographic. But as my friend Dylan says, anti-Semitism hasn’t hurt me that much. You know what anti-Semitism is. Today it means hating Howard Cosell more than is necessary. Of course, all this born-again Jesus stuff could get heavy.

High Times: I was going to ask you that, coming onto the Christmas time…

Kinky: Do you know why Jesus crossed the road?

High Times: No, why is that?

Kinky: Somebody nailed him to a chicken. Get it?

High Times: What about this wave of people being born-again Christians in music and show business? Culture heroes.

Kinky: Well, take Bob Dylan; I think he’s just doing that to piss off Allen Ginsberg. I haven’t seen Bob’s brand of if yet. Roger McGuinn’s brand is a nice quiet brand, which I don’t mind at all. My feeling is that the evangelical kind is very dangerous—the kind that totally erases your past so you don’t drink, don’t smoke. I hate nonsmoking vegetarians. If it does erase the personality that you had, then that’s really criminal. Many people in Nashville, country-music people, have gotten into that, and it’s a really tedious thing. It’s more dangerous than speed or any other kind of fucking drug you can take. I mean, I like the Old Man, the Boy and the Spook, myself, you know. My form of Judaism relates to people. A good Christian is a good Jew, and a good Jew is a good Christian. And I like the Arabs too. I think they’re Chaplinesque. The only ones I don’t relate to are krauts. In fact, they’re my second-favorite people.

High Times: Who’s your first?

Kinky: My first is everybody else. But I sincerely believe that we all have a little bit of Nazi in us and a little bit of Jew and a little bit of Christian. I just don’t believe that when you die and fall through the trap door that there’s going to be a particular hell down there. Jews are really funny; they’ve had an important part in a lot of shit. Been in a lot of movements in this country. But Jews are not necessarily pleasant. I mean, I’m not that fond of people just because they’ve got a little Yamaha on their head. I don’t see this born-again thing as that different from Moonies or Hare Krishna. I don’t think it is. And when I see Bob Dylan again, I hope he won’t be quoting Deuteronomy or something like that to me, you know?

High Times: Well, if he is, what would you tell him?

Kinky: I’d tell him to take a whiz on an electric fence.

High Times: You’re pretty active, I understand, in the political arena.

Kinky: Yes. Well, I’ve got several causes…

High Times: Besides yourself?

Kinky: Besides myself. I’m not particularly fond of sperm whales. I hate anything natural. But I would like to say that I’m against the Russkies. I’m not fond of the Russkies. And my motto for many years has been Save Soviet Jews, win valuable prizes. And I had a campaign going where I ask people to send their circumcisions to me here in New York and I will wrap those little buggers up, and I’ve been sending them over to Russia. And they plant them over there and they grow little dick-tators. But that’s one cause.

High Times: How about heroes? Do you have any heroes from the political area?

Kinky: I’ve always liked Jack Ruby very much. He was the original Texas Jewboy. I modeled my style after him. A very slick, Dallas sort of character. A little-known fact about Jack Ruby is that he was one of the last people to book Hank Williams. He was friends with Hank when no one else would book Hank.

High Times: What other culture heroes do you have?

Kinky: Cal Worthington and Crazy Eddie are my two favorites, as far as actors.

High Times: I know Crazy Eddie; he’s that loud-mouthed stereo salesman whose commercials are always on, but who’s Cal Worthington?

Kinky: Who’s Cal Worthington?!

High Times: Well, a lot of our readers may not know who Cal Worthington is.

Kinky: Jesus Christ! I can’t believe that. Can someone not know who Cal Worthington is? I mean, did Hitler shave his mustache? Do fish fart underwater? Are the Kennedys gun-shy? I can’t believe someone doesn’t know Cal Worthington. He sells cars on television in L.A. Another great guy is Merle Haggard, and a great writer. There’s a guy I figured would be a total bullethead. I met him at a Howard Johnson’s in L.A. one night. Just the two of us. And we traded songs, which I never do—that Kris Kristofferson-Johnny Cash passing-the-guitar thing. I hate that.

High Times: You and Merle traded songs? What did you sing?

Kinky: I sang “Sold American” and passed the guitar to him. He sang “Every Fool Has a Rainbow.” I sang “Ride ’Em, Jewboy,” he sang “Farmer’s Daughter,” which is a beautiful song of his. I sang “Asshole from El Paso,” which is Merle’s song, actually, but Buck Owens, who owns the publishing, sued me on that one. And he did something like “The Fighting Side of Me.” I found him to be an incredibly gentle and sensitive American.

High Times: You’re kind of like a cultural facilitator in a lot of ways. You seem to bring the weirdest cross sections of Americans together.

Kinky: I’m like the Jew in history. The middleman. I love bringing different kinds of people together. Like the other night, a truck driver that I know picked up a hippie on the highway. The hippie was just sitting there in a full lotus position, and the trucker picked him up, and the hippie gets in the cab and says, “I really like your rig, good buddy.” The trucker says, “Right arm, man, right arm.” The hippie says, “Put the hammer down, good buddy.” And the trucker says, “Right arm, man, right arm.” And they drove a couple of hundred miles together and finally the trucker drops the hippie off, and as the hippie gets out he says, “Now man, I don’t want to embarrass you, but that’s not what us hippies like to say. We don’t say ‘right arm.’ We say, ‘Right on, man, right on.’” And the trucker goes, “Aw, Jesus, what a bumper!”

High Times: Do you feel that if you haven’t gotten hostility directed at you that you haven’t succeeded in some way? It seems to me that one of the things about the ’70s was that society has been able to assimilate anything vaguely threatening to established values and perceptions. Like, Lenny Bruce, in the ’70s, might not have wound up on the bathroom floor.

Kinky: Well, the shock-appeal thing is not where it’s at. I believe in saying what I feel, most of the time. But I’m not a real satirist or parodist anymore. I’m coming into my own. I’ve become a man. Groups like the Tubes or the Hahavishnu Orchestra might be really funny, but it’s harder to stand on your own two feet and be yourself. Bob Dylan has always stood alone, always. Not like the Band. I mean, the Band is wonderful, but they’ll be in a rock ’n’ roll old-age home together. Shalom Retirement Village or something. They’ll always have each other to lean on. They won’t even make a mix in a studio unless all of them are present.

Bob walks his own road. And he’s got balls. I owe him $200 from one time in Miami, during the Rolling Thunder Revue. He was fooling around with these Groucho Marx glasses and nose in the dressing room, and I said, “I’ll give you $200 if you wear those out there.” There were about 5,000 kids in the audience, and Joan Baez had just finished singing “Diamonds and Rust,” and that’s the point when Bob is supposed to walk on. And together—alone—they sing “Blowin’ in the Wind.” So I never thought he’d do that. He’s got a turban on, and he walks out, and he’s got the Groucho nose and glasses on. Well, everybody in the show just about browned out in their Bermudas. They thought it was just great. But the audience was just shocked. And Joan didn’t know whether to shit or go blind. Bob was sticking his nose in her ear and he was singing “Blowing in your nose” and all this sort of stuff. She adapted to it very well, but I was just flabbergasted at how the audience was—almost no laughter. This was their idol. They were just stunned. They did not find it funny. Very, very strange.

I’ll tell you one thing Bob’s done. He’s made that little Jewish look very hot. Like, when I don’t shave, I look like the son of an Arab sheikh. I call it my Yes-Sir You’re-a-Fart look. But it’s sexy now to people. There was a time when only Troy Donahue and Fabian—the Tab Hunter type of person—was in. What Bob and Mick Jagger did was open the road for guys like Dustin Hoffman to become sex symbols. Now look at the actors today, they’re all these short little Jewish nerds, or whatever they are. The big blond, that whole trip, has finally gone out. That’s an important thing. Being ballsy enough to be what you are. It turned around the whole trip for the beautiful people; it really did. Of course. I’d still like to grudge-fuck Farrah Fawcett-Majors against a brick wall.

High Times: Where were we?

Kinky: That’s another thing about the born-again business. Like Bob, here’s a guy that for many years, well, all this means is that the person this whole generation has looked up to may have a very bad Swiss-cheese effect. I mean, we don’t know it yet, but if Bob Dylan becomes Moonie-like, it could be very disconcerting to this generation. I don’t think that’s the case at all, frankly. I think he’s still in the lifetime of his childhood. He’s a spiritual explorer scout. He gets into whatever he’s doing, you know? I’d like to see him do a children’s record. I would hate to see him get on the Brother Oral Lingus program, or any of that stuff. Or see him on “Praise the Lord” or Billy Graham. Or a Jerry Lewis telethon type of Oral Roberts thing. That would be very ugly. By the way, did you hear that Jerry Lewis had a heart attack?

High Times: No!

Kinky: Yeah, someone walked right up to him and told him they’d found a cure for muscular dystrophy. Look, I like entertaining. To make people laugh. Like I say, if you can reach just one person out there, you’re a success. But if you can really get a person out there that says, “Jesus Christ, that’s what I was thinking, man,” that’s a very nice fucking thing. And sooner or later, the record companies and the networks will pick up on that thing because it’s authentic. It’s what I do. I’m trying to be a well-rounded human being. I mean, Mick Jagger, Muhammad Ali, what they do, when they’re not doing it, they don’t know what to do. In other words, it’s like they’re plowing a certain furrow in the world, and when they stop, they’re not sure of what to say at all. That to me is very sad. It’s sad to have to do one more tour or one more fight always. It’s nice to be able to play for the American people in the Woody Guthrie spirit today. And sooner or later, just like cancer or communism, the word will filter down.

I don’t want to be yesterday’s fish wrapper or the legendary what’s his name or famous long ago. That doesn’t do me any good. So I can’t count the number of people who have said, “Kinky Friedman took a shower in my apartment” or, “Kinky took a big old Nixon in the bathroom.” It’s like the “Dog Named Frog” song. There’s another side to the artist. Bob is like that. He’s like a Mexican—you give a Mexican a goat’s head, and he’ll dance all night, you know? I mean, I’ve been hosed by a lot of the music business, but my long suit is that I never know when I’m beaten. Okay? And that I feel no bitterness whatsoever. I believe, like the old Mahatma Ghandi used to say, that forgiveness is the ornament of the brave.

High Times: It don’t come easy.

Kinky: Look at Marie Osmond. Her number came up when she was four years old. She was going to make it. It took Waylon 40 albums before they knew he was great. Everyone thought Willie’s voice was shit until he did about 50 albums. Now he’s playing Caesar’s Palace. Amazing. It’s nice. If it’s not going to happen, it’s not going to happen. It’s no good trying to make it happen. I just feel that I’m on the good road, and I think that my time is coming, and I want to struggle with my own demons. I don’t need any born-again Christianity, any est. I’d rather be a backsliding Whiskeypalian, myself. And if I had a genius audience, I’d be a genius performer. Today the boundaries are gone. In other words, to hell with it. You can do something that is Jewish and that reaches out to everybody very easily today without being strictly Jewish. To hell with all this orthodoxy crap. I love the pope. This pope is a wonderful American, I’ll tell you that; he’s a good ol’ boy. He’s got pawnshop balls, baby. I really like the bugger.

I’m ready for what’s going to happen in the future. I’m for vitality, for life, for humanism, for human vulnerability, for weaknesses. Cherish your weaknesses! There’s no fun in purging yourself of these qualities. If you were to do that, you’d be no better than my second-favorite people. That’s what you’d be. Krauts. And you’d tie your shoes with little Nazis.

High Times: What makes Kinky happy?

Kinky: Oh, I smoke a little high-altitude Oaxacan and take a few gorilla biscuits now and then and feel real good. Then I turn on the juice and cut the damn thing loose. I enjoy performing. I don’t know what I’ll be, whether it’s an Arthur Godfrey or a Will Rogers or what, but I will not be a Jackson Down. I like Jackson, I like all these people, and their work might be very therapeutic; but I don’t want to write songs out of self-pity or songs just to get some kosher pussy. I don’t go for that. Bob Dylan writes what he thinks. Leonard Cohen writes out of anger or whatever he feels. I like that. I’d like to write a book sometime. I’d love to be a writer, I just don’t like the paperwork.

High Times: Have any other goals?

Kinky: My goals? I’d like to have a sandwich named after me at the Stage Delicatessen. And I’d like to sing the national anthem at every Ranger hockey game. Those are two of my goals. Like my guitarist friend Frogman says, I also care about money and penile sensations. I love America, man. We’re all in this thing together, and we got to be human, as human as we can be right now.

High Times: Where do you go from here?

Kinky: Itinerary? I’m going to be playing soon in the land of my people. Miami Beach. Then I’ve got a detour of Texas coming up.

High Times: No, I don’t mean that.

Kinky: After that, I’ve got a…

High Times: I mean artistically. Your first songs were parodic; then some were sensitive; now you’re sort of combining the two in stuff like “The Homecoming Hero of 1984.”

Kinky: “Homecoming Hero of 1984” is a good one. I’ve got a warehouse of dreams right now. A whole bunch of good songs that are ready to roll and are very contemporary. “Now” songs, you know? I feel I’m perpetually tomorrow’s people. I’m a wandering messenger. And the message is: Don’t forget to choke your chicken. Or the message is: Give to the United Negro College Fund—a banjo is a terrible thing to waste.

High Times: No, what are your messages, seriously?

Kinky: Oh, come on, some things are too important to be taken seriously. This is one of them. You know, my message? That’s for other Americans to say. We’re seeing it happen right now. We’re seeing people coming together in the world and melding very nicely. I mean, five years ago Texas and New York were worlds apart. I see myself as a kind of Louis Armstrong. A bridge between Texas and New York and the rest of the country. Hopefully, a toll bridge.

High Times: By the way, you want a joint?

Kinky: No thanks, I had an apple on the train.

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