For somebody in their 70s, you’re amazing, man. People don’t move that well in their 40s!
Man, I know!
Do you have a lot of experience dancing?
Not a lot of experience, but I had a lot of love for it. I was about 15 or 16 when I got into it. You know, school dances. Then I was hanging with the stoners in the 12th grade — the black community and they were all dancers. I used to go to dances. Then I started playing dances and dancing at intermission. There was a time, like in the 50s and the 60s where you definitely had to know how to dance. You had to jive; you had to do the Lindy Hop. Then it went into disco and then cha cha and salsa. In the 90s, I learned how to dance salsa and how to dance tango — Argentine tango.
Your wife Shelby is a dancer. Has she been helpful?
Oh yeah. Shelby’s a qualified ballroom dancer. If wanted to hang with her, I had to learn how to dance.
Does she give you tips?
Just little hints that only professional dancers know. My partner Peta knows these things. They just know how to do it, but they don’t know how to tell you to do it. It’s so natural for them. Standing up straight was a big problem of mine. First of all I’m old. Gravity is grabbing my ass, so my partner’s telling me: ”Pinch your shoulder blades! Stand up straight!”
Is it hard work?
Not as hard as they make it out to be. There’s a lot of acting going on. It’s like a reality show, you know. They manufacture a lot of the drama. But if you don’t know how to dance, it’s hard. If you don’t have rhythm, it’s very hard. That’s why you see people leave early. They don’t know how to dance; they’re stumbling around.
Does the show encourage stoner humor or have they asked you to pull back? Has their been any kind of censorship?
Well, yeah. I try to sneak in a little bit in the rehearsals, but they’re wise to that. They don’t show that anymore. It’s the Standards and Practices people – not the producers themselves. The producers love it.
In your debut, host Tom Bergeron said you reminded him of “the most interesting man in the world” from the Dos Equis commercials. You corrected him: “The most interesting stoner in the world.” Did they object to that?
No, they couldn’t. It was live. In fact, the producers tell me: “Save all that stuff for the live show.” Because if it’s live, they can’t really cut it out. So I’ve been sneaking it in. On the other hand, I also put out the fact that I’m not stoned. I quit smoking pot while I’m doing the show.
Why is that?
First of all, it’s easy to do, easy to quit. Second of all, if I really knew the dances, I would get high. But these are all new dances and you gotta remember shit. You gotta be on your game and it moves by so fast. We only got a minute to do our show. You gotta get each step right. It’s better if I’m straight to do that.
So last week you came in third.
Yeah, but we actually got our first 10 of the season.
Are you confident? Do you think you can win?
Yeah, yeah, absolutely! Here’s the thing: It’s called Dancing With The Stars and I’m one of the biggest stars on the show. People look at my age and they can’t believe that I’m older than anybody else on the show. I’m older than the producer; I don’t think there’s anybody connected with the show who’s as old as I am. And I’m moving, like you said, better than a lot of 40-year-olds. I got the Persian community and the Mexican community and the older people behind me. Everywhere I go, people just come up to me and go: “Oh, I love you, I love you! I’m going to vote for you!”
What do you think your presence on the show means for the cannabis community, or for cannabis in general?
It’s for the world in general. For all of my lifetime and all of your lifetime we’ve been at war. But anywhere there’s cannabis, there’s peace – other than the cartels, and that’s because it’s illegal. Cannabis has been used for eons as a medicine. It calms you down. The way I look at it is the sooner we legalize and make sure that everybody has access to cannabis, the sooner we’ll have a very peaceful, intelligent world. That’s what I represent and that’s what I’m looking for.