HST'S MEDIA APPEARANCES - THE NINETIES
Last updated September 16, 1999
Annie Leibowitz, 1990?
HST was filmed at his home, wearing something white and black around his neck and mumbling. I didn't hear what he was saying anyway because my dumb brother came in mumbling at me. A voice over of someone else read a part from The Great Shark Hunt about hyenas.
MANY THANKS to the real Wizard of Oz, Stanley for providing me his interpretation of HST's speech:
HST: Seventies? The 1970s? Barely... I have so much brain damage I can barely remember the (unintelligible)... or yesterday.
(unintelligible exhortation to peacocks off-camera) ???... Annie Leibowitz... ???
(tape audio dropout. holding head, eyes shut)... peacock cage... would get caught in the.. what do you call it? mechanical nutcracker...
(Leibowitz talks about HST as a lone wolf)
HST: She was a photographer 25 hours a day. I once burned all her, heh, film in the fireplace there...(unintelligible) Hasselblad in the fireplace.
(Leibowitz talks about HST driving with lights off at night so he could see stars and moon, relates incident of being pulled over at night and calling out "Annie, you've got to take pictures")
HST: I realized I was in trouble, so I'd be yelling over the car "Annie you b----, get over here, and bring that camera"... well she responded with one of the great heroic acts of all time, she pulled herself together in this horrible mescaline frenzy and took pictures.
(Leibowitz then relates how the police seeing her camera, surprisingly became nervous and left him alone.)
Entertainment Tonight, 1990?
During the infamous "lifestyle bust" of Owl Farm, ET dropped by to film Hunter. Allegedly, a scene that ended up on the cutting room floor was that of a woman standing in a window, just visible over Hunter's shoulder, who made swimming motions like a fish (E. Jean Carroll). Part of this spot reappeared in 1992, when ET reported that HST was going to cover the inauguration for Rolling Stone.
NBC Today Show, 1992?
HST appeared with correspondent Jamie Someone-or-other (name inaudible) at Woody Creek. He was in high spirits and shot his guns off. What else transpired in the interview I do not know, but the interview ended up being done in HST's hot tub - he grabbed Jamie and they tumbled into the water (quite funny to see).
Prime Time Live, February ?, 1992
A cool piece on the destruction of community in Aspen and Woody Creek by the greedheads. The reporter does a little shooting at Owl Farm, and HST doesn't actually get to comment on anything. That is left to Floyd Watkins and George Stranahan. Basically, the reporter walks around the area, pointing out large and even larger houses that are being constructed on the hillside, most of which will sit *empty* except for a few weeks out of each year (if you ask me, that's plain disgusting). I thought it was neat to actually see and hear Floyd and George...another interesting thing they showed was Aspen's "character committee" which tries to sort out the town's problems. For instance, there isn't a hardware store in Aspen anymore, and something like six furriers and 26 jewellers.
Hard Copy, 1992?
Though not totally about HST, Hard Copy aired an entire half hour on the Mitchell Brothers, at least a year after Jim shot Artie. It was quite informative and gave some details about why Jim, the "sane" brother, shot Artie, who was supposed to be the "crazy" one. It was very interesting with interviews throughout with Artie's last girlfriend, Jennifer Baio. The Mitchells grand trip to Woody Creek to lend HST support for his "lifestyle bust" in 1990 was also shown, although HST wasn't interviewed directly.
ABC IN CONCERT, 1993
Wowsers, I can remember this old show (but not seeing the HST one). This is the infamous HST/Keith Richards mumblefest. The show starts out with Keith getting off the plane, and that HST has to present a cheque to Keith or else Keith won't see him. HST comes trundling down the hotel hallway with a large object hanging from his shoulder. It's his pig squealer. Instead of knocking, he sets the thing off - squee squee grunt snort etc, - and Keith comes to the door with a large beeping stick (a metal detector?) "Oh," Hunter says, "Someone must have left that in the hallway." :-) Then it's back to Owl Farm for the interview, which takes place in Hunter's living room. It's around nighttime; but his peacocks are roosting in their glass enclosure. What takes place took me a few tries to figure out. First they start talking about replacing their worn out organs. Then, about how the Beatles paved the way for the Rolling Stones. Then about J. Edgar Hoover being reincarnated. Keith says something like "He would come back as nothing, really...maybe a fart or something". Then they talk about the disastrous Altamont concert. They wanted to give a free concert for their fans, and on the advice of The Grateful Dead, chose the Hell's Angels as security. Interspersed between their takes are Keith's "Wicked As It Seems" and "Eileen". There is one part that is totally indecipherable, but it lasts only a few seconds because the tape went to a commercial. The segment ends with Hunter telling Keith how great it was to see him (HST was, btw, wearing a "Main Offender" ball cap), "to have you in my confidence, I'm Barbara Wa-Wa and you're not." :-)
The Adventures of Pete and Pete, 1993
True to what I'd read, HST is the "old man standing on a corner tooting a horn". Pete is chasing his bicycle down a street on New Year's Eve, and he passes HST and grabs the horn. It's very brief, maybe six or seven seconds.
NBC Today Show, 1995
HST appeared with Jamie Someone-or-other on a plug to promote Better Than Sex. The clip was not "live" and was shot in Washington. It was introduced by Katie Couric and Jamie Gangel. It was fun to watch, although the way Jamie kept repeating HST's answers sounded a little forced. HST was in good spirits and quite amused with the whole scene. Many thanks to my gonzo brother for giving me the whole transcription. It aired prior to May 23, 1995. The complete interview can be read here.
Jimmy Carter, Biography A&E, 1996
In this short bit, Carter explains how Hunter appeared at the Law Day Speech, "stepping out every now and then to add Wild Turkey whiskey to his iced tea" while Hunter mumbles about Carter undermining the integrity of the other candidates with his ideals and honesty. The narrator introduces this part with something like "Carter's campaign had a boost from an unexpected source, the father of the highly colourful, super subjective writing known as gonzo journalism".
Read it here! The Book Report kindly gave TGTH the transcript for HST's appearance
on AOL. The transcript originated at TGTH and nowhere else.
Late Night with Conan O'Brien, June 11, 1997
Video grab courtesy of the now defunct Nixon Links
This was broadcast June 11, 1997. Conan introduced the piece, saying that he wanted Hunter on the show for a very long time, but he refused. The only way he would do it, would be if Conan would meet him
to shoot some guns and drink hard liquor. So, two days previously, they went to a farm in upstate New York to blow things to bits. In the above scene pictured, after Thomspon was poured a large tumbler of
whatever, Conan asked "for what he has, except in a smaller glass, that one right there," which turned out to be a shot glass. Conan downed the drink and said to the camera "I think I'm going to throw up".
Hunter shot off several rounds from some very large guns - an old rifle and a machine gun. Targets included copies of The Proud Highway, a poster of the cover and a cut out of Uncle Duke.
At one point Hunter suggested a canister of propane to liven things up, but was kind of laughed down. All the targets had paint cans hung from them, which really wasn't too exciting. Thompson mumbled mostly, but became quite loud, shouting "All right!" and whomping Conan on
the back every time he got a good shot at his choice of targets - a cut out of Bill Buckner, a poster of himself, a NBC peacock and a stuffed ape from FAO Schwarz.
Thompson blasted away the peacock and put a fairly good sized hole in the poster, right between Conan's eyes. The best part I think was when Hunter was screaming. He missed a shot and shouted "You dirty animal!". Before that, he screamed like a crazy person as he patted down his front - my guess is he misplaced his smokes. Good for lots of laughs, and to see Hunter's eyes light up with delight.
Some notes on the guns: one helpful reader pointed out that the following were used: Spas 12 gauge with folding stock, Italian made; a mp5; linked ammo machine gun is a standard issue .50 caliber (used in Vietnam); M-16 with a grenade laucher, full auto, no longer issued as full auto to the army; all the guns used are banned/no longer made and were worth about $15,000US.
Charlie Rose, June 13, 1997
This one went quite well. Hunter was wearing a nice orange-yellow-red-blue plaid shirt while he and Rose talked about the book. Rose touched on collecting and keeping the letters, if HST knew he was going to be a writer. Thompson rambled on about Hemingway's influence on him. Rose then commented about the
enormous talent that the letters showed, and asked HST, if he thought that when he appeared at the gates of heaven, would God (or whoever) ask him if he had used his talents to his full advantage. Thompson's answer seemed to be a "sort of yes",
then he talked about his belief in Karma and said he was the roadman for the Gods of Vermin. He also said that writing was the only thing he was good at and could get away with, since he had been fired from absolutely every job he ever had. Rose read a letter HST wrote when JFK died (he was also visibly disturbed) then HST read a letter to Charles Kuralt. Hunter was quite funny and enjoyed himself a lot. When he read from the book, he put on Rose's reading glasses, and said that he had tons of pairs hanging around the house, but he could never find them.
NB: My mom thinks HST is ambidexterous, as he seems to always move both hands at the same time for everything - ie, when he reached to scratch his forehead, both hands went for the same spot. You might also notice that he ever hardly moves his upper lip. My mom also thinks that the arms on his sunglasses are too short for his head and that the glasses don't fit his face (my mom! She worked in an optometry once, before she became the Shoe Queen of Saan [Mom is now the Pen Queen at Grand & Toy]).
Politically Incorrect, June 26, 1997
HST was a no-show, but it deserves some comment. The fill-in was already to go, and no mention was made of Doc's inability to appear, until Andy Dick,
who looked like a scrawny chicken inside a bright yellow banana suit, piped up. The host, Bill Maher, seemed reluctant to talk about why HST couldn't appear and tried to hush Andy,
saying that HST had complained about his back (allegedly from falling off his tractor some years ago). This spawned a bunch of lame jokes about getting high, snorting cocaine in the green room, and Hunter being absolutely CRAZY. It was shameful and embarassing. Some say already that Doc probably took one look at the guests and opted out. Let's put it this way: if I was on that show, I would have strangled someone!
CSPAN: Tribute to George McGovern, August 4, 1997
HST was part of a panel discussion on the 1972 campaign. There were four other speakers - Frank Mankiewicz, Stanley Kaplan and two other men (didn't recognize them from the book).
Hunter wore a beautiful red shirt while of course, everyone else was suit and tied. He was tongued-tied and mumbled a bit, but as things progressed, he became more clear and vocal, to the point of swearing now and then. He answered questions about Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon's death. It was a fairly dry and boring show to watch; Hunter certainly brightened it up, especially when McGovern, who was sitting in the audience, related a story about the book jacket; how there was a picture of the two of them on the plane and the caption read "Senator George McGovern desperately pleads with Hunter Thompson to be his running mate for the next election." :) My favourite part was when he said something like "I was smoking maurijuana with Steve Armbros on the beach when..."
All Things Considered, August 7, 1997
HST spoke with the hosts about his new book and read part of his infamous letter to William J. Kennedy. It has been archived and can now be found here at
HST on NPR. A partial transcript reads like this:
In 1959, a decade before he became the great gonzo journalist of contemporary American non-ficton, Hunter Thompson was broke, evicted, drinking hard and had just been fired from an upstate New York newspaper. He wrote to someone in Puerto Rico that he needed a newspaper job, a someone who turned out to be William Kennedy the future Pulitzer prize-winning author. Their correspondence was insulting, vicious, and the beginning of a beautiful friendship. For more than forty years, Hunter Thompson, an author known for his love of guns and narcotics, has been a compulsive letter writer, keeping a carbon copy of every letter he ever wrote, some 20,000 in all, to Joan Baez, Charles Kuralt and dozens more.
I would have gotten more, but I didn't have the time to keep playing it over and over till I got it all unfortunately. This listing is given in the program notes:
Jacki talks with "gonzo journalist" Hunter S. Thompson about his latest book. It's a collection of Thompson's letter dating from 1955 to 1967, called "Proud Highway: The Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman." They discuss Thompson's early years as a writer and the development of his distinctive descriptive style. (8:00)
Late Show with David Letterman, Oct 29, 1998
This was a cool ten minutes of HST, although some people thought that Dave was being a jerk, or teasing HST. Whatever. The Observer interview "Fear and Weird Clothing" had worried me, and it was great to see HST so happy and cheerful, and apparently alive :-) He came out with a tumbler of whiskey, became slightly confused and missed his marks, but that was OK. Dave asked about his health and HST said he was feeling good and had just gone for a physical. He also said he weighed 280lbs, to which Dave responded "You carry that very well." Dave also asked if HST still used "controlled" substances, and Doc happily replied that he was an elderly drug addict. Then Dave asked about Bill Clinton, and this was the best part, I think, because Doc said that Bill was Jann Wenner's friend :-) Finally, Dave got to The Rum Diary. Dave asked if it was good, and HST said yes. Then Dave asked why it wasn't published sooner, and HST said, "Because it wasn't any good." Indeed. HST managed to spill some whiskey on the carpet, but otherwise no bombs or other weirdness prevailed (see 1980s).
Charlie Rose, 1998
Thanks to a dear net friend for filling the gap in:
Doc was indeed in good spirits. He presented Charlie with some "birds of paradise" flowers Doc grows at home. Charlie wasn't totally convinced about this and assumed Hunter stole them from his hotel.
Charlie wondered why Hunter did not write more fiction and why it took so long for The Rum Diary to come out. Doc said he had to pay the bills and didn't have the time, that "in a perfect world" he would be a full-time novelist.
Doc wanted to make a point and pounded the big oak interview table with his fist. He wanted some knife that was taken away from him before the cameras started rolling to put into the tabletop. Charlie laughed this off. Doc mentioned he had punched a concrete wall the night before because he was wound up about the Muhammad Ali book When We Were Kings.
Charlie complimented "when it comes down to it" Doc is a masterful writer of prose. Doc graciously accepted the compliment and jokingly threatened to punch Rose for possibly setting him up for something else(?), all done in good fun.
This was one of the most sober/clear interviews of Doc I've ever seen. I think Rose and Thompson have a mutual respect for each other.
Yahoo! Chat, 1998
Read the transcript here. This was pretty much unpublicized (like most of HST's appearances)
and it was almost three months before the transcript was available online.
The Simpsons, January 10, 1999
I don't know if you can call this an appearance, but when Ned and Homer are on their way to Las Vegas, they pass Raoul Duke and his attorney in the Red Shark. The art is a homage to Steadman, complete with a red sun and dark blue sky. Dr. Gonzo says "That trip was fun." to which Duke replies in a gruff voice, "Nah, too many kids."
Arts & MInds, Bravo!, 1999
This 10 minute clip aired on Jan. 9 and 10 in the US and Jan. 24 and 25 in Canada. An editor for The Rum Diary spoke about the book and Jann Wenner talked about HST as a reporter. The scenes with HST were quite fun :-) The crew met him at the famous Jerome Hotel and HST chattered on about Puerto Rico and The Rum Diary. I lent my tape to someone, so I'm awaiting its return. The best part was at the end when HST drove away in his black truck and told the cameraman that there was probably a cop right around the corner waiting for him.
Hell's Angels, The History Channel, March 22, 1999
This was a fascinating and informative show about the Angels, with lots of fast paced clips and choppy editing. Sonny Barger, George Christie (the current president), Yves Lavigne and HST (among a couple of others) were interviewed about the Angles. Barger was quite funny, and if it needs to be said, he seemed like a decent person. HST was quite sober and coherent. He and Barger described the famous stomping. One of the things that ticked me off was that when the narrator read a quote from the book, about the Angels being Genghis Khan, he left out the line "with a fiery anus" Hey, can't you say that on TV now??? :P HST described the Angels as the most frightning force in the world, and that they represented freedom from everything. There was a small clip of HST when he was young, but it didn't say where this clip had come from. You can order a copy online or on the tape trading circuit.
Hot Type, August 21, 1999
Well, here was a pleasant surprise tonight! I think it must have been a rebroadcast of a CBC show called Hot Type. It was a half hour show, I missed the first ten mins, plus a thunderstorm knocked out the VCR, so I'll have to order a tape from them...it was pretty good. It looked like the reporter and HST were in a bar of some sort, tho I don't know if it was the WC Tavern. It was fairly new because it mentioned "Where were you when the fun stopped". The reporter asked HST if he thought he would like to meet Paul Kemp from The Rum Diary, and HST said something like Paul Kemp was a pretty good writer. Then he told this fabulous story about Jimson weed.
He made some tea from it and took it to a McGovern campaign party. It was weak, so they made it stronger. The weed started to kick in just as HST and Lucian Truscott were leaving the party along with a female McGovern staffer and "the Traceys". Lucian blacked out periodically and they barely made it to the Rolling Stone bureau in New York. Lucian tried to drive to New Jersey while the Traceys went to their own apartment in the village. About 5 or 6 in the morning, a policeman knocked at HST's door. He had with him the McGovern staffer, who was found wandering naked along Park Avenue. HST was still high as a kite and said he was afraid to answer the door.
Lucian drove his Oldsmobile off the road and into the Hudson River. He managed to get out, and apparently the car didn't sink. The Traceys, on the other hand, went physically blind, for about a week. They were stumbling about their apartment, totally gone and lost and somehow attempted to use the phone.
A high point of weirdness came when HST threw his bottle of Chivas at a light stand and there was a sudden flare. HST also told the reporter a story about running down wild dogs in Hawaii. The reporter seems to take this all very seriously, asking him how many dogs he's killed. HST shrugs it off and says something like "Well, it's all theory."
The show ends with the reporter suggesting several titles, including Peter Whitmer's biography (which is out of print).
If you want a tape, you can try emailing them at email@example.com or visiting the Mother Corp site at http://www.cbc.ca
The Wild Ride of Outlaw Bikers, August 29, 1999
Even if you only watched it for the 5 minutes of HST, this was a pretty good show, just as good as The History's Channel's. It went more into the origins of the Laconia riot, the Boozefighters and Hell's Angels. Old footage of HST was shown. The first was a colour clip where HST mumbled something *g* and the second clip was a b/w CBC clip from 1967. The name of the show wasn't divulged, but HST, Sonny Barger, and, according to someone who worked on the show, that was Joan Baez laughing in the background. Barger confronted HST on the show, saying that he screwed the Angels for 2 kegs of beer and copies of the book, which HST said *g* was true. Order from A&E.