Henry Rollins: Keep Talking, Pal. (2018) Movie Script

Ladies and gentlemen,
Henry Rollins!
Thanks for showing up.
Hello, hello, hello.
Good evening, good evening,
good evening.
All right. Thanks!
Thank you.
So... before anything,
just a brief explanation
as to, obviously, the cameras,
you understand.
This is being taped. Why?
And this is where you might not
believe me.
Please strip yourself
of your cynicism,
which is easy to acquire
in 2018. I understand.
But if you can sidestep it
for just a second,
months and months ago
they said,
"How about a Showtime special?"
I went, "Well, yeah.
Don't throw up."
It's nerve-wracking.
And they said, "Well,
you have to pick a location."
So you have to pick a location
where the audience
is kinda sorta already with you.
'Cause I don't have the time
to win you over.
This is not... this is not
an anecdotal or comedic
arm wrestling match
where I make you submit.
Like, "All right, all right!
I like it!"
You just have to kind
of dig me already.
-Like... right.
And so...
Location is key.
And so they said, "So where
do you want to do this?"
And this is where you
might not believe me.
But it's true. I've been
doing shows in Portland
for literally almost 40 years.
-And if I had a bad time,
I personally can't remember it.
And that... it's-- and that's
real. Like, "Oh, really?"
I'm like-- and a lot of time,
in the 1880s--
1980s when I was touring,
when you're all young rams
at the base of the mountain,
there's a lot of fisticuffs
and spit
and flying, empty containers
of beer and whatever else.
But that-- I don't remember
any of that hostility
coming at me from Portland.
So I said, "Well,
see if you can get me
a stage in Portland."
And they did.
And so here we are together.
-And so here's the--
An early memory of Portland,
from before you were born,
I would come up here to do shows
with Black Flag.
Black Flag made a live album
here... 33 years ago.
Ah! That was me and Tutankhamun
and Abe Lincoln and Tom Waits
were all talking backstage.
A fantastic night.
Anyway, we actually documented
our affection for this city
on a live album,
which happens to be
my personal favorite record
of Black Flag,
'cause it was the realest one
'cause it was live.
Anyway, here's the one thing
that I found out about Portland.
This is an old version
of Portland, it's not...
Or maybe it's how
Portland is now.
But this is a true fact.
I knew a lot of really scary
people in Los Angeles.
The people around Black Flag,
some of them were killers,
some of them were drug dealers,
some of them were just some
really dark, you know,
tough people from
a scary part of L.A.
The "dirty deeds done
dirt cheap" types.
And they just kind
of gravitated to us.
They scared the hell out of me
'cause I'm not a tough guy.
And some of these people,
they just--
I said, "So what do you do?"
They're like, "Well, you know,
someone needs to be straightened
out, and I, uh..."
Wow. And these people would
have warrants out for them.
And you'd-- they would disappear
from L.A.
Like, what happened to that one,
that one and that one?
Who knows? They might be dead
or in prison.
And that's how
those days worked.
You found out that they were
in Portland.
Yeah. 'Cause we'd be up here
doing a show,
and we'd be here all afternoon
in like some parking lot
with our miserable, ailing,
about to fall over van.
And those guys you hadn't seen
for two years
would come up like,
"Hey, man."
And like, "What are you
doing here?"
Like, "You know, there's
too much heat in L.A."
So I said, "So why Portland?"
Like, "Because you can just
kinda get lost here.'
And so Portland
was this place I knew
where scary L.A. punk rock types
came to disappear.
And maybe some of you
are out there right now.
I'm-- I'm still scared of you.
And so I wanted to tell you
a few stories
about shows I've done,
because I live to tour.
I live to be onstage.
And I've never really physically
counted every single show
I've ever done.
They're all written down.
Because I like to keep track
of that kind of thing.
It's well over 3,000 shows
I've done.
And that's not all that
difficult to accumulate shows.
You just keep doing them
and it sure adds up.
And-- you remember that quote.
And so...
Charlie Sheen, prostitutes.
I have seen all kinds of things.
1987, Michigan. It must have
been hunting season,
or close by.
Me and my bandmates
are grinding away
in front of at least 175 people.
And they're just like...
"We don't like it that much."
They're not that into it.
So we're just kind of beating
this dead horse.
And this thing flies
through the air
and lands next to me onstage.
It's a dead deer's head.
Probably hunted
and killed locally.
And so the audience is like,
"So what are you gonna do about
a dead deer's head?"
I will not be bested
by an audience.
I have-- I will not be
grossed out by anything
anyone can come
into a venue and do.
No way. And that's just years
of being underpaid.
It just gives you this--
it gives you this callous, like,
"Anything, do it!"
And so I pick up
the deer's head.
And everyone kind of goes like,
"Okay. That's kind of gross."
So I'm thinking, what can I do
with this deer's head
to severely bum out
this audience?
'Cause now they've got it
coming. They started it.
Like, who-- "What are
you gonna do today?"
"I'm gonna get this deer's head
and go see Henry
and throw it at him."
"I'm coming along."
And so...
And that was probably the draw.
It was probably
five people paid,
and a bunch of people snuck in
behind the guy
with the deer's head.
So I pick up the deer's head
and I have him,
rock with the music
for a second.
And find one of Sim Cain's
broken drum sticks,
with which I gouge
the deer's eyeball out.
And everyone's like, "Ah! Oh!"
And it's really hard.
The eyes are really attached.
And so...
there's good stuff in there.
And so... kssh!
I rip this eye out.
And I go, "Well..."
And it tasted awful.
It tasted awful.
And my mission was not
to swallow it.
I wanted to give it back.
So, like, chew--
And it exploded in my mouth
releasing this...
really bitter juice.
And see, we're like three
minutes into the show.
You're not going anywhere.
And like what I'm looking at
looks like a comedy class
in planes of the future.
You're like, you're in 22... Y.
You're not going anywhere!
I've got ya! Anyway,
I'm chewing on the eyeball.
And it starts to kind of become
a jelly-ish thing.
Perfect for spitting.
And so I go...
And this like bloody, awful
thing goes out.
And everyone in the first
three rows got some.
They're like, "Oh!"
I went, "Anyone else?"
They're like, "No, we..."
And they all... they all
completely submitted.
They're like, "You win. You
deer-eyeball-eating bastard."
Have I
So like I've said,
I've seen quite a bit.
And I've been able
to tame audiences.
1984, Halloween night, Miami,
at a place called Flynn's.
The size of your living room.
The audience, we would play
there all the time.
They're angry, we're angry.
Everyone's broke.
So I took a plastic cup.
I said,
"Fill this full of money,
no pennies,
and I'll do something
really gross."
The cup is taken away from me.
It fills up with money.
At least $4.75,
as I remember.
It bought me an omelet
at Denny's later.
And so I took my shoes off
and I took my socks
I was wearing,
my tube socks,
and I wrung out the sweat.
And it filled up the entire,
like, eight-ounce glass.
And I'll never forget, I said,
And there's people going,
"No, no! Don't do it!
Don't do it! Don't do it!
Keep the money, don't do it!
Don't! Oh!"
And I drank it.
And it tasted like socks,
ass, but mine. So it's...
it's okay.
It's like,
so that's what I taste like.
Glub, glub, glub, glub.
I'm like, ah!
They went, "You win. That's...
You've beaten
the entire audience.
We submit. Play another one
of your 12-minute songs."
And so I've seen quite a bit.
The dumbest show I ever booked,
and it's nothing but my fault...
On the 2016 tour,
I had this idea.
I will play my hometown
of Washington, D.C.
at the beautiful Lincoln Theatre
on the night
of the presidential election.
It will be memorable.
And so I go out in front
of all these people.
And I start talking, and I'm
many months into the tour.
I'm just talking away.
And I notice the audience
is doing something
I have never seen
an audience do before.
They're looking at me with this
look of concern on their face,
like... "What... Am I okay?"
And then they would look at me
for a minute, like,
"Did I lock my door of my house?
Is my dog okay?"
And then look down
at their crotch, as you do.
And like,
they'd look back up at me,
kind of like,
"What did you say?"
And I'm up there telling these
stories at a high rate of speed,
thinking, "I'm bombing.
I mean, these stories are good.
I like these stories. Why don't
you like these stories?
And what is it
about your crotch?"
And as the show goes on,
it just turns into this
dying animal on the side
of a road.
Like someone hits a deer,
and you see it three--
three cars later,
it's like kicking.
You're like, "Oh! Just shoot it!
Kill it! Make it stop!"
This is agony. I had this
massive lump in my throat.
I go staggering downstairs
to this dressing room mirror,
like, "What did I do?!
How did I bomb?"
And I don't think I'm unable
to bomb. Anyone can bomb.
But I seem to have bombed
with every single thing I said.
And I'm back there talking
to this woman I know.
I said, "What--
what did I just do?"
She said, "Nothing.
Look at the news."
And as I was onstage,
Donald Trump was becoming
the president-elect.
And these people probably paid
way too much for those tickets.
And they were doing
their level best,
"This is kind of funny,
I'm enjoying this."
"Babysitter, parking,
I'm having a good time."
It was the dumbest idea
I've ever had for being onstage.
It was a perfect bummer.
And so after the show,
I'm just, you know,
a little shook up
about this whole thing.
And I get on the
Bon Jovi Mobile,
the Def Leppard Express,
my tour bus. It's a rental.
And I'm sitting there
unable to sleep.
Just because my America
has changed
and it's going to be...
Well, it's going
to be interesting.
And so I sat up until about 5:30
in the morning, East Coast time,
watching the different
news carriers
roll out the information.
It's the same information.
But different news carriers
have different postures.
So I watched Fox News,
which was the funnest.
'Cause they're super happy.
There's champagne corks flying
across the set.
Most of the people are topless.
Lines of cocaine are being
snorted off the chests
of 13-year-old strippers.
I mean,
it's a celebratory environment.
Like, "Hooray, we won."
It's fun to win, I get it.
And so I switched to MSNBC
to see all those
brave, young pundits.
And they're just trying
to not be emo. Like,
"Well, none of us...
thought this
was gonna happen, but...
So we have a new president.
And... "
And then I went to CNN,
which is just dependably...
"I'm Wolf Blitzer...
I'm levitating."
I realized that this guy is
going to turn American democracy
at its very most benevolent,
just inefficient.
At its worst,
predatory and divisive.
And so we are now on our own.
I don't think there's ever been
a more interesting
or better time to live
in this country. Why?
'Cause everything matters now.
Your words matter now.
Your attitude matters now.
How hard you stand up
for LGBT folks,
and brown folks,
and women folks,
and reproductive health rights,
et cetera, et cetera.
-It all matters now.
It all matters.
Where before,
it was just kind of this
splashy ocean of doing good.
But now you stand
in sharp contrast
to your strange uncle
who comes with xenophobic rants
every Thanksgiving or so,
thanks to vodka.
And you will never talk him down
from his ledge.
But you can outlive him.
And I'm not saying that,
let's push these people
into an early grave.
I'm just saying
that very, very soon,
in your lifetime,
like really soon,
there will be no one left alive
to watch Fox News.
And I am in no way saying,
"Hurry up and die."
I'm just saying everyone dies
Except for Mick and Keith.
Everyone else is going to go!
And there's a topic I'm not...
It's not like I can tell you
anything about it
that you don't know.
But when these brave women
are standing up and saying,
"He molested me,
he harassed me,"
and when anybody has
the temerity to say,
"What took you so long..."
If you ever hear anybody,
usually a male,
"What took you 25 years
to finally say it,
now that the guy's
rich and famous?
You're just after his money."
No, you idiot.
It's a long time to suck up
your humiliation
and your fear
and finally stand up and say,
"He did that to me." Why didn't
you say anything before?
"I don't wanna lose my job,
I don't wanna lose my family,
I don't wanna lose
my social standing,
I don't wanna be judged
by people like you
telling me I'm something."
And so when these women
stand up,
they should all be given
Nobel Peace Prizes
for the sheer guts.
I have tried...
on multiple live me plus
audience experiences
to articulate this idea.
And it has bombed
every single time.
And I know it's good, I just
don't know how to roll it out.
So stunted as it is,
I'm going to try one more time.
Since the beginning
of humankind,
recorded history at least,
we have done everything one way,
where men run everything.
And so the world we live in
is a man's world.
I'm not saying good or bad.
I'm just saying that is
what we've been doing
since your parents' parents'
parents' parents' parents.
It has been one way
and one way only.
Like there's sunspots
on the sun.
There's been little things
here and there,
Roe v. Wade,
pay disparity being addressed,
women standing up and saying
"me too" or "enough is enough."
So little sunspots, but not
substantive change that I want.
'Cause I have no attention span,
I'm incredibly impatient,
and I want everything right now.
So, what I want,
at least in America,
since we lead the world,
I want a new ratio of power.
And I want it Monday.
Easy to wish for.
I want 75/25 women
running things.
Now... and I'm not trying to get
in your good graces, ladies.
Because Jefferson instructs me
that anyone with power
will be corrupted by it.
And if you think a person
with a vagina
can't turn into
an authoritarian psychopath,
give them a few generations
of power and they will do it.
However, won't it
be a great experiment to see,
with women running things,
would there be less war?
There's only
one way to find out.
What would healthcare be like
if women ran it?
People who give birth.
What would that be like
for women's reproductive
health rights,
kids with physical challenges?
What would education be like
if women are running the show,
going, "I'm not training
these kids to become soldiers.
'Cause I don't want my kid
going to a foreign war
and dying."
So how do you establish
75/25 power share
in America by Monday?
Not peacefully.
And this is the part
of the discussion
-which I can never...
I can't get it to work
because a lot of men
are going to have to die.
certainly, I don't wanna.
So if any of you women
go on a killing spree,
remember it was kinda my idea.
And I'm one of the cool ones.
And so...
So what do you do? And I'm just
thinking out loud here.
You know, just an idea.
But like NASCAR,
there'll be a NASCAR event
and all of these men
will be looking like,
"Where did the women go?
Where did the women go?
My hand-- I had my hand up one
and she left.
It was my daughter
or your daughter. I forget.
Where'd they go?
What's that overhead?"
"It's an air strike
and I'm burning."
And so... this is...
This is why I think
these thoughts.
What is the most detrimental
thing to progress
in our fine United States?
It's not weak borders,
it's not gays wanting
to have equal rights,
it's not those brown people,
it's not Al Qaeda,
it's not Islam.
It's white men.
It's white men.
-And of course...
But what about the cool ones?
Yeah! I'd like to think I'm one.
"I'm sorry, Henry." A machete.
And my-- if one of you women
kills me with a machete,
I promise you my dying words
will be, "Cool."
Because... not boring!
Not boring.
And so obviously you can't
slaughter millions
of Caucasian men.
And so we're going to have
to do some evolution.
And so how do you do that?
You just keep pushing people
off balance.
Keep standing up, and those who
have the bravery to stand up,
you stand up next to them
and say,
"You're not alone. I got you."
Like all those amazing young
people who marched the other day
to save their own lives,
thankfully a lot of people
who weren't young
got in line and got on those
streets with them saying,
"I've got you.
You are the future.
I am your fan.
You'll never know who I am.
But I've got your back in ways
you don't even know.
I've been waiting for you.
I can't wait!
So stay brave, and always know
that I am right behind you."
And as a man hurtling
towards 60,
I reckon my job
is to clear the lane
so these people can get through.
What you're going to see
in this century,
in your lifetime,
in the next several years,
is a generational shift.
And that's why these people
are so angry.
Because they know,
without a doubt in their mind,
that the earth is shifting
underneath their feet.
And when you see
a completely awful thing,
like what happened at that
school in Florida recently,
then you see what happens
And you see these
amazing young people,
-and it is part and parcel...
...of the age we live in.
Where you have this completely
awful thing happen,
yet you have these cool,
well-meaning young people
who are not only quite sure
of where they're going,
but did you notice this?
They're camera ready.
And that's one of the upsides
of everyone being in front,
like, selfie, "Okay, you go,
skate down those stairs,
hit the rail, and then bounce
off that car."
Ev-- they're all ready
for their close-up.
And when you see these kids
going down the barrel
of national news cameras, wiping
away the tears as they speak,
making more sense than their
candy-ass representatives
will ever make,
then you realize...
You realize every good thing
that you did
and will do matters.
'Cause if anything,
you have to be there for them.
I am 57. It all hurts now.
I am high on aspirin,
just to stand up straight.
And so if these kids who say,
"Come march with us,"
I'm like, "No.
No. I'm just gonna--
I'm gonna sit, actually.
And I'm gonna clap twice,
lie down,
get up to some graham crackers
and a juice box.
'Cause I don't-- I'm with you!
But I can't do the miles.
So hopefully I've been looking
out so you can happen.
And so now you'll be looking out
so I can happen
until I die."
Um, just a quick story
about perception.
Because these days,
with the internet and things
being what they are,
all of a sudden,
someone has an opinion of you
without ever meeting you
or talking to you.
And quite often the facts
are not exactly correct.
And sometimes it's awful.
And sometimes it's really funny.
And so a funny thing happened
to me several months ago.
Well, it started
many years ago.
Many years ago, in the 1990s,
I was living in New York City.
And my bandmates lived there,
so I defaulted
and became an East Village
which was nothing but fun.
It was fantastic.
And so one day, I'm--
in 1994 or 5... 5, maybe,
uh, I was walking
to band practice
for like a noon band practice,
I got there, at, like, 11:45.
'Cause I put the "punk"
in "punctual."
I'm always on time.
I've never said that line
before. Anyway...
I'm milling around in the front
lounge of the practice place
waiting on my band members
to drag themselves
out of their small
East Village apartments.
And I'm alone
in the front lounge,
except for a very handsome man.
African American man,
no hair, wearing a suit,
open-toed sandals,
if I remember.
He looks like a male model.
And I'm impressed 'cause I don't
wear fancy clothes.
I'm like, wow, he wears them
and he wears them well.
And the man nods at me,
and I nod back,
as man are wont to do.
And then he gets up
and he just keeps...
I'm like, wow,
you are really tall.
But everyone's tall to me
'cause I'm short.
I'm like, wow, that's...
you're impressive.
And he walks over and looks down
and I look up.
And he said,
"You're Henry Rollins."
I said, "Yes, sir, I am."
He said, "I'm a fan of yours."
I said, "Oh, well, thank you."
Like, you know,
shake the tall guy's hand
so he doesn't like, you know,
beat you to death.
So I said, "Oh, thank you, sir."
He said, "My name is RuPaul."
I didn't recognize him
without his fighting gear on.
Like, the whole outfit. But
if you look at the cheekbones
and the eyes, that-- you're
like, "You are RuPaul!
Damn! I'm such a fan of yours!"
And that's one
of the difficulties I have.
I'm a fan of a lot of people
and I don't have
a very good filter.
Like, I-- my tail doesn't wag
a little.
It literally wags off my body.
And when I see bands I know,
and they will give me
a moment of their time,
I'm unnerving to be around.
Like, "Did you hear
that bootleg seven-inch
that came out of your last tour?
It's got two songs,
one's recorded really badly,
but the other one's
recorded really well.
I have a different version
of that from a different tape,
so if you ever want
to hear a different
version of it,
and it came out
in canary yellow vinyl,
there's a red vinyl version,
and on eBay,
I battled a guy for a clear
and red version,
it cost me $348,
but what the hell?
I have it and he doesn't.
'Cause there's nothing
I like more than beating
another adult man
who lives with his parents
on something on eBay.
I feel-- I feel defeated
and crushed when I lose,
but I feel like a damn Viking
when I win."
And the guy in the band's like,
And he'll say something nice,
"My dad liked your music,"
as he's trying to leave.
And whenever I see J Mascis
of Dinosaur Jr.,
a band I love,
there's no bad records,
there's no bad songs,
I really try some restraint
whenever I'm around J.
I'm like, this time
I'm gonna be cool.
I'm gonna say, "Hey, J.
Good to see you."
And J will say, "Yeah..."
And whenever I see him,
I'm like,
"J! Oh, damn, man!
The last album is so good!
It is so good!
It's better than ever!
You are better than ever!
How are you doing?!"
"Oh, all right." I'm like...
And he must like see me
and like, "Where can I go?"
He wants to run,
'cause I'm a maniac.
So I'm standing with RuPaul.
And I'm looking up at this man,
and I said, "Damn, man!
I like the cut of your jib.
I like when you're
in your fighting gear.
I think you're amazing. I think
you think outside the box.
You're amazing.
Do you remember, 1985,
Atlanta, Georgia,
the fanzine Neighborhood Threat,
named after the Iggy Pop song.
It was like a newspaper folded.
A picture of you
above the fold, of course.
And you're holding like
a torch,
you got some paint
on your face,
and like a grass skirt,
and it says,
'RuPaul, sex freak.'
And underneath the fold
is a photo of me
looking like I'm wired
on Thorazine, like...
It says, 'Henry Rollins,
hex creep.'"
He said, "I remember that."
I said, "You have a copy of it?"
He said, "I don't think so."
I said, "I have three."
In... in an acid-free
Mylar archival environment.
And he said, "Wow,
you're really intense."
I said, "You have no idea, man!"
And so I just liked him
You know when you have
those experiences,
you meet someone
and you just like them.
I just liked RuPaul.
'Cause, you know, I think
when the history book
gets written on this century,
RuPaul's gonna be much more
than a tall, handsome guy
in a dress.
RuPaul keeps people alive.
'Cause there's LGBT people
all over the world
and they get told,
"You're awful,
you're not my brother,
you're not my son,
you're not my daughter,
you're awful, get out of here."
And sometimes they
kill themselves.
Sometimes they hurt themselves.
They spend their whole life
not feeling right.
And then they see RuPaul,
like in his fighting gear,
like just up there going,
"Yeah, I'm in a dress
and a wig and I look good
and I'm getting paid.
-And I'm here!"
I mean, this is Portland,
and you're all groovy
and smart and literate.
But imagine being gay
in one of the Dakotas.
Imagine being gay in Oklahoma.
That might be
a really heavy lift.
That might be damn impossible.
And RuPaul gives strength
to people like that.
I know he does. And so he's not
only an entertainer type
and an entrepreneur,
but he-- to me,
he's a fantastic
civil rights activist.
And he's brave.
And he thinks outside the box.
I mean, he just came up
with this idea,
you know, he didn't invent drag,
of course.
But he took it to levels,
like he--
You'll never get him out
of the American conversation.
He is in there
like death and taxes.
He is in there.
And he's given a lot of people
room to move.
So I will always be a fan
and defend him
down to my last breath.
And I kind of said all that
to him in my inarticulate way
many years ago,
and he kind of went, "Wow.
You're talking a lot,
a lot of spit flying."
And so RuPaul does something
that I can't do,
'cause I'm uptight and weird.
He will write me
out of the blue,
"Hey, Henry, it's RuPaul.
Thinking of you.
Hope you're having a good day."
I don't know what to do
about that.
'Cause I'm not a mean person,
I'm just really screwed up.
I don't do that with people
'cause I'm afraid
they'll write back
and then you write back
and then they write back and...
It's just I don't wanna...
I don't... just no.
And so I don't know
how to answer
this completely benevolent
well wish.
And I look at the email and pace
in my office staring at it.
How do I reply?
"Dear RuPaul, I was just
about to write you."
That's a lie! That's a lie.
Not that I don't wanna
write the guy,
I just don't have anything
to say.
And to me saying like,
"I was just thinking about you,"
I would expect him
to write back, "When?"
And-- like was it 1027 hours,
1423 hours?
What were you doing?
What were you wearing?
What were you eating?
Like, prove it!
And I don't want to have to
like, "Uh..."
And so I will just stare at it
and I'll write back
in this kind of uptight,
clinical way,
"Dear RuPaul, thank you so much
for your letter
and your inquiry
as to my life and health.
By-- just by the nature of the
fact that I'm responding to you
means that I am in a
semi-operational state.
I appreciate your interest
and help and wisdom
over the years.
Yours forever..."
I don't know what to do.
I'm just like dialing it in from
some Hallmark greeting card.
And so every once in a while
he'll write me,
"Hey, be a judge
on RuPaul's Drag Race."
Which was interesting,
be the only serious judge
on the show.
In that everyone's having
a really good time but me.
I have a notepad out.
"The pirouette
was very circular.
Never wrote the word
'pirouette' before.
I give the pirouette a seven
Why? I have never given
a numerical assessment
of a pirouette.
I've never used 'pirouette'
in a sentence.
Why am I here?" But I'm
taking it very seriously.
And-- at lunchtime, I said,
"RuPaul, I don't know.
We're gonna have to kick
one of the drag queens off
RuPaul's Drag Race.
I don't know."
And I have like five pages
of steno notes.
And he said, "You take
everything really seriously,
don't you?" I'm like...
"What do you mean?"
Meanwhile, completely firm
in the knowledge
that I'm a heterosexual male.
Which means nothing
when you're 57.
It means nothing.
Like, "I'm heterosexual."
Be like, "Oh, you're so cute.
Oh, that's darling.
He's heterosexual.
Oh! Well, you...
you go have fun with that."
And so I'm sitting
with all these people
who are having
a really good time. Not me.
I'm studying 'cause we have
to kick one drag queen off
RuPaul's Drag Race by the end
of the show, and damn it,
I wanna make the right decision.
Meanwhile, these men see that
I'm the only one
giving them my
undivided attention,
so they in kind give me
their undivided attention.
And so now all the drag queens
are like looking at you.
And I'm like, "Me?"
And they're like, "Yes."
And I can feel the four drops
of blood that remain
in my lizard-like body
starting to move
to the center of my body.
And I'm like, "Oh, no, no, no!
No, no, no! No, no. No, no.
No." And it's not like,
"Eww, it's a man."
It's like, no, it's
a false flag operation.
It's a fool's errand.
I mean, there will be
no ecstatic result.
And so I like... [imitates
static] "Mayday, mayday.
Please call off the blood flow."
And then like three minutes
later, they're like...
Because obviously I'm not
as evolved as I thought I was.
I'm just a tadpole.
And what turns me on?
Apparently, any human looking
at me smiling
in a short skirt.
I'm like, "I'm in!
-Hooray!" Which...
...might make the rest
of my life pretty easy.
Just close my eyes,
open my mouth,
stick my tongue out
and walk into the party.
And the first thing that goes...
You go home and...
that's the weekend.
Anyway, after I do
RuPaul's Drag Race,
and after many well-wishing
letters out of nowhere,
which I can't thank
the man enough for,
he makes me a better person.
At one point, he wrote
and he said, "Hey.
I've got this show that I do
where I put people in my car,
I put a camera on 'em
and a microphone,
and we drive around L.A.
and we do their errands,
and I interview them
and I cut it together,
and it's a show!
You wanna be on it?"
I went, "Yeah."
He said, "When?"
I said, "Tomorrow?"
He said, "10?"
I said, "Yeah."
So the next day,
he picks me up and we get
into his like 900-year-old Fiat.
And GoPro on me,
GoPro on him, microphones.
And we're going down
the driveway.
I said, "Okay. So we're
starting the errand run.
We're gonna go down to the...
the end of the street,
we're gonna make a left.
But then after that,
it's a series of right turns."
He said, "You took me seriously
about running errands?"
He said... "Do you know
who you're sitting
in a car with?"
I said, "It is a fantastic
errands run.
It's all right turns
into parking lots.
I made a dry run at 0330 hours
this morning.
It's fantastic."
And so he's like, "Okay."
And-- and I have this list
of things to do.
And so finally we get to the end
and we did all of the things
on the to-do list.
And he's like, "Wow,
that was really efficient."
I said, "Fantastic.
We could have picked up
a few more minutes.
But, you know, it's okay."
Because, well, you know,
I'm gonna be dead soon.
Time, time, time.
Everything's important to me.
And so we get to the end.
He said, "Okay.
You've been a very good guest.
How about free lunch?"
It's like the two best words
in the English language
put together: "free,"
what's it gonna be?
"Lunch," yes!
It's... food tastes better
when it's free.
Even if it's awful.
You're like...
"No, it's okay. It's okay.
It's a deer's eye,
but it's okay."
And so he said,
"I know this great place
in West L.A.
Japanese place, let's go."
I said, "Let's go."
And so I don't know if you've
ever been to Los Angeles.
Please come and visit. Bring
the gas mask and Kevlar.
You know, we're Second Amendment
And... and there's part of L.A.
called West L.A.
Otherwise known as gay L.A.
And that's not putting
the part of town down.
Rainbow flags fly proudly
on the perfectly
manicured lawn
that separates eastbound
and westbound traffic
on Santa Monica Boulevard.
The shops are beautiful,
the smells coming out of the
restaurants are fantastic,
the people on the street
are the epitome
of Southern Californian
healthy living.
Like old men and women
yoga bodies,
flexible, good-looking
when they're half naked.
And everyone's like showing
a lot of... a lot of flesh,
fantastic hair,
interesting glasses,
bright... bright white teeth,
they're just like...
Like, "How old are you?"
"88." Like...
Well, wow! "Yeah!" Just like...
'Cause, you know,
the night is young.
And so we... we are in
the depths of West L.A.
And we park in this massive
parking garage.
And RuPaul and I emerge
onto Santa Monica Boulevard.
Which is teeming
with human traffic.
Both of us are recognized
almost immediately.
And people are so happy.
The wave of joy
that we unleashed
on Santa Monica Boulevard,
they're still talking
about it right now.
At first people looked
like they'd seen a ghost.
They're like...
"I told you, I told you."
And people are like hugging
each other.
"Yes, yes, yes!
Power couple!"
And I'm like sneaking glances
over at people like...
I'm like, "Thanks.
But it's not what you think."
Like, "Oh, please, let it be.
Let it be."
And of course, in this modern
And I said, "RuPaul?
I think we're an item."
And I forget what he said.
And so we cross the street,
we eat in the restaurant,
and it was really good.
And we had a great conversation,
as always, he's brilliant.
And he drops me off
at my place.
A few hours later,
in come the email.
When people write me,
you started it,
and if you're
gonna be an idiot,
I get to play with you
as much as I want.
You're the mouse,
I'm the cat.
And this is going
to take a while.
Especially when your first email
to me is,
"Dude, I'm a young man
in the American Midwest.
Dude, totally freaking out
in my small room,
pacing back and forth.
tell me you are not
dating RuPaul.
Dude, I've got all
your records out,
I'm ready to take them
to the record store
and trade them in.
I'm not homophobic,
but this is just a lot
for me to handle, dude.
Like you gotta hit me back ASAP.
'Cause I am totally
freaking out."
Do I write him back? Yes.
Five hours later.
Just let him just...
just spin over the fire.
What I want is for him
to take out all those records
and play them one last time,
looking for the gay
that no doubt wait
like Easter eggs,
and now that I'm dating RuPaul,
all shall be revealed.
It's like, "Okay, let's start
at the beginning.
Damaged I and Damaged II.
All right, he's damaged
'cause he's gay.
It's just he's gay,
there's an encore, part two.
Whoo! Like, okay. Right?
My War. My gay war. Right?
'Cause they don't like me
and I don't like them.
Eh! I'm gonna give it to them.
Okay, yeah. I got it, I got it.
Oh! Ah! Ah!
Oh, no. No!
Slip It In. No!
Oh, no!
I sang that song so many times!
Ah! Ahh!
And so let him do that.
And then finally, I write him
back, like hours later.
"Dear young person
in the Midwest,
RuPaul and I? Well,
I wouldn't call it dating.
But I would say that
last weekend left a mark."
'Cause he's now going to go
to whatever social platform
he goes to... "Ah! Oh, no!"
Please do that. Do it a lot.
A whole lot. Have your friends
multiply it.
Like, all of a sudden,
all across the world,
"Henry Rollins is dating RuPaul.
Oh, no!"
And there's gonna be a lot
of people like, "So what?
That's cool. They're adults.
They're both old.
They'll have fun together.
They can sit in parks
and watch pigeons.
They're in their fifties.
They won't get up to much
without medication.
They'll be fine."
And maybe it starts
a conversation.
Like, "Well, if he is gay,
then why do you have a problem
with that?
If you like the music he made
or the things he says onstage,
why would his orientation
make a difference?"
"I... uh!"
And maybe some person
overcomes a hurdle
they didn't know that was there
to be jumped over.
I don't know. I just like
creating trouble here and there
because you can go through
your life,
"I'm balancing,
I'm perfectly balanced,
I'm going to the cubicle,
then I'm going home,
and I'm going
to have the same dinner."
And all of a sudden, bonk!
Henry's making
with a six-foot-something
male model black guy.
And all of a sudden,
we're awake again.
And so I sent this young man
off on a tizzy.
And I got a similar letter,
you know, the next day, like,
"Tell me it's not true."
And so I wanted to crank it up.
And so I wrote back,
"Dear young person,
um, fisting.
Gets a bad rap.
I think 'cause so many people
saw the film Caligula.
It was an assault.
Certainly not the way
I'd like to be woken up.
However, with proper relaxation
and preparation,
and a hi sign, it can..."
And so far, these two people
have not written me back.
Two quick stories about ego.
One, from many years ago.
I was at a festival, and--
with my bandmates and I,
big European festivals...
No one liked us that much.
Well, no, it's-- I'm fine.
I'm fine. But thank you.
I... your empathy is noted.
So we were always like one
of the first bands on.
Like, "10am, get 'em on,
get 'em off."
By 10:45, we're done.
No one saw us.
There's like two kids riding out
the last of their ketamine
from the night before when this
muddy field was a rave.
They kind of wake up in mud
like, "Hey!"
And all you can hear between
songs like,
"Bad band
is almost offstage.
Bad band is almost offstage."
And so we'd be offstage,
showered and done for the day
by around 11:00,
but you can't leave.
'Cause all the other bands
have now come onto the grounds,
with like eight busses,
five trucks,
they're gonna build a live
volcano for The Verve,
you know, and they're hurling
volcanic soil onto the stage.
There's like a 90-ton thing
and they're gonna
feed four fans into the mouth
of the volcano.
Well, they signed up for it.
Anyway, so I am trapped,
and the rest of the day
all I hear is like,
"Hey, it's good to be back
in Holland."
Like, a field of people
like 30,000 people,
"Yay!" I'm like,
wow, that's so not me.
That's just not my life.
And you just have to suck it up
and take it.
You'll always be on the
sideline, third string.
And so I'm standing there like,
you know,
hearing some guy over the PA,
"This is our new single."
"Yeah!" Never gonna be me.
David Bowie walks by me.
And like you,
I love those records.
There's not one thing wrong
with those records.
The more you play them,
the better they get.
And so he looks fantastic.
Hair perfect. Suit perfect.
I go rigid.
Officer on deck.
And so I just stand there,
silent as can be,
'cause I don't want to be
like the thing
that makes David Bowie fly away
like a rare bird.
Like if I-- if I go like...
People are like, "Why'd you do
that to David Bowie?
He's rarer than the snowy egret
in Chincoteague in October.
Like, why did you do that?"
And so I'm like,
"David Bowie's
walking by me.
I am such a fan.
This is all I need.
Twenty years later,
I'll be standing on a stage
with cameras rolling saying,
'David Bowie walked by me,
and I was fine.'
So I don't need to meet him.
I just like to be near him.
I'm fine."
So I'm standing there like,
"Wow. That's--
I like the cut of his jib.
Good posture."
And he's walking by me,
from like me, you know,
to like ten rows back.
And he stops
and looks to his left.
And points at me, and says,
I go running at David Bowie...
with my right hand extended
like a lance.
Not know what I'm going to say
when I get there.
Like if I said, "Ah! Bowie!"
That's like two professors
greeting each other
down the long hallways
of academia.
"Good morning, Plato."
"Hello, Socrates."
And so I ran up to him
and I stuck my hand out
and I think I went, "Ahhh..."
'Cause these people,
their records aren't just
something to me, they saved me.
You know?
These records saved your ass.
And so...
Whenever I see Iggy Pop,
I'm like, "Hey!"
He's like,
"Hey, Henry, how are you, man?"
I'm like, "That's my name! Ahh!"
I can't stand it.
Anyway, I walk up
to David Bowie,
or as our band members
affectionately called him,
the Bow, and I think I went...
And he shook my hand, and
before I could say anything,
he said, "Henry, you said
something in an interview
in a magazine last month
that I found very interesting."
And proceeded to quote me
back to me.
I went numb. I'm like,
"You read an interview of mine?"
And he kind of blew me off.
Said, "Are you kidding?
I read all your interviews.
You're very interesting.
Now, last year in a magazine
in Germany, you said this."
And he proceeds to quote me
from something he translated
from German from a year ago.
I'm like,
"I did say that. Sure sounds
better when you say it."
All I wanted was a highway
and a truck.
Just like, kill me,
'cause my life is never
getting better than this.
-And so...
He said,
"Have you had lunch yet?"
I went, "No." He said,
"Well, let's go have lunch."
I go, "Let me check my
day planner. Okay."
And so we go into
the catering tent,
which has like hundreds
of people in it.
And everyone stops because
David freaking Bowie
walks into the tent.
And like large Viking roadie men
have like
half a deer going towards
their mouth.
And like...
And he played it perfectly.
"Good afternoon. I don't want
to disturb anyone's meal.
Please carry on."
He got a standing--
Like, "Oh, that was...
that was so beautiful.
That was better than "Red Sails"
on Lodger. Oh!"
And so we get some food
and we sit down
and we're eating and we're
talking about everything,
you know,
from his friend Lou Reed,
his friend Iggy Pop,
and on and on.
And the entire mess hall is
listening to our conversation.
'Cause it's David Bowie.
My bandmates find out
who I'm eating lunch with.
They come running in.
And they all run up,
"Henry," big smiles
on their faces,
pretending they like me, like,
"Introduce us to your friend."
So I said, "David,
meet Dopey, Sleepy..."
And so to each one of them,
he said, "How do you do?
I'm David."
Like they don't know.
And-- and they all kind of...
And we all just sat around him
and watched him eat.
We're all grown men.
And the way you masticate
is so dreamy.
And he starts looking
at us like,
"I'm at a table
full of weirdos."
And so he said, "Um, I've gotta
go get ready to play."
We're like...
And as cynical
as my bandmates were,
'cause I'm a fanboy
of everybody,
we meet some band like,
"Wow, that was so cool!"
They're like, "Henry, they're
just people in a band."
I'm like, "Not to me.
Saved my life too many times
just to be somebody in a band."
But even those guys sitting
on the tour bus later that night
after we watched Mr. Bowie play,
the most cynical one said,
"I hate to admit this,
but that was really cool."
I went, "Ah! See?
You're not dead yet."
Many years ago,
I was at the practice place,
same place where I met RuPaul
all those years ago.
Struggling with my band members,
trying to make some music.
It wasn't going very well.
We're just-- it's not--
We're having a bad month. Year.
And so we're grinding away
and someone comes in
from the front lounge,
where the phone is.
"Ozzy Osbourne's people
just called.
And they want you to open
a couple of shows for Ozzy
in Florida, what do you say?"
I said yes so fast
I sprained my face.
"Yeah! Ah! Oh!"
I've loved that guy
since I was 12.
My band members were far less
enthusiastic. They're like,
and one of them said,
"But Henry, he's rock."
I was like, "Oh!
Oh, am I gonna pull rank
right now.
You-- you salaried band member.
You will start learning the set
'cause in three weeks,
we are opening
for Ozzy Osbourne."
And they just had to take it
'cause I'm El Jefe.
And so we get all practiced up.
We've got the set ready.
And we fly down to Florida.
And we overnight in Florida,
then we're taken to the
megadome, some huge place.
And we're put on a golf cart
and sent, you know,
miles below the earth's surface
to one of those really
scary utilitarian dressing rooms
or locker rooms
that hold like 55 naked men
after they've bashed each
other's brains in.
And they have those showers
for all the men to use at once,
with the really bad feeling
water that comes like,
"Ow, ow!" It all hurts.
And I walked into this
like massive hallway
of spigots thinking,
"Could I stand naked
with a bunch of other men,
snapping towels
and dropping soap?"
And I realized that... no.
Not at all.
Way too uptight!
And so we're looking
at the amenities
that we've been given
in our like wooden bench,
fluorescent light dressing room.
now that we are in the big time.
We had a can of Coke,
an apple,
and a coffee mug
with nothing in it.
That's it. And we kind went,
"Well, that's the big time."
The door bursts open.
It's Ozzy Osbourne.
He has a cigar. "Which one
of you guys is Henry, man?"
I said, "I am." "Hey, Henry,
my name is Ozzy, man!
Thank you for coming
on the tour, man!
We have a PA, it's really loud.
Play it as loud as you want!
If you want to blow it up,
blow it up!
Have a really good time! Ah!"
And he leaves.
Total time, 11 seconds.
It was fantastic.
My bandmates were
duly impressed.
Like, "That was...
that was pretty amazing."
He like swept in, swept out,
and there's an ash.
And so we do opening
for the big rock act soundcheck.
You get on stage. Deh!
"All right, thank you."
"But... no,
I was just plugging in."
"You're the opening band. That's
all the soundcheck you get.
We can hear your instruments.
Back on the golf cart...
So I say to the band members,
I said, "Look.
No one's gonna want
to see us play. Okay?
That's the downside
of this show.
They only want one guy,
one guy only.
And it's none of us, it's Ozzy.
So if you see a laser dot
on your shirt,
that's a sniper.
Keep playing, but run in
an evasive zigzag pattern
while you play."
I said to our drummer,
"If you see the laser dot,
you're kind of stuck
with your seat.
You're a drummer.
You can take anything.
So just, you know, suck it up
and get shot for the cause."
I said, "If you see any
toothless wonders
with a meth lab at home,
with a brick or hatchet,
or a Motley Crue eight-track
to bash you over the head with,
just run, but keep playing
as long as possible."
I'm just trying to give them
every nightmare scenario
so they're ready.
And so, "Okay, your time."
And we get on the golf cart.
And we jump out on the stage
with thousands of people.
And I said, "Hey, uh...
we're the Rollins Band."
Like, damn!
I'm Freddie Mercury at Wembley!
Like... no,
you can hear them roar!
And the whole band's like,
"Damn! Okay."
So we play the first song
It comes to an end.
I'm like, yeah!
I did things that day
that I have never done
before in my life.
Things that punk rock
instruct me to never do!
You never address an audience
by the city or the state, like,
"Hey, Florida!" Don't do it.
Don't do it.
If I walked out and was like,
"Hey, what's up, Portland?
Ow!" I mean, it's just
disingenuous and patronizing.
I don't do it.
It came out of me.
'Cause when you see
20,000 people going...
It just, Heimlich, like,
"All right, Florida!"
I started working the stage.
If you've noticed, I've been
standing stock still
'cause I'm concentrating. You
think this is easy, it's not.
And so I started
working the stage.
Which is nauseating
just to say that.
But I'm like...
And I'm thinking like,
"What am I
What-- what is this
chicken thing I'm doing?"
And like people are digging it.
And then as the songs go on,
I'm coming up with this
dumb stuff to say.
"That's our bass player
over there playing bass!
"All right!
Our drummer!"
We can do no wrong.
So we finish the show.
I think we call came out
to the front of the stage,
ala The Scorpions, like...
And I said something awful like,
"Next time we're
gonna come back and
rock you!
And we get back on the golf cart
We can barely get our heads
into the dressing room,
knowing that next time
we come back to Florida,
that is our audience.
We've got 'em!
And so I shower up alone.
"Fellas, don't come in,
I'll be naked."
I run up the top side,
'cause I wanna watch Ozzy play.
The band is onstage.
Ozzy's standing right there
facing the stage.
Audience, band,
Ozzy on stage right,
your left.
He's like this.
And I walk up and go,
"Hey, Ozzy. How are you?"
"Oh, hey, man!
Is there anyone out there?"
I went,
"It's like 19,000 people.
You smell the WD40? That's how
they got the last 3,000 in."
He's like, "Oh. I always worry
that no one's gonna show up."
I went, "Ozzy, when have you not
sold out a place?
Like since 1968?"
"I don't know, man.
But in the afternoons,
I get really nervous
and depressed
that no one will show up, man."
I went, "Uh, they're here."
And just to hear him say that,
that he has trepidation
about no one showing up, I'm
like, wow. That's impressive.
So he kind of goes
back to this...
Like I'm not there.
Sharon Osbourne appears
out of nowhere.
All of a sudden, she's there.
She gets right behind Ozzy,
And I was like, "Ah!"
And she just...
And he goes out like, "Ah!"
He runs out onstage.
And this--
this switch is flipped.
And suddenly, "Ah!
Let's go crazy!"
And you hear the sound
of the sky
being ripped in half.
It's like a 747 taking off
in your mind.
And that's 20,000 people
on their feet cheering.
And that's when you realize...
...is the sound of 20,000 people
all going like,
"How many more songs
do they have?
Can I have some of that?"
"God! The Rollins Band,
they suck!"
"Oh, this song...
what's he doing like...?"
"Oh, this is the worst crap
I've ever seen."
And that's what...
And it was such
a humbling lesson.
And I do my best
to never forget that moment.
Because I'm always coming
from that microscopic, little...
...lest I lose the plot.
Have a great weekend.
Good night, thanks.
Couldn't have done it without
you. Thank you, good night.