Paul Krassner is a counterculture icon with razor-sharp wit and a knack for wry timely observations. What do you ask the man who wrote ‘Who’s to Say What’s Obscene: Politics, Culture and Comedy in America Today’? Well, ask him anything – he’s up for it – and he’s seen enough to know how to riff on any topic or issue.

Paul Krassner is a counterculture icon with razor-sharp wit and a knack for wry timely observations. What do you ask the man who wrote ‘Who’s to Say What’s Obscene: Politics, Culture and Comedy in America Today’? Well, ask him anything – he’s up for it – and he’s seen enough to know how to riff on any topic or issue.

Interview with Writer, Stand-up comic, Investigative satirist, Paul Krassner

June 9, 2010

Paul Krassner is a living legend – and that’s not overstating his status. He’s a satirist, author, columnist, comedian, founder of The Realist magazine, co-founder of the Yippies, editor of Lenny Bruce's autobiography, one-time editor of Hustler, and publisher of the legendary Disneyland Memorial Orgy. He had published The Realist magazine from 1958 to 1974. He reincarnated it as a newsletter in 1985. "The taboos may have changed," he wrote, "but irreverence is still our only sacred cow." The final issue was published in Spring 2001. In The Realist, Paul constantly blurred the line between observer & participant. He interviewed a doctor who performed abortions when it was illegal, then ran an underground abortion referral service. He covered the antiwar movement, then co-founded the Yippies with Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin. He published material on the psychedelic revolution, then took LSD with Tim Leary, Ram Dass & Ken Kesey.

Paul has authored several books; his most recent collections are Who's to Say What's Obscene: Politics, Culture and Comedy in America Today, with a foreword by Arianna Huffington; In Praise of Indecency: Dispatches From the Valley of Porn; and One Hand Jerking: Reports From an Investigative Satirist, with a foreword by Harry Shearer and an introduction by Lewis Black. Paul recently discussed some of these in his Naked Reader author profile over on SexIs Magazine. Paul continues to write and has no plans to sit back idly watching. He currently blogs for the Huffington Post and writes columns for High Times and Adult Video News.

The Los Angeles Reader stated, “Paul Krassner delivers 90 minutes of the funniest, most intelligent social and political commentary in town.” However, Krassner's FBI files indicate that after Life Magazine published a favorable profile of him, the FBI sent a poison-pen letter to the editor, complaining: "To classify Krassner as a social rebel is far too cute. He's a nut, a raving, unconfined nut." And in reply, George Carlin retorted: “The FBI was right, this man is dangerous--and funny; and necessary.” People Magazine called him “Father of the underground press,” & he immediately demanded a paternity test. Krassner sums up his philosophy: “Life is a mystery. If it’s not a mystery, what the fuck is it?”

  • Of everyone you have met and worked with, which people were the most influential and why?

    The two main influences:

    Lyle Stuart for journalism. His guidance at The Independent, an anti-censorship paper that was a forerunner of the alternative press, served as my apprenticeship.

    Lenny Bruce for satire. Hanging around with him before, during and after performances, I learned by example from a pioneer who broke through traditional taboos.

    Victoria (host): "I had a feeling that Lenny might be one of them ;)"

  • When the founding fathers penned the Constitution, it's pretty clear they never envisioned semi-automatic assault weapons as part of the whole "right to bear arms" thing, so what do you think they'd make of the fact that today, many of the staunchest supporters of the First Amendment are pornographers?

    Since my understanding is that they were kind of raunchy guys themselves--I think Benjamin Franklin wrote treatises on farting and, not necessarily simultaneously, sex with older women (unless I'm mistaken and it was Mark Twain)--my guess is that, although they would have approved the Supreme Court's metaphorical "shouting 'Fire' in a crowded theater as not being protected by the First Amendment, they would not have applied the same exception to pornography because, despite America's puritanical streak, it was not an immediate danger to the public, except kiddie porn.

    Victoria (host): "Totally practical stance, in my opinion. I agree."

  • How do you end up coming up with your book titles? They're so unique.

    I try to sum up what each book is about, although publishers often have their own way. The original title of my autobiography was "The Winner of the Slow Bicycle Race," which was an actual event in my childhood that symbolized by lifestyle, but the publisher thought it was too vague, so I changed it to "Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut," which is what the FBI called me. My next book, a collection of my satirical pieces, was going to be called "Who Killed Jerry Rubin?"--which was the longest one--but the publisher liked the once-again-available "The Winner of the Slow Bicycle Race" better. A later collection was titled "We Have Ways of Making You Laugh," but the publisher preferred "Who's to Say What's Obscene?" (referring to the more general use of obscene applying to profits or rationalizations of torture, rather than language or porn). And another collection, "Porn Soup," was changed by the publisher to "In Praise of Indecency" (the longest piece). I edited an anthology, "Funny Dope Stories," but there were too many, so the publisher decided we should include just those about marijuana, and the name was changed to "Pot Stories For the Soul." Attorneys for the "Chicken Soup For the Soul" franchise sent a letter warning us to "cease and desist." After all, neither scientists nor theologians have been able to locate the soul, but it can be copyrighted.
  • What did you want to be when you grew up, and what do you think about it now that you *have* grown up?

    I knew I wanted to make people laugh before I knew there was such a profession as stand-up comic, and I knew I wanted to be writer when I wrote the senior play in high school, also starring in it as well as directing. The local paper called me "a junior Orson Welles," but I had no idea who that was. The fact that I ended up doing both is like random destiny, and I can't get over how fortunate I've been to have met my goal, to communicate without compromise, knowing that readers and audiences trusted me not to be afraid of offending them--although when I stepped on THEIR toes . . .

    Victoria (host): "And we are so glad that you followed your instinct and desires. You are an awesome writer and a very funny man!"

  • What's your favorite piece out of everything you've written and why?

    That would be "The Parts Left Out of the Kennedy Book," written in 1967 when Jackie and Bobby succeeded in censoring sections of William Manchester's (authorized by them) biography, "The Death of a President." Now, 43 years later, it also remains the favorite piece of virtually all the subscribers I hear from. It was a seduction of them in the form of an exercise in apocrypha, nurturing the incredible in a context reeking with verisimilitude yet totally mindblowing. I deliberately didn't label it satire in order not to deprive readers of the pleasure of deciding for themselves whether it it was literally true or a satirical extension of the truth. Incidentally, there's a whole chapter with the entire text of it plus the before-and-after in the extended edition of my autobiography, about to be published and available at
  • Splendwhore Splendwhore 1 user seconded this question.

    What is the best advice you were ever given, and who gave it to you?

    The advice was from Lyle Stuart. He was my initial publisher, my mentor, my unrelenting critic and my first intimate friend, but he stopped speaking to me because, by sticking to my principle I violated his standard of loyalty. I kept trying to bring about a reconciliation, and that's when he gave me this advice: "Friendship cannot be negotiated." However, we did reconcile--twenty years later.

    Victoria (host): "I personally feel like friendship is an ongoing, and often unspoken, negotiation. It's good to hear that you did reconcile."

  • Are there certain topics you will not discuss? Have you ever written or publicly spoken about a certain topic that made you fear for your well being? What I mean is, have you ever been threatened for voicing certain opinions that may not always be favorable?

    Offhand I can't think of anything that I wouldn't discuss, although would reject an article because it wasn't controversial ENOUGH. As for my well being, I've gotten threats, and subpoenaed by district attorneys in two cities for serving as an abortion referral service, but I refused to testify at their grand juries even though they offered to grant me immunity, and my attorney challenged the constitutionality of the New York state law against abortions.

    I have to admit that I was once planning to name Christopher Hitchens as The Realist's "Asshole of the Month" feature (he had revealed a source) but, because he was planning to write a Vanity Fair column about me, I was tempted not to publish the item. However, I decided to publish it, and, as I risked, he decided not to write the column.
  • What do your family and friends think about your work? Are they supportive? If they are supportive, have they always been so?

    Friends were supportive. So was my younger sister, but my older brother co-authored the first textbook on space communication, and his high security clearance was threatened as a result of guilt by relation. My mother was embarrassed. My father thought it was too controversial. After he died, my mother told me that he actually admired what I did and would like to have done something like it himself. I felt bad for him that he hadn't told me himself. My parents were victims of their own puritanical conditioning. On mom's 90th birthday celebration, I asked if, when she and my dad sent us 3 kids to movie matinees every Saturday, was it so they could be alone for sex? She said, "No afternoon work."
  • Are there any authors or books that you would consider "must reads"?

    The book that had the biggest impact on me was "Johnny Got His Gun" by Dalton Trumbo. Although it was an anti-war novel, what made it so riveting for me was that the protagonist had been wounded in battle so severely that all that was left of him was a shell of his body kept together by medical advances, no limbs, no sight, no hearing, no taste, no smell, essentially only his consciousness and his sense of touch remained. As the story developed, he had to learn how to differentiate between dreams and reality, and his urge to communicate was both heartbreaking and inspiring.
  • What inspired you to become an author?

    I was a loner, and when I was writing, I became so engrossed with the process that time seemed to disappear. The feedback was gratifying because I had been the only Martian on my block, and suddenly I was articulating the irreverence of others, and when I performed at Town Hall for an audience of folks who were readers of The Realist, it felt like a Martian convention.
  • If you were a fortune cookie, what would you say?

    You will enjoy maintaining balance between subjectivity and objectivity.

    Also: Next time you have Chinese meal, avoid MSG.

    Victoria (host): "Maintaining that balance is a lifelong goal for most people !"

  • Do your editors ever remove or reword parts of your writing that they believe to be too controversial?

    Yes, often. Here's a good example. When "Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut" was originally published in 1993, the chapter titled "One Flew INTO the Cuckoo's Nest" included my investigation of the Manson Family Massacre.

    In revealing the underbelly of Hollywood in 1969, I wrote: "The renowned private investigator Hal Lipset informed me that not only did the Los Angeles Police Department seize pornographic films and videotapes they found in Sharon Tate's loft but also that certain members of the LAPD were selling them. Lipset had talked with one police source who told him exactly which porn flicks were available – a total of seven hours' worth for a quarter-million dollars. Lipset began reciting a litany of porn videos. The most notorious was Greg Bautzer, an attorney for Howard Hughes, with Jane Wyman, the former wife of then-Governor Ronald Reagan. There was Sharon Tate with Dean Martin. There was Sharon with Steve McQueen. There was Sharon with two black bisexual men. 'The cops weren't too happy about that one,' Lipset recalled. He told me there was a videotape of Cass Elliot from the Mamas and the Papas in an orgy with Yul Brynner, Peter Sellers and Warren Beatty – coincidentally, Brynner and Sellers, together with John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas, had offered a $25,000 reward for the capture of the killers..."

    The attorney for Simon & Schuster insisted that I remove Warren Beatty's name for fear of libel. I explained that he had such a reputation as a womanizer that he would never sue, but literary lawyers don't like to take chances, so I changed his name to "and an actor who isn't dead yet." In the new expanded edition, I've reinstated Beatty's name.
  • Thanks for coming on Eden!

    Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Penthouse, and High Times...have you ever run into Hunter S. Thompson? What was your take?

    I knew him, and like other editors, I was willing to tolerate his irresponsibility in order to share his talent. There were three countercultural figures who were running for sheriff in three cities, including Hunter in Aspen, Colorado. I assigned them to write about their campaigns, paying Hunter in advance because he was broke. He kept asking for extensions of his deadline. He asked for a tab of acid, which I sent to him, and he promised to send me some weed grown in Central Park. He ended up writing the piece for Rolling Stone. As an editor I was frustrated, but as a writer I understood. And he was honorable, returning the advance. As a person, he wasn't too nice, once stabbing a buddy who was sitting at the bar with a fork in the back of his neck. Hunter was supposed to but didn't show up at a memorial for Allen Ginsberg which I emceed. Johnny Depp (who portrayed him in a film) did show up. I told the audience that I was disappointed because I had hoped to see him standing on the stage between Depp and Bill Murray (who played him in another film) just so I could announce, "Will the real Hunter Thompson please fall down..."

    Victoria (host): "It sounds like you handled him pretty well, despite his ways. That was a damn funny line, shame he didn't show!"

  • Brendada Brendada 1 user seconded this question.

    Is it true that you were with Lenny Bruce the first time he did acid? Please do tell us what happened!

    I wasn't there. Hugh Romney (later Wavy Gravy) left two tabs of LSD on the dresser in Lenny's messy room on the second floor of a San Francisco hotel. Lenny had never taken it before, and Romney figured he would just give it to someone else, not take it himself. He also left another hallucinogenic drug, DMT, with a note saying, “Please smoke this till the jewels fall out of your eyes.” Lenny returned, saw the package on his dresser, swallowed both hits of acid and smoked the DMT. He had never seen colors like this before in his life. He was standing on the low window ledge, talking to musician friend Eric Miller with great animation, when suddenly he lost his balance and fell backward, through the window. It was an accident, but the instant he realized he was committed to the fall, he called out in midair: “Man shall rise above the rule!” Then he hit the pavement below. Miller ran down to the sidewalk and tried to comfort him. Lenny's pelvis and both ankles had been broken, but he managed to ask a nurse if she would please give him some head.

    Victoria (host): "Oooh man! What a crazy story! I'm sure the drug propaganda people had a field day with saying "if you take LSD, you'll jump out a window"...backward, no less."

  • How difficult is it to get published for the first time? Did you face any dilemma's getting your work published because of the content? How long did it take you to get your first book published? Do you have any advice for those interested in writing?

    For me personally it started out easy. Lyle Stuart had become a book publisher, and published my first book, "Impolite Interviews" (a few decades later, Seven Stories Press published a new collection with the same title, which I dedicated to Lyle. It was the first time that my publisher had ever seen a writer dedicate his book to another publisher). I was lucky because I already had a reputation, but could never take anything for granted. Seven Stories had previously published my collection, with an introduction by Kurt Vonnegut, after it was rejected by 26 publishers, and it did well. I've self-published two books which were later bought by regular publishers. Currently, the market is brutal, with notoriety trumping talent. My advice is to write because you find it a satisfying way to spend time and energy, but don't depend on it financially. As my daughter Holly once said, "Dad, don't be offended, but I don't want to become a writer when I grow up, because it doesn't seem like a very secure profession."
  • Sammi Sammi 1 user seconded this question.

    What was it like to play at Carnegie Hall, and do you still play the violin?

    I didn't like my teacher or practicing and when he died I quit. I had a technique for playing the violin, but a passion for making people laugh. As for Carnegie Hall, the context is important. Here's how "Confessions" begins:

    I first woke up at the age of six.

    It began with an itch in my leg. My left leg. But somehow I knew I wasn't supposed to scratch it. Although my eyes were closed, I was standing up. In fact, I was standing on a huge stage. And I was playing the violin. I was in the middle of playing the “Vivaldi Concerto in A Minor.” I was wearing a Little Lord Fauntleroy suit – ruffled white silk shirt with puffy sleeves, black velvet short pants with ivory buttons and matching vest – white socks and black patent-leather shoes. My hair was platinum blond and wavy. On this particular Saturday evening – January 14, 1939 – I was in the process of becoming the youngest concert artist in any field ever to perform at Carnegie Hall. But all I knew was that I was being taunted by an itch. An itch that had become my adversary.

    I was tempted to stop playing the violin, just for a second, and scratch my leg with the bow, yet I was vaguely aware that this would not be appropriate. I had been well trained. I was a true professional. But that itch kept getting fiercer and fiercer. Then, suddenly, an impulse surfaced from my hidden laboratory of alternative possibilities, and I surrendered to it. Balancing on my left foot, I scratched my left leg with my right foot, without missing a note of the “Vivaldi Concerto.”

    Between the impulse and the surrender, there was a choice – I had decided to balance on one foot – and it was that simple act of choosing which triggered the precise moment of my awakening to the mystery of consciousness. This is me! The relief of scratching my leg was overshadowed by a surge of energy throughout my body. I was being engulfed by some kind of spiritual orgasm. By a wave of born-again ecstasy with no ideological context. No doctrine to explain the shock of my own existence. No dogma to function as a metaphor for the mystery. Instead, I woke up to the sound of laughter.

    I had heard that sound before, sweet and comforting, but never like this. Now I could hear a whole symphony of delight and reassurance, like clarinets and guitars harmonizing with saxophones and drums. It was the audience laughing. I opened my eyes. There were rows upon rows of people sitting out there in the dark, and they were all laughing together. They had understood my plight. It was easier for them to identify with the urge to scratch than with a little freak playing the violin. And I could identify with them identifying with me. I knew that laughter felt good, and I was pleased that it made the audience feel good – but I hadn't intended to make them laugh. I was merely trying to solve a personal dilemma. So the lesson I woke up to – this totally nonverbal, internal buzz – would serve as my lifetime filter for perceiving reality and its rules. If you could somehow translate that buzz into words, it would spell out: One person's logic is another person's humor.

    I finished playing the “Vivaldi” by rote. Then I bowed to the audience and walked off stage. The applause continued, and I was pushed back on stage by my violin teacher, Mischa Goodman, to play an encore, “Orientale.” I had previously asked him – while rehearsing the encore – why it wasn't listed on the program since we already knew that I would play it at the concert. But instead of answering my question, he poked me in the chest, verbalizing each poke: “Violin up! Violin up!” Now, while playing “Orientale,” I heard the echo of his voice, and I automatically raised my violin higher. Then I popped my ears and the music sounded clearer. I wondered if it sounded clearer to the audience too. They had no idea that their laughter had woken me up. I was overwhelmed by the notion that everybody in the audience had their own individual This-is-me, but maybe some of them were still asleep and didn't know it. How could you tell who was awake and who was asleep? After all, I hadn't known that I was asleep, and look what I accomplished before I woke up. If it hadn't been for that itch, I might still be asleep.

    There was, of course, an objective, scientific explanation for what happened on the stage of Carnegie Hall. According to a textbook, Physiological Psychology, “It is now rather well accepted that 'itch' is a variant of the pain experience and employs the same sensory mechanisms.” But for me, something beyond an ordinary itch had occurred that night. It was as though I had been zapped by the god of Absurdity. I didn't even know there was such a concept as absurdity. I simply experienced an overpowering awareness of something when the audience applauded me for doing what I had learned while I was asleep. But it was only when they laughed that we had really connected, and I imprinted on that sound. I wanted to hear it again. I was hooked. And the first laugh was free.
  • El-Jaro El-Jaro 1 user seconded this question.

    When you see things on tv/movies/internet from the 60's counter-culture, are they how you remember them? Is there something that hasn't come across the right way? Something that was hyper-focused on?

    The underground press flourished because hippies and Yippies saw the difference between what they experienced on the streets and in communes and how it was reported in the mainstream press. Now it's the difference the way it's remembered on the Internet by individuals who were there and how it's portrayed by corporate interests on the big screen and the small screen, in drama, comedy and documentaries. "The Hippies" on the History Channel was filled with lies and distortions. "Easy Rider" seems like a campy parody of idealism vs. cynicism. There are still enough stereotypes to form a union of their own. The two main images are pot parties and police beatings. The story that remains to be seen is the government's attempts to neutralize the counterculture because think tanks extrapolated on the concept of sharing to conclude that there was an actual threat to the economy by sharing vs. competition, as well as the move from western religions of control to eastern disciplines of liberation. I've been trying to get an interview with a former member of the "FBI Hippie Squad," where they learned how to roll a joint, the better to infiltrate communes...
  • LicentiouslyYours LicentiouslyYours 2 users seconded this question.

    Last night I was watching an interview with Christopher Hitches on The Daily Show where he said he feels a bit sorry for his counterparts of today, young idealists, who don't have the same caliber of cause to fight for; that being a "global warming activist" isn't quite the same... Do you agree that the social and political causes of today are less significant than those of the past?

    I saw that on Hulu the next day, watching the Fake News Hour with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. I disagree with Hitchens. I think the social and political causes of today are MORE significant than those of the past. Although the election of Barack Obama made it seem like it was possible to work within the system, the Web has changed the nature of providing aid and organizing demonstrations, from the trivial (getting Betty White to host Saturday Night Live) to the urgent (dealing with the increasingly dangerous catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico). It's true that there were relatively few issues to protest--the war in Vietnam, poverty, racism, sexism, ecological issues, marijuana legalization, wages for housewives--but now there are literally hundreds of causes. We've gone from "We shall overcome" to "We shall overlap."
  • Carrie Ann Carrie Ann 1 user seconded this question.

    I noticed you're writing an article about legalizing pot. How do you approach that -- or any topic, really -- in a way that hasn't been done before, how do you keep it interesting?

    Well, the piece I'm writing for Playboy is interesting because the initiatives in California, Washington, Oregon and elsewhere are expected to be on the ballots in November. State's rights--it's not just for racists any more. My approach came about as I did my research online and developed contacts via e-mail, snail-mail and phone calls. Thus it evolved into both the pros and the cons of legalization and taxation. Sample pro: Stopping arrests for victimless crimes. Sample con: Not retroactive for those currently imprisoned. Sample pro: Relieving state financial deficits. Sample con: devastation of Humboldt County economy where growers are displaying "Keep Pot Illegal" bumperstickers. Generally speaking, I try to avoid the obvious, aided by my being relatively jaded, so that when the absurdity of an injustice or hypocritical position or compassionless contradiction breaks through my emotional haze, I search for a form that will best expose it without my being preachy. So, for example, I've just written a column for AVN about the government's efforts to require safe sex in the making of porn. The form I chose was a satirical mini-porn-flick titled "The Great Condom Cop Caper."
  • Sammi Sammi 1 user seconded this question.

    What was it like traveling with the Merry Pranksters, and what was the most memorable thing you remember doing during that time?

    I wasn''t on the original bus trip, though Ken Kesey told me about a memorable moment. In 1967, Neal Cassady, driver of "Further," was reading The Realist issue with "The Parts Left Out of the Kennedy Book," and handed it to Kesey, saying, "Hey, Chief, you better take a look at this." That was a retroactive cheap thrill. I had met Kesey in 1965 at an anti-war rally on the UC-Berkeley campus. I was emceeing and he was a speaker. It was in early 1971 that we became close friends. Stewart Brand had asked Kesey to edit the Last Supplement to the Whole Earth Catalog. Kesey said he'd do it if I would do it with him. Brand called me, and I didn't play hard to get. My first marriage had broken up, and I didn't have to stay in New York to edit The Realist, so I decided to move to San Francisco. Kesey had a slogan, "You're either on the bus or off the bus." He said, "You didn't have to be ON the bus to BE on the bus." Years later, I actually was on the bus for a reunion trip, but the bus itself was only a movable prop, whereas the Pranksters were my extended family. And so, in 1978, when we went to Egypt where the Grateful Dead played the Pyramids in three evening outdoor concers, I was on the SPIRIT of the bus (namely, in the form of LSD smuggled into the country in a little bottle of Visine eyedrops), sitting in a sarcophagus (topless stone coffin) deep inside the Great Pyramid of Giza, chanting with acoustics better than Carnegie Hall. I'd say that was my most memorable moment on the bus.
  • VieuxCarre VieuxCarre 1 user seconded this question.

    In your writing career, has there been anything truly "taboo" that you have come across that has made your skin crawl or bothered you to a high degree?

    I sent copies of an article from Liberation (a magazine edited by peace activist and Chicago 8 defendant Dave Dellinger) about "American Atrocities in Vietnam" to every member of Congress, the Senate and Lyndon Johnson. Robert Kennedy was the only one who responded. Then, like now, an undeclared war was fought on the basis of deceptions. The euphemism for torturers was "counter-insurgency experts." And 40 years later they were practicing "enhanced interrogation techniques." Ah, semantic progress...
  • Splendwhore Splendwhore 1 user seconded this question.

    I loved George Carlin. He was a great performer, and a man who spoke a lot of truths and opinions that people were too afraid to voice themselves or fess up to agreeing with. I was astounded to read that you were one of his biggest influences. Does it ever seem surreal to realize that you've influenced so many people, and that you're an icon and a role model in the eyes of many? To discover that you have transformed people's lives, beliefs, and views.. that's got to feel either incredibly amazing, terrifying, or perhaps a mixture of both. Do you believe you've ever let the "celebrity status", or your popularity as it may be, go to you head? Yes, I am in fact asking if you've ever had a case of the inflated ego. Please don't shoot me. Winking

    Shoot you? It's a great question, especially for me, since I walk along the tightrope between false humility and false pride. I was astounded too. It's truly tremendously gratifying to know that I was such an influence on George Carlin--which I learned when he wrote that in an introduction to my book, "Murder At the Conspiracy Convention and Other American Absurdities." And that gratification is enhanced by the fact that he has in turn influenced so many others. Bob Dylan once said, "What more could you want than to inspire people?" But since I don't take criticism personally, I try not to take praise personally. Tim Leary once told me about the mythical aspect of transcending one's ego, and I've been able to treat my ego like a playmate rather than an adversary. I follow the 11th Commandment: "Thou shalt not take thyself too goddamned seriously." I heard that when I was 20 at an atheist gathering, where I learned about the existence of The Independent. I don't know what would've become of my life if I hadn't gone to that meeting. A whole new world of disbelief was opening up to me. So yeah, it is surreal, but my lifestyle is simple. My wife Nancy and I live in a small town, and we're sort of hermits in our home by way of a reverse mortgage. We travel rarely. In April, we went to Winnipeg, where I participated in their Comedy Festival with a terrific response. But I remain aware that people still think that I'm Paul Kantner from the Jefferson Airplane. I love the paradox of being such a terrific iconoclast that I'm now perceived as an icon. My mission quest is to keep looking for my lost oclast until I find it.

    Victoria (host): "To gain that kind of insight at 20 years old is very fortunate! You do indeed come across as very grounded and pragmatic."

  • We all have heard about how the sixties and seventies were a time of " free love" and "sexual awakening" amongst men and women and I would love to hear your thoughts on having lived it ( bet you have some wild stories to tell!) do you think we, as a culture, were more open sexually then or now? I think it is an interesting question and can be referenced by music, literature, cinema, and pop culture.

    Irony lives. I was editing what was considered to be the hippest magazine in America, but it wasn't until I was 26 in 1958 that I lost my virginity one night on the carpeted floor in the office of Bill Gaines, publisher of Mad magazine. That was the beginning of MY sexual revolution. It's a tricky comparison you present, because one person's being open sexually is another person's promiscuity. Entertainment and reality are interactive. Sexual urges are functioning at full throttle. Kids as young as ten are watching porn. Today's 40 is the new 20 and today's blow job is yesterday's French kiss. The L-word is good when it means lesbian, and bad when it means liberal. I didn't know where babies come from until the age of 12. Now some girls around that age are already getting pregnant. The life force itself doesn't know whether to hide or go seek. My parents are turning around in their urns with shock. Yes, there's more sex happening nowadays. I just hope it's as sensual and mutual and loving as it was when I attended a 1966 New Year's Eve party sponsored by the Sexual Freedom League. That was before herpes, before AIDS, before the backlash that empowered the war against pleasure. Er, um, what was the question again? Oh, right. I agree with you.

    Victoria (host): "That is the best 'losing my virginity' story I have ever heard! And I agree about the direction sexuality has taken."

  • Elizabeth Anne Doxtator-Morenberg Elizabeth Anne Doxtator-Morenberg

    Would you call yourself a feminist? How would you define a feminist?Smile

    I used to call myself a feminist, but that was only to help me get laid by feminists. Actually, from the time I was a kid, I always felt strongly about equal rights and opportunities, from sports to doctors, which would be how I'd define a feminist. I considered myself a feminist in the labeling sense of affirmative action. So, when I published in The Realist an important article by a woman whose first name was Sandy, I asked if she'd like her byline to be Sandra so that readers would know her gender, and she agreed. In 1959, I wrote in an editorial, “From a completely idealistic viewpoint, the newspaper want ads should not have separate Male and Female classifications, with exceptions such as in the case of a wet-nurse.” In 1964, that practice became illegal. It was an early tremor of the women's movement.
  • Were you brought up to believe sex shouldn't happen until marriage? Or did you grow up a bit more liberally with an open mind? How has this affected you and your line of work today?

    Celibacy before marriage was never stated by my parents--though that had been their experience, both virgins till their wedding--but I remember telling my mother that I wanted to move to my own apartment. She asked why. I said because I had no place to be alone with a girl. She said that she and my father would gladly step into another room whenever I had company. But I explained, "I mean REALLY alone." She realized what I meant and said, "Any girl who does that is a tramp," and rushed to take a shower, as if to cleanse herself of my horniness. Concomitantly, my father was quite the prude. I simply accepted them the way they were, but followed my own path. It affected me and my line of work, not that I was motivated to rebel against them, but rather that I was just trying to be myself.
  • I was raised in an ultra-conservative fundamentalist Christian family. As a bisexual, liberal, freethinking, atheistic, sex-positive young adult woman, it's been difficult seeing eye to eye with them, and I've never told them much about me, for fear of being disowned. I am an aspiring writer, and my work will certainly be as offensive to them as my own self would be (if they knew). My question is this: in what kind of religious, ideological, or moral environment were you raised? Have your actions or opinions alienated or distanced you from people very close to you, and if so, how have you dealt with that?

    My parents were Jewish, not fanatical, but didn't flaunt the fact in order to avoid anti-Semitism. I didn't consider myself Jewish because I didn't accept the religious tenets, but I did get beaten up because school bullies did consider me to be Jewish. When my sister, a renegade Jew, married a renegade Catholic, at first my mother didn't want to recognize their first child, but--to mix metaphors--she realized she was throwing out the baby to spite her face. My parents were embarrassed by my writing, yet supportive of my freedom to express my own beliefs. Years later, my father said, "You were right about Nixon and the war," but he was still concerned that my autobiography would be a "kiss and tell" book. Although they were worried about what the relatives would think, I wasn't concerned about approval because I did a lot of soul-searching and felt confident that I was doing the right thing. It was reassuring to learn that others felt that way too.
  • VieuxCarre VieuxCarre 1 user seconded this question.

    Since you began your career, how do you think our culture has changed both in a comedic aspect as well as a sexual one?

    When I began, I was more or less a lone voice, but now irreverence has become an industry. The taboos I tried to help liberate have become part of mainstream awareness, and are exploited in the process, but that's the risk of free speech. Comedians have no fear of being arrested for what they say, and oral sex became front-page news in the New York Times in the wake of the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky affair. For better or worse, the culture has lost its innocence.

    Victoria (host): "This answer feels almost wistful to me, in a good way."

  • Carrie Ann Carrie Ann 1 user seconded this question.

    How do you feel about anti war sentiments today vs those of the past?

    Anti-war sentiment has evolved along with everything else--including military might. One of the differences between then and now is that there was a draft during the Vietnam war. That personalized it, sadly. People wore buttons that said, "Not With My Body You Don’t." The Bush administration deliberately didn't have a draft because they knew that whatever disconnect there was between the public and the horror that the government was conducting in their name, would dissolve. People would take to the streets in multitudes to demonstrate against the war. When Latinos marched through Los Angeles over the immigration issue a few years ago, there were a million of them. What we need to do now is hire Mexican workers as guest protesters, so they can do the job that Americans don’t want to do.
  • Splendwhore Splendwhore 1 user seconded this question.

    I can relate to how you resorted to writing as a release, or escape. I, too, was a huge loner all throughout high school. I didn't have friends, I had books, and occasionally, a pen and paper. Did you ever reach a point in your life that writing didn't seem as gratifying anymore though? I discovered a best friend, and in that best friend, a lover and companion. And now, well, I haven't seriously devoted time to writing in a good long while. I feel like I love writing, but I don't have an excuse anymore. To be honest, I don't feel like I have the motivation to pick up a pen without that solitude looming over my shoulder, intimidating me. Writing isn't a part of me I ever wanted to lose, but similarly, I don't want to isolate myself from family, friends, and loved ones as I did before. Care to share your thoughts, opinions, or advice?

    When I sold my first article to Mad magazine, it felt like I was floating on air. Now, when I finish writing something, I still savor the satisfaction of having met the challenge. It's true that friends and lovers can dilute the time you might otherwise spend alone writing, but if you really enjoy it, there's always a way to find that time, late at night or early in the morning or whenever, if only enough time for creating one juicy paragraph a day. And, in fact, the stimulation of contact with others can contribute to your progress. It's not necessarily a case of either/or, but your priorities do fall into place.
  • macho99 macho99 1 user seconded this question.

    What do you use when you write? Old school pen and paper or modern techie laptop/computer? Are you more effective in either of the methods?

    I have pens and pads in my pocket, in my bathroom, on the night table, in the living room, and jot down notes and ideas and insights--whatever i don't want to take a chance on forgetting, whether a few key words or an entire sentence while it's fresh in my mushy mind. These are later expanded on my desktop computer, which eliminates the concept of a first draft because I edit as I go along. The advantage of a word processor is that I can surrender to an impulse to change a word without having to type a whole page over, which might require a rationalization to just leave it as it is.
  • When did you stop doing stand-up? Would you ever consider going back? How do you see the newer comics (Tosh, Cook, Berbigula, Gaffigan)?

    I didn't stop, I've just slowed down, partly because I haven't been seeking gigs at places where I've performed before and partly because it's getting increasingly difficult for me to get around, stemming from an old police beating that resulted in a twisted gait until I started tripping over my own feet; now I have to walk with a cane and I have tripped over THAT. As for the comics you mention, I haven't seen Berbigula. I tend to watch performers through a clinical prism. So, then: I think Jim Gaffigan is a skillful ventriloquist. I like Daniel Tosh's charming whimsicality. And I'm intrigued by the power of Dane Cook's agressive energy. But at the moment I can't remember anything any of them have actually said that made me laugh out loud. I'd hate to have an audience filled entirely with clones of myself. Anyway, I still do perform but only occasionally, most recently at Freight & Salvage in Berkeley and at a benefit for the local medical marijuana community, where I had an Oprah Moment: I announced that there was a joint attached to the bottom of each chair, and it got a great laugh even while many members of the audience immediately proceeded to look under their seats--y'know, just in case.
  • what inspires you to write? any crazy/bizarre/funny/weird/sexual stories you care to share? Smile

    I mentioned in a previous answer that I lost my virginity at Mad magazine. The publisher had given me the key to his office. Here's an excerpt from "Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut":

    Then Joanie and I went to the Mad building. Bill Gaines's office had original paintings of his famous horror characters hung around the walls – the Old Witch, the Crypt Keeper, the Vault Keeper – and there was also a framed portrait of Alfred E. Neuman himself, watching over me while I lost my sexual innocence, just as he had been watching over a whole generation as they lost their cultural innocence. Joanie and I were rolling around on the carpet, kissing and groping and undressing each other. To open the convertible sofa now would interfere with our compulsive spontaneity.

    I had read so much about Bartholin's glands, how they lubricate the vaginal cavity and take the friction out of intercourse, but now that I was actually putting my thing into her thing, now that I was sliding around inside another person's body after fantasizing about it for so many years, it occurred to me to flap my arms like wings to make sure I wasn't dreaming – but, since my weight was on my elbows, I couldn't carry out that particular reality check without losing my balance. Joanie and I were beginning to reach that certain point in lovemaking where the voluntary is on the verge of becoming the involuntary. I needed to get the condom which had been residing in my wallet beyond any possible estimated shelf life, so I stopped moving while I still could, and broke the silence with a strained yet noble whisper: “I better put something on.”

    “Oh, that's okay,” Joanie said. “You can fuck me without worrying.”

    I had never heard a girl say the word fuck before, and I was just a little shocked to hear it now, even though we were in the MIDDLE of fucking. As our spasms of pleasure mounted and began to overwhelm us, her reply remained in my awareness – You can fuck me without worrying – then suddenly my verbal ejaculation became as inevitable as my physical ejaculation, and I simultaneously surrendered to both, blurting out, in a voice that was not quite my own, “What – me worry?” Even though I had been in the very throes of orgasm, I still could not resist responding to such a perfect straight line.

    Victoria (host): "This expanded version of the virginity story takes the cake!"

  • What still surprises you whenever you see it?

    The audacity of public figures, particularly politicians, and the way they lie to the public so blatantly beyond redemption. Take these three presidents and one would-be president -- please: We've gone from Richard Nixon ("I am not a crook") to Bill Clinton ("I did not have sex with that woman") to George Bush ("Mission Accomplished") to John McCain ("I was never a maverick") even though video clips show him repeatedly referring to himself as one, and in fact the title of his own memoir was "Worth the Fighting For: The Education of an American Maverick..."
  • In the vein of "Inside the Actor's Studio"....

    What's your favorite swear word?

    Oh, shit, it's so fucking hard to make a cocksucking choice these cunty days. I'm torn between dang and hornswoggled.
  • Do you think Americans are more or less aware of the world around them today?

    Do you think we're more overly educated and less informed than we used to be?

    Depends on which Americans and which world. There are those in the world of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears. There are those in the world of Twittering Tweaks, Wasting MySpace and Facebook friends who use the names of dead celebrities. Poker players, football fans, YouTube viralists, porn addicts, gregarious hermit conventioneers, the pedophile community, tornado chasers, the list is endless. And yet, thanks to the Internet, I believe Americans are more aware of the world involving the environment, poverty, hunger, censorship, dictators, undeclared wars, natural disasters, man-made catastrophes, sadistic healthcare, drones bombing wedding parties... that's the world you mean, right? I think we're overly propagandized and more misinformed than ever before. I don't even trust any more.
  • Okay, I've been dying to ask this, and I just didn't want to make you uncomfortable. Well screw that! I'm asking anyways. Have you ever been intimately or romantically involved with another man? Or have you been strictly heterosexual your entire life, with no curiosities thrown into the mix?

    I've never had any doubts about my heterosexuality -- not that there's anything wrong with confusion about gender preference -- nor did I have any urges to experiment with homosexuality. But when I was a kid, the neighborhood bully forced me to give him a blow job. When I went to camp that summer, I confided in my counselor about that incident, and then HE forced me to give HIM a blow job. I got off on the irony. As an adult, I was at the home of an ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend, who was an old friend of mine. It was late, and it was decided I would sleep on the sofa. They were in bed and he invited me to sleep with them -- it would be more comfortable -- and although I was thinking I would be next to her, he made room for me next to him. After a while, he started masturbating me, and I was surprised, but I didn't want to be rude to my host. Incidentally, he was also my doctor, and that surprised me too. Anyway, I'm for same-sex marriage, against the don't-ask-don't-tell policy, and I think it should be irrelevant whether or not being gay is a choice. I'd like to fuck a hermaphrodite, though.
  • What is the most backhanded compliment you've ever received?

    In the course of my investigation of the Manson killings, as an act of participatory journalism, I dropped acid with a few members of his family, including Squeaky Fromme and Sandra Good. Sandra had seen me perform, and whenever anybody asked her what Charlie was like, she would say he was a combination of Lenny Bruce and me. True, Manson did have a perverse sense of humor -- he once wrote to me, "Mass murderer, what can I say? It's a living" -- but still . . .
  • Have you ever been stalked, either by a fan or someone who disagreed with your work?

    I've had both, and in a way they were like two sides of the same coin, in the sense that each one had decided to place me on their game-board. I guess that goes along with the territory when you're in a position to be the target of their projection. Hey, wait a minute, Splendwhore,wasn't that you who was following me around just the other day?

    Victoria (host): "Splendwhore does seem to dig you, Paul ;)"

  • Have you ever experienced stage fright, or were you always quite comfortable in front of an audience?

    As a child prodigy violin player. I performed on stages before I was ever a member of an audience, so it became kind of second nature to me. Nevertheless, as a stand-up comic, I still have to psych myself up each time and I have occasional dreams of being unprepared. Before every gig, I pray, "Please, God, help me do a good show," and then I hear the voice of God saying, "SHUT UP, YOU SUPERSTITIOUS FOOL!"
  • You mention your daughter in one answer... how many children / grandchildren do you have? I am just very curious! I have to wonder what your parenting advice might be for parents these days? Any good/crazy/terrible/funny parenting anecdotes or stories?

    Holly is my only offspring. I remember bringing her to a peace rally, where the Hare Krishnas were chanting, and she thought they were saying Holly Krassner over and over. I wouldn't presume to advise other parents about raising their kids, except to practice empathy, seeing things from their point of view, the better to understand them and yourselves. Everybody has their own style. One time, when Holly was ten, I took her and her mother out for dinner.

    “Mommy told me all about sex,” Holly announced in the restaurant.

    “Oh, really? What did you learn?”

    “Oh, she told me about orgasms and blow jobs.”

    I blushed. They laughed.

    Victoria (host): "Empathy is indeed very important! Parenting style is something a lot of people feel judged for these days, when everyone is a critic and life can be so public. Staying realistic and flexible has served me well as a mother. Even with the sex talks."

  • What prompted you to create the Disneyland Memorial Orgy, and did you ever receive any comments/letters/etc from Disney about it?

    When Walt Disney died in December 1966, it occurred to me that he had been the creator -- the Intelligent Designer -- of all those imaginary characters who were now mourning in a state of suspended animation, but suddenly realized that their suppressed collective libido had been liberated, and they could now indulge in a wild orgy. I assigned Mad magazine artist Wally Wood to create such imagery for the black-and-white centerfold of an issue of The Realist in 1967. It was so popular that I then published it as a poster. A source in the Disney empire told me they decided not to sue because I had no assets, plus a lawsuit would only attract more attention, though I had been prepared to defend the poster in court on grounds that it was obviously a parody. Later on, there was a day-glo pirated version, and Disney did go after the pirate. Ultimately, any case they had against me expired with the statute of limitations. In 2005, a former Disney employee digitally colored the original artwork, and I published a new edition, also copyrighted. You can see it on my website.
  • So...are you actually on the phone with someone in that photo? If so, who was it? If not, who do you wish was on the other end?

    The truth is no one was on the other end of that phone. My wife Nancy is a photographer, and I spotted the public phone and knew she would like the colors. That yellow was like seeing a reincarnation of Minnie Mouse's shoes. So she was taking a few shots of it, I asked her to take one of me talking -- or, rather, listening -- to nobody. It seems as if public phones are becoming obsolescent. Not only will everybody have 15 minutes of fame some day, every single one will also have a cellphone to capture those moments for posterity. I would've liked to be having a conversation with Barack Obama if only to ask why he wouldn't sign the ban on landmines; you'd think that was a no-brainer.
  • Is there anything you regret in your career that you have or have not done yet?

    My main regret has to do with a police beating I mentioned in a previous answer. In 1979 I was covering the trial of ex-cop Dan White for the San Francisco Bay Guardian. He had assassinated Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. Partly due to "the Twinkie defense" (which I coined), although White performed a double political execution, he was sentenced to seven years for voluntary manslaughter. I regret that I got caught in the post-verdict riot, I regret that I didn't sue the police, and I regret that I was too foolish to borrow $75 for an attorney's filing fee. I also regret all the time I've wasted while regretting stuff.
  • You've met and befriended so many interesting people. Who's out there that you haven't shaken hands with yet, but would love to? Whose brain have you yet to pick?

    I have never shaken hands with Venus de Milo...sorry, sometimes I have a jokelexia attack...I would like to have met Aldous Huxley, but he's dead and nobody knew about it because it was the same day that JFK was killed. I would enjoy picking Rachel Maddow's brain. I've been fortunate to meet and conspire with as many famous and infamous icons as I've crossed paths with. It helped to have a magazine that resonated with their antennae.
  • You're in your 70s, and it's clear that you have accomplished a hell of a lot in your life. Do you ever wish you had a more "traditional" type of life, with the more conventional 9-5 career, American family, perfect rancher, retirement fund, etc?

    Never for a moment. Are you kidding? I'm grateful to have been able to avoid a traditional type of life. One of the few things I remember from my college miseducation was an anthropologist's definition of happiness -- to have as little separation as possible between work and play.

    Victoria (host): "A favorite quote: "You do what you love, and fuck the rest." (mostly)
    I'm glad you went your own way, Paul. You've truly lived."

  • How do you start a stint in stand-up? I've wanted to for a while, but I don't know step one (other than open mic nights).

    After making yourself, family and friends laugh, open mic nights constitute an excellent learning path that can lead to opportunities in the comedic hierarchy. Personally, I didn't take that path because I was lucky enough to develop my skills by being invited to speak at campuses and other antiwar venues. The thing about stand-up is that you don't have to wait for the reviews -- it's an existential process, with the audience response informing you what works and what doesn't work, and you're left to figure out why and why not...
  • At important times in history, people tend to remember what they were doing during certain events. I remember the Challenger explosion in 86 (I was 6). I was woken up by my roommate right after the 2nd plane hit. I was right next to Padme when the Senate gave emergency powers to Chancellor Palpatine.

    What were you doing at other monumental times?

    I was home when JFK was shot, and my first wife Jeanne was out shopping for a TV set. She was on a bus and overheard the news on a passenger's portable radio; she got off the bus, called me, bought the TV, and we became glued to it. On 9/11, I was still in bed while my current wife Nancy was up early to report for possible jury duty. She heard the news on the radio at 6 a.m., California time, just about when it happened. Once again I became glued to a TV set. Meanwhile, everybody at the courthouse was in a daze. The prospective jurors were all dismissed, the trial was postponed until a new jury pool could be formed, and when Nancy came home early and explained why, there was only one thing to say: "Jeez, you'll do anything to avoid jury duty."
  • Do you think blogging has changed journalism?

    Sure. On one hand, there's a whole new breed of citizen journalists who now have outlets for reportage and/or commentary that might have gone unnoticed. On the other hand, professional standards are not necessarily required online. And the READING of material on computer screens has certainly changed the economics of print media.
  • Not to be morbid or anything, but who would you want to read a vigil at your funeral? (I ask this only because I was asked a similar question a few days ago)

    Of course I would want to read my own vigil, but I don't think I even want to have a funeral. NPR already has a story "in the can" and a friend who did it gave me a copy of the CD. I had the unique experience of fact-checking my own obituary.

    Victoria (host): "Now that is surreal!"

  • What was one of the most memorable speaking events or stand up that you've ever done?

    Probably at Lincoln Center in New York to a sold-out crowd. I performed along with Allen Ginsberg and Karen Finley, whose reputation for shoving a sweet potato up her ass preceded her. I had to do a tight 25 minutes, starting with an opening line that would immediately connect with the audience. "Allen Ginsberg is very disappointed," I began. "He thought that Karen Finley was gonna shove a sweet potato up HIS ass." It was like surfing on waves of laughter.
  • What are your Top 5 favorite movies?

    I don't have a list, so I'll just say the first five that come to mind. The Night Porter. The Visitor. Carnal Knowledge. Sophie's Choice. Blow-Up.
  • What do you think of porn these days? How do you think porn has changed, and how do you feel about that?

    Porn is a many-spendored thing in the sense that there's something for everybody. For example, who would've thought that there was a fetish for women who wear glasses so that the money shot won't get in their eyes. I think one of the big changes is there's so much free porn available on the Internet that I don't understand why people pay for it. As an American consumer, I'm all for free stuff, but as a columnist for AVN magazine, that would seem to be counterintuitive.
  • Sammi Sammi 1 user seconded this question.

    How would you finish this sentence? "Sex is...."

    Sex is a mystery.
  • VieuxCarre VieuxCarre 3 users seconded this question.

    Have you accomplished more than you set out to in your career thus far? Did you ever really have a goal in mind when you founded the magazine? Did you ever think you would be where you are now years ago?

    I didn't really think of it as a career -- it's been more a way of life -- but yes, I have accomplished more than I set out to do. I had no other plan but to publish The Realist, not realizing that it would have a life of its own. When it started out with 600 subscribers, I thought maybe it could get 1,000. When it got 1,000, I thought maybe it could get 3,000. Then it reached 5,000... 10,000... In 1967 it reached 100,000 (including newsstands & bookstores) with an estimated million or so on "pass-on readership." Library Journal praised it as "the best satirical magazine in America," which soitanly helped.

    In fact, I actually RESISTED a career. I was offered a high-paying job at Playboy, but I refused to give up The Realist and move to Chicago. I didn't consider that a sacrifice because I felt so privileged to be doing what I was doing. As for stand-up comedy, I never became a big name partly because the magazine came first, and partly because, although I've been a guest on the Tonight show, Politically Incorrect, Conan O'Brien and others, I never actually PERFORMED on TV.

    I had no vision of myself other than editor of The Realist, and I evolved along with it, or vice-versa. It was an interactive process. It was only after a paranoid freakout from information/misinformation/disinformation overload that I began to understand why my going nuts happened. Allen Ginsberg's poem Howl began, “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,” and I had always identified with the “best minds” part but never with the “madness” part. It was while I was unwinding from my own bout with temporary insanity that I decided to write my autobiography. It wasn't merely a catharsis, it was an education. I became sane again when my sense of humor returned.

    Victoria (host): "The Realist was certainly a huge accomplishment, and I can see how that could be one of the defining things in your life. It's very inspiring to get to know you a bit, and see what it really means to not be able to be bought."

  • Victoria Victoria 3 users seconded this question.

    Of all the places you've gone and all the things you've done - I have to wonder where you still want to go, and what you still want to do?

    Let's see, where have I been? Cuba, on the first anniversary of the revolution. Canada for a couple of comedy festivals. Ecuador with my 15-year-old daughter for a shamans and healers trek. The Bahamas with Larry Flynt and Dick Gregory. Egypt with the Merry Pranksters and the Grateful Dead. Mexico with Ken Kesey. Amsterdam a few times for the Cannabis Cup, where I was inducted into the Counterculture Hall of Fame (my ambition since I was three years old). Australia for the Sydney Book Festival. And Sheboygan, Wisconsin to cover the annual sausage festival. So I'm happy at this point to stay home with Nancy and travel in cyberspace.

    There's three novels I'd like to write. The first one that I've been working on -- what Kesey called my "current obsession" -- is about a contemporary Lenny Bruce-type performer. It was conceived after Lenny died, when I kept wondering what would be his satirical take on so many things that were happening. In the book, those scenes where my protagonist is on stage have developed from my own performances. I even thought that I was channeling Lenny until he reminded me, "Hey, listen, you know you don't even believe in that shit." Now I just resent this imaginary character for stealing my material. It's a good old schizophrenic process.

    I mentioned to my friend Avery Corman -- author of "Oh, God" and "Kramer vs. Kramer," both of which became movies -- that "Writing fiction is really hard. You have to make up everything."

    "C'mon, Paul," he said, "you've been making up stuff all your life."

    "Yeah, but that was journalism."

    Victoria (host): "Well, I personally hope you continue to write for a long time. Thank you so much for one of the most interesting interviews I've ever read, and definitely the most surprising one I've ever hosted!"


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About Writer, Stand-up comic, Investigative satirist, Paul Krassner

Occupation: Writer, Stand-up Comic, Investigative Satirist and Zen Bastard
Achievements: Edited The Realist 1958-2001. Cofounded the Yippies. Published 13 books. Ran free abortion referral service in the ‘60s when illegal. Feminist Party Media Workshop Award for journalism and humor.
Current Project: Writing 1st novel about contemporary Lenny Bruce-type performer. Columns “One Hand Jerking” for AVN (Adult Video News) and “Brain Damage Control” for High Times. Article for Playboy on legalizing pot.
Statement: My definition of success is trying to do the appropriate thing every moment. Not taking myself as seriously as my causes. And atheist talks with God.
Publications: Recent books: autobiography Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut, Who’s to Say What’s Obscene? & In Praise of Indecency, available at along with Disneyland Memorial Orgy poster.
Education: College except for one 3-credit course, so no degree.
Age: 78
Editor’s note: It is an honor to have Paul, who is such an indomitable cultural icon, on Community Interview.



Victoria knows sex toys & adult products, their ardent lovers & makers. She's Eden's Marketing Director, helps wrangle the community, does outreach, the company Twitter and is your faithful Editrix. She also raises kids, reads a lot, loves music and kitties, writes a bit and snuggles with the Yeti.

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