Mike Edison has had the kind of life counter culture geeks salivate for: He dropped out of school to report on porn, music, drugs, and general debauchery from the point of view of an active participant. His credits as a gonzo provocateur include stints at Penthouse, SCREW magazine, Hustler, and High Times. Edison has also collaborated musically with Jon Spencer and GG Allin. He’s partied with everyone from Evil Knievel to Ozzy and even made an enemy of Hulk Hogan during his stint as a journalist covering professional wrestling. His book, I Have Fun Everywhere I Go, (now in paperback) is Edison re-telling these tales and more. Flavorpill wanted to find out what it’s like to be this Renaissance man riding the fringes of culture, so we had a sit down with Mike to get the skinny.
Flavorpill: Throughout your book you always seemed to be at the right place at the right time when you picked up a new gig. How much of that was luck as opposed to you chasing the writing gigs you wanted?
Mike Edison: The first writing gig I wanted and got was reviewing records and concerts for the New York University campus newspaper, which I talked my way into somehow. I started out reviewing records, and that was pretty hot until they started sending me to shows, which eventually got tired. I then landed the gig at a wrestling magazine and eventually beat the editor there in a “loser leaves town [wrestling] match” and took over [his position]. Later I worked for a beer magazine and began reviewing beer and being sent to Amsterdam and Munich and Dublin. That rated pretty high until I became the editor of SCREW — I was reviewing massage parlors and everything that came along with that. Now that was a good beat! I’m not sure I ever chased after a gig, except to become editor of High Times. And that was definitely a case of “be careful for what you wish for” because it turned into a nightmare.
FP: Where does the love of pro-wrestling come from?
ME: What’s not to love? Wrestling is the least self-conscious of all art forms. It doesn’t care how stupid it looks. It lives in its own world with its own set of rules — all of which are meant to be broken. It is the only sport where you can kick a man when he’s down. The epiphany came when I was watching the Masked Super Star and the Grand Wizard of Wrestling break Eddie Gilbert’s neck on TV. I was tripping on acid and thought it was the funniest thing I had ever seen.
FP: If you could be in the ring today with any wrestler, who would that be?
ME: I’m still not done with that lumbering yellow doofus Hulk Hogan. He’s been dodging me.
FP: Why are you a Hulk Hogan hater?
ME: I don’t go for these flag-waving, stay-in-school and stay-off-drugs do-gooders. [Hogan’s] got about as much genuine pathos as Big Bird, to whom he bears an incredible resemblance.
FP: You serve White Castle burgers at your book events and talk fairly romantically about them in your memoir. From whence sprang this love affair?
ME: That would be the pot and the beer talking. Seriously, White Castles are like the Holy Communion wafers of the Gods. Little miracles written it grease.
FP: In your book you retell the story of getting mugged while buying White Castle. Were your burgers still worth the trip after you got stabbed while buying them?
ME: I got stabbed in the mouth in a White Castle in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, in 1988. Not a righteous place for a white boy to be back then, especially drunk at 4 a.m. When they got me to the hospital I still had the sack of burgers in my hand. I was determined not to let them go to waste. I took one bite and blood spurted all over the waiting room. The doctors forcibly took them away from me and wheeled me into the operating room to get sewn up. Was it worth it? Well, it sucked getting stabbed but I still love those Castles.
FP: Are any of the bands you played in due for a reunion?
ME: As far as Sharky’s Machine, the singer sent me a death threat after [my book] came out, so I doubt that’s gonna happen. On my website you can find a free download called HOW PUNK ROCK RUINED MY LIFE, which has me playing with the Raunch Hands, the Pleasure Fuckers, and GG Allin. There’s also stuff from my current band, Edison Rocket Train, as well as me doing readings from the book where I collaborate with Jon Spencer.
FP: So you were friends with GG Allin. What was it like to be friends with a man whose mission in life was to make people despise him?
ME: It’s true, he could alienate even his best fans but we got along very well. We had a mutual respect thing. He knew not to fuck with me, and I worked hard for him when I was in his band. He liked the songs I wrote for him. He was actually a funny and smart guy. I am proud of what I wrote about him in my book. A few women told me they cried when they read it. That’s about the highest compliment I could get as a writer.
FP: What happened at that infamous High Times Ozzy Osbourne photo shoot?
ME: A lot of weed went missing that day [from the shoot] and I was told it was Ozzy and his crew stuffing their pockets with it. We started with several pounds of killer bud for his photo shoot and when we weighed the pot at the end of the day we were seriously light. The goddamn thing of it is, if he had just asked we would have given him anything he wanted. That kind of stung. I leaked the story to Page Six and Howard Stern and of course everyone was talking about it. The magazine flew off the stands. It was one of the best selling issues in High Timeshistory. Sharon Osborne called and said, “make this story die.” By then it was already over. We had a hit. It is one of the best of the High Times stories in [my book].
FP: We hear you’re an inventor as well. Can you tell us about the “Chronicaster” bong/guitar?
ME: It was made for the High Times movie, another disaster. Tommy Chong used it in the film. I designed it with Joe Naylor from Reverend Guitars — [the Chronicaster] was a total YouTube smash, coming on a quarter of a million views. Unfortunately I am finding that people who watch people smoke pot out of guitars on the Internet don’t buy books.
FP: Tell us about the book tour.
ME: Right now I am launching the I HAVE FUN IN BROOKLYN TOUR for the book. I have my big band, the Rocket Train Delta Science Arkestra with Jon Spencer doing some shows. Some I am doing with Andy Shernoff from the Dictators on guitar, some with my tape-loop, organ, and a Theremin contraption — the Interstellar Groove Machine. At one of the gigs I am going to read from my book while flipping burgers. Whatever happens, I’ll have a drink in my hand, a bindle of toot in my pocket got and a song in my heart. Keeps me dancing, ya know?
You can catch the Mike Edison’s book tour at the following New York venues:
6/6 – 7 p.m. at Pete’s Candy Store in Williamsburg 6/10 – 7 p.m. at Frank’s Cocktail Lounge in Ft. Greene 6/13 – 3 p.m. at Freebird Books in Carroll Gardens 6/20 – 3 p.m. Roberta’s Restaurant in Bushwick
Photo credit: Dave Allocca