By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
“You know, in your book, it says 10 years.”
“Yeah, I know. When I wrote the book, that’s what I thought he’d decided. But after Lynne read it, she called and said, ‘You got that wrong.’ I said, ‘Whaddya mean?’ She said, ‘Don’t you remember? Andy was always debating whether it should be 10 or 20 years,’ and that he decided, as he put it, to ‘separate the men from the boys.’ If he was going to be a boy about it, it’d be 10 years. If he was going to be a man, it’d be 20 years. And then, of course, it turns out he also discussed it with Jack Burns and John Moffitt.
“Did I mention? We’re taking out hundreds of personal ads in newspapers across the country and abroad, reminding Andy of the date, and what he said. So hopefully he’ll see one of them.”
“Have you considered someone trying to fake it?”
“Yes. I’m sure there’ll be some nuts showing up that night, claiming to be Andy Kaufman. And who knows how Andy’d look, 20 years later? But we will have there, that night, a foolproof way to determine if in fact they are.”
“And that foolproof way is . . .?”
“I can’t tell you.”
Ann Coulter is a sociopath. And what she does is drag our culture down to a more aggressive, meaner, anti-intellectual kind of Redneck Nation. My contention is that she is a performance artist. I contend that she is, indeed, Andy Kaufman.
—Janeane Garofalo, Air America Radio, March 31, 2004
“Tony Clifton’s more real now than he ever was,” says Lynne. “He just will not die. He seems to get realer and realer as time goes on. One great experience I had in the Tony realm was when Tony busted into a press conference for Man in the Moon, at the Four Seasons Hotel. Afterwards, Universal was really upset. Really, really upset. So later, one of the head guys at Universal had Bob up in a hotel room, grilling him. They knew that Bob was Tony’s representative. ‘Can you please talk to Tony for us, Bob?’ ‘Well, I’ll try. I can’t promise anything.’ It was great. The whole conversation with Bob, the guy was really serious, saying, like, ‘Bob, you know Tony better than anyone. Could you tell Tony for us just how upset we are? What does Tony want? Does he want money?’ And Bob was just, ‘Well, Tony’s his own man, man. You can’t tell him to do anything.’ It was so surreal.”
“These Universal guys,” I say. “Were they, you know, wearing suits?”
Clifton grows wrathful with his crappy “backup band,” R.E.M., at last year’s Universal Amphitheater show, and gets eighty-sixed by security.
As is so often the case with semifictional celebrities with part-time bodies, it was difficult to get an interview with Tony Clifton. First, he agreed to sit down and talk for an hour. Then he decided he wanted $5,000. Zmuda talked him down to $1,000, but I don’t have that kind of money, and I wouldn’t play like that if I did. So one night, around 4 a.m., Clifton finally and suddenly agreed to be interviewed by phone, on the condition that the interview be conducted immediately and reproduced in full.
So the complete interview follows. I apologize not only that my questions weren’t very interesting (I wasn’t given time to find my notes) but that, under better circumstances, much of it would have been deleted before publication:
What have you been up to for the last 20 years?
Tony Clifton: Performing internationally. Basically, Third World countries that don’t know any better. I advertise them as evangelical healings. It fills the place. I’m talking about 18,000-seat soccer stadiums. By the time they realize no one’s getting cured, I’m across the border doing it all over again. Don’t get me wrong. I put on one hell of a show. Those people walk out feeling much better than they did walking in. So they still got a clubfoot. At least now it’s keeping time.
Then, of course, three or four years ago I starred in Man on the Moon. My co-star being that comedy guy, Drew Carey. You know, the Pet Detective guy. I launched a campaign to change the name of the film from Man on the Moon to Tony on the Moon. I made my case at one of Universal’s bigtime press junkets and created havoc. Drew Carey ran for his life, and I was escorted off the premises, which is why I’m now banned from the Four Seasons Hotel. I’m also not allowed in the Beverly Hills Hotel, because I poured a glass of water over Talia Shire’s head when she wouldn’t re-create the end of Rocky with me. What a loser! Here she was, sitting in a room filled with high-powered movie producers, and I ask her to show some of her acting skills! Maybe she would have been spotted and gotten a job out of it, not have to keep depending on her brother for work.