Now that the era of cannabis prohibition is finally coming to a close, the famous stoners of bygone eras are stepping away from their bongs, wandering out of their man caves and looking to cash in. Bob Marley's descendants may be trying to brand a strain of weed named after the famed reggae singer, but L.A.'s own Tommy Chong is thinking a big more broadly.
Yes, his own strain — “Chong Star” — is in the works. But more importantly, the 76-year-old is making a play for a lucrative comeback with a recent stint on the hit show Dancing With the Stars and endorsements of everything from fertilizer and joint-rolling machines to pipe necklaces and Smoke Swipes, a product that supposedly removes unwanted smells from clothing and hair.
Few living potheads have the legendary reputation and cult following of Cheech and Chong, the duo who might as well have coined the term “stoner comedy” in the 1970s. Since the '80s, Chong has taken on occasional acting gigs, but the recent national interest in marijuana is legitimizing him in a new way.
After being kicked off of DWTS in the semi-finals last month, Chong is trying to shift momentum to his line of Reviver Clothing Swipes. Apparently, his own domestic life served as his primary inspiration when choosing to shill for this of all products.
“My wife, she hates it when I smoke up before we're going out somewhere, [saying] 'Oh you reek.' So this saves a lot of arguments in the car,” Chong says. Since he dislikes edibles and vape pens, these odor-eliminating swipes seemed like the only answer.
Still, mainstream America isn't quite ready for the full Chong. Producers on DWTS wouldn't allow him to mention weed, and forbade him from blowing what he calls “marijuana kisses,” gesturing like he was toking on a joint and then throwing it out into the audience. He even quit smoking for duration of the show, partially to show that he wasn't addicted and partially to help with his ability to learn the dance steps.
“I can groove when I'm high, but I can't remember stuff too well,” he admits.