Here's a conundrum: Kinky Friedman and Mojo Nixon are both one of a kind, and yet they are very much alike. Both are rootsy musicians with an interest in politics who talk a mile a minute -- often dishing out the same well-honed patter they've been using for years. And each of them, like Mark Twain, uses outrageous humor to mask a mind that truly and passionately cares about America and the regular Joes and Janes who live here.
So it makes perfect sense that Friedman has enlisted Nixon to help him out on the petition drive that will get him on the ballot for the Texas governor's race. Friedman needs to collect the signatures of more than 45,000 independent Texas voters to get on the ballot, so Nixon has emerged from two years' retirement to play three Texas gigs, the last of which is this Saturday at the Continental.
"You can't have a comeback unless you go into retirement, and you can't have a comeback unless you have some good reason to come back," says Nixon from his crib in San Diego. He's between airings of his Sirius Radio political talk show Lyin' Cocksuckers; he's as voluble and profane on the phone as he is on the air; and he...Wait a minute, Mojo. Your political talk show is really called Lyin' Cocksuckers? "Yeah, 'cause that's what politicians are," he says. "You know, it's kinda hard to advertise that show. They told me that I would be allowed to call it that, but I would have to refer to it as LC or something. In fact, at first, I couldn't even send them e-mails, 'cause their porn filters would catch 'em."
So what separates Kinky from all those dishonest fellatio artists out there? "One, Kinky's a romantic, a true believer. Kinky is not an evil whoredog. He truly believes in the goodness of people, and God bless his ass for that," Nixon says. "Two, you can't tell if he's serious or not. It's an Andy Kaufman situation. What the fuck is really going on here? We know what the Democrats and Republicans are gonna do -- they've got a song and dance. They're selling us the same bag of shit with different colors on it."
According to Nixon, the "whoredogs" only care about their rich backers. "They don't give a fuck about me and you. Our balls could be on fire, and their mouths could be full of water, and they'd hold it in for the guy that gave 'em the check."
Kinky, on the other hand, is running what Nixon calls a "spiritual" campaign. "If you get that, you get the whole thing immediately," he says. "Arguing over taxes, the details of governing, is boring. Nobody wants to hear about that, and the governor in Texas is just a figurehead. Why not have a fun figurehead?"
Well, why not? Friedman would serve as a far more effective figurehead than Perry or anyone else in the race. Many a figurehead serves as something like the conscience of his country -- think Prince Charles and his preservationist drives. Kinky would do wonders to improve the image of Texas in America and the rest of the world. He's come out in favor of expanded health care for poor children, better public education and raises for teachers, and more enlightened policies on drug abuse and energy, all areas of concern, embarrassment and/or shame for all but the most conservative Texans right now. So sending Friedman to the Governor's Mansion would be great PR, if nothing else. The national media already loves him. "If you're running MSNBC and you gotta fill up 24 hours a day, Kinky's a good interview," notes Nixon. "He's a funny fucker for five minutes. He's got an act, and he's gonna use it. And now that he's had to work so hard, he's got two, possibly even three new jokes. Shocking!"
And despite the Kaufman-esque undertones of Kinky's campaign, Nixon believes he can win. "Perry's gonna be stuck under 40 percent forever, and the Democrats right now have 20 percent. But in the latest Zogby poll, Kinky's got 17 percent of registered likely voters. Which is humongous! People like Kinky -- crazy people -- never get above 2 percent. And that's what I love about Kinky: He's truly crazy. Nuts. A fun-lovin' psycho. And if he can get above 15 percent, why can't he get 30 percent? And if he can get that, there's no reason he can't win this damn thing. It's already gonna be split four ways...Some people are gonna vote Democrat no matter what, like my daddy. But that still leaves plenty of Democrats to come over to Kinky. And plenty of people who don't ordinarily vote, too. And others will vote for Kinky out of spite and hate."
Hell, more unlikely candidates have already won elsewhere. "Arnold Schwarzenegger cannot even pronounce 'California,' and he's the fuckin' governor," Nixon says. "Kinky has fame, and that's the greatest commodity in America. Arnold has an enormous amount of it, which is why he's governor. But Kinky's got enough in Texas. He's up to 17 percent."
Some would argue about Kinky's fame, which is of a sort that could be interpreted as infamy in some of the more puritanical corners of Texas. The more humor-impaired on the left might not be so amused by songs like "Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed," and Friedman's early mystery novels take a cavalier tone not just to whiskey-drinking but also to coke-snortin' and the "hosing" of multiple babes.
"They're gonna call him a whoremonger, an alcoholic and a drug addict," Nixon admits. "And when the straight Christian conservatives accuse him of that, I hope Kinky says, 'You know what? I had a great time. What the hell were you doing?' An honest politician that admits that they got high and drunk and fucked good-lookin' women...I gotta tell you, I'm pro-fuckin'."
Nixon met Friedman some time around 1990, when they were introduced by a third American original. Nixon wanted to make a movie loosely based on his own life called Citizen Mojo, and he contacted Tom Waits about possibly directing. "In a moment of clarity, he begged off," Nixon dryly notes. Before backing out, Waits suggested that Nixon get Kinky to write the screenplay. Nixon now believes that this was a fiendish scheme on Waits's part; "He knew that if he got me and Kinky together, nothing would ever come of it," he says.
And Waits was right. "I went down to the ranch and hung out and met all of Kinky's New York friends, the whole thing," Nixon says. "I gave Kinky a whole bunch of money, we all got high and drunk and went to a whorehouse in Ju#&135;rez. There wasn't a whole lot of writing going on there."
But the drinking, drugging and whoring did cement the bonds of a lasting friendship, as those activities so often do. And now Nixon is about to resurrect what he loosely describes as the shambles of his former career to aid his old buddy's mad crusade. (Friedman might appear, but it's unconfirmed at this point.) Nixon plans to play Kinky classics like "The Ballad of Charles Whitman," "Asshole from El Paso" and "They Ain't Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore," as well as an unreleased song of his own called "Just a Little Favor for the Kinkster."
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"That one's a long shaggy dog story about me driving Kinky's lesbian lover's car from California to Texas. Shenanigans ensue. Most of 'em true. That's a hell of a story -- Kinky bought that girl some titties and she left him two weeks later. The man knows heartbreak! And this all happened while she was in jockey school. She ran off with some guy from Panama or something. I believe he had a Panama hat on!"
And of course Nixon will be dipping deeper into his own, um, mighty canon. He says he hasn't written anything new since he was on the radio in Cincinnati around the turn of the century -- ditties about Judge Judy, Dr. Laura and "Kill Dr. Phil," which Nixon says is "a companion piece to my other minimalist classic, 'Fuck Starbucks.' "
But the surefire hit of the evening promises to be Nixon's rewrite of "Elvis Is Everywhere," with the Kinkster replacing the King in the title. In the song, Kinky pops up all over Texas and elsewhere -- eating huge steaks in Amarillo, at the sacred battlefields of the Alamo and San Jacinto, and "leading the Jews out of Fredericksburg." (But Nixon also establishes that Kinky was not on the grassy knoll.) As for the Anti-Elvis role Michael J. Fox filled in the original, well, let's just say that a certain well-coiffed politico takes his place. (You can hear the song at www.mojonixon.com; as with most of Nixon's songs, it promises to be infinitely more fun live.)
Nixon hopes that the show will present an opportunity for the many different strands of the Kinkster's coalition to coalesce. "This is where the cowboys and the hippies will come together again; they are sick and tired of the lies," he says. "It'll be like the Armadillo World Headquarters all over again. The hippies and cowboys will come together and tell the government, 'Fuck you. We've elected a nut. How d'ya like that?' "