Go With Kinky

About eight years ago, give or take a couple of days, Kinky Friedman gave me a copy of his first three novels, collected in a single volume by a British publishing house. Inside, he had scribbled a note that, to this day, gives me no small amount of solace and inspiration: "From one Texas Jewboy to another, go fuck yourself." (Years later, he gave William Jefferson Clinton, a longtime fan, a book with a far less stirring message: "See ya in hell." The president responded by asking The Kinkster to the White House for dinner.) I've known Richard "Kinky Big Dick" Friedman almost 14 years, ever since he decided to ditch his career as a singer and writer of songs both profane and profound and take up a new profession as an author of mystery novels (of which the latest is The Mile High Club, about a plane trip from Dallas to New York, a mysterious woman, and a pink suitcase). I first met him in a mall in Austin, where he was signing copies of his first book, Greenwich Killing Time, and he was easy to spot, as he was the only man in the mall who looked then as he does now--like the lost, latent member of the lost Hebrew tribe of the Village People.

Over the years, our professional relationship (meaning, he called whenever he was coming to town and needed a little advance press) turned into a personal one (meaning, I now call him when I need a favor). I've smoked pot with Kinky and Wavy Gravy in a Dallas hotel room, gone to dinners with him and his parade of beautiful young girlfriends, asked for and received and ignored advice about career decisions, and laughed at jokes staler than the smell of one of his ever-present cigars. ("The Germans are my second-favorite people," he's fond of saying, "My first are everybody else, hee hee hee hee.") I am convinced that my wife believes--half the time, at least--she married the wrong Texas Jewboy. When she invited The Kinkstah to our wedding in 1997, I think she was hoping he'd show up as the groom.

Last time I saw the man was in June: I'd asked him to speak at the annual Association of Alternative Newspapers conference in Phoenix, to talk about "the art of writing," or some such bullshit. Instead, he made a few decidedly un-PC jokes (available on his new CD Classic Snatches from Europe, a comedy-and-music routine performed with old pal Little Jewford), read from his book Roadkill ("In the early '50s, when I was a child, I spat as a child, I shat as a child, and I wore a funny little pointed hat as a child," he began, adding, "Now that's great writing"), and stuck around an extra hour so he could sign books for the normally bored Birkenstocks in the hotel dining hall who still have posters of George McGovern hanging above their beds. They didn't want to laugh, but they did; they didn't want to beg for autographs, but they did. They didn't want to love Kinky, but they did.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky