Mister Tony Clifton!
Tony Clifton doesn’t give a shit about your feelings. He has no time for the open-minded and close-mouthed. For decades, this comic genius, reluctant philanthropist, and International Singing Sensation has amazed and frightened his audiences with his Vegas-style musical renditions of popular music, his off the rails personality, and a mouth that would kill a hippie stone dead. The Andy Kaufman biopic “Man on the Moon” recalled Mr. Clifton in all his chaotic glory, expanding his profile for a new breed of fans. Though the time since has seen sporadic appearances by the man, his legend as a song and dance man hasn’t disappeared.
Currently, he’s back on the road, getting ready for a big new album, and being as wonderfully crass as ever. In anticipation for Mr. Clifton’s Friday show at the Triple Door in Seattle – a show in which one lucky audience member will, no shit, win a free hooker – the man and I had a conversation about his long and storied career. In the course of this interview, Mr. Clifton took no prisoners and was mercilessly funny. It should be assumed that every one of his nasty, offensive jokes had me doubled over with laughter.
Not everyone will share my warped sense of humor, so I’ll preface this with a warning. If you’re offended by, well, anything, you might want to sit this one out. But if you appreciate comic brilliance outside of the acceptable lines, read on. More importantly, go see Tony Clifton for yourself!
Y Spy: Your new tour is being billed as a return to the road. Where have you been?
Tony Clifton: Well, I’ve been in my own skin! I haven’t been anywhere! I’m the same guy I’ve always been. As you know, I’m considered the International Singing Sensation, so I work internationally. For the last number of years, I’ve been over in the Third World countries performing. I fill up soccer stadiums! I do a little faith healing too, on the side. People come in to hear some songs, I do some Sinatra singing and everything, but then people in the Third World countries will believe any damn thing. So I get myself a plant here and there, make some people walk out of their wheelchairs, everybody goes crazy.
I don’t charge a lot of money. Matter of fact, you could bring some canned goods to get into my shows – back in the Third World countries.
Y Spy: Not in America, though.
Tony Clifton: Oh, not here, no. Here we wanna get the money from them. That’s why, what is it, Friday night over at the Triple Door, 7:30 is gonna be showtime. And I’m tellin’ ya, you don’t wanna miss this. I’m not a comedian; I’m an International Singing Sensation. This is a big Vegas type of show. I got all kinds of musicians on stage; I got three horn players from New Orleans, they’ll blow the roof off and blow the door down at the Triple Door!
Hey, what nationality are you?
Y Spy: Mostly Norwegian.
Tony Clifton: Norwegian? Well, I don’t think I know one fuckin’ Norwegian joke.
Hey, what’s the difference between an Irish wedding and an Irish funeral? One less drunk.
Did you hear about the Polack whose wife had triplets? Yeah, he went looking for the other two guys!
Why is Aspirin white? Because it works.
How do you stop little black kids from jumping on the bed?
Y Spy: I have heard this one, but go for it.
Tony Clifton: [Then] I’m not gonna tell you.
How do you stop little kids from playin’ in your yard? Rape one!
What sound does a baby make when you put it in the microwave? I don’t know! I was jerking off!
[Noticing my constant laughter] You’re a sick man, aren’t ya?
Y Spy: I am a sick man!
Tony Clifton: How do you get a gay man to make love to a woman? Put shit in her pussy!
We take everybody on! Every nationality.
Y Spy: You’ve gotta come up with a good Norwegian joke.
Tony Clifton: You find one, you let me know! Norwegian was the, whatchacallit, that was the big warriors, what were they called?
Y Spy: The Vikings!
Tony Clifton: The Vikings! Yeah, the fuckin’ Vikings, man. Vikings were crazy motherfuckers. You’ve got crazy DNA! Those guys were warriors to the end. They’d wanna die a great warrior death. Like that movie 300.
Tony Clifton - America's Viking
Y Spy: But those were Greeks. Got any good Greek jokes?
Tony Clifton: Greek? No, but I’ll tell you a pedophile joke.
Two pedophiles were sitting on a park bench. One turns to the other one and says: “You know, I had myself a 12 year old last night.”
The other pedophile says “12 year old? We’ve all had ourselves 12 year olds!”
He said “Yeah, but this one had the body of a 7 year old!”
Y Spy: Wow.
Tony Clifton: What’s the best part about fucking twenty six year olds? There’s twenty of them.
What do you call a short Mexican woman? Cunt-sway-low.
We have fun. But seriously, the show’s a big musical show. And wait till you see the Cliftonettes! These are the top strippers that I have, right out of New Orleans. So people come to this, and it’s not just music and jokes, but hot, hot chicks.
Y Spy: Speaking of which, I’ve heard that you’re offering free hookers!
Tony Clifton: I am! This is what I’m going to do. You know Dennis Hof, the show Cathouse on HBO? Dennis Hof is a good friend of mine. I was just over at the famed Moonlite Bunny Ranch. He had a big birthday there; we were celebrating with him, me, Joey Buttafuoco, and Ron Jeremy. We had a good time with all the young girls. Matter of fact, I maintain a suite over at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch.
So what we’re doing is that everybody who comes to the show – we have to word this just right because prostitution is illegal in Seattle, [though] it is legal in Nevada, where the ranch is – we’re having a free raffle. We’re not charging anybody for this. Everybody puts their name in a hat, and that night we will have a drawing. I don’t care if it’s male or female – whoever wins will get the hooker of their choice at Dennis Hof’s Moonlite Bunny Ranch, totally and fully paid for by yours truly and Dennis Hof.
So this is gonna be wild. Some of those horny guys – and horny girls, maybe they got a little lesbian tendency – they will come and have themselves a time. They can go to the Moonlite Bunny Ranch website now and start thinking and fantasizing about what girl they wanna fuck.
Y Spy: But you’re not paying airfare or anything.
Tony Clifton: No! From Seattle, that’s a short flight anyway. You go right to Reno, and we will put them up over at the ranch. They will have VIP treatment and they will meet Dennis Hof. I will be there, cause we will work this out with the dates. We’ll get everybody there at the same time, and it is gonna be quite an experience.
And this is true. There’s no bullshit to it. But we’ve gotta do it as a free raffle. We can’t be charging, or else we’ll get in trouble with the law.
But I’ll tell you my philosophy: you’re only as old as the person you fuck. I’ve had a rule for the last 30 years: I will not fuck any girl that’s over half my age. And that’s why I have all this fuckin’ energy, man. I ain’t fuckin’ some old broad! Some of these poor guys that are married and got fat old wives, what the fuck? You’d wanna blow your fuckin’ brains out! You need some nice young stuff there. That is the fountain of youth – guys fuckin’ in their 80s, 90s.
Y Spy: Like Tony Randall, who had a kid at that age.
Tony Clifton: Yeah, that’s right! Tony Randall! Absolutely. Gary Busey just had a kid; he’s 65 or something. I’ll tell ya, there’s nothing like young pussy. It keeps you young. It keeps me going. I’ve got groupies and everything; I don’t have to pay for it if I don’t want to.
Let me ask you a question. What does an 80 year old pussy taste like? Depends!
That cloth has been around. I'm sure of it.
Y Spy: So as a big Vegas-style showman, what’s your favorite thing about Vegas?
Tony Clifton: Well, Vegas is Vegas. What can you say? When I think back on Las Vegas, I think back to those days when I was a young man in the audience watching the Rat Pack perform. Back then in the old Vegas, you had anything you needed. You wanted hookers, there was no fuckin’ problem. That’s when the Mafia ran the place – but they knew how to run that!
Now you’ve got that whole Disney crowd that moved in there. Vegas is going through a lot of crap. What hurt ‘em in the last few years with the economy going to Hell is the Indian gambling that came in. When we gave all the Indians all that damn free land and allowed them to do the Indian gambling, that’s just killing these big casinos. When we had a chance 150 years ago to wipe the red man out, we should have done it. We had the Gatling gun then! We could have blown them all out of the way and then we wouldn’t have people suffering today.
And another thing: those damn Injuns can’t even hold their liquor. Liquor? I hardly know her! My doctor tells me I gotta get away from the booze. I drink the Jack Daniels just like Sinatra drank. Like Frank used to say, he felt sorry for people who didn’t drink, because when they woke up in the morning that was as good as they’re gonna feel all fuckin’ day.
People come to my show and this is big-time party. We do all kinds of music, from Sinatra to Zeppelin, and since I got the horn players, I throw in a lot of Blood, Sweat, and Tears, and Chicago. A lot of guys won’t play that shit because they don’t got the horns. This is a great fuckin’ show. The more people drink, the better I sound.
Y Spy: So the band is called the Katrina Kiss-My-Ass Orchestra. How did you go about assembling it?
Tony Clifton: That charity organization put it together – what is it, Comedy somethin’ Relief? They had the Katrina disaster up there, so a lot of people in the band are there. A lot of dancers are from New Orleans. And of course I got involved, not that I do charity work. Fuck that. I think charity starts at home! Matter of fact, if some fuckin’ bastard comes trying to fuckin’ wipe my windshield, I’ll run him over! I don’t go for that crap.
Hey! What’s the best part about makin’ love to a homeless woman? Her pussy smells just like her asshole. What do you think of that, huh?
What does a black kid get for Christmas? Your bike!
There’s a car going by with a black man and a Mexican in it. Who’s driving? A cop!
It’s rainin’ up in Seattle; I should do some rain jokes. What’s Seattle known for? Kurt Cobain, right? Well, I’ll tell you a little something here, hold it! You know I was in the movie Man on the Moon with Jim Carrey. Did you know I fucked Courtney Love? This is for real!
Y Spy: How was she?
Tony Clifton: Not too good! Here’s what happened. Cause she wanted to fuck Jim Carrey so bad, and Jim was going at the time with Renee Zellweger. So when we’d be on location, you’d have the Winnebago there, and [Love] would come around looking for Jim. Courtney, she got fucked up, and she’ll fuck anyone that moves.
So she came over to Jim’s trailer one day, and he was out on the set. She didn’t know this. So I let her in – Jim and I was real close – and we were drinking a little, and after a while I said: “I’ll tell you what – you wanna sleep with Jim, I can make that happen. But I gotta be honest; I don’t bullshit people. You take care of me right here and now, and I’ll put in a good word. I didn’t fuck her, but she gave me a pipejob, a blowjob. She wouldn’t let me cum in her mouth or anything like that, but she sucked my fucking cock in Jim Carrey’s Winnebago on the set of Man on the Moon.”
Y Spy: So did you ever put in a good word to Jim Carrey?
Tony Clifton: Bullshit, no! I didn’t say nothin’. Her and I went through about a half bottle of Gentleman Jack. I don’t think she even remembered the conversation. But Kurt Cobain blew his brains out in Seattle, didn’t he?
Y Spy: Yeah! So a good suicide joke would be called for.
Tony Clifton: Yeah. I do some Michael Jackson stuff. What’s the difference between Walt Disney and Michael Jackson? Disney can still touch children!
Y Spy: I have one that’s similar. What’s the difference between Michael Jackson and Peter Pan? When Michael Jackson went to Neverland, he took the second child star on the right.
Tony Clifton: That’s pretty good! You know what? This is crazy; I was talking to somebody who was telling me that towards the end, that Michael really went through his fuckin’ money. That’s why he wanted to do the tour and all that. And he was living in Santa Barbara, cause that’s where that Neverland is, and somebody said about maybe three weeks before he started rehearsing that fuckin’ show, they saw him – with a bodyguard – actually shopping at fuckin’ K-Mart!
Y Spy: Really?
Tony Clifton: Yeah. Boy’s underwears were half off.
Y Spy: That was a good setup! That was a slow burn.
Tony Clifton: You were buying it!
Y Spy: So what else do you have planned for the show?
Tony Clifton: Well, it’s big musical numbers. It’s a hot bit. We got a couple of reviews on the road that said that this band, the Katrina Kiss-My-Ass Orchestra, could hold its own with the Boss’s E-Street Band. People will come and be very surprised, so it’s a place to come and party, rock the fuck out. People will get blown away by this band, let alone me, let alone the hot fuckin’ burlesque dancers that are part of this troupe. This is a very colorful show, a lot of costumes, and c’mon, we’re givin’ away a fuckin’ hooker every fuckin’ night.
People have come to shows and said it was the greatest fuckin’ show they had ever seen. Sometimes we go for hours and hours. It’s gonna be fun. That’s what life’s all about, cause people are too pressured now.
I’m not politically correct; the Chicago Sun-Times says that “Tony Clifton will say things that Howard Stern wouldn’t dare say.”
Tony Clifton does not give a shit.
Y Spy: And that’s one of the great things about you – you’re not predictable, and you don’t give a shit and go full-out, calling people on their bullshit.
Tony Clifton: There’s nobody else doing that! Everybody is so politically correct; I could give a shit. I’m an International Singing Sensation. If America doesn’t want to accept me, I’ll get the fuck out of here, and I’ll be glad to.
Y Spy: But how many people in America are going to Africa and faith healing people? They’re not doing what you did.
Tony Clifton: That’s right! Additionally, I’ve sold more albums than Elvis and the Beatles combined. Internationally. Not here in the States, but internationally. That is a fact!
Oh, I got a new product now. Holy shit. We will have an example of it. I won’t get into details, but it’s called Tony Clifton’s Young Shaver. It’s a little shaver for the girls that looks like a lipstick case, but when you turn it a shaver comes out of it. This is for shaving those little delicate areas. I tested it personally with over 500 young girls over at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch. Their pussies don’t have any stubble or anything. I’m actually going to show the clip of it being tested at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch.
Y Spy: One more reason to see the show. You’ve got hookers, you’ve got videos of you shaving girls…
Tony Clifton: And I’ve got words of wisdom! And I cut through all the bullshit. I don’t get that political, but the main thing is that people gotta let it go, man. I’m watching this shit with this New Orleans oil disaster. 85 days, people glued to the fuckin’ TV to watch some fuckin’ pipe underneath the fuckin’ ocean with bubbles coming out of it? People, get a fuckin’ life, man! People are throwing their fuckin’ lives away. You live fuckin’ once; you go for the fuckin’ gusto.
We have no fuckin’ set list. We don’t do anything. I just sit there and I fuckin’ drink. The more I drink, the crazier things fuckin’ get. Everybody in the band drinks, and all the girls are fuckin’ intoxicated, too. That’s how I get them to take their clothes off. So people come to this thing and have a little fuckin’ fun in their life. I’ve had people that fly out to all our fuckin’ shows. They hitchhike to them. They’re fuckin’ addicted to them, instead of the same old bullshit, night after night, that people see on TV.
Who the fuck wants to hear the Eagles one more fuckin’ time? Not me, man. Even Dylan, he goes on stage, the songs don’t even sound like the songs. What the hell’s he singing? It’s “Like a Rolling Stone!” [Makes nonsensical Bob Dylan noises]
That reminds me: what’s the difference between Santa Claus and a Jew? Santa Claus comes down the chimney. See, I can make that joke. Do you know why? I had a relative who died in Auschwitz. He fell off the guard tower!
We hear this over and over: this is the most incredible, fascinating show they’ve ever seen. Cause you’re right. I don’t give a fuck. Sometime I might even drop my pants, shit in my hands, and throw it at the audience, like a gorilla in a fuckin’ zoo.
A man of distinction. A man of class.
Y Spy: I really hope that happens.
Tony Clifton: But you don’t wanna be sitting in the front row when I do that. Maybe I should hand out sheets like Gallagher.
Oh! Did I tell you this? I got an album! For that charity bullshit, I’m doing like Sinatra did with his duets album. I’m doing a duets album. Already we’ve recorded with R.E.M.; I laid down “Man on the Moon” with [them]. And, get this, we did a show back in May, four nights sold out at The Comedy Store, and there was a gentleman in the audience – I didn’t know who this guy was – named Billy Corgan from the Smashing Pumpkins. Afterwards he came back and said that this was the most brilliant fuckin’ show he had ever seen in his life, and he would be honored to record with me. So he’s coming out to my studio up here in the mountains next month, and we’re gonna do one of his songs, “Today.”
It’ll be a big fuckin’ album. When you’ve got these titans of music like Smashing Pumpkins and R.E.M. wanting to have the opportunity to record for me, there’s something going on.
Y Spy: When is the album going to be released?
Tony Clifton: [Corgan’s] coming out here next month, and then there’s a few other big names that also appear on the album. I can’t give you those names yet, but they’re all monsters. I would imagine that we do the tour this fall, and then probably mix everything and get it all ready probably for next year’s fall tour.
Y Spy: So you’ve been doing this for over 40 years…
Tony Clifton: And I never age! Because of the young pussy juice! The sex with the young girls will do it. They start squirting, and I’ll take it right then and there, down my fuckin’ throat. I’ll rub it all over my face. That’s why my skin stays so young.
Y Spy: So how have the girls changed over the years?
Tony Clifton: Well now they shave down there. You look at some old porno; they still got the bushes. Now they’re nice and shaved, and that’s good.
Certainly what is really a big change is I noticed over the years at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch, the brothels, more and more girls are coming in by themselves to fuck other girls. You never saw that, years ago. As a matter of fact, they never even allowed women in the brothels, but that has changed – and you see a lot of couples coming in. And nobody goes: “She’s a lesbian.” They’re curious!
As a matter of fact, you’ll meet Keely. Keely’s my adopted daughter, and she’s in my show. She’s hot as all hell; wait until you see this little piece of ass. And I buy her pussy all the time. She loves it! And she wouldn’t consider herself lesbian; she likes it every once in a while. And there’s nothing’s wrong with that!
Halloween’s coming up; let me tell you this. What did one lesbian vampire say to the other lesbian vampire?
Y Spy: I have no idea, but I know it’s going to be amazing.
Tony Clifton: “See you next month!”
Y Spy: Nice!
My final question is: you’ve spent decades being an International Singing Sensation. How do you sum up the life of Tony Clifton?
Tony Clifton: My career in total has been quite amazing. I really do think that this is my time now. Before, when Kaufman was alive, he would do impressions of me, and people would get confused. What has happened – and I do have to thank Jim Carrey and Miloš Forman for “Man on the Moon,” putting that movie out there – that got a whole new generation of young kids coming to see me. I thought it would be all old farts coming to see me. Mm-mm! Not at all! I thought all people remembered was Taxi or Saturday Night Live, cause of Kaufman or shit like that. No, no, no, no! Who’s coming out? Young kids, because they got a taste of me in “Man on the Moon.”
As a matter of fact, even though Jim and Paul Giamatti play me in the movie, that last scene, “I Will Survive” – which is my signature song – they actually had me do that myself. So that’s me at the end of the movie.
The time is right. People have sold everyone a bill of goods in this country, and the whole thing’s falling apart. You got fucked over, cause the baby boomers took care of themselves. I give the kids what they want. They want pussy? They got pussy. They want booze? They got booze. They want fun entertainment, jokes that you’re not allowed to say anymore?
I’ll call, what are you supposed to call ‘em, Little People? Little People my ass! They’re midgets! They’re filthy little disgusting midgets. I’ll call ‘em Pea-pods! I’ll call ‘em Shrimp! I’ll call ‘em midgets!
The other day, somebody sent me a letter and was offended because I did “Walk on the Wild Side,” and it says: “And the colored girls go…” They said “You ain’t supposed to say colored girls no more.” Now get this! James Brown did a song called “I’m Black and I’m Proud.” Now they’re saying you can’t say black. You’ve gotta say “I’m Afro-American and I’m Proud?” It throws the whole beat off! Have people lost their fuckin’ minds? This is like book burning, this political correct crap. I ain’t doing it; I fought in World War II, my friend! I gave a leg to this fuckin’ country!
I say what I want to say! This is fucking freedom!
Tony Clifton does not fuck around!
Tony Clifton plays the Triple Door in Seattle on Friday, October 8th. The show begins at 7:30. More information can be found at www.tonyclifton.net.