It Takes All Kinds

a Few Stories and Profiles by Erik Hedegaard
mainly from inside the pages of Rolling Stone
(with additional commentary and folderol provided by the author aka Charlie, sometimes)



Andy Dick Needs Love

Posted on | September 28, 2008 | No Comments

Andy Dick just wants a little love, but he’ll settle for a lot of sex

Out in hollywood, what Andy Dick could really use is some relief from the ladies. He should have on his mind his weekly MTV program, The Andy Dick Show, which features short, lunatic films, mostly starring humorous Andy-played characters such as Daphne Aguilera (Christina’s extra-hairy sister) and Zitty McGee (eaten up by acne, he wants to be a model). About to enter its second season, the program has become an MTV top-five hit, with 7 million viewers tuning in for each episode’s antics. So it’s done Dick good, rekindling a career somewhat in disarray since the end of his run playing dweeb-numskull Matthew on the sitcom NewsRadio. “I needed this show to be funny,’’ he says emphatically. “I needed it to work.’’ And about that, he’s probably right, if only to show the public that he’s more than a one-hit wonder – and more than what he’s also publicly been, which is a tequila-guzzling lush and a bong-loving pothead and that gangly fruit loop who bared his ass on Craig Kilborn’s Late Late Show, head-butted the podium at the Emmys, wrapped his car around a utility pole while zonked on coke, and outed himself as a bisexual in TV Guide. But then there are the ladies. And the ladies are vexing him deeply, at all hours of the night and day. Right now, he is in an MTV office at Ren Mar Studios, on Cahuenga, wolfing down a pile of hard-boiled eggs. “Hey, did those eggs smell up the whole room?’’ he says, blinking. “They did, didn’t they? Can we open the door?’’ Someone lunges for the door. Shortly, Dick and his show’s gang of eight writers begin laboring over a script. Dick’s into it, but not for long. Soon he’s shrugging and yawning and looking off in different directions. He seems abstracted, a little preoccupied with something more serious than, say, the plight of his character Gypsy Moth Anderson, who has been living in a tree for three years to protest logging – only it’s his father’s tree, in a residential neighborhood, with no logging going on anywhere. “Let’s just say there seem to be two girls in my life right now,’’ he says later. “I don’t know how to describe it. They’re sweet and beautiful and, you know, really great. One’s a Victoria’s Secret model, the other is a model-actress. One is a new girl, the other is an ex who just came back. This two-person thing has only been happening really hard-core in the last week. It is so complicated. I’m in a quandary. Thing is, I don’t like dating more than one person at a time. It’s like living a lie. I am in limbo.’’ And looking scattered and frazzled, with his knees whim-whamming back and forth like an accordion. He’s a skinny guy with a tangle of surfer-boy blond hair. He favors basic black and normally sits legs foppishly crossed, kind of wrapped up in himself, like a ball of worms. He can be wildly, childishly enthusiastic about something one moment and act entirely downtrodden the next. He grabs his cell phone and studies it. Last night, he got into an argument with one of the girls. There were words and tears. It was very distressing. He keys in some numbers, then wobbles around the room, waiting for someone to answer. No one does. He sits back down. He puts the phone away. His assistant hands him an apple. Looking vaguely morose, he eats it cradled in a napkin, his hands never touching the skin. “These girls,’’ he says after a while, “are driving me insane.’’ If he were a drinking man, they’d probably drive him to drink. But he doesn’t do that anymore. In fact, he’s been clean for almost two years now. No more Rolling Rock, no more tequila, no more pot. He goes to AA meetings once a day, sometimes thrice. He sees a therapist twice a week. He’s going to a gym. He has his meals delivered to him by the Zone diet people. Yes, lots of things are changing for Andy Dick. And so there he sits, thirty-five years old, knees jiggling back and forth, heart heavy with girl troubles, waiting for what will change next. When the workday is done, Dick does not find himself moving toward such L.A. hangouts as the Opium Den, Dragonfly, Mousetrap, Skybar or the Whiskey bar, with all the other cool bum-shuffling ginks. Instead, he drops by a flower shop on Melrose, gathers together a big soft-smelling arrangement for one of his girls and heads directly home. It’s raining. Rain is making a violent, twinkly racket on the top of the car. Dick shifts around, chin up, huddled inside a Midnight Cowboy-type sheepskin jacket, and starts to give an accounting of himself. He says he’s got some mottoes to live by now. Two of them are “Fake it till you make it’’ and “Suit up, show up and shut the fuck up.’’ Also, he’s sworn off coffee, even though the withdrawals, he says, “made my brain bleed through my nose.’’ He is praying a lot these days; when he doesn’t, he gets all knotted up inside, with his mind “spinning out of control, like a fucking Volvo, heading off the side, going over a cliff. I get very angry, irritable, restless, discontent. I just spiral into pure hell. So I pray, like, ‘Let’s just keep the love going.’ I’m praying for love.’’ Sure, he used to do a lot of coke, but he never liked it. (“Oh, this stuff is horrific,’’ he would say. “Gimme another line!’’) Tequila, though, he adored. Sometimes he used to smoke heroin, too (“I chased the dragon, as they call it’’). Did a few mushrooms, dropped some acid. Was devastated by the death of his big pal Chris Farley in 1997. Was really headed downhill. Finally, after a regrettable 1998 appearance on The Howard Stern Show, during which he rambled on brainlessly about his bisexuality, he decided maybe it was time for him to check into rehab. He did thirty days at a facility known as Promises Malibu, stayed sober for the next five months, kept it together even after close friend and NewsRadio cast member Phil Hartman was shot to death by his jealous wife, Brynn, began to party once more and then partied in Las Vegas with Suddenly Susan co-star David Strickland. Strickland hanged himself later that night. This was in 1999. A few months later, just hours after NBC announced it was axing NewsRadio, Dick wrapped his car around that telephone pole, cringing while a cop repeatedly bellowed, “Oh, you’re going dowwwn. You’re going dowwwn,’’ and ended up in a jail cell acting like “a miserable, sobbing, snot-nosed pussy, a puddle on the concrete floor.’’ This led to a number of felony and misdemeanor charges, a guilty plea and thirty more days at Promises Malibu – court-ordered. He left rehab in June 1999. Since that time, he’s been doing better. “I like sobriety,’’ he says as the car mushes forward through the rain. “I really do like sobriety the best.’’ He’s silent for a moment, scuffing his feet across the floor mat like someone ashamed. He has very wide feet and wears black, slab-size Birkenstock shoes to contain them. He owns lots of other shoes, but these are the only ones he wears. He sometimes thinks about this and why it is so, but an answer, like so many answers, escapes him. Still, he carries on. What he likes to do more than anything, he continues, is laugh. “I can laugh and laugh and laugh all day,’’ he says seriously. Then he points out that, in addition, he could probably have sex all day, too. “I can’t get enough of it,’’ he nearly shouts. “I love it!’’ Indeed, sex is very big in Dick’s life, though he no longer gets involved with men. “It really is a choice, and you can act on it or not. Right now, I’m completely straight, and I think it has a lot to do with sobriety.” Shortly after the rain lets up, the car reaches his duplex in West Hollywood – a Spanish-style town house not too far from one of his favorite eating holes, Real Food Daily, on La Cienega. He used to live in the upstairs half with his then-girlfriend Lina Sved and their children, Meg, 3, and Jacob, 5, while downstairs lived his ex-wife, Ivone, with their son, Lucas, 13. It seemed like an odd arrangement to the squareball press and was often commented upon with frowning wonder. Now he lives alone upstairs. He goes in, turns on a few lights. It’s dim. All the walls are green, varying in shade from minty to earth to army. He’s got Hindu- and Moroccan-looking objets scattered about. There are numerous religious crosses. It’s pleasant and warm and relaxing. Dick ushers himself into the kitchen, bends down to the microwave and opens the door. There, inside, is a love note from one of his girls. The girl who wrote the note did not put it in the nuke, however. The other girl did that, to let Dick know what she thinks of her competition. Dick retrieves it and looks pained. He burps, farts, apologizes falsely and wanders down a hallway toward his bedroom. On the way, he stops at a cabinet and takes out a journal. The journal is filled with his tiny, precise handwriting. He reads one of his poems out loud. If you want to play with something Play with this rubber ball. Don’t play with my heart, my heart, my heart. ’Cause it ain’t made of rubber, and it won’t bounce back. He pauses to let an air of significance crush around his words. In the silence, standing there with his book of feelings in his hand, he seems to be looking for a response. Maybe he should be told that his poem isn’t so hot. But such a truth would serve no purpose. Delighted, then, to hear that his poem is well loved, he snaps the book shut, ambles into his bedroom, glides something off a side table and hides it in a drawer. “I’m just putting the lubricant away,’’ he says breezily. “I use olive oil, because I try not to put anything on my body that I wouldn’t mind putting in my body.’’ He makes his way toward the kitchen again, and the breakfast table, on which are all the vitamins that he fortifies himself with: C, Curcumin 95, B-12, Magnesium, Bromelain, L-Glutamine, B-complex, Thionac, Alpha Lipoic acid, Niacinamide, among others. He scoots in, pushing to the side two books he’s currently reading, The Mastery of Love and Handle With Prayer, which, presumably, provide fortification. As it happens, he also draws strength from the size of his penis. It is said to be one of the largest in Hollywood, certainly in the top five. “I don’t have a very good body image. I think I’m too skinny. I think I’m odd-looking. I’ve got no chin, no shoulders. These things bug me. But when I caught on that it was bigger than normal, I also found out that it can be a source of power. It’s a false sense of confidence, but at least it’s confidence. I like my hair, too. I’ve always said, ‘I’ve got a big cock and rock-star hair.’ ’’ That noted, he opens a tub of Zone-diet string beans and salmon and starts to reflect on the past. Until i was twelve years old, I wet the bed,’’ he says. “They say that’s supposed to show a fear of father, which I had. I was very afraid of my dad. He was the lieutenant commander of a nuclear submarine, so I never saw him much. But when I did, he yelled. He was very, very angry. Only when I was twenty and he was dying did he finally admit once or twice that he loved me. “My mom, too, was maybe verbally abusive,’’ he goes on. “Yelled a lot, put the fear of her in me. But she did her best. They all did their best. Look at me. I’m doing OK. I’m crazy as a motherfucker. But that’s not her fault. It’s nobody’s fault.’’ Actually, Sue and Allen Dick were Andy’s adoptive parents; under other circumstances, his last name would have been Thomlinson – less fitting, of course, but also not quite so easy to make a joke of. “What’s your mom’s name, Anita?’’ the other kids would taunt. “What’s your dad’s name, Harry?’’ As a result, no matter where the Navy sent the family, from Connecticut to New York to Pennsylvania to Yugoslavia to Chicago, he was always shy and reserved around other people, though this did not stop him, starting at the age of ten, from going on all-nude streaking binges. Dick doesn’t like to talk about it, but he has said that sometime during his childhood he was sexually molested by a family friend. All he will say now is, “I had some weird experiences that tweaked my brain and erased boundaries for me. There were no boundaries. There was no one there to say, ‘Oh, this is wrong and that’s right.’ ’’ By the end of high school, he had started drinking and smoking pot, both of which helped him come out of his shell. In fact, he was quite a cutup. Running for homecoming king at his high school in Joliet, Illinois, he used the slogan, “Don’t vote for a jock, vote for A. Dick.’’ He went to college for a few months but in 1985 left to try his hand at improv comedy at Chicago’s Second City club, where he had occasionally taken some classes, and where he first met Chris Farley. A year later, he moved to Los Angeles, where he made friends with Ben Stiller and got a part on The Ben Stiller Show, as the guy who gave shape and substance to Manson Lassie and Skank the sock puppet. On the strength of this came his gig on NewsRadio. He’s had other gigs. He played the offspring of agents 86 and 99 in Fox’s ill-fated revival of Get Smart. He showed up in such movies as Reality Bites, The Cable Guy, the Pauly Shore vehicle In the Army Now (100 percent underrated), Bongwater, Inspector Gadget, Best Men, Flashback, etc. He was the voice of Nuka in The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride. Screwing its thinking cap on loosely, the Family Channel signed the former boozing pothead to headline one of its Christmastime family specials. He toured the country with his own one-man Andy Kaufman-like show, Andy Dick and the Bitches of the Century, during which he liked to imitate Don Knotts getting raped. But none of these efforts really opened up new vistas for him. And for a while, it was uncertain whether his current MTV show would do anything for him, either. “I felt like a lot of people were sitting there with their arms crossed, like, ‘Go ahead, go ahead and fuck up; we’re waiting till you fuck up again, you little idiot,’ ’’ he says. He didn’t fuck up, however, and the show’s success has brought him new opportunities, primarily from The Fast and the Furious producer Neal Moritz, who recently agreed with Dick that, yeah, sure, Dick’s Boogie Man character ought to star in his own movie. “I’m really working at rebuilding myself,” Dick says these days. “Like a phoenix out of the ashes, I’m rebuilding. And I am able to sleep a little easier now. But, I mean, no, no, it’s never good enough. It’s never enough. I’m never happy. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever.” During the course of the next several days, Dick works on beefing up his show; he goes to AA meetings; he sees his kids, who all live nearby; he gets made up as a fat Russian masseur to play a small part in the new Ben Stiller movie, Zoolander; he works out; he talks to his therapists; he orders tofu cheesecake topped with raspberries at Real Food Daily, where his matted hair, his deep-sunken dark-rimmed eyes and his stubbled chin all continue to speak to his current emotional state, which is love-confused. “Each of the girls has great qualities,’’ he reflects. “I wish I could combine them.’’ He sighs heavily. “I was in hell last night, thinking about them.’’ He pulls out his cell phone, dials numbers. “I’m gonna have to call this girl,’’ he says, brooding. “She was crying and stuff.’’ He steps outside, makes the call, goes to the bathroom, returns. He says he used to stand on the rims of public toilets to defecate, sinking his butt between his legs and letting go. But then he had to deal with what he calls “the splash factor,’’ so he devised another method. Now he uses toilet paper to fashion a hammock over the bowl area; he voids into it, releases the hammock into the water – and, mirabile dictu, no more splash factor! Looking into a mirror, he used to think to himself, “Ah, the poor man’s Brad Pitt.’’ Now he thinks, “Oh, I’m getting old. I look like Brad Pitt with Hodgkin’s disease.” “I don’t like touching doorknobs,’’ he says next. Consequently, after washing his hands in a public john, he dries them with a towel, uses the towel to open the door, holds the door open with his foot, swivels, tosses the towel into the trash and scoots out. He presents these things matter-of-factly, without histrionics. He does not draw conclusions from them. They are just the way he is. But he wishes he could keep more of these things to himself. He regrets talking openly about his bisexuality, and the childhood abuse, and the drugs and drinking. He thinks they give people the wrong impression of him. “I just wish I could keep my big mouth shut,’’ he says. “When people hear certain things about me, they get scared and think I’m a bad person. And I’m not a bad person. So I’m trying not to talk about me so much.’’ The next night, a male acquaintance is waiting for Dick in the lower half of his duplex. Dick is running late, as usual. Finally, the acquaintance can hear the front door open, followed by Dick’s voice and a woman’s voice. Dick and the woman go upstairs. An intercom sprackles to life. “Hey,’’ Dick says, “I’m going to take a shower. Be down in ten minutes.’’ Forty minutes later, he appears. As usual, he makes no apologies for his tardiness. He sits in a chair, cutting his fingernails and having a hard time not talking so much about himself. “My hair is all natural, no dyes,’’ he is saying. “And the carpets match the drapes. I’d show you my blondish pubes, though they’re more like brown.’’ “Go ahead,’’ the acquaintance says. “Come on. Let’s have a look.’’ Dick laughs. “You’re not gay,’’ he says. “I guess I could.’’ He stands up, starts to fiddle, and exclaims, “The zipper’s already down!’’ He shows some pubes, and indeed they are brownish. “OK. Now, let’s have a look at the enchilada.’’ Dick frowns. “It just went into hibernation. It did. Because it just had a lot of action. Upstairs. I had to. Yeah. I had to. Yes. It’s like, I’m not going to see her for a while, ha-ha, because I’m going to my AA meeting, ha-ha, and won’t see her for two whole hours, ha-ha!’’ A few moments later, the woman comes downstairs. She’s one of the two who are driving Dick to distraction. Her name is Lisa. She and Dick met two years ago, when she was an intern on NewsRadio. She says that her boss at the time gave her some advice. He said, “See that guy, Andy Dick? You can date anybody in the industry that you want, but you cannot date Andy Dick. Stay away from him. He’s a freak.’’ Four weeks later, they were an item. Today, she is freshly showered and looks squeaky clean. She’s blond. She wears a white spaghetti-strap top and is exceedingly honest when it comes to Dick. “You know he’s insane, right?’’ she says. “When he was drinking, he was out of control. And then when he was sober, because he was detoxing for so long, well, I used to call his mean streak ‘dickweed.’ But he has changed so much, so much for the better. Now you’re doing good, baby.’’ “I lost her for a few months,’’ Dick says. “I spent hours, days, weeks crying. These things were coming up, with every kind of liquid coming out of every hole in my body. I think it went back to all my abandonment issues.’’ There’s a moment of silence in the room. “Is Andy’s penis as big as people say it is?’’ “It’s really big,’’ Lisa says, nodding rapidly. “Really, really big. Huge. I have to be honest. If he was drinking now, he’d show it to you. He’s proud of it. One time at dinner, he said to this reporter, ‘Want to see my Rolex?’ He pulled it out and wrapped it around his wrist and showed it to people. I have never seen bigger. It’s perfect.’’ The acquaintance is disappointed, of course, that he won’t be viewing Dick’s great big world-class it. But Dick is no longer handing out those kinds of thrills. If that has been in doubt, this seals it: He really is changing. Later, on Rodeo Drive, sitting in a car before going to his AA meeting, Dick flips down the visor mirror and says, “I’ve got to make sure my hair is good. I’m not a movie star. I haven’t done anything really big yet. But I feel like I’m going to. I think this is the year. Don’t you feel like it’s a real good year for me?’’ Finally he says, “I have a funny feeling.’’ He sits in the car a while longer. He seems to be on the verge of getting out. But he doesn’t get out quite yet.

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