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An Interview with Gibby Haynes

Pictures courtesy of Gibby Haynes and Soho Press

From their first anthemic blast of madness, Texas freak-rockers the Butthole Surfers dosed the wild abandon of punk with uncut lysergic insanity to create a psychedelic firestorm of simultaneous terror, pleasure, and ecstatic menace. Immediately, the group made drug music historical past — after which saved on making it.

Main the Buttholes’ cost was front-maniac Gibby Haynes, a six-foot-five former faculty basketball star and the son of an Austin kiddie present host named “Mr. Peppermint.” As each a songwriter and (particularly) as a stay showman, Gibby bombarded music the way in which a tsunami of psilocybin would bombard a human mind.

All through the Buttholes’ skyward surge from dirty art-spaces to enjoying arenas and truly scoring a pop radio hit (“Pepper”), each one of many group’s stay performances turned a factor of mind-melting legend. 

Butthole exhibits mixed the gamers’ limitless sonic creativeness with multi-media onslaughts that ranged from penile surgical procedure movies and seizure-inducing strobe-lights to raining hundreds of tiny cockroach photos down on the gang. Masterminding all of it — and sometimes firing blanks from a shotgun into the panicked viewers — was Gibby himself, the very embodiment of acidic chaos. 

That was then. Now, in 2020, the Butthole Surfers have been on maintain for years, and Gibby Haynes is a married dad. Ever the cosmic prankster and cultural table-flipper, although, Gibby has channeled his depraved genius right into a format no one — regardless of how excessive they had been — might have seen coming. He has written a younger grownup novel, Me and Mr. Cigar.


It’s the story of a Texas teenager named Oscar and his canine, Mr. Cigar, a Jack Russell terrier who died and dug himself out of his grave, returning to life with supernatural powers and an odd, flying companion. Alongside together with his finest pal Lytle, Oscar runs drug-fueled raves till his sister in New York summons him for assist. From there, the 2 boys and their canine embark on a cross-country highway journey whereas being pursued by a grimy cop and a crazed army officer named Colonel Sanders. As bizarre as that’s, Me and Mr. Cigar really takes off after Oscar unintentionally downs a Pink Bull loaded with LSD and MDMA. 

Sure, it is a e book for teenagers (the writer recommends age 14 and up). It’s additionally pure Gibby, which implies it’s hallucinatory, hilarious, heartfelt, jarring, taboo-busting, and bizarrely inspirational. Simply as numerous teenagers up to now got here to appreciate life’s bigger, louder potentialities the primary time they heard the Butthole Surfers, Me and Mr. Cigar ensures that Gibby is constant to positively subvert the youth properly into the 21st century. 

Gibby took a while to speak to MERRY JANE about Me and Mr. Cigar and, properly, loads of different issues. 


MERRY JANE: Hey, Gibby! You prepared to speak to MERRY JANE?

Gibby Haynes: Oh, yeah! That is Snoop Dogg’s website! Depraved! Does that imply I can smoke weed now?

You don’t want my permission! And you realize what Snoop would say.

Sure, I do! [Laughs, makes a deep inhaling sound]

So, first issues first: How did Gibby Haynes come to write down a younger grownup novel?

A few years in the past, a writer was placing collectively a e book of youngsters’s tales written by musicians and illustrated by cool artists. I wrote a narrative for that undertaking, which turned out to be the prologue for Me and Mr. Cigar. Then, at a celebration, this author named Galaxy Craze instructed me I ought to write an entire e book. 

That concept was on the market, then, and this editor Daneil Ehrenhaft at Soho Press began actually hounding me to write down a e book. That went on for 2 years till lastly, I used to be like, “Fuck it, I’ll look this man up.” So, I googled him and skim, “Daniel Ehrenhaft lives in Brooklyn with a canine named Gibby.” I simply needed to snort — solely after two years did I discover out the man was a Gibby-phile!

Did he particularly need you to write down a younger grownup (YA) novel?

Yeah. He despatched me examples of what’s attainable now in YA. These books had scary kidnappings and homicide — like precise children committing homicide! — and language just like the phrase “cunt” and the n-word, actual unhealthy, with the hard-r. Stuff I couldn’t consider! Typically there was redemption within the books, typically penalties, and typically not. After that, I knew I’d be capable of write one thing harder-edged.

The matter-of-fact presence of medication in Me and Mr. Cigar may shock lots of people. 

Properly, it’s one thing I learn about. It’s additionally one thing children need to cope with. All children. I wrote this e book to be the kind of factor I’d have needed to about once I was 13. 

I first obtained excessive once I was 11-years-old. I actually did acid within the ’60s! My first journey occurred throughout Christmas break of 1969. I used to be 12. So, I can pinpoint the precise second of my arrested improvement, emotionally. It was proper then. 

I additionally wrote the e book kind of like a film, and, you realize, in a film they at all times have that first scene that has to seize you. I needed to get into the motion actually quick, and I simply had this picture in my head of a canine strolling down the road with a shit-ton of dope in his mouth. 

There are additionally penalties connected to the medicine, as a result of children need to cope with that, too. I don’t glorify it. I didn’t need to write an instruction guide. 


What books did you learn whenever you had been a child?

Quite a lot of bios of sports activities figures. Rascal [by Sterling North], which is a couple of child who raises a child raccoon. My Aspect of the Mountain [by Jean George], which is a couple of child who runs away to go stay off the land within the woods. 

I can see how these plots may need planted some seeds for Me and Mr. Cigar

Yeah, I don’t know. I learn loads of books written by adults who had been making an attempt to impart some type of lesson. I wrote my e book in three components — a prologue written within the third particular person, the primary story instructed by Oscar, after which an epilogue which appears to be coming from somebody who’s older. I additionally began with a letter to the reader to elucidate that I hoped to write down one thing type of humorous, type of trippy, and type of harmful. 

The canine within the e book is called Mr. Cigar. Is he instantly primarily based on the real-life canine Mr. Cigar that famously toured with the Butthole Surfers?

The Mr. Cigar within the e book is definitely kind of a mix of that Mr. Cigar and one other canine. The title got here from a Rolling Stone article written once I was within the depths of heroin dependancy. I talked about being fully remoted on this horrible shit-hole with simply the canine. I mentioned, “Me and Mr. Cigar,” and the writer appreciated that for the title. 

I obtained the primary Mr. Cigar from a blind woman. Anyone instructed me there was a litter of puppies, and I went over to get one. The woman mentioned, “Which one would you like?” And I pointed to Mr. Cigar and mentioned, “That one.” And she or he was like, “Which one? I’m blind!” And I mentioned, “The black-and-white one,” and that went on for a little bit bit [laughs].

It looks like canines have at all times been part of the Butthole Surfers’ story.

Yeah, however the first Mr. Cigar was a cat! He belonged to Buttholes guitarist, Paul Leary. There’s this factor the place typically a cat will come and chunk your toe whenever you’re sleeping, and that’s what Mr. Cigar would do to Paul’s father, who was known as Huge Paul. Mr. Cigar would sneak up on Huge Paul when he was asleep and nip his toe after which run away. Huge Paul would at all times rise up and chase him down the corridor, however he might by no means catch him! We appreciated that spirit, like, “You go, Mr. Cigar!”

The canine within the e book is impressed by a real story. There was a canine in Texas named Jimmy who had a head damage, they usually thought he was lifeless, after which the subsequent day, he was scratching on the again door! He dug himself up and got here dwelling.

Wow, that’s the dream of each child who ever had a canine die. 

It’s. I actually needed to convey that within the story, how unbearable it’s when a canine dies, particularly whenever you’re a child. We solely have them for such a short while, they usually imply a lot. 


Paul Leary of the Butthole Surfers with the band’s different canine, Mark Farner (through)

Have you ever heard from any children who’ve learn the e book but?

No! I actually need to. I can’t wait. I sometimes carry out with the children from College of Rock. We did three gigs and have one other one developing. There are 19 children. After the final one, all of us obtained on the bus, and I gave every one in every of them a signed copy of the e book. Afterward, I requested [School of Rock founder] Paul Inexperienced, “Do children even learn books?” He mentioned, “I don’t know.” So, I’m taking that to be a giant, fats no! [Laughs]

What critiques have you ever seen?

I used to be actually nervous about getting skewered. Texas librarians, for some purpose, are actually essential on the earth of YA books, so I despatched it to loads of Texas librarians. Considered one of them wrote again, “It’s type of druggy, however I feel it’s good.” 

Excellent cowl blurb! With that in thoughts, what do you assume would be the impact of legalized weed on youngsters?

Wow! That may be a nice query! I feel we’ve to have a look at it like alcohol, and I feel dad and mom need to take duty. Deal with weed like alcohol. This can be a query we’ve to ask, and I don’t know what the reply goes to be. I don’t assume it’s going to be the Mitch McConnell reply.

I additionally don’t assume we’re going to have unhappy tales about some child getting excessive and getting in a automotive and killing an entire household. I simply don’t. It retains coming again to folks and alcohol, as a result of alcohol is the worst motherfucker of a drug there may be. 

Physiologically, when you ask a physician what’s extra damaging, a pile of heroin or a bottle of whiskey, it’s the whiskey. Not that I’m advocating for legalizing heroin, however, rattling, alcohol is a motherfucker — and that’s authorized! 

Since MERRY JANE is Snoop Dogg’s website, our place is fairly clear. 

Yeah. I like Snoop. I’m so excited to be doing this interview. Are you aware him?

No. Sadly, I haven’t met him but. 

Me neither. I obtained all excited to satisfy Snoop as soon as when he was on tour with the Chili Peppers in San Antonio. He had an entire stay band with him. I had two joints on me and I used to be like, “Yeah! I’m getting excessive with Snoop!”

Then, I went backstage and requested the Chili Peppers to introduce me they usually had been like, “Yeah, we don’t actually speak to Snoop.” I couldn’t consider it! Usually, whenever you go on tour with a band, you find yourself being finest pals. 

By the tip of the primary Lollapalooza [1991], which included the Butthole Surfers, it appeared like all people on that invoice was really fucking. I keep in mind, at one level, Budgie, the drummer from Siouxsie and the Banshees, got here as much as me and mentioned [imitates a high-class British accent], “Are you fucking my spouse?” [Laughs] That actually was a enjoyable time. 

Who would you solid in your dream film adaptation of Me and Mr. Cigar? It may be actors from any period. 

OK, first we’ve to discover a Jack Russell terrier. Then, as Oscar, I’d choose Mickey Rooney. As Lytle, let’s undoubtedly go along with Gary Coleman. Because the neurotic mother, let’s say Judy Garland or Mommy Dearest [Joan Crawford]. Redd Foxx must be in it. Chris Penn. Thomas Lennon, too. 

I had an superior expertise with Thomas Lennon as soon as, again when my son was 4. He and I danced with Thomas Lennon and his son on a riverboat on the Mississippi. 

Because the dad, I’d say Harry Dean Stanton. I beloved Harry Dean Stanton. I obtained excessive as soon as with him and Whoopi Goldberg at a Hollywood celebration. That was a good one. That was candy!

Who would direct the film?

Terry Gilliam. Really, I’d like three administrators, one for every a part of the e book. Possibly Chris Columbus. One man who I wouldn’t ask can be Mr. Donut. 

Who’s Mr. Donut?

Again within the early ’80s, when the Buttholes first got here to New York, we stayed with our pal within the West Village. The deli on the nook had a porn part, and there have been all these tapes directed by “Mr. Donut,” a man from Cleveland. 

The primary tape we noticed had this 70-year-old trans lady tied up whereas a man shoved a dozen hard-boiled eggs up her ass. At one level she mentioned [imitates a candy, drained voice], “No extra eggs!” Then the man put another up there, and she or he shot each a type of eggs out of her ass throughout the room. 

One other one had this man we known as “Mr. Pineapple.” He was standing on a ladder and, actually quick, he would squeeze out eight inches of his colon, after which suck it again in. It might shoot out and go proper again up. It appeared like a glistening, bloody pineapple. 

Then one other one had a fist-fucking scene. This man has his fist all the way in which up one other man’s ass, and he turns to digital camera and says, “I can really feel his heartbeat.” And any person off-camera says [in a mellow voice], “It’s a visit, isn’t it?”

Gibby, we’ve obtained to finish on that word. Speaking to you has been a complete journey. 

Thanks, man. Inform Snoop I need to meet him. And… “No extra eggs!”

For extra on “Me and Mr. Cigar,” order your copy right here

Observe Mike McPadden on Twitter

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