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Icon: Cheech and Chong

The 1970s stoner gods talk to us about their relationship with cops, working together, and reaching nirvana.

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WHAT HAVE PEOPLE'S REACTIONS BEEN TO SEEING YOU BACK TOGETHER ON STAGE?

Chong: We’re selling out everywhere we go.
Cheech: It’s been amazing. A great percentage of the audience wasn’t even born the last time we performed.
Chong: Cops are our biggest fans. Every time we’d get busted, they’d let us go—but first we’d have to give them an autograph.

WHY DID YOU BREAK UP, ANYWAY?
Cheech: He kept trying to reach for my dick.
Chong: And it was so small I couldn’t find it. And then he ran off with Don Johnson.
Cheech: Yeah, I was going to try white guys for a while. You know, you only live once.
Chong: I really didn’t know we’d split until I went to the last Cheech and Chong movie and I wasn’t in it. I got a little megalomaniacal, and Cheech got tired of it. He didn’t want me to be the boss. We were doing it for the wrong reason, which was money.
Cheech: Unless that’s the right reason…

DID THE OFFERS TO REUNITE GET LARGER THE LONGER YOU WAITED TO GET BACK TOGETHER?
Cheech: Well, the sky opened up, and God said, “Get back together.”
Chong: It didn’t hurt that God wrote a big-ass check, either. In truth, my wife Shelby is one of the main reasons Cheech and I are back to-gether. She told me I had to put my ego aside and forget all that weird, petty shit. She was my girlfriend when I first discovered Cheech in 1969. She was my next-door neighbor, and a very, very young girl. If I met her today, I would be one of those guys on To Catch a Predator.

WHAT'S IT LIKE WORKING TOGETHER NOW?
Cheech: Actually, I like having him reach for my dick at this point.
Chong: It’s incredible—because nobody is a bigger Cheech and Chong fan than Cheech and Chong. We stepped back into the big leagues. We’re working on an animated film and discussing a Broadway musical. But the real reason we’re so popular right now is all this unemployment: People have a lot of time to stay home and get fucked up.

SO ARE YOU HIGH RIGHT NOW?
Cheech: No. People ask me that all the time.
Chong: I’m always high, even though I don’t smoke pot anymore. I have reached nirvana.

WHY DID YOU STOP SMOKING WEED?
Chong: I’d been smoking pot for 50 years, but I quit when I was incarcerated [in 2003, for selling drug paraphernalia on the Internet]. In prison I was offered pot every day, but it didn’t seem to make much sense to me to break the law behind bars. I turned my jail time into a religious retreat, and the time just flew by. I was like a monk—I could almost walk on water by the end. Prison was a defining moment in my life that I knew was coming.

HOW?
Chong: I just knew there was some very freaky shit coming down. I talked to the bongs, asking them, “What are you trying to tell me?” But a bong is not going to start speaking, you know. It was crazy.

CHEECH, DID YOU VISIT CHONG IN PRISON?
Cheech: I did. I smuggled in some K-Y Jelly.
Chong: Yeah. Chocolate-flavored.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE POT COMEDY REVIVAL, WITH MOVIES LIKE PINEAPPLE EXRESS?
Cheech: It’s lovely—it’s like our kids finally went out and got a job.
Chong: I loved Pineapple Express. I met Seth Rogen at the High Times Stony Awards. Seth and his guys are funny—very talented. It’s crazy: The counterculture has become the mainstream. They smoke a joint now in every television show, from Sex and the City to Brothers & Sisters. On Nip/Tuck they not only smoke, they do coke and then fuck each other!

WHY DOES STONER CULTURE STILL PROVIDE SUCH A WELLSPRING OF COMEDIC MATERIAL?
Chong: Pot destroys the ego, and it’s the ego that keeps you from laughing. Lose the ego and you will find a lot of things funny. I learned you can’t have an ego in jail: The minute you do, you’re dead.

HAVE YOU HAD ANY HEALTH ISSUES FROM YOUR COPIOUS INTAKE OVER THE YEARS?
Chong: Pot is a gift from God—it will prolong your life if you do it right. The greatest thing about it is that it’s not physically addicting: If smoking pot made your balls fall off, you would quit. But I have heard that it lowers your testosterone levels. My testosterone was so low that I had to take supplements.
Cheech: You guys keep talking. [He leaves.]

IS CHEECH COMING BACK?
Chong: No. This is not his kind of interview. He’s going through a divorce, and his ex-wife is trying to fuck him over excessive drug use in his house. They have a 15-year-old daughter and stuff, so he’s staying away from that.

WE NOW HAVE A PRESIDENT WHO'S GOT A FAMOUS PHOTO OF HIM SMOKING A JOINT. IS THAT PROGRESS?
Chong: Definitely. Cheech has actually met him. Obama is a smart politician, but he’s also an honest guy. See, when you are black everybody expects it. He’s not some white guy telling people he’s never inhaled. Everybody smokes joints, which is the great thing about pot: You share it.