What has been the lowest point of your life?
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit there’d been many days when I wanted to pick up the .357 beside my bed and call it a night. But I’ve never taken the easy way. I’ve decided to hang on till the end of the ride, see where the motherfucker takes me. I’ve had similar experiences with women. You know the bitches are going to be trouble, but you can’t help yourself!
What’s your secret for staying alive?
I don’t have a secret – I’ve been tryin’ to kill myself for years now, and keep fuckin’ up! I got this motherfucker called Multiple Sclerosis and I’ve been trying to hide it, but MS don’t play that shit. MS says, “I’m gonna fuck you, man.” I’m a crippled motherfucker, that’s what I am. MS don’t kill you, it just makes you wish you were dead.
Are there large chunks of your career that you simply can’t remember?
I don’t know. I can’t remember.
What was the most lavish thing you spent your millions on?
Pussy. And there’s a difference between lavish and expensive. Pussy may not be lavish, but it’s always expensive.
In dollars, how much cocaine have you taken in your life?
Peru. All the money I spent on cocaine, I coulda bought me Peru. If I hadn’t got MS, I’d probably be looking for some crack right now. I started snorting tiny pinches, saying, “I know I ain’t going to get hooked, not on coke.” But I fell in love with the pipe.
What was it like when you set yourself on fire?
You know, they should use it for the Olympics, cause I did the 100-yard dash in about 4.6 seconds. You know something I noticed? When you run down the street on fire, people will move out of your way, they don’t fuck around. Except for one old drunk who’s sitting there saying, “Hey buddy, can I get a light?”
What’s the best way to give up an addiction?
Getting MS helps, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
Are there scenes in any of your films where you were completely out of it?
I was out of my mind on Stir Crazy. I did some good work and probably could have been even better.
Do you have any regrets?
Regrets fuck you up. I’ve packed a lot into my life but I guess MS has made me glad to be alive. I’m proud of the work that I’ve done. I’m glad I was alive in a time in history when it was possible to record what I had to say, because I think I had something to say. It sounds presumptious, maybe, a guy from a whorehouse in Peoria. But why not? I came with perspective.
Tell us about your upbringing.
I grew up in a whorehouse. It was my grandmother’s brothel. For a child, everything you see in a brothel is strange. I saw the mayor of Peoria a couple of times. I was raped when I was six. I was playing by myself in the alley behind our house, when this older guy appeared from around the corner... right away I knew he was trouble. He said, “I’m gonna fuck with you, you little chickenshit pussy.”
Finally, how do you plan to go?
Don’t think that’s something you can plan, is it? When I had my two heart attacks I’d been prepared to die, expected it, but then I realised that God chooses the check out time. “Hey Rich, I changed my mind. You do have some more material. Get your black ass out there!” I found that my life, instead of ending because of MS, has only changed. Perhaps it was God’s way of telling me to chill, slow down, sniff the flowers rather than the coke, and take time for myself and see what it’s like to be a human being.
Original interview by James Mannion in the March 2005 issue of FHM UK magazine