By William Booth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 8, 2006
WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. From the curb, the building where Andy Dick lives looks a little seedy. Heartsick patios peppered with crushed butts, a couple of cracked pots holding brownish lumps, which once upon a time were plants. The smell? That would be cat. Successful comedic actors in L.A. don't live in apartments with numbers like 8. So you get a bad feeling.
A few years ago, they were calling Andy Dick comedy's "Angel of Death," because people close to him kept dying. Chris Farley. Phil Hartman. David Strickland. Overdose, murder, suicide, respectively. Then, there was his August performance at the Comedy Central roast of William Shatner, former captain of the Starship Enterprise, when a drunken, on-camera Dick licked people.
"Dick Goes Berserk" is how the San Francisco Chronicle put it, about Dick's public tumble from sobriety. The Web site Gawker went with "Noted Crazy Person Noted for Going Crazy." The New York Post's Page Six called it "Comic's Worst Gross-Out Ever" and then told the apres-roast dressing room story of how Post reporter Mandy Stadtmiller (who is actually a reporter and a stand-up comedian) was "groped" and "appalled" and "horrified" after Dick "offered" her cocaine and "urinated" in front of her. (Dick rebuttal below).
So you ring the doorbell and think: Maybe there will be something really dark and unpleasant inside, something lurching around in a soiled Spock costume, drinking vodkas, with a giant tongue, and potentially hostages.
But inside, surprise, the apartment of Andy Dick is clean and bright, a homage to modernist architectural sensibilities, with gray granite countertops and blond wood floors and low-slung vroomy couches. "I designed it myself," Dick says, seemingly completely sober. (The actor has a long history of drug and alcohol abuse followed by periods of rehab and recovery).
You see, not to worry, he owns the whole building ; he is remodeling the entire structure . It is not seedy and sad. It is not a pit stop on the road to madness, overdose by speedball and premature death. The stucco will be patched and made smooth again! These rooms are actually his offices, where he is temporarily living as he renovates his other, even better apartments. Andy Dick is not spiraling out of control. He is starring in a new movie called "Employee of the Month," alongside Dane Cook and Jessica Simpson and Jessica Simpson's bosoms. He is fine, really.
Dick fusses over some cut flowers. He answers his cellular several times. The ring tone is a rooster cock-a-doodling. He refers to his callers as either "buddy" or "dude." There is a conversation about the rescue of a giant iguana. His personal publicist, with two other publicists in tow (Andy Dick is apparently a three-publicist man), is here, promising to escort him later to a taping of Howard Stern's show on Sirius. (Recall that Dick once famously called in to the Stern show -- before it was on satellite radio -- and while audibly snorting lines revealed he was bisexual). The personal publicist calls him "Dicky." Exit publicists all.
Reporter: Tell us, in your own words, what happened that night. (Meaning: the Shatner roast, which is honestly memorable only because of Dick -- in the way that the previous Comedy Central roast of Pamela Anderson is memorable only because of Courtney Love, who also became unglued).
The roast "is always going to turn on me. Always does," says Dick -- his real name, by the way; he was born Andrew Thomlinson but adopted as an infant by Allen and Sue, the Dicks. Couldn't have been easy growing up, though he was elected homecoming king in Joliet West High School in Illinois.
"They really love to jump down my throat and rake me across the coals. Just love it. People love to hate. I have a love-hate relationship with the world. The world loves to hate me. It really seems that way now," he says. There is a thin line between Andy Dick the person and Andy Dick the character and so when Dick speaks he sounds like the slightly sissy-fussy speed talker he plays in movies and TV.
"But all said and done, I had a really good time that night."
Dick plows ahead: "But they said something." Meaning his fellow roasters. "I'm sure it had something to do with gay. That's what they always do. That's where they always go." Dick rolls his eyes and makes swishy hand gestures. "I'm not even gay! Last year, it was anal warts, which I don't have." Makes a face. "This year, it's AIDS and gay. Which I don't have and I'm not. No and No. Just because I've been with guys, and I'm bi, doesn't mean I'm gay."
Noted: Dick, who is now 40 years old, has three children, ages 9, 12 and 18, by two different mothers. His eldest, a son, lives with him now.
So you decided: I will lick Farrah Fawcett and Carrie Fisher (who licked him back).
"I'd been drinking red wine with dinner. That was good. That was smooth." Dick makes a yummy tummy sound. "I was drinking like a gentleman."
He had been off the wagon for several months, since finishing "Employee of the Month."
You were over-served.
"Exactly! You can say I was over-served. I was served my [manhood] on a silver platter. When people climb up your skirt like that and rattle your cage, I'm like the hairless rat in the cage; they're poking me with a stick, and it's going to make you want to drink. . . . I just kept drinking and drinking. I don't drink hard liquor. Vodka can push you over the edge. I'm yelling. Then I'm crying. Any hard liquor, I'm back in grade school. Wetting the bed."
"I was half-crocked. They don't have to speculate. I was cohesive and coherent and lucid. I wasn't Courtney Love drunk. But I was definitely feeling good. I don't know if you saw all that [stuff] in Page Six. I actually wrote a rebuttal to her, I don't know if you want to use it or not."
Now Dick goes to a back bedroom and returns with a spiral notebook.
When he is gone, reporter admires a quite good watercolor of Dick painted by the goth-rocker Marilyn Manson, which shows the shirtless actor with pointy nipples, smoking a joint.
He flips the pages and finds the handwritten draft of the letter he has been working on for Mandy Stadtmiller. "You can use bits of it."
Dick reads: "You printed all that crap about me when I asked you nicely to be on my side please and print something good. You came into my dressing room uninvited and we were all having a good time. You included. You know when something is printed in black and white it reads differently. You slanted everything. Why would you take advantage of me? Why would you kick a man when he's down? I guess you don't believe in God or karma or anything beside making a quick buck or promoting your lame comedy. Please, don't use me as your fodder. I think you are more of a monster every day than I am when I'm drinking. I certainly do hope I run into your sorry pathetic . . . " Etc.
Dick, once called "the most talented, gutsy and truly strange comic of his generation" by Time magazine, has produced an uneven body of work.
He was a standout on the "The Ben Stiller Show" and had a good run on the NBC sitcom "NewsRadio" with Phil Hartman. On MTV, Dick had a cult hit with "The Andy Dick Show" and had a modest success in the Donald Trump reality parody "The Assistant."
In recent years, he is best known for his cameos -- in "Old School" and "Zoolander." His own movie, which he wrote and directed, called "Danny Roane: First Time Director," was recently bought by distributor Lionsgate but most likely will go straight to video.
Dick pulls the cat onto his chest and strokes it. "Look at my cat, so sweet," he says. "If I was a real monster, this cat would be running away."
After a few moments, the cat does run away, which cracks Dick up.
"It all boils down to jealousy," he says. "People are upset that they can't do what I do. They hold back. They see me not holding back."
He amends: "But there are times when I don't hold back -- to an extreme level -- and I probably should and people get mad at me. We live in a really uptight country. Yes, I wish over the years I had kept my private life private and my professional life a little more professional." Re: the felony coke possession and the running into the telephone pole. "But you can't look back."
Is he haunted by the curse of being called comedy's Angel of Death?
Apparently not now. "That was a long time ago," he says. "Nobody has died around me in years. I wrote a song about it. I have an album coming out. A live album of what some people would call stand-up." He begins to sing:
"Hang out with me / Some people say / You might end up dead / Or worse, gay.
"But I pushed semihard / To get you to like me / Now I'm in your bedroom / On your TV."
The lyrics move in a narrative crescendo, ending with Dick in a public restroom with a metaphorical public.
Dick says he is now back on track. His kitchen is filled with healthy fruits. There is a pile of avocados and ginger. The fridge is stocked with Himalayan Goji Juice. He takes a lot of immune system-boosting supplements. "I'm not drinking. I'm not doing drugs. I have that new movie, which is incredible, and I'm so proud of it. I'm finally in a real movie. I haven't had a big movie in 15 years. Oh, I've had lots of and lots of movies, I've even been leads, but went straight to video or weren't that good. I've had tons of those cute little cameos. Like," and here he imitates a fan, "I love you in 'Old School.'" Followed by an ugly name. "Fans can be like that."
What does he mean?
"One time I was walking down the street in New York City and there was this carload of teenagers. Bumper-to-bumper traffic. They were just packed in there like a circus act. They saw me and started screaming, 'We love you, Andy Dick. We're your number one fans!' And I'm like, I love you, too. Rock on. I kept walking. They caught up. Then it was, 'Andy Dick, we hate you!' They had talked in the car and decided they weren't my number one fans. It was horrible."
He thinks about that for a minute and then says, "I'm surprised that carload of kids didn't try to set me on fire."