Richard “Kinky” Friedman, a singer-songwriter, novelist, humorist and politician, will make a stop on his latest music tour at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica Friday, Dec. 7.

Richard “Kinky” Friedman is irreverent, bawdy and politically incorrect. He is also a talented singer, songwriter, humorist, author, politician, keynote speaker, tequila, cigar and salsa entrepreneur, and rescuer of animals through his Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch in Texas.
Friedman, born in Chicago in 1944, grew up in Texas where his family had purchased a ranch to start a children’s camp. There are numerous stories of how he came to be called Kinky, many of them told by Kinky himself, but it seems he got the nickname in college from a friend.
He has styled himself in the mold of American satirists Mark Twain and Will Rogers, and ran for governor of Texas in 2006 as a Democrat, coming in fourth out of six candidates. He is widely known at home as the “Governor of the Heart of Texas.”
The Argonaut recently interviewed Friedman to get his thoughts on his current tour, politics, his dogs, his books and friends in high places.
His tour schedule begins Friday, Nov. 30 and ends on Friday, Dec. 20, covering 28 shows in 27 days. One of his California shows includes McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica on Friday, Dec. 7. Billed as “Kinky Friedman’s Bi-Polar Tour: A Fact-Finding Mission,” his special guest and opening act will be Brian Molnar. The two shows following that are in Santa Ynez at the Maverick Saloon on Saturday, Dec. 8, and in Ventura at Zoey’s Cafe on Sunday, Dec. 9.
Friedman counts former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush as close friends. He also has kind words for his friend, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, his opponent in the 2006 race. He said he would have supported Perry for president in 2012, citing the good Texas economy that he feels Perry has brought about.
Regarding the presidential election, what would you have done with all of the money that was raised by both candidates?
A: I would have taken it to Vegas. I could have done a lot more with it there. It reminds me of the great (comedian) George Carlin, criticizing elections as an “illusion of choice.” I think politicians should be limited to two terms – one in office and one in prison. My definition of politics is “poly,” meaning many, and “ticks,” which are blood-sucking parasites.
Do you have a motto?
A: Yes, I’ll sign anything except bad legislation.

Friedman started his second band, Kinky Friedman & The Texas Jewboys in 1971, singing satirical songs about anti-Semitism, such as his popular 1974 song, “They Ain’t Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore.”
In the mid-1970s, he and his band began touring with Bob Dylan and the Rolling Thunder Revue. In 1976 Friedman made his third album, “Lasso from El Paso,” featuring Dylan and Eric Clapton.
Is there anyone that you’d like to perform with onstage that you haven’t had the opportunity to work with?
A: Yes, Rosemary Clooney. No, I enjoy being alone on stage. A solo is different when you’re alone, he quipped.

Friedman is the author of numerous books, including a non-fiction, “Drinker With a Writing Problem (The Texas Monthly Columns),” and “You Can Lead a Politician to Water, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Ten Commandments For Texas Politics.”
He also wrote the humorous forward on close friend and singer Willie Nelson’s book, “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings From the Road.”
You’ve been performing for a long time. Are you still enjoying bringing your music and satire to audiences?
A: Some of my songs are 40 years old, but they’re still relevant and apply to what’s going on today, and the audiences include people of all ages.

In the epilogue to his novel, “Elvis, Jesus and Coca Cola,” Friedman wrote, “Dogs have a depth of loyalty that often we seem unworthy of.”
You started the Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch, and your tours and product sales contribute to taking care of all of the animals at the ranch. Do you have pets?
A: Yes, I’ve had a lot of pets. Right now I have Chumley, a 17-year-old mutt, Winston, a beagle/chihuahua mix, and Sophie, a Cocker Spaniel. I really miss them when I’m out on the road.
Do you have any plans to run for office again?
A: Yes, I think this time I’d approach it like an old-fashioned Harry Truman Democrat, and be a little more serious about running for governor of Texas.

In addition to his novels, audio books and e-books, (he said that he doesn’t have a computer or e-mail) Friedman has a line of his own cigars, salsa, coffee, and tequila that he sells to fund the animal ranch. He says “it’s not your grandfather’s tequila; it’s your grandfather’s gardener’s tequila.” Friedman explained that the brand name he’s given the tequila is Man in Black, after his three heroes: Zorro, Paladin and Johnny Cash.
Information and schedule of shows, www.kinkyfriedman.com. §

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