HST'S MEDIA APPEARANCES - THE EIGHTIES
Last updated April 24, 1999
Late Night with David Letterman, 1983
Thompson stopped by after handing in his famous Roxanne Pulitzer piece. He wore a tan blazer and blue shirt with clouds on it. He explained to Letterman that he had gone without sleep for about two weeks, that getting up at seven in the morning was hard for him to do, so he stayed up all night instead to be awake in the morning. The way Hunter started off really interested me. He asked Dave why he only seemed to have a microphone - then Dave pointed out the overhead one that was catching Hunter's words. Hunter then mumbled something about Chicago (fear of being taped; in Chicago 1968, Thompson was caught in the disasterous riot at the Democratic convention and hit over the head; another theory I have heard is that it was a common practice for a certain candidate's (usually the Republican one) mike to suddenly go dead). Letterman asked about his "correspondence" with American Express and Hunter mumbled on about what a great status symbol the card was - simply having to wave it around got him into most places. He also said he was trying to live the Palm Beach lifestyle, which included driving around in a red Chrysler convertible with two lesbians. Thompson than presented Dave with a gift - a box of two or three thousand firecrackers. Thompson explained that he had planned to set them off on the stage, but Letterman jokingly passed the box to the other side of his desk and away from Hunter's cigarette. The segment was edited for television (whatever that means) and concluded with Letterman asking Thompson about his days at El Sportivo, the ill-fated Puerto Rican bowling magazine. A funny segment all around.
Late Night with David Letterman, 1987???
I am not totally sure about this one. It appeared recently (April, 1998) on alt.journalism.gonzo. This is printed exactly as I pulled it, all typos can be consider sic (and for those who are wondering, "[sic]" means "as it was found" in Latin). I do know that there was a third HST appearance, but can't remember for the life of me when it was.
By the way, I was intrigued by the account of the Conan O'Brian spot. A couple of years back, he did an appearance on David Letterman. I didn't get a chance to see it, but my ex told me about it the next day. She said he started babbling about secret service agents in the Green Room and such. Then he reached into the briefcase that he'd brought onstage and began pulling out bags of very suspect-looking substances: pills, white powder, etc. Dave, of course, tried his best to joke about it, you know, ha-ha, you crazy goofball; however it was obvious that some strain was starting to show through his forced poise. Finally, according to my ex, Thompson pulled a revolver out of the briefcase. Dave, alarmed, announced that they had to go straight to a commercial break. When the break was over, Hunter was gone, and Letterman started joking around with Paul and introducing the next guest or segment, without making any mention of Thompson's spot or his antics. The appearance was never again mentioned, neither that night nor ever again, by Letterman or the Late Night cast.
Did anyone else see this spot, and was my ex's description accurate? Does anyone have access to a tape? I'd love to have seen it, but if she's right, I seriously doubt we'll be seeing it in reruns...
Late Night with David Letterman, 1988
For some odd reason, the entire show was being broadcast from a hotel room. Carly Simon sat next to Hunter, who was wearing his tan jacket and San Francisco Marina hat (like on the cover of GoS) and a white sweater with a red shirt underneath. Talk was mostly about the 1988 election and Gary Hart. Thompson felt that Ted Kennedy had a good chance of winning (he later dropped out of the race). Hunter also talked about his Freak Power campaign back in 1970. This one had it's moments, but wasn't very funny like the previous. Thompson interjected several times, trying to figure out why a monitor was broadcasting Paul Schaffer and not him (deja vu?).
The Compton Report, 1988
I don't know much about Jim Compton's show, but he seems to travel around America and interview people. On this occasion he happened to be interviewing HST for his half-hour show. It is one cool half-hour, I can tell you that. The camera crew's large bright lights attracted the most gigantic insects I have ever seen. HST darted about with a can of bug spray and in one instance caught one of the wee beasts in his hand. The program opened with scenes of HST shooting at things and just before the interview, actually shooting at his neighbour.
Jim asked HST some excellent questions about Generation of Swine. Compton was an excellent interviewer, asking some really good questions about HST's writing, George Bush and how HST came up with the term. One of the interesting things I noticed was a picture of a red fox on the wall behind HST. Readers may recall an article HST wrote about trapping a red fox on his property that caused an incredible stir.