I spent a week with Hunter S. Thompson one day in 1988. If that sounds impossible, let’s just say when Hunter was wired and inspired keeping up with him for 24 hours left you feeling as if you’d lost a week somewhere but you couldn’t remember where. I was interviewing him for a story on the Today Show as part of my “Flying the Coupe” series. I started thinking about that day when I saw the trailer for the new Johnny Depp movie, “The Rum Diary” which is based on Thompson’s novel.
Getting him to agree to the interview was made easier by the fact he had a new book, a collection of his columns, coming out. But I had been warned that getting him to actually sit down and do the interview would be the challenge. I believed I had a secret weapon, an irrestible lure, to insure his cooperation, my 1963 red Cadillac Coupe de Ville convertible. I was right, Hunter was up for riding in the car and talking about life, writing, politics, and excess. A slight correction, actually he had no interest in riding in the car, he insisted on driving.
As you will see in this video I gave him the keys and then I got in the passenger seat, which may have been riskier than when I climbed through the Khumbu icefall on Everest. Hunter, as was his habit, had consumed a considerable amount of alcohol before we started driving and he brought along a couple of loaded weapons to increase the entertainment factor.
Someday I’ll write the full story of everything that happened that day and night, but for now just enjoy the part of the encounter we deemed suitable for morning television in 1988.