David Bruce: Drugs Anecdotes

Life on tour can be tough; however, at least once comic singer Anna Russell received VIP treatment. Arriving in town for a concert, she was met by a man in a chauffeured limousine who took her to a fancy hotel suite. The man explained that the chauffer and limousine were at her disposal, and that she could visit any of the expensive restaurants in the neighborhood and charge it to his booking agency. In addition, he explained that only domestic champagne had been put in her refrigerator and asked if that would be OK, which she said it would be. Later, she learned that she had been booked by people who normally handled rock concerts (but who wanted to upgrade their image), and that she was receiving the treatment normally accorded to rock stars. The booking agency was very pleased with her. Not only was Ms. Russell satisfied with domestic champagne, but she didn’t break or steal anything at the hotel. In addition, she did not appear to be high on drugs.

When comedian Geri Jewell, whose muscle control is affected by her cerebral palsy, tried to get into a college psychology class with a door that was locked because the class was already filled with students, she first knocked on the door and then accidentally fell down some stairs. The students inside the classroom had been watching, and one informed the professor, “There’s some drunk girl out there who just fell down the stairs.” After a quick trip to the nurse’s office, Ms. Jewell again approached the psychology professor. He opened the door, looked her over, and then said, “If you kids are going to take every drug on earth, why bother to come to school at all?” (After he understood the real situation, the professor became one of Ms. Jewell’s friends.)

Bette Midler doesn’t take illegal drugs when she performs live — she’s tried it with bad results. But she does make fun of people who think she takes illegal drugs when she performs live. In her 1980 world tour, she imitated an imaginary straight member of the audience saying, “Harry! Where does she get all that energy from? She must take something, Harry. What do you think she takes?” Then the Divine Miss M would say, dramatically, “I don’t take anything. I’m high on life.” She still remembers a voice from the real audience calling out from the balcony, “Where can I get some?”

Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach didn’t criticize people, but he was sometimes saddened by their behavior. Once he caught a student smoking marijuana, and he told the student, “Yisroel, if it would make you learn Torah better, I’d encourage it. But as it is, you end up falling asleep in class, so what’s the point?” The student put out the marijuana cigarette, and he never smoked marijuana again.

Maya Angelou decided not to become involved with heavy narcotics in her life. A friend named Troubadour Martin was a user, and he let her see the lifestyle. She watched as he and his friends shot heroin into their veins, and then he told her to stay away from heavy narcotics. She did, and she credits her choice to his generosity in revealing this truly bad lifestyle to her.

Not all parents react well when learning that one of their children is gay. A daughter once told her mother that she was a lesbian, and her mother told her, “I thought you were going to tell me you were a heroin addict, and I wish you were, because that I could fix. I can’t fix this, and I wish you were dead.” Today, the mother regrets her words.

At a party, a little-old-lady friend of Canadian figure skater Toller Cranston tried — and liked — mescaline. Afterward, she went to her pharmacy and ordered mescaline, only to be told by the pharmacist, “Madame, I am sorry, but that drug is highly illegal.” She replied, “But when I snorted it last night, it did wonders for my sinuses.”

Sometimes Tallulah Bankhead had a weak grasp of reality, as when she said, “Cocaine isn’t habit-forming. I should know — I’ve been using it for years.” At other times, she had a firm grasp of reality; for example, in her later years, when a fan asked if she was really the “famous Tallulah,” she replied, “What’s left of her.”

Mario van Peebles’ movie, New Jack City, contains a scene in which a character accepts drugs. When this scene was shown at a theater in New York City, an African-American man stood up and yelled at the screen, “Just say no, man!” Mr. van Peebles says this is one of the best things he has witnessed in his life.

Margaret Trudeau, the wife of Pierre, Prime Minister of Canada, was a free spirit. Frequently, the smell of marijuana drifted from the windows of the Ottawa residence of the Prime Minister, and a local police officer once gave her a gift of incense in an attempt to disguise the smell of the marijuana smoke.

Monty Python member Eric Idle was shocked to discover that people in the United States thought that the Python comedy sketches were written by its members while they were high on drugs. He points out, “When you’re stoned, it’s hard to find the keys on the typewriter.”

More and more presidential candidates have taken illegal drugs. During an interview broadcast on CNN, Bill Bradley, who ran for President in 2000, was asked if he had ever tried marijuana. He replied, “On several occasions.” He was then asked if he had inhaled, and he replied, “I did indeed.”

Actor Robert Morley’s father wanted him to know of the seamier side of life, so he once took him to what he thought was an opium den (actually, it was a Chinese grocery store) and asked for “snow.” The Chinese proprietor told him, “You want to come in winter.”

Lord Buckley was an outrageous 1950s comedian. Once, after a show, he approached a police officer, lit a marijuana joint, pointed to an innocent bystander, and said, “I want to report a dope addict.” Then he blew marijuana smoke in the police officer’s face.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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