For the past 40 years, Ted Nugent has set the world on its ear with rock and roll classics like “Cat Scratch Fever” and with his controversial political opinions. We sent 2007 Pet of the Year Heather Vandeven on assignment to tangle with the man himself. Here’s what she came back with.
VANDEVEN: Which did you pick up first, a gun or a guitar?
NUGENT: I think it was a photo finish. If you examine my nose in the photo, it’s crossing the gun and the guitar lines simultaneously. My dad introduced me to guns and archery when I was just a toddler. He was a drill sergeant in World War II. I was born in 1948, just a few years after we caused the evil punks to sign a surrender. So my dad was in the celebratory mood that all things American optimize by the Second Amendment, a critical quality of life determinator. Fascinatingly, at that time in space, my dad had also picked up on the stimulating and intriguing promotion of a Mr. Fred Bear from the wilds of Michigan that the mystical flight of the arrow would bring more spirituality and intensity to the overall outdoor experience.
You’ve got to realize that Ed Sullivan was just starting his new TV show. All of a sudden this new beast known as rock and roll was being unleashed upon an unsuspecting public with this new electronic delivery system, the television. It was at that time, probably when I was about five or six, that I was inspired to pursue both the shooting disciplines and the outrage of rock and roll. I don’t know if we have any eyewitnesses as to whether it was the bow and arrow, the gun, or the guitar, but it all erupted almost spontaneously and instantaneously. Neck and neck, is the way I remember it.
VANDEVEN: That is fascinating. You were so young, and your dad totally supported the whole thing. Did he play the guitar as well?
NUGENT: No, he didn’t. The only guitarist in the family was my mother’s wonderful sister Nancy. My mom and Nancy would beat on this piece of junk acoustic guitar. Music has always been an enriching force in men’s lives, and it touched me especially the music of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and Jerry Lee Lewis, then the Stones and Elvis and the Beatles. My God, how could you not respond to that? I believe we all did, and we continue to do so.
VANDEVEN: I think so, too. Who should not be allowed to own a gun?
NUGENT: Felons and those convicted of violent crimes. The mentally deranged. Sarah Brady. Ted Kennedy and Charlie Schumer. People who believe in gun control should be forced into helplessness and not be allowed to be protected by anyone with a gun.
VANDEVEN: Oh yeah, that would get them on the bandwagon, real quick!
NUGENT: There’s a goddamn answer to a goddamn question!
VANDEVEN: What advice would you give to someone who’s getting involved in shooting sports for the first time?
NUGENT: Take a deep breath. Go slow. Start, particularly with firearms, with a .22 in a bolt action rifle, shooting CB caps that have no concussion and no recoil. Discover the spirituality of the hand eye/trigger squeeze/breathing/sight acquisition ballet and learn to realize that Zen began with projectile management.
VANDEVEN: I know it well.
NUGENT: A higher level of awareness, a higher sense of accountability, and great, great sensual stimulation will occur if one approaches the shooting sports with a sense of responsibility. It’s a great combination of the physical and the spiritual, in that one must be the best that one can be in order to excel at marksmanship disciplines, regardless of weaponry at hand.
VANDEVEN: I agree. I was in the Army for a number of years, and I had weapons training.
NUGENT: It’s important stuff.
VANDEVEN: It is. What don’t people understand about hunting?
NUGENT: There’s only a sliver of goofballs out there. The most lunatic of the lunatic fringe somehow can’t grasp the concept that there’s this tooth, fang and claw creation that God blessed us with, and that animals have babies every year but the earth doesn’t produce more ground every year. In fact, mankind reduces habitat every year. If you want to find improved air, soil, and water quality, you will have to find a quality wildlife habitat. Across the board, the world should rejoice that in every instance, where air, soil, and water quality is improved, you’ll find a hunting organization like Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation, Federation of North American Wild Sheep, driving that habitat rehabilitation and safeguarding.
When I discuss this in my speaking presentations and my writings and my TV shows, you can see even the most overwhelmed propaganda victims tilt their head, purse their lips, squint their eyes and say, ‘Oh. Oh! I get it. Animals are renewable, and that’s perfect protein along their skeleton. Oh, I get it! Thanksgiving! Thanking God for the natural bounty of the harvest which occurs not in spring, not in summer, but in the fall!’ As soon as I articulate it so clearly and obviously, even the most idiotic except those with a mind destroyed on drugs and alcohol, other than those numb nuts everybody goes, ‘Oh, I get it, Ted. Hunting is good. Thank you for balancing the ground. Thank you for trapping those fur bearers. Thank you for keeping mange and distemper and rabies out of nature. Thank you for bringing balance during the natural season of harvest. We appreciate it. Now pass the fucking venison! ‘ I mean, you really have to be mentally deranged to be against hunting.
VANDEVEN: Yeah, I agree. Now, you didn’t serve in the military. . . .
NUGENT: Well, I’m not sure about that. I just got back from Baghdad, and it sure looked like a gun in my hand.
I was in Baghdad and Afghanistan recently as a representative of the USO. But no, I did not officially serve in any of the heroic warrior arms of the United States military a fact about which I’m somewhat embarrassed. But being a victim of the rather putrid, failed education system in this country, I graduated from high school without an inkling of the critical, pivotal role that war plays in killing evil so that good people can be free.
I did not enlist during the Vietnam War. In fact, I had a 1 Y deferment. I clung to not wanting to go to war from a total lack of understanding and because I was so intense about my rock and roll career. So no, I did not serve officially, but boy, I’ve made up for it. I’m a proud honorary member of the 101st Airborne, and I’ve trained with literally every arm of the US military. I’m humbled and deeply inspired by the supreme warrior spirit and dedication of these great men and women.
I went from being an idiot, ignorant dipshit American to being a 100 percent supporter of the warriors.
VANDEVEN: You didn’t serve because of a deferment? I heard it was because you deliberately failed your physical exam.
NUGENT: No, not at all. In fact, it was High Times magazine who claimed that I shit in my pants to get out of the draft. Can you do me a favor when you publish this interview, Heather? Please put in big, bold, red, flashing, neon letters, ‘Fuck you, High Times. Fuck you, Creem magazine. Fuck you, Jann Wenner. Fuck you, hippies. Eat shit and die.’
VANDEVEN: Yes. Got that! Okay.
NUGENT: That should be the title of this piece. And then, in parentheses, ‘Peace and Love Through Superior Firepower. Fuck you.’
VANDEVEN: Do you think that gays should serve in the military?
NUGENT: Not only should they, but they’ve done so heroically. Absolutely.
VANDEVEN: Yeah. Thank God.
NUGENT: Gays are cool. I’ve got a bunch of fag friends. I keep inviting all my gay buddies to a campfire hootenanny where I play ‘Wang Dang Sweet Poontang’ over and over again, hoping they’ll discover the joys of eating pussy. But you know what, Heather? They just resist!
VANDEVEN: They do, I know. . . I’ve been trying to convert a few myself!
NUGENT: What a bunch of funny guys. No, I have no problem with homosexuality. Go wild. Just don’t touch my ass.
NUGENT: I’m good for a hug, though.
VANDEVEN: How did your parents teach you about sex, and how did your teach your own children?
NUGENT: They didn’t. My friend Sally had to teach me that. But I sat down with my children, and I told them the gory details. Actually, the fascinating, miraculous details, the wonderful details of the procreation process. I began when they were about 10 or 11 years old. I gave them all the details about what goes where, and what comes from what, and how to control that beast. They have to know the details, especially in this world of AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases. I take bulls by the horns, and then I thump them to death.
VANDEVEN: So you teach your children sexual responsibility, not sexual abstinence?
NUGENT: Yes. Absolutely.
VANDEVEN: Which is more important, the Bill of Rights or the Ten Commandments?
NUGENT: They’re equal.
VANDEVEN: In what way?
NUGENT: The Bill of Rights, I’m sure, was inspired by the Ten Commandments. I believe that the entire American Dream was inspired by the Ten Commandments, and the Golden Rule had the abject abandonment of those decency principles by the tyrants and slave drivers, emperors and kings of Europe. That’s why brave men and women went on this adventure to experiment in self government. The entire Judeo Christian foundation of America is why we’ve been so progressive and why we’ve been so quality of life driven. The Ten Commandments and the Bill of Rights are really about self evident truth, God given rights, and decrees. Whether you believe in God or some other deity, there are self evident guidelines to decency and good will. That’s what those words represent.
VANDEVEN: Do you have a favorite among the Bill of Rights or the Ten Commandments?
NUGENT: Well, obviously, I consider the Second Amendment to the Constitution to be one of the Ten Commandments! I think the 11th Commandment is, ‘Thou shalt carry maximum firepower at all times.’
VANDEVEN: How did I know that was going to be your answer?
NUGENT: How old are you, Heather?
VANDEVEN: I’m 26.
NUGENT: Atta girl. A wild woman.
VANDEVEN: I am! Bill O’Reilly and others say America is in the middle of a culture war. Where does rock and roll fit on the list of America’s cultural problems?
NUGENT: Rock and roll doesn’t even represent a hiccup. Rock and roll is all things and it’s nothing. I have a song titled ‘Fred Bear’ that is an emotional journey in celebration of the spiritual relationship between men and mankind. My song ‘Wango Tango,’ not so much. So rock and roll can be anything from sheer delirium to social guidance. I can’t, off the top of my head, think of much social guidance right now. Except maybe the song ‘I Shoot Back,’ on my album Spirit of the Wild. There’s some social guidance for you.
But there is a culture war, and it’s quite simply and obviously defined by those who would cling to the Ten Commandments and those that would ban them. It’s so simple it’s stupid. There are those who would side with Bono and say that we should forgive the Third World debt, and those that side with Ted Nugent and say, no, because the money will end up in the hands of some despot or dictator who will buy more guns and jets to further oppress his people. The people won’t get any of the Third World debt relief. Only the kings and the slave drivers will. So there’s your line in the sand. The culture war is as definitive as the Alamo. Davy Crockett stood for freedom. Santa Anna stood for slavery. Kill Santa Anna. Jesus Christ, who the fuck doesn’t know this? I’ll tell you who. People who smoke dope.
VANDEVEN: Is that it, the dope smokers?
NUGENT: That’s it. All the leftists have their brains semi fried. They’re the only ones who think that Ozzy Osbourne’s linguistics are acceptable.
VANDEVEN: What do you mean, Ozzy Osbourne’s linguistics?
NUGENT: Well, can you understand the motherfucker?
VANDEVEN: No. . .
NUGENT: I can’t either. That’s because of substance abuse. I love Ozzy, but you give anyone that much poison and he’s going to sound like that. I mean, what the fuck?
VANDEVEN: Have you ever used drugs?
NUGENT: Never, ever! Never touched a drug in my life. I used to take joints of hashish. . . I guess that’s what it was. It sure smelled good. I guess I was almost like the pre Jim Carrey, smart ass, goofball maniac. I’d take these joints of hash and I’d blow on them, not smoke them. Their front would get all glowy red. And it made the guys in the MC5 shit themselves! I’ve never touched drugs, and I never will.
VANDEVEN: Do you drink coffee?
NUGENT: I do drink a cup of coffee in the morning. Heather,
I just wrote a piece for the Waco Tribune called ‘The Sacred Temple.’ You’re 26, and you work as a nude model. You obviously know what the fuck a sacred temple is.
NUGENT: But has anyone ever said to you that your body is a sacred temple? Have you ever used that term about yourself before?
VANDEVEN: Yes. Absolutely.
NUGENT: Good. Because not many kids these days have. And I think that we need to bring the term ‘sacred temple’ back into every American family.
VANDEVEN: I hear you.
NUGENT: We need to tell kids that you don’t let Mr. Hand pick up Mr. Poison and put it in Mr. Fucking Mouth. Duh!
VANDEVEN: I study holistic nutrition, so I’m super aware that the body is a sacred temple. But some people just don’t get it.
NUGENT: That’s why my wife, Shemane, and I are so gung ho when it comes to what goes into the sacred temple.
VANDEVEN: That’s beautiful, Ted. Speaking of Waco, what’s your opinion of the whole government involvement there?
NUGENT: It was a Nazi moment. Janet Reno was a Nazi. Bill Clinton’s a Nazi. The corrupt law enforcement during that siege were Nazis. Waco was a soulless, anti American clusterfuck that rivals any soulless, anti American clusterfuck in our history. Louis Freeh should be in jail. Janet Reno should be in jail. Bill Clinton should be in jail. And the punks who were in charge of the FBI and ATF that were there that day, who violated our Constitution, should all be in jail. I mean, Jesus! Who the fuck doesn’t know that? There’s no Plan B in that one.
VANDEVEN: You travel all over the country, Ted. What do you think is the biggest threat to America today?
NUGENT: Apathy within this great nation. People who scream for health care but don’t give a rat’s ass about their own health. They’re going to send you and me the bills. They smoke and drink and do meth and eat like beached sperm whales, then they send you and me the doctor bills for the universally known and guaranteed misconduct that brings disease and a wrecked life, and they squall for health care without any care whatsoever about their own health! I got a special health care card for them that says, ‘Fuck you, you chimp!’
VANDEVEN: Take responsibility for your own health first.
NUGENT: That’s just a minor detail in the overall embarrassment of apathy in this country. You’ve got people in this society who are such amoral bloodsuckers that they literally think that the pimps and the whores and the welfare brats deserve some of the money from people who get up early and bust their ass. Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton and most of the Democrats and all the liberals aren’t even hesitant to echo Mao Tze Tung and Karl Marx when they recommend and demand the redistribution of wealth.
This is so anti freedom, so anti American, so anti individualism, so anti independence, as to be an absolute shocking embarrassment against the very foundation of Live Free or Die and independence and a pledge thereof. The liberal Democrats should all be thrown out of the country. They want to bring in Communist Chinese and Communist Cuban policies. They don’t really have to do that here, because there is a China, and there is a Cuba, and if they like those systems, they should go there.
VANDEVEN: So Hillary Clinton’s at the top of your list for President in 2008, right?
NUGENT: Yeah, Hillary Clinton’s at the top of my list, just like Richard Pryor was when he caught on fire. I need a good laugh.
VANDEVEN: So she doesn’t have your endorsement for President then?
NUGENT: No, Hillary Clinton is an anti American Maoist of the lowest uncommon denominator. She’s an embarrassment to this great country. She stands for things that are clearly anti Constitutional, anti freedom, anti individuality, anti entrepreneurship. And I hate her fucking guts.
VANDEVEN: That sucks, because she’s female, and as a female, I want to believe in her and her candidacy.
NUGENT: Hard, isn’t it?
VANDEVEN: It is hard. So who would you like to see get the Presidency in ’08?
NUGENT: I like Mitt Romney, but I’m not convinced he’s the man yet. I love Mike Huckabee, but I’m not convinced he’s the man yet either. I really do love Rudy Giuliani, for all the obvious heroic leadership credentials he earned during 9/11, but his extreme liberal social leanings are absolutely intolerable for true quality of life and decency and fair play in this country. Giuliani has blown it on the Second Amendment. He’s blown it on the gay rights issue. He’s blown it on the abortion issue. So it’s not pretty out there. And I want to like Barack Obama, but I can’t.
VANDEVEN: Why not?
NUGENT: He doesn’t stand for anything. And when some policy does slip out of his mouth, it’s horrific. He’s one of these fantasy driven goofballs who thinks that peace and love come from negotiating with the Japs and the Nazis and with al Qaida. That’s it. That’s as brain dead as the stones I shoveled back into the yard this morning.
VANDEVEN: Do you think America is ready for a black president?
NUGENT: I think America is ready for a good president, Heather. I think Colin Powell has much better credentials than Barack Obama. I think J.C. Watts would be a much better president than Barack Obama. I think we have some really great black heroes out there. And I’m one of them. Listen to my guitar playing. That’s not a white guy playing that shit!
VANDEVEN: Who’s America’s biggest hero right now? And you can’t say yourself!
NUGENT: An unnamed Marine or Army warrior, or Navy warrior, or National Guard warrior, or Air Force warrior, someone in the trenches of the War on Terror. There’s no more powerful and clearly heroic figure that has ever existed. I can’t name a single individual, but I’m sure you would find him with an M16 or better yet, an M60, in the trenches against the allahvoodoopukes. That’s all one word, by the way, Heather. Allahvoodoopukes.
VANDEVEN: What don’t people understand about you?
NUGENT: I don’t know, and I don’t care. You’d have to be mentally ill not to understand me.
VANDEVEN: Yeah, you would think so, wouldn’t you?
NUGENT: Not that everybody has to understand me. Those that don’t, can’t. But I’m so simple, it’s stupid. What am I? I’m a self evident truth celebrant. I just celebrate the most obvious. I’m not smart enough to really form opinions about the obvious. We have the right to defend ourselves, and we have a moral obligation to do so. That’s not an opinion, that’s an observation. The back straps on the back bone of a deer is the best food in the world. That’s not an opinion. That’s a fact. Being good and kind and supportive of your fellow human beings is the right thing to do. That’s not an opinion, that’s obvious as hell. If someone breaks into your house, you shoot him twice in the chest. That’s not an opinion on how to handle an invader, that’s how you’re supposed to handle an invader. These aren’t opinions. These are simple, self evident truisms that I live by. Those who adhere to logic and decency and good will understand me perfectly.
VANDEVEN: That’s really awesome. Thank you so much for speaking with us, Ted. That’s all the questions I have for you.
NUGENT: All right, Heather. That’s all the answers you need!
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