What prompted you to write a memoir?
I got shanghaied into doing it. I wrote a one-woman show called Crazy Enough and my buddy, Larry Colton, sent the script to his book agent. From there, the agent, Richard Pine, along with Larry, started harassing me into writing a book proposal.
You've had a life that many people would describe as traumatic, but you seem to have such a great perspective and sense of humor about it. Has that always been the case?
Oh, heavens no. I felt sorry for myself most of the time when I was much younger. That's why I did so much reckless and stupid shit. The one thing that's been consistent, though, has been my sense of humor. As miserable as things would get, I could always find something funny about it, sometimes after the fact. But hindsight is 20/20 and, in my case, I can usually see clear through the crap to the funny.
When did you start being able to laugh at your past?
Usually within minutes of getting over something. It's a little obnoxious but it's kept me alive.
Has your dad read the book?
I don't think so but a few colleagues of his have read it and give him glowing reviews on my writing. Many with the caveat: "Mmmm, maybe you shouldn't read it, Henry." However, the fact that his fellow teachers were impressed, he's feeling a little less tense about it. So far no one has called him and said, "Wow, Henry, what a big fat whore your kid was! I had no idea!" Which is nice.
Performing has been an amazing survival technique for you. What about it is so therapeutic?
Being on stage, for me, is the safest place I've ever known. Most of my life I felt completely unloved, unlovable, despicable and ugly. I saw no way to lift up and out, other than with the specks of transient pleasures in sex and getting high. Performing and playing music turned all that around for me. It's more tangible than sex, more satisfying and way healthier than speedballs. Music is where everybody goes to express something or let something go and to be at the helm of that energy, to be the conductor of that wild ride for people -- there are no words to describe it. But it sure feels like all the love in the world in that moment.