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Ooooh, that’s so Kinky

CONTRIBUTED

KINKY Friedman, cigar in hand, looks out over his Texas spread.

It's 9pm and unusually quiet. In a western movie, it might be a signal that the cattle were about to stampede.

But not at Echo Hill Ranch.

Like Kinky, the 160ha farm is not run of the mill.

It ran cattle once, but now is home to a menagerie. It is an animal refuge deep in the heart of Texas.

Kinky takes being a quick-witted satirist seriously.

Friend and consort to presidents, movie stars and probably kings, he has made a career of singing in-your-face, biting country-and-western satire, writing hilariously wicked crime novels and, well, running for the Texas legislature.

HEROES AND MATES: Kinky Friedman with actors (from left) Billy Bob Thornton, Robert Duvall and Dwight Yoakam.
HEROES AND MATES: Kinky Friedman with actors (from left) Billy Bob Thornton, Robert Duvall and Dwight Yoakam. Picasa

Kinky counts himself close friends with former US presidents Bill Clinton ("He made decisions with his heart ... I like that") and George W. Bush ("He did more to fight AIDS in Africa than any other president ... and he has a great sense of humour").

And he is always busy.

"Oh, I like to go eight ways at once," the 69-year-old guffaws.

He has run for governor of Texas twice, and by next month will know if he has been elected the state's Agriculture Commissioner, wielding a budget of about $500 million.

And Kinky has just finished a whirlwind one-man music tour of Europe - 34 shows in 36 days - and starts touring Australia soon.

He has been here before - the last time with craggy-faced actor Harry Dean Stanton who did readings from Kinky's stable of Raymond Chandler-style crime novels, spiced with real-life popular culture characters.

Kinky and his band the Texas Jewboys (yes, really) played country songs that made Kinky infamous, from the redneck ditty A**hole from El Paso to the deliberately provocative Get Your Cakes in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed.

"We had a good time," Kinky says, more slowly than you might expect.

 

"I like Australia. We should be more like you.

"More open. Friendly.

"And the Guinness is good."

Tequila is his drink, though.

He is a tequila connoisseur, and just to prove it, he has his own own brand, Man in Black - "a homage to Johnny Cash ... sort of ...".

"It's only sold in Texas."

Kinky may have been born Richard Samet Friedman in Chicago, but he is a dyed-in-the-wool Texan.

He was eight when his father, a doctor, moved the family south and settled it at the ranch in 1952.

He was schooled in Texas.

At university, his long, wirey hair earned him the nickname that he's cherished ever since. Afterwards, he went to work on community projects with the Peace Corps in New Guinea.

Kinky is not usually one for subtleties.

"I love Texas," he says.

"But Texas's the 'Bi-polar State' ... wide-open spaces, most often between the ears," he says. "I just want the state to be number one in something other than executions, toll roads and property taxes."

All the same, he does not have much time for politicians, so why stand? "Someone has to."

Kinky believes Texas should legalise marijuana, too, for medical purposes only, of course.

But is that likely?

"Hell yeah," he says. "There's a lot of support here for it.

"If it is decriminalised, it will mean a lot less people in jail.

"And we've got to make some room in our prisons so we can put the bad guys in there ... like the pedophiles and the politicians."

Kinky's sure he can find the time to sing on stage even if he is elected.

In the meantime, he's at the ranch, maybe listening to his favourite artists: Hank Williams, Buddy Holly, Roger Miller and Beethoven.

Listening and waiting ... maybe for that stampede.

Kinky Friedman will play Joe's Waterhole at Eumundi next Saturday. For more information, go to http://www.joeswaterhole.com.

Topics:  editors picks marijuana music



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