SOURCE: August Pollak
Ted Nugent, The Motor City Madman, is an anomaly of colossal proportions. He’s managed to fuse a 38-year rock‘n’roll career with a zeal for hunting, extreme gun-nuttiness and a good-ol’-boy-on-speed approach to politics, patriotism, and women. The result: A self-righteous right-wing rock star who’s now better known for his dogmatic, offensive, and sometimes plainly comical commentary than for his sporadic success as a musician.
Uncle Ted has put his name on just about every commercial venture a right-wing, hunting-happy, clean and sober, meat-lovin’, red-state-livin’ conservationist rocker could possibly brand. He hosts his own radio show, edits and publishes the “Ted Nugent Adventure Outdoors Magazine,” produced a PBS series, “Ted Nugent’s Spirit of the Wild,” and founded the Ted Nugent United Sportsmen of America.
The Nuge first came into minor rock stardom as the lead guitarist for the psychedelic outfit the Amboy Dukes. From his undeserved soapbox of lifetime sobriety, Nugent swears he had no idea that the band’s hit manifesto on acid tripping, “Journey to the Center of the Mind,” was about being “under the influence.” Apparently this wasn’t the only fact that eluded The Nuge. The band’s name, which he says he had taken from a recently disbanded R&B group, was originally inspired by a novel by Irving Shulman called “The Amboy Dukes” about a 1950s street gang in Perth Amboy New Jersey Band. The novel was controversial for the way in which it dealt with gang rape. Members came and went, but Nugent remained, eventually renaming the band (surprise, surprise) Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes.
Ted and the boys banged out a couple of middling studio recordings before Terrible Ted subtly dropped “the Amboy Dukes” from the band. His first solo release, humbly called Ted Nugent, was a huge hit with the heavy metal community. Just around the time that The Nuge started dressing like a caveman for live shows, he came out with another hit album, Cat Scratch Fever. Exhibiting his talent for clever and subtle lyricism, in the title song, he croons, “Well, I make a pussy purr with the stroke of my hand.” Of course he’s referring to his cat.
In the 1980s, The Nuge released a whole bunch of songs that went generally unnoticed. For approximately three weeks in 1990, The Nuge won the hearts of gushing teens when he came out with High Enough, which he produced during his three-year stint as part of Damn Yankees.
But enough about his sometimes awesome, sometimes middling musical career. As patriotic as Uncle Ted claims to be, he pulled a nasty stunt to evade Uncle Sam during the Vietnam War. In a July 15, 1990, Detroit Free Press interview, Nugent crowed about how he managed to dodge the draft. He claims that 30 days before his draft board physical, he disavowed personal hygiene. The last ten days he ingested nothing but junk food and Pepsi, and with a week to go until the physical, he stopped using the bathroom altogether. When the big day came, he had been living in excrement-caked and urine-stained pants. Always the hero, however, Nugent reassured the Free Press, “But if I would have gone over there, I’d have been killed, or I’d have killed all the Hippies in the foxholes. I would have killed everybody.”
In the 1990s, Nugent found he could use his effervescent persona and his modicum of fame to articulate his singularly alarming worldview through any medium he could get a hold of. Suddenly, The Whackmaster (named, ahem, for the term Nugent uses to describe what he does to his prey with bow and arrow) found that people would listen to his pro-gun, right-wing, anti-gay, sexist, anti-liberal, meat-eating, bowhunting, nationalistic spoken word rants. Since then, he has authored three books, the titles of which do not leave much to the imagination: “Bloodtrails: The Truth About Bowhunting” (1990), a New York Times Bestseller, “God, Guns & Rock ‘n’ Roll” (2000), and “Kill It and Grill It” (2002). You won’t be surprised to learn that step one of most recipes in this unique cookbook is “Kill something!”
Here’s the quagmire with The Nuge: Sometimes, he’s pretty funny , and sometimes he is a racist, sexist prick, which is not so funny. Appearing on Denver’s 103.5 FM Lewis & Floorwax morning show, The Nuge sounded off on Japanese-made guitars, referring to them as "Japs." When the hosts of the show objected to the use of the word, Nugent made sure to tell Denver that words such as "Jap" and "Nigger" were only words, man, and shouldn’t offend anyone. Apparently, Ted was shocked to find that people are offended by these words. Still though, The Nuge saw the real victim in all this, explaining that "Political correctness has brought America to its knees."
It’s not unusual to hear Nugent talk this way – his conversations are riddled with ethnic and racial slurs. He called his tour of Japan the “Jap Whack Tour,” (Detroit Free Press, July 15, 1990), constantly makes obscene and derogatory remarks about women, and drops the F-bomb almost as often as he refers to himself in third person. It doesn’t stop at foul language though; it’s the substance that is most objectionable. Nugent has had to pay $75,000 for shooting off his mouth after a radio interview in 1992, when he referred to Heidi Prescott of The Fund for Animals as a “worthless whore” and a “shallow slut,” asking, “Who needs to club a seal, when you could club Heidi?” (Detroit Free Press, April 5, 1995.) The Nuge has a thing about lumping women into a category with wild animals. He told Salon that he gets a “full predator spiritual erection” from tracking "bear, lions, coons, housecats, escaped chimps, small children, scared women, and everything else that can be chased and/or hunted.” He also has a thing about making sure the world knows whose opinion on matters of choice matters most, explaining on a Detroit radio show that, “Anybody that doesn’t think it is better to blow someone’s brains out than to be raped, deserves to be raped! If you don’t think your life is worth it then please go out there, don’t wear any underpants and get RAPED!! Cuz you deserve it…” (WRIF-FM, Detroit, Nugent as guest D.J., September 23, 1991).
The Nuge’s narrow-minded arrogance colors his ruthless commentary, and he offends just about anyone with whom he doesn’t see eye-to-eye. It’s a wonder he ever tours outside of the U.S., given his feelings about “foreigners.” Just before he toured in Japan, he mindlessly maligned the Japanese in a characteristic xenophobic diatribe on a Detroit radio show: “…Yeah they love me (in Japan) – they’re still assholes. These people they don’t know what life is. I don’t have a following, they need me; they don’t like me they need me… Foreigners are assholes; foreigners are scum; I don’t like ‘em; I don’t want ‘em in this country; I don’t want ‘em selling me doughnuts; I don’t want ‘em pumping my gas; I don’t want ‘em downwind of my life-OK? So anyhow-and I’m dead serious…” (WRIF-FM, Detroit, Ted Nugent as guest D.J., November 19, 1992).
An avid hunter, Nugent was a frequent visitor to Canada until the government of Ontario cancelled the spring black bear hunt in 1999. Irate that he wouldn’t get his shot at shooting at a black bear, Nugent vowed to never set foot again in what he described as "an idiotic country.” An outspoken pro-hunting media crusader, Nugent conducts five to ten media interviews every week. A longtime advocate of gun ownership rights, Nugent has served since 1995 on the Board of Directors of The National Rifle Association (NRA), of which he is a Life Member. Nugent also has been a sworn Michigan Deputy Sheriff since 1980.
Nugent’s interpretation of the 2nd Amendment is enough to send good citizens of Michigan sprinting across state lines, once saying about an encounter with a Hare Krishna, “… And in my mind, I’m going, why can’t I just shoot this guy in the spine right now; shoot him in the spine, explain the facts of life to him?…” (WRIF-FM, Detroit, Ted Nugent as guest D.J., September 28, 1990).
Terrible Ted, who owns a compound in Waco, TX (no joke) and a “swamp” in Michigan, prides himself on his conservation efforts and his lifelong commitment to what he lovingly refers to as his “environmental orgy.” But The Nuge is no lefty environmentalist. He and the animal rights movement have not always seen eye-to-eye, not surprising given classic Nugent stunts like leading a hunting trip called “The Rape of The Hills 2000.” In 2000, Nugent was jailed briefly following an incident outside a department store in San Francisco in which he allegedly spat on, threatened and physically assaulted several anti-fur demonstrators.
The Nuge continues to rock out, and his fame has allowed him to continue seeping into every corner of the media. In 2004, Nugent hosted a VH1 reality TV show, Surviving Nugent: The Ted Commandments, in which city dwellers moved to Nugent’s Waco compound to compete in such "backwoods" activities as building an outhouse and skinning a boar. During filming, Nugent injured himself with a chainsaw, requiring 44 stitches and a leg brace.
So far, The Nuge hasn’t aspired to public office, though given his wide reach, it can’t be far behind. He was briefly mentioned as a potential Illinois Senatorial candidate for the Republican Party in 2004. Unfortunately, it never came to fruition: if nothing else, a race between the Nuge and Barack Obama would’ve topped Nugent’s past stunts for sheer spectacle.
Recently the Motor City Madman has been in the news quite a bit. A speaker at the NRA’s 2005 National Convention in Houston, he received an enthusiastic reception from the delegates when he told them: "Remember the Alamo! Shoot ‘em! To show you how radical I am, I want carjackers dead. I want rapists dead. I want burglars dead. I want child molesters dead. I want the bad guys dead. No court case. No parole. No early release. I want ‘em dead. Get a gun and when they attack you, shoot ‘em." ("Ted Nugent to Fellow NRAers: Get Hardcore," Associated Press article, April 17, 2005).
At some point, you’d think that the 56-year-old Nuge has got to slow down. But he’s still kickin’ it full Nuge style, taking lucky hunters on hunting trips in Africa (for no small price, of course), coming out with fancy new weapons, like his Gold Tip Ted Nugent Signature Zebra Arrow, and of course is about to set off on a 2005 Summer Tour. Perhaps the most alarmingly Nuge of all the Nuge endeavors he’s got going is his Ted Nugent Gonzo Auction, in which he’s going to auction off relics from his “insane life of over-the-top rock-and-roll wild ground adventure.”
Although there is a certain hilarity to The Nuge’s insane energy, it goes without saying that he’d be a lot funnier if he ditched the sexist, racist and xenophobic remarks.
Campus Progress presents you with some of the best and worst of The Nuge:
“What’s a feminist anyways? A fat pig who doesn’t get it often enough?” Wikipedia
“My being there (South Africa) isn’t going to affect any political structure. Besides, apartheid isn’t that cut-and-dry. All men are not created equal.” Detroit Free Press Magazine, July 15, 1990
“The preponderance of South Africa is a different breed of man…They still put bones in their noses, they still walk around naked, they wipe their butts with their hands. And when I kill an antelope for ‘em, their preference is the gut pile. That’s what they fucking want to eat, the intestines. These are different people. You give them toothpaste, they fucking eat it.” Detroit Free Press Magazine, July 15, 1990
(About Haiti) “We should put razor wire around our borders and give the finger to any piece of shit who wants to come here.” Westword Newspaper, Denver, Colorado, July 27, 1994
“…Yeah, we want to go to Saudi Arabia, man, and see if we can’t get a four iron and knock people’s laundry off the top of their heads. Wear laundry on your head and die, is the basic theme of the Damn Yankees [Nugent’s 90’s band]” WRIF-FM, Detroit, Ted Nugent as guest D.J., September 25, 1990
“…I met a couple of guys in line yesterday and they say write something to my girlfriend, she won’t let me go hunting. I wrote her something, I wrote Drop dead bitch. What good is she, trade her in, get a Dalmatian, who needs her, the wench.” WRIF-FM, Detroit, Ted Nugent as guest D.J., September 25, 1991
[On Hillary Clinton] “You probably can’t use the term ‘toxic c—-’ in your magazine, but that’s what she is. Her very existence insults the spirit of individualism in this country. This bitch is nothing but a two-bit whore for Fidel Castro.” Westword Newspaper, Denver, Colorado, July 27, 1994
“And if you’re a woman who feels that his lyrics to ditties such as the immortal ‘Wang Dang Sweet Poontang’ are sexist, Nugent says, ‘Fuck you and go to a Garth Brooks show. Kiss my dog’s dead, diseased, rotting ass. If you don’t have a sense of humor, you’re not allowed in Ted’s world. I don’t objectify women. I’d like to think that I’m optimizing their hardware.’” Westword Newspaper, Denver, Colorado, July 27, 1994
“…First thing I slayed…I was nine years old. It was a squirrel, these ladies were feeding it, you know, and I said, ‘excuse me, bam.’ No it wasn’t a pet squirrel. I had it stuffed and petted it for years after that.” WRIF-FM, Detroit, Ted Nugent as guest D.J., September 26, 1991
“…My deer were put here on the earth. God even said, ‘Hey Ted, whack ‘em.’ He said this, right in the bible, Genesis, ‘Dear Ted, whack me a buck …’” WRIF-FM, Detroit, Ted Nugent as guest D.J., Sept. 24, 1991
“I contribute to the dead of winter and the moans of silence, blood trails are music to my ears …I’m a gut pile addict …The pig didn’t know I was there … it’s my kick …I love shafting animals …it’s rock ‘n’ roll power.” Ted Nugent’s World Bowhunters Magazine, Volume 1/Number 4, May 1990, p.12
Photo: Associated Press
Illustrations: August J. Pollak