Artie Lange: The Story Behind the Story

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Artie Lange called Rolling Stone writer Vanessa Grigoriadis an "uppity bitch" on this morning's Howard Stern Show, but Grigoriadis tells Rock Daily the comic is "really generous and sweet." Grigoriadis, who profiled Lange in the current issue, adds, "Although I think he may have been trying to kiss my ass. Also, he's very fat." He's also very troubled: When Rolling Stone's photographer arrived at Lange's Hoboken, New Jersey apartment to photograph the funnyman for the story "America's Biggest Loser," Lange was admittedly in the midst of a five-day heroin bender.

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"His apartment is hilarious," she says. "It was entirely decorated by his mom. There is nothing in that apartment that makes any sense to Artie Lange. He put out all these vinyl records so I can see them." Bruce Springsteen's Darkness on the Edge of Town and Neil Young records were left out in plain sight; Lange also made it clear he was a big fan of Hunter S. Thompson, so the Rolling Stone interview was especially important to him. So important, in fact, he reportedly left a Florida rehabilitation center early so not to delay the profile any longer. "I'm sure he was really happy that his name is on the cover with a picture of Bruce Springsteen," Grigoriadis says.

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Even though Grigoriadis and Stern agreed the profile is an accurate portrait of the comic, Lange vented that the piece was "horrifying and awful" and complained that Grigoriadis was condescending. "I usually don't tell people, 'Wow, I'm such a fan,' I just don't do that," Grigoriadis says. "I hung out with him three times, and by the third time it was almost uncomfortable, because it was so clear that he wanted me to be like, 'Oh my God, Artie, you're the best.' So I was like, 'You know what, dude, I'm just going to sit here and ignore your attempts to bolster your confidence.' "

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Lange also accused her of instinctively not liking guys like him. "I don't think I'm better than him. I don't think I was being condescending. I think he's really funny, and I liked his book, I thought it was really good," Grigoriadis says. "I don't think the article was condescending either. Look, I'm sure he's not happy about the picture [above]. I wouldn't be happy about the picture either. But honestly, I don't think the article is bad. Just look at his book."

Lange's insecurity also came out when Grigoriadis told him that most of his stand-up routine was probably too offensive to publish in the interview. "He got really offended, and said, 'Do you think my stand-up is offensive?' I said, 'I thought that what was you were going for.' Apparently he does not take criticism well. He was like, 'Saying my stand-up is offensive is like insulting my livelihood. I don't want people to think they shouldn't come to my stand-up,'" she adds. "That was the only thing I said to him that was even borderline confrontational.

"This is the whole problem with Artie: He's a crazy attention-seeker," Grigoriadis observes. "He wants the attention. It's like a huge daddy complex with Howard Stern. He wants to be bad and good and have Stern make fun of him and also care about him." The wear of doing stand-up and then waking up to do the Stern show is also affecting Lange. "That's a hard thing on your body, even if you're not doing what he's doing."

"Look I got into comedy so I could stay out all night," Lange told Grigoriadis, "And I get the one fucking great job in comedy that's like having a paper route."

Despite his funny demeanor and rock star habits, Lange's patterns surprised Grigoriadis. "You'd expect that someone like him, when they're out on the road, after the show is like 'Right on' and runs around and gets totally wasted and picks up some hooker," Grigoriadis says. "But what really goes on is that he goes back to his hotel room, gets high and hangs out by himself and stays up all night. And that's very scary. That's a stage of drug use that's linked to depression."

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