Put in a call to Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro and you don't have a chat, you have a multimedia experience. He phones up his friends to conference you in. He plays a doctored version of Marilyn Manson's "The Beautiful People." He executes a credible imitation of Scatman Crothers in The Shining, then plays snippets of tracks by Spread, his project-in-progress with Peppers drummer Chad Smith (Dave sings!). In addition to the upcoming album, Navarro is making an autobiographical movie. A lot of attention has been focused on him lately, what with the recent Jane's Addiction Relapse Tour, his own well-publicized relapse and Marilyn Manson's allegations that Navarro once begged to give him a blow job. P.S. Did you know he has a tattoo that says Love Fades, a line from Annie Hall?
You and your cousin Johnny have a film column in Bikini magazine. Which films have you disagreed violently about?
The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars. Basically, Empire is the electric-car syndrome: As great an idea as it is, it's not a great car, because the technology isn't there yet. In Star Wars the technology was much more believable – and we also got to watch Luke grow from farm boy to Jedi, whereas in Empire we watched him grow from Jedi to asshole Jedi. There's one scene where Luke is eating some kind of food bar and Yoda's saying, "I'm hungry. Give me that." Luke takes a bite, decides he doesn't like it and throws it away. And Yoda – his mouth doesn't even move with his words. Could you hold, please? [Returns] Hello.
What's with all these calls?
Aw, man. Chicks. No, there's no chicks. I'm single. Since the tour. A couple of months.
You seem a tad bitter.
Oh, I'm bitter. Wait until you hear the Spread record. It deals with the darker side of myself, whether it's women or prostitution or mothers or . . . it's a well-rounded account of my relationships with women. I don't want it to be arty and self-indulgent – although it totally is. The whole thing is like, basically, "Poor me, I'm in pain; have sex with me because my mom died when I was fifteen." [Greets a woman] My housekeeper is here. [Whispers] I always play with her. If I ever hear something loud, like if she ever drops an ashtray or something, I'll scream, "Sylvia, goddamn it! What the hell's going on?" She used to flip out. Now she doesn't even pay attention. You know, I've got a coffin in here.
And she just sprays a little Pledge on it, and everything's cool?
Yeah. Nothing bothers her. I had a urine-specimen jar in the kitchen. On the label it said Gene Hackman. Didn't faze her.
This whole Marilyn Manson debacle: Let's discuss.
He claims that at a party, he had to fend me off because I was trying to give him a blow job. The thing with me that guys like him don't get is that as soon as I can say or do the one thing that makes them uncomfortable, that's what I do, over and over again. So, yeah, I did mention that to him, and we used to joke about creating a rumor that he and I are gay lovers. Then his autobiography came out, and I'm going, "What the hell is this all about?" But at the end of the day, the guy's got a shelf life left of about a year and a half. If he wants to dress up like a clown and jump around and be Mr. Scary . . .
Tell me a story about the Jane's tour.
At our San Francisco show, this girl who runs a Web site called Dave Navarro Is God gave me a T-shirt that said I am God. A few days later we played Vegas, and I was an emotional mess, and Perry [Farrell] came down to my room to talk to me because I was going through a rough time with my relationship that was ending, and I began to cry. At one point I got up to wash my hands, and as I was weeping and sobbing, I looked in the mirror and caught a glimpse of myself whimpering like a baby, wearing a shirt that said I am God on it. It put a lot of things in perspective. [Sound of tapping on a keyboard] OK, I just e-mailed you a photo that I think should run with this [a grisly shot appears of Navarro in a coffin, double-exposed with an image of him shooting up].
I don't know if we can run this.
You gotta. There's a message in there: Drugs will kill you.
Speaking of . . .
I think that answers every question you can have.
OK. What is going on with the Chili Peppers?
No final conclusions have been drawn. My priority is the Spread record.
Before we go – the most underrated film of the past year, please.
I'd have to say Baps.
This story is from the March 19th, 1998 issue of Rolling Stone.