Howard Stern: Man or Mouth? Rolling Stone's 1994 Cover Story - Rolling Stone
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Howard Stern: Man or Mouth? Rolling Stone’s 1994 Cover Story

Spend enough time with Stern, and the line between man and myth becomes a blur of public performance, private neuroses and jokes about his reputedly undersized weenie

Photograph by Mark Seliger for

Encased in the long black limousine that has transported him from Beverly Hills, Calif., to downtown Pasadena, Howard Stern is about to merge with his fans. The car inches along East Colorado Boulevard toward Vroman’s, the site of his West Coast book signing in December. Cops line the streets. Wild-eyed devotees — a mob estimated at 10,000 — wave copies of his best seller, Private Parts, shouting, “I love you, man!” and “Howard is God!” Stern has seen it before but still seems a little freaked. “These windows are tinted, right?” he asks the driver. “They can’t actually see us?” He reaches up and pulls the black cover over the sunroof glass. Soon the limo doors pop, and the Dark Prince of radio — black jeans, black suede fringe jacket, black shades — braves the screaming throng, stretching his 6-foot-5-inch frame to full height and raising his arms like a conquering hero. One man, overcome by the emotion of the moment, yells out, “HOWARD! Show us your PENIS!”

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It’s a telling scene: watching HOWARD STERN become Howard Stern! Are they the same guy? The standard Stern “story” goes something like this: Foul-mouthed, pervert shock jock revealed to be smart, mild-mannered family man who meditates in spare time. But it’s not quite that simple. He turns down the volume in person, but it’s still Howard: a strangely charismatic mixture of arrogance and self-deprecation. He’s also very funny. Spend enough time with him, and the line between man and myth becomes a blur of public performance, private neuroses and jokes about his reputedly undersized weenie.

This article appeared in the February 10, 1994 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available in the online archive.

The facts of his life are easier to grasp. Stern was raised on Long Island, N.Y., in a town called Roosevelt, a Jewish kid in a black neighborhood. His father, Ben, a radio engineer, called him a moron. His mother, Ray, was, he claims, so over-protective that she once told him to wear a pair of her panties when he had no undies of his own. Young Howard amused himself by putting on dirty puppet shows. At Boston University, he got into college radio — around the same time he started doing transcendental meditation — and met his wife, Alison, whom he thanks warmly in the book for letting him “finger” her on their first date.

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A disc jockey who hated jockeying, he worked his way up: Hartford, Conn., Detroit, Washington and, finally, New York City, where comic transgressions like his Lesbian Dial-a-Date, combined with autobiographical rants and unfiltered riffs on the news, made him No. 1. His syndicated five-hour show grew to an audience of 3 million. Nonfans called him racist and misogynous. The FCC fined him for indecency, while even Time magazine defended Stern’s right to anarchic, juvenile free speech.

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After a deal with New Line Cinema to make a movie called The Adventures of Fartman died last year, the self-proclaimed King of All Media’s crown looked dented. Then came Private Parts, his bull’s-eye men’s-room manifesto that became the fastest-selling book in Simon and Schuster’s 72-year history. Suddenly movie studios were calling again. Rupert Murdoch was talking to him about filling Chevy Chase’s vacant late-night chair on Fox. What would Howard do next?

Peter Travers’ 1997 Private Parts Review

In Pasadena, he signs books and breasts and pregnant bellies for seven hours, pausing only for bathroom breaks. Jessica Hahn, part of Stern’s posse of misfitfringe celebrities, shows up and tells me about Howard’s “heart of gold,” how much he does for charity, “quietly, behind the scenes.” I notice that, per Howard’s standing request, she is wearing no underwear.

Over two brutal days in Los Angeles, Stern rises at 4 a.m. to phone in to his radio show. He meets with Hollywood people about TV and movie offers. He does The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, taped early so Stern can catch the 4 o’clock back to New York, where there’s more work to be done on his pay-per-view special, the Miss Howard Stern New Year’s Eve Pageant. At dinner after the book signing, he’s fried, barely able to converse. By the next day in his dressing room at The Tonight Show, he’s fully stoked again, rehearsing new ways to humiliate Leno.

Fear drives Howard Stern, not hate or megalomania. “I’m still scared of the image of the old-time announcer showing up at bar mitzvahs and handing out pictures and balloons,” he says. “I’ve tried to elevate the role of disc jockey to somewhere beyond circus clown and carnival barker.”

He just turned 40. Because there’s a chip on his shoulder the size of Long Island, all his newfound fame, cash, fandom still don’t satisfy him. I ask if having his own late-night show would.

“To me, that would be the ultimate credibility,” he replies. “Would I love to take Letterman’s audience away from him and just shut his trap? Yeah, I would love to do that. Do I think I can do that? I know I can.”

Who has the most famous penis in America, you or Michael Jackson?
John Wayne Bobbitt. Come on!

Who re-enacted his penis severing for the world on your New Year’s Eve special. If you had your own late-night TV talk show tomorrow, is that the kind of quality entertainment we could expect?
Pay-per-view is great because I can go on there and do exactly what I would love to do. I can fuck a sheep. I have a lot of ideas on what I can do with network television, too, not necessarily in a raunchy way but something different.

You originally wanted to call your book “Howard Stern Has a Small Penis.”
No, I wanted to call it Mein Kampf. Then my agent said, “There won’t be a Jew in the world who will buy that book.” So then I said the title should be Penis, because I thought if it went onto the New York Times’ best-seller list, it would be “Howard Stern’s Penis.” And they’d have to write ” Howard Stern’s Penis is No. 1.”

What’s with the penis obsession? You’ve likened yours to an acorn. You claim you’re hung like a pimple.
I think I might as well be upfront about it. No guy will ever admit to having a small penis. I just went on the record. I might be one of the smallest guys in the world. I had a trip to the doctor when I had an anal fissure. My asshole was a mess. I’m lying there on this doctor’s table, and my penis, I mean, it was inside itself, like a turtle’s head poking backward. It was so fuckin’ embarrassing. Who the fuck’s going to admit to something like that? And that’s great radio. Because it’s someone being honest about their fears and emotions.

So what exactly would you put on a late-night TV show if you had one, and how would you beat all the other shows?
First of all, seeing me on a traditional talk show like Leno or Letterman would be enough to beat them. Because my attitude and the way I handle guests would be just so bizarre. Seeing me sitting next to Goldie Hawn is different than seeing David Letterman, Chevy Chase or Jay Leno or anybody sitting next to Goldie Hawn. It just doesn’t look right. I could go that way and be very successful. But I don’t want to do a late-night talk show that depends on guests. I would depend more on the hot stories of the day, real people. I think people would respond to an opinionated late-night host. I know some sponsors would complain, but I’m sick of hearing Billy Crystal talk about his latest fucking picture and all that bullshit. The show’s got to be about me, not about the guest.

Is that what you told Rupert?
Rupert who?

Murdoch. The guy who owns Fox. You met with him about doing a late-night show. You said on the radio that Fox would be crazy not to back a Brinks truck up to your house.
Right now, I’ve got a lot of offers on the table. I can do television, or I can do a film. I have a lot of good ideas for film, but the problem is there’s no immediacy. It would take two years to make. I like instant gratification. I would love to make the announcement that I was going up against those late-night guys. They’re just so vulnerable. Jay is so weak. Jay is like a deer that’s been hit in the woods by a couple of bullets. He’s just sort of wobbling around, waiting to be knocked off.

And Letterman? What kind of animal is he?
Dave is looking old, like an old elephant. He’s 46. It’s the same show, day in, day out. Before he gets firmly in the Johnny position where he’s the guy, he’s late night, I’d love to come in and burst his fucking bubble. I would just take such pleasure in that. I have a very warped feeling about myself that I’m worthless, and the only way I can prove myself to all the fucking experts is to show that David Letterman is nothing. There are a lot of people hoping I fail. But I like that. I need to be hated.

Would you give up the radio show?
I can’t. I’m under contract for two years. I would have to do both. I would have no personal life. If you’re getting up at 4 o’clock in the morning, and you’re doing a show from 6 to 11, how much more free time do you have? If you’ve got a wife and kids? I hardly see them as it is. So I suppose money will be persuasive in terms of doing late-night television.

What if you did the TV show as a taped version of the radio show?
I don’t think that would be the answer. There’s a certain intimacy with radio that people like. They like that there’s not a camera on them. They tend to admit more and be more open. It would kill me if women came in and couldn’t be naked in the studio anymore. It just wouldn’t be right. I couldn’t get up in the morning.

What is there about you that we don’t know?
Well, first of all, I don’t think that I leave a lot to the imagination. The whole point of the radio show is complete honesty. Every time I hold back, every time I’m sitting there going, “OK, I’d better not say that ’cause my wife will get pissed off,” “my mother will get pissed off,” or “it’s really embarrassing to me, my image,” I go, “Well, fuck that. I shouldn’t have an image.” Anything you find yourself holding back, it’s probably what the audience most wants to hear. And it causes problems with your family. I’d say within the last year, it’s started getting to my wife. It never used to get to her, but she’s like I’s there anything between us that we don’t share with your audience?”

She got furious at you for joking about her miscarriage on the air a few years ago. Is there something she has really objected to recently?
There’s been a lot of Èhings. She’s — I don’t know, she doesn’t like the bullshit with the women. When women come in and want to give us massages, she really gives me shit.

She listens every day?
Yeah, and I’ve begged her not to listen. I say, “The best thing for our marriage is if you wouldn’t listen.” But that doesn’t stop her. She has a mind of her own.

What was it like to get a favorable review in the “New York Times”?
Uh, I have mixed emotions about it. I don’t think I’ll ever be accepted by legitimate media, and I kind of like that. I’m way too honest. I’ll meet someone, and three weeks later, I’ll be talking badly about them if I see them doing something wrong. That’s why I stay home all the time. I wouldn’t go to a Hollywood party, because I’m sure half the people there want to choke me and kill me. I think it’s neat, though, to get a positive review. I felt like I had really written something good. I’m not saying it was Hemingway, but it was something that conveyed a story. It was funny. There was a laugh a page. The fans really liked it. I also got a lot of reaction from people who didn’t like the radio show and enjoyed the book.

Let’s talk about the FCC. The radio company you work for, Infinity Broadcasting, has been fined more than a million dollars for a variety of things you’ve said on the air that fall under the FCC’s definition of indecency. And now the FCC is delaying Infinity’s purchase of three more stations because of you. Do you see yourself as a crusader for free speech in the tradition of comedians such as Lenny Bruce and George Carlin?
No. I am not a crusader for free speech. I see myself as someone who basically got into this to entertain. I never said, “Hey, I’m going to go out and break every boundary out there.” And I never envisioned all this First Amendment hoopla. I’ll tell you what’s frightening about it: I can’t win this fight against the FCC, because they’re bureaucrats, and they’ve got all the time in the world, and they’re going to sit there and just wear me down. And the way they do it is they hit the company I work for. They’re doing it in a bald, underhanded way that’s completely unconstitutional The whole message has been for the company I work for: Fire Howard Stern.

What are you talking about?
I had a deal to go on in the morning in Atlanta. They were buying a station in Atlanta, and Jesse Helms said point-blank, “You’ll never buy that station in Atlanta unless you agree not to put on Howard Stern.” I can’t go on in Atlanta.

Jesse Helms did that?
Oh, yeah. But I can’t prove it to you. I know it went down. But I don’t have any proof. And I’m the only one being attacked. Not Donahue and Oprah and Geraldo. Donahue did a show about penile implants at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. That’s when children are watching television. They’re not listening to the radio from 6 to 10 in the morning. They’re in school or getting ready for school. They’re being supervised by their parents. If you’re going to tell me that you can’t discuss penis, it’s got to be the same law for everybody. It can’t be just for me.

So the FCC is holding back your career?
Oh, without a doubt. I would have been on in about 300 markets already if it wasn’t for the FCC.

What won’t you say on the air besides the seven dirty words?
I’ll say anything that I think is funny. And you know people have said to me, “Well, I never heard you talk about child rape, so you must have boundaries.” Well, I don’t think child rape is funny. I criticized Saturday Night Live when they made fun of Chelsea Clinton.

You hate being likened to Rush Limbaugh, and yet there are similarities. Your politics are pretty much the same. You’re both hard-core anti-crime, anti-welfare….
Well, you’re going to find a lot of similarity between me and Rush Limbaugh, because he got his entire fucking show from me. Rush Limbaugh was a failed disc jockey until he heard my radio show and said, “Oh, that’s what you do.” And what I resent about that fat cock is that he — just like so many other pricks in our industry — rather than saying, “Hey, I give Howard some credit for opening things up for me,” every chance he gets, he says, “I don’t want to be pumped in with Howard Stern.”

Can we talk about your philosophy of life? I quote: “Lesbians. Lesbians. Lesbians.”
You cannot go wrong with lesbians. You know I’m not the only one who knows this. I’m just blunt about it. Donahue knows it. Geraldo knows it. Oprah knows it. November ratings sweeps come up, and it’s lesbians, lesbians, lesbians.

You’ve said that the greatest regret in your life is that you never had two women in bed —
It’s true.

— at once. And that now you turn down offers like that all the time.
Yeah, I do.

But knowing the kind of guy you are — very traditional and straight when you’re off the air — do you really think that if you weren’t married you would be fucking every woman who came on your show?
Yes. I know I would. And I can’t believe now that I’ll be turning 40, and I’ve been fucking the same woman for 21 years. There’s a joy to that, I guess. But who ever would have predicted that I would have gotten this famous? The opportunities to have sex with women are unbelievable. I mean, I think I could have gotten the Barbi twins. They seemed to really like me. Well, not me, but the guy on the radio. I thought I could have had Dian Parkinson, the woman from The Price Is Right. Tawny Kitaen — I think she was interested. I got to admit that I would really love to fuck everybody. I can’t believe how strong an individual I am. ‘Cause I’d have a tremendous sense of guilt doing that to my wife.

Do you respect women?
I think I do. Yes, I see them as sexual objects. So women somehow think that that’s being a misogynist or being a pig. I don’t see it that way. I think I like women a lot. But I also see them as tits and ass, too. I’m just honest about it.

So when a woman comes in and shaves her pubic region or bends over your knee and lets you spank her …
It’s exciting.

But doesn’t that alter the way you think about them just a little bit?
No, not at all. A guy who fucks a woman and then leaves the room, I say that’s a guy who hates women. All the foreplay, when you’re spanking, you’re shaving, you’re doing ridiculous things — it’s a real turn-on. I don’t understand why a guy expressing his sexuality in the open is a bad guy or a guy who hates women.

What about your youth? Besides being called a moron by your father, raised “like a veal” by your mom and growing up the only white kid in an all-black neighborhood, did you have a happy childhood?
No, I wouldn’t really call it happy. I was talking to my daughter the other day, my 10-year-old. I’ve never really sat there and told her that I lived in an all-black neighborhood, and that’s why I was so fucking depressed, because I think that would send the wrong message to her, as if black people were bad. I said to my daughter, “Imagine what it was like if all of your friends moved away.” And she said, “Oh, I would hate that.” I said, “Well, that’s what happened to me. All my friends moved away. And they wouldn’t come back and visit me, because their parents were afraid.” I had one or two black friends, and that was it. My parents could pick and choose. They would go and meet some of the more middle-class, upscale black people. They’d get in their car and drive and go see their white friends. They had a nice life. I, on the other hand, was in a prison every day.

When people ask, “How can you say the things you say about black people?” Calling them monkeys, for instance, your defense is “I grew up with black people.”
I have no defense for anything I say. I just bullshit my way through life. I think black people have a tremendous sense of humor. You don’t want to stereotype a whole race and say they have a tremendous sense of humor. That sounds kind of weird, too. But there was a self-effacing humor in the black community that was incredible. People were killing each other, people were stabbing teachers. But at the same time, you’d see sort of a very human side. A guy would say, “You motherfuckin’ nigger,” and the other one would go, “Your mother’s a nasty-haired, big-lipped bitch,” and these guys would go back and forth all day, and it was funny fuckin’ stuff. There’s humor in every ethnic group. I don’t think I’m a racist; I don’t do it out of hatred, I do it because I think it’s funny.

You complain that there’s too much ass kissing and image control that goes on in the world of media and celebrity. But you keep tight control over your own image. For a long time, you wouldn’t do any interviews, and you have strict rules about how you can be photographed. It seems like you do the same thing you criticize other celebrities for doing.
I’m sure I’m filled with inconsistencies, but fuck that, I’m not the president of the United States. What happens with celebrities is they make a bunch of ground rules. I interviewed Boy George for E! His manager came up and said, “We don’t want you to ask him about homosexuality.” I was like “Really?” There’s a guy sitting there, lipstick and fuckin’ platform shoes with open toes so you can see his red toenails and hairy feet, and you’re going to tell me I can’t address that? But I have always been very blunt. I’ve never said to a reporter, “Don’t ask me about something.”

How much money do you make?
I don’t answer that. See, there are some things I won’t talk about.

I read $9 million.
Well, I’ll tell you what’s weird about talking about how much money you make —

It’s something that you always ask celebrities.
I do.

That’s why I asked you.
There’s tremendous class jealousy, I find. People are very jealous of somebody doing well. My relationships — even with people who are close to me — have changed. They see you doing well, and they say little weird things. A little dig here and there. Even a relative could call my parents up and go, “Oh, I don’t listen to Howard.” It’s almost like they want to knock you down or something. Because I think they perceive there’s been a change in me, because suddenly I might have a couple of bucks in my pocket.

Has there been a change in you?
Oh, I don’t think so. I have a nice house [a suburban manse minutes from his parents’ home on Long Island], and I have two cars. I’ve got, I think, a modest lifestyle. I don’t feel any different. I feel that for years I was in radio and I was unfairly compensated. And I still feel to some degree I’m unfairly compensated. I think there are people making millions and millions and millions of dollars off of me.

Your fans are mostly white males, 25 to 54, suburban. Why do they connect with you?
I think most guys were like me. They weren’t the captain of the football team. Women were not taken with them. None of them were super students or really excelled at anything. I believe that I might be Everyguy. People in that age group of 25 to 34, 40, 50 — it’s not so much a demographic. It’s a psychographic. It’s not necessarily a white guy. It could be a black guy. It could be a Spanish guy. They’re sort of the skeptical, cynical, I-don’t believe-a-fuckin’-thing-I-hear people.

You said about Rodney King, “They didn’t beat this guy enough.” Do you ever worry that something you say on the air — as a joke or with a certain amount of irony — that your audience might just take that as gospel?
Rodney King should have been beaten more. I think Rodney King is a blight on society. Rodney King was going over 100 mph, drunk. This guy is a fucking danger. If Rodney fucking King drove down my block and drove up on the sidewalk and hit my kid, I’d take a fuckin’ gun and blow his goddamned brains out. Do I worry about what the audience’s reaction is going to be? Absolutely not. You have to assume that they’re reasonably intelligent enough to know that a guy on the radio shouldn’t be formulating every opinion of theirs. I couldn’t give a shit what the audience’s reaction is going to be. I just hope they keep tuning in.

Are you Beavis and Butt-head’s dirty uncle?
Yeah, maybe. I think Beavis and Butt-head is great. MTV wanted me to do a show for them. They said, “We love when you comment on records. We want a show where you’ll talk over the videos.” I said OK. We sat down and talked money. They had no fucking money.

You’re saying MTV stole your idea?
No, I think Beavis and Butt-head are very original. I’m not accusing anyone, but I pitched that idea to them.

How’s your relationship with David Letterman?
I don’t know if you’d call it a relationship. When we first started getting to know each other, Letterman used to call me at my house and stuff. And we’d have long telephone conversations. It was weird; I’m awkward in that situation. I cannot talk to people off the air. I have a hard time, like, schmoozing with celebrities. I say, “They couldn’t possibly be interested in me.” And I don’t know what to say to them. Like, are we friends because we’re in show business? So, when he’d call, I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. If I invite him over to the house, will he think I’m an asshole?

Did you invite him over?
No, absolutely not. I would just feel so strange doing that.

Richard Simmons has been to your house.

So you invite Richard Simmons over but not Letterman?
Richard Simmons expressed a desire to come to my house. It was a disaster. He was running through the fuckin’ house, throwing cucumbers in the pool. He started squeezing my kids and my wife and housekeeper so hard that their ribs hurt.

I don’t know; I think he was trying to impress me. I had Chuck Norris and his girlfriend and Joe Piscopo and his girlfriend to my house. I said, “Hey, this is a cool idea. I’ve arrived. I should have celebrities over.”

Those aren’t exactly A-list celebrities.
Well, to me they are. I mean, who’s going to associate with me? Have you ever seen Joe Piscopo’s baby-sitter girlfriend? Maybe the most beautiful girl in the world. He checked her out when she was 11 years old. And then Chuck’s new girlfriend walks in, the 21-year-old aerobics instructor. And I’m sitting there, I’m ready to go whack off in the bathroom. It was a whole fucking sexually frustrating evening.

Where was Alison during all this?
She was right in there. Alison’s a great entertainer.

Tell me a little about Alison.
We had sex last night. She was mad at me, because I wouldn’t use the vibrator. When I first started using the vibrator, it was a fantastic thing. I can’t stand foreplay. I could touch her for 30 seconds with this vibrator, and she would be completely orgasmic; she’d be going through the roof, moaning, “Give it to me, you hot, beefy man.” But I found that women build up a resistance to the vibrator. I’d be laying there vibrating her for over an hour, and I’m like sleeping through it, so I stopped using it, and I just told her, “All I like is intercourse; this fore-play is bullshit.”

How’s that going?
I don’t know. I hope she’s still attracted to me.

Your daughters, it seems, are the sacred things in your life. [Stern has three: Emily, 10; Debra, 7; and Ashley, 1.] You won’t let them listen to the show. Your nightmare is that they will grow up to marry one of your fans.
I’ve told tÈe kids I’m a Harvard professor, and they don’t believe it.

Did you have to move a couple of times because your daughters were being threatened?
No. I had to move because I didn’t have any privacy. I was very famous in New York, and I was still not getting paid any money by NBC, and I had to live in a community where I had absolutely no privacy, with kids camping out on my lawn every night, banging on the doors and screaming my name out all night.

So now you have a big wall around your property?
No, not a big wall, but I have some isolation.

No, no. A couple of cameras. Little rifles.

Are those to protect you from Jerry Seinfeld after your relentless mockery of him and his 17-year-old girlfriend?
Jerry has a sense of humor about everyone but himself. Jerry dating a 17-year-old is very funny. You know, in the beginning, when Jerry needed ratings bad, he came on my show many times. And I said then, “Jerry is the biggest fuckin’ phony. The day that show gets popular, he will find a reason to stop being friendly with us.” I knew Jerry would dump me as soon as that show got big.

I noticed when I was at the studio during the show, Jackie “the Joke Man” Martling is constantly feeding you jokes. How much of it do you use?
I use a lot of it. If he writes 100 lines, I’ll use 95 of them.

How important is your team of sidekicks, or “mutants,” as you call them — Robin Quivers, Fred Norris, “Stuttering” John Melendez — to your act?
I have never been one to take credit for the show entirely. Fred writes the song parodies and sketches. Robin is the navigator. She knows how to get me going and how to light certain buttons. They help me tremendously.

The psychiatric analysis at the end of your book says that you grew up in a “shaming environment” and that you enjoy the sense of power that comes from demeaning and humiliating people.
I hate to say it, but it’s true. I used to doodle little pictures — not used to, I still do — I draw pictures while I’m on the air. And I looked down one day, and I said, “What the fuck am I drawing?” It had penises and balls and vaginas and tits. So I said, “I got to give these to a psychologist.” They sent back what you now read in the book. And I’m reading it, and I go, “Oh, this isn’t me. I’m not going to put this in the book.” And I finally read it like five times. I’d reread it, and I’d go, “You know what? This is me. This is pathetically me.”

How long do you spend on your hair?
Oh, hair’s a big part of my life. For a while I had that layered look, and I looked like Big Bird or something. I don’t look good with short hair. I’m very long and lanky, and I have a skinny neck. When I have long hair, you can’t tell how skinny my neck is, so I look a little better. Same thing with the dark glasses. I think they make my nose look smaller. Sometimes I look in the mirror, and I want to throw up. If I could just be good-looking, it would be so much easier.

How much weight did you lose to do that buff cover shot for the book?
I was about 215, and I got down to 190. And I was training with weights and stuff.

How’s your self-esteem?
I will never have a lot of self-esteem. I don’t feel very good about myself. I don’t think I’m an attractive man, No. 1. And looks play an important part in how I feel about myself. I still have an inferiority complex. The way I was raised and my father always telling me I was a piece of shit, I think I’ll go to my grave not feeling very positive about myself or that I’m very, very special. My mother used to tell me every day how special I was]. Every time I hear my mother’s voice going, “You are the most special little boy in the whole world,” I hear my father going, “You fucking asshole, you are a piece of shit.”

You said that you think the real Howard is the one on the air, not the one at home watching TV.
Oh, I know it.

That’s who you are?
Oh, I know that’s who I am. When I’m on the radio, I can be exactly what I am and say exactly what I feel. I really feel I’m role playing in real life. But I can get on the radio and be who I feel I am inside. In real life, I sit and hold back all the time. I hate that. But you can’t function in real life if you go around telling people what you think.

Are you happy?
I don’t think I’m ever happy. People say, “Gee, you wrote a best-selling book. Are you happy?” I don’t appear to be a very happy person. That’s just the way I am. See, crowds out there at the book signings and all that is very fulfilling, but at the same time I look at it, and I don’t even think that’s me they’re talking about. I don’t sit there and go, “Ooh, man, now I’m famous.” I never feel famous, and I never feel successful.

But you are.
Yeah, but I don’t feel it.

Why not?
I don’t know. Maybe I just don’t allow it. I don’t feel any great sense of joy.

Is it because it’s never enough? You still feel underappreciated?
Yeah, I do have that problem of feeling underappreciated. I’m still very much in touch with that emotion. I still feel like I gotta prove something.

You will be 40 when this story comes out. What do you want to be at 50? Still making fart jokes and spanking lesbians?
See, that’s just a little too fucking close. I see articles on Steve Tyler, and he’s like 19, even though he’s about the same age as me. How did that happen? I don’t know, I can’t imagine still doing this. But what the hell else am I qualified to do?

More: Howard Stern on Sex, Therapy and Charlie Sheen

From the Archive:

Howard Stern Does Hollywood: Rolling Stone’s 1997 Cover Story

Who Is Howard Stern? Rolling Stone’s 1990 Feature

Artie Lange Exposed: Rolling Stone’s 2009 Feature

Artie Lange’s Life in Photos: From Hometown Comic to Howard Stern’s Sidekick

Artie Lange: The Story Behind the Story


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