Full disclosure: This did not go entirely as planned. When Gary Busey was scheduled to visit the Rolling Stone office last month to talk about his upcoming EP and latest book, Buseyisms, in a soon-to-be-published interview, we asked his team if he’d like to record some conceptual videos alongside a straight Q&A. A few days before Busey’s visit, Cardi B had released her ASMR video, the latest celebrity to explore the “head orgasm” niche. We wanted to see how Gary Busey would approach the same concept.
“Gary hasn’t heard of ASMR,” his rep told us after he arrived. Fair. A lot of people haven’t. “And he’s not really big on YouTube or ‘views’ or anything like that. And he doesn’t know who Cardi B is. You might want to explain it to him in terms of Jeff’s album and see what he says.”
“Jeff” is Jeff Bridges, Busey’s longtime friend who in 2015 recorded a fantastic spoken-word album called Sleeping Tapes blending Bridges’ voice — both naturally mellifluous and digitally altered — with ambient music. We tell Gary about the album and how ASMR is sorta kinda like that.
His eyes squint. His brows furrow. Gary Busey is getting angry.
“No. I’m not doing that. I’m not comparing anything to my soulmate Jeff. No. I’m not going there.”
This isn’t going well.
“I’m gonna tell you what I learned from my spiritual meaning with Siddha yoga and Sanskrit and the beauty of meditation and prayer,” he adds. “That is the way you go to sleep.”
He notices a binaural stereo microphone used in many ASMR videos set up in the studio.
“What is that thing?”
“That’s the special microphone for the sleep-oriented video we were talking about,” says a producer.
“Take that out of there,” he says, his tone shifting from frustration to determination. “Let’s not confuse the listener with a bunch of crap going on in the sound. I will just interview myself without that microphone and tell you what I do to go to sleep.”
Perhaps the least-known thing about Gary Busey is that he gets a genuine thrill imparting wisdom on anyone within earshot. Buseyisms is part memoir, part motivational read; the title a reference to numerous acronyms Busey has coined over the years. (LOVE: Living. On. Victorious. Energy. DREAM: Details Revealing Excitement and Magic.)
“It’s personal and it’s truthful and it’s loving and it’s spiritual,” Busey adds of his sleeping method before stepping into frame and beginning an unscripted, six-minute speech. Rest easy.