All Beavis and Butt-Head Need to Know They Learned in Hollywood
Huh-huh, huh-huh, huh-huh, huh-huh, huh-huh, huh-huh, huh-huh, huh-huh, huh-huh, huh-huh.”
It is the laugh.
“Heh-heh, heh-heh, heh-heh, heh-heh, heh-heh, heh-heh, heh-heh, heh-heh, heh-heh, heh-heh.”
It is the other laugh.
I’m laughing, too. I can’t help myself.
We are cruising now, cachinnating like brilliant idiots, Hyena Kings screaming up the coast into Hell, formerly known as Malibu, Calif. The land of aqua and canary is bright orange and black this late October evening, just in time for Halloween, only there are no jack-o’-lanterns and crepe-noir hobgoblins, only fire.
“Huh-huh, huh-huh, huh-huh, huh-huh.”
“Heh-heh, heh-heh, heh-heh, heh-heh.”
Malibu is burning, 14,000 prime acres of the most expensive crap homes you’ve ever seen, crackling like tinder, spitting 50-foot flames into a sienna sky. And we’re driving right into it. Or more specifically, I’m driving, because I’m the only person in the vehicle with a driver’s license. They may be the biggest stars in the Known Universe right now, with their own complex of bungalows on the Paramount lot, with their pictures next to the cash registers of Spago, Formosa Cafe, Chinois on Main, with their own private booth at the XXXX Video on Hollywood Boulevard, but they are, after all, only 14.
“Huh-huh, huh-huh, huh-huh, huh-huh, huh-huh, ” Butt-Head says.
“Heh-heh, heh-heh, heh-heh, heh-heh, heh-heh,” Beavis says.
The Jeep we’re riding in was a gift from Sherry Lansing, head of Paramount Pictures and, right now, Happy, Happy Girl. These two boys, these two beautiful ugly little boys, are going to make her $100 million, before foreign and video. She would hug them if not for what happened the last time. Instead: this Jeep — not some cheap Cherokee but a real Jeep, the kind that GI Joe drives, thick olive-green plastic shell custom-built onto Humvee guts. They could have had the Humvee or a Lamborghini, twin Ferraris, but they knew what they wanted. Beavis said the tires were wrong, damn it, and so back it went, and now we’re doing 90 up the Pacific Coast Highway on hard black plastic with iron-rod suspension over asphalt already buckled from the heat. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.
“Huh-heh, huh-heh, huh-heh, huh-heh,” Butt-Head and Beavis say.
Haw-haw, haw-haw. My teeth are dry from laughing, but also because there is no windshield. The juiceless Santa Ana winds fire hot salt into my eyes, and I’m crying, or maybe it’s just that I’m so damn happy. I look into the seat next to me, and there, nestled together like the kind of lovers only adolescent males can be, kicking and punching and laughing, smacking and cracking up, is a billion dollars’ worth of boys. Beavis and Butt-Head are Tom and Huck, towhead and brunette, blood-and-snot brothers riding their 350-horsepower raft into the heart of stardom.
Butt-Head turns to me. His smile glows orange, the setting sun reflecting off his braces; his eyes alight with the fire in the hills. He is, in that moment, a boy god.
“Uh,” he says. “Let me drive.”
The emergency room at the Malibu Medical Center is filled with guest stars. Tonight’s featured casualties: an actor from, I think, Lou Grant on a gurney wrapped in gauze, second- and third-degree burns on his torso and face received while trying to save his Japanese teahouse; a woman who died on Marcus Welby, M.D. holding in her lap a cackling bichon frisé, which she claims is suffering from smoke inhalation; a rock star of some sort who has managed to cut off a toe. And us, Beavis and Butt-Head and Boswell, who just totaled a $102,000 plastic toy Jeep across the street from Pia Zadora’s house.
Butt-Head, it turns out, doesn’t know how to drive. The boys are perched on opposite edges of an examination table, cheeks to cheeks, stripped to the waist and below only in briefs, probably white originally. Two nurses — one old, the other large — minister to burns, cuts and abrasions, feigning obliviousness to the supercelebrity of the limbs they are mending.
“Um, er,” Beavis says to the old one, “so now you have to, like, take off your top.”
“Huh-huh,” Butt-Head says to the large one as she mercurochromes a gash on his upper thigh, “you missed a spot.”
The nurses say nothing but are furiously making mental notes. Hard Copy pays very well.
In the deep reality of the neon-on-pistachio E.R., Beavis and Butt-Head appear both smaller and larger than life. Their bodies are smaller; their heads are larger. It has always been thus with Real Stars: Eastwood, Brando, Leno, all bigheaded. Humphrey Bogart had a massive, ruggedly handsome head — otherwise, shrimp and bones. Clark Gable’s head was so large that there are shots in The Misfits, his last film, in which you can distinctly see a black-gloved hand propping it up in back. Many people believe, based on the size of his head, that Sylvester Stallone is 6-feet tall. If cranial mass alone determines stardom, Beavis and Butt-Head are going to be big, big, big — bigger even than Abraham Lincoln.
But Beavis and Butt-Head are going to be much bigger than that.
Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, their first major motion picture, doesn’t open until Dec. 20, and even now, lines are forming at some 2,000 theaters nationwide, the huddled masses of an entire degeneration laid waste by Beavis and Butt-Head’s MTV show. Nearly 200 episodes of their real-life adventures have been broadcast in 71 countries and condemned in five different languages. The modestly budgeted $10 million movie has yet to take in B.O. Dollar 1, and already there is talk of signing Beavis and Butt-Head up to do America all over again. “There’s no question we’re going to be working with them again,” says David Geffen, whose Geffen Pictures co-produced B&BDA. “We’re already talking to them about a sequel.”
In early test screenings, audiences have agreed, rating the movie an 85 on a scale on which, for example, Forrest Gump scored an 83. (“It’s testing Forrest Gump level,” appears to be the studio’s marketing sutra.) The reason, according to Abby Terkuhle, MTV’s creative director and the movie’s producer: “Beavis and Butt-Head are double the Gump.”