Ladies and gentlemen: Bong Rip! Photo by Jennie Warren
Ladies and gentlemen: Bong Rip! Photo by Jennie Warren

Being Bong

Rip's house defies description. Half swelters in the summer heat, while the other half is an air-conditioned sanctuary of sinsemilla. It is there that the infamous pot parties are now held. Rip's room fills up with friends: a couple of musicians and at least a couple of smoking audience members who just lounge on the bed, nod approvingly and talk amongst themselves. Recently Rip has acquired a new guitarist, who is still in the process of fine-tuning his weedy pseudonym, not to mention a token cute girl. For the purposes of this article they are known as Stone (pronounced Stone-y) and Lady Fadrian. "I hang out with Rip every day," says the Lady sweetly. "You cannot not meet me." She does everything sweetly; that's basically why she gets a pseudonym.

What happens at a pot party? What you'd expect, but more so. Music is played. Pieces are smoked. Lots of music. Lots of smoking. Non-musicians sit, talk, gape at walls and just kinda smile at the air. The only light in the room comes from a computer monitor and a five-foot red fluorescent tube, standing on end in one corner. This can be terrifying for anyone who has spent the past few hours taking notes in red pen; the red light makes the writing invisible and, at first glance, all the notes appear to have vanished.

In a more public atmosphere, like, say, the wrap party for Jackass: Number Two at Hollywood's Spyder Club, Rip is equally comfortable. He likes to cruise up to Hollywood for party purposes a few times a week. At such events he sits with his friends, collecting hugs and handshakes from certain passers-by and, almost without exception, seeks out unassuming places to get high.

Inside the Spyder Club is a dance floor, a Spanish-style patio open to the air; enormous balls hang in the air with inner light spilling out from thousands upon thousands of tiny perforations. Let's call it "sumptuous." Rip gets pictures with friend Steve-O and man-behind-the-camera Rick Kosick. He's about to get a shot with Jeff Tremaine, director of Jackass: Number Two, when Tremaine drags Super Dave Roen into the shot as well. Roen is a Hollywood music guru and composer of Jackass' "Party Boy" theme, and is in no way related to Super Dave Osborne; back when Tremaine worked for Big Brother Magazine(with Kosick) in 1999, a writer named Johnny Knoxville came to him with an idea for testing self-defense products on himself. From that spark of inspiration came the towering mushroom cloud of self-degradation we all know and love, Jackass.

For now Rip is content to flit about Orange County and Hollywood, making music and getting high with his buddies, whether they be celebrity or medical patient. But make no mistake; there's also a method to his madness. "I'm here doing God's work," he says. "God put the hemp plant on the planet to do something good." His limousine cruises past SUVs parked outside bars and trophy wives sitting at Starbucks; Rip talks about how man has turned away from herbs to chemicals. "But I'm here to replace what man has foolishly diminished. It's time to clean the planet up." As the afternoon sun blazes through the limo's custom double-tinted windows one afternoon, Rip shows his militant side (if in a sedate and monotone kind of way). It is hot out, and he is weakly tweaking the limo's A/C system. The fact is, he says, "hemp turns dirty air into clean air faster than any other plant on the planet. This plant is literally a little machine that's cleaning our air and reversing global warming." Rip recites this in a measured fashion, reflecting the number of times he repeats such factoids, his encyclopedic collection of marijuana mantras. He talks of how quickly the ice caps are melting; how there's more hurricanes now than ever before. "We're dying. We're killing ourselves, and it's time to put an end to this shit. This is the war against the war on drugs, and I'm the perfect man to lead this war."

But most of the time Rip isn't talking of war or conflict. Most of the time he just does what he loves: beating drums, driving around in a limo, smoking pot and partying like a rock star. Oh, and don't forget munching. There's always munching. The end of the night is usually a hazy affair for Rip involving food, perhaps with friends, at any late-night location. One such spot is Canter's, a kosher deli that's been an LA mainstay since 1931. After a long day of drumming, smoking, ogling, cleaning pipes, partying and more smoking, he likes to munch on a potato pancake and talk about the day's adventures. It also helps that the diner is at 419 Fairfax. As Rip astutely points out, "If it were on the other side of the street, it'd be 420."

Yes, some people might consider Rip a degenerate loser. But it's hard to deny that, whatever he is, he's out there trying to do what he thinks is right and important, the best way that he knows how. And for a stoner, that's saying something.


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