Frank talk from the king of fright night.
As you can probably imagine, scoring an interview with a heavyweight in the fright business this time of year is no easy task. You’ve got to know people. Thankfully, I’m pretty well connected in that world—it’s a long story—so I put word out through my peeps that I wanted to talk to arguably the scariest man on the planet in time for Halloween. Now, the one and only Frankenstein doesn’t do a lot of one-on-one interviews—a few years back he walked off the set when Charlie Rose asked where he got his clothes—but, as I soon found out, the big guy (he checks in at 7 foot 5 inches, 357 pounds) is really just a regular guy at heart. No entourage, no preconditions or off-limits questions. After interviewing some pretty large egos over the years, it was refreshing to sit down with Frankenstein over a couple of Diet Cokes and just kvetch. Sure, I was a little scared, but, as you’ll see, Frankenstein has a way of putting people at ease.
Paul Kilduff: First off, thanks for taking the time to do this—I know this is a busy time of year for you.
Frankenstein: Ah, don’t mention it, my boy. Happy to promote the brand whenever I can.
PK: Sure, but does it ever rankle you that most people—even after almost 200 years—don’t realize that your name isn’t actually Frankenstein? That in essence, your creator, Mary Shelley, didn’t give you a name at all?
FS: Well, I beg to differ. My creator, or “father” if you want to call him that, is actually Victor Frankenstein. As far as the name thing goes, it’s been so long now that I don’t really trip on it. What do the kids say today? “It is what it is.”
PK: Yeah, right—everything happens for a reason. But keeping track of the various incarnations doesn’t boggle the mind? I mean, we’ve got the classic Frankenstein, Young Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Franken Berry—
FS: Do they still make that? Good lord, that was good stuff. A little sugary, but very satisfying indeed. Started many a day with a bowl of Franken Berry and just a splash of goat’s milk.
PK: Right. And let’s not forget Edgar Winter’s bass-heavy ’70s rock staple, “Frankenstein.”
FS: Oh, yes. Boogied my ass off to that one back in the day, I can assure you. But to answer your question, yes, there are many sides to me—but that’s the case with most people, or uh, monsters.
PK: How involved are you in the day-to-day management of your image? I mean, you take someone like Kim Kardashian, for instance—she was able to make millions just off of her wedding alone.
FS: Well, props to her. And, really she’s earned it what with that nonstop hourglass figure. On the other hand, look at the price she’s paid. It’s almost like being the president. You can’t go get a cheese slice without the full security detail in tow. But I try to keep a relatively low profile. And the few gigs I do have are set up by my agent, Leigh Steinberg. He’s really one of the best. He also handles Dracula so he knows what he’s doing.
PK: I’ve got to ask—what about the bolts? Are they permanent?
FS: Actually, they screw in. I take them out when I go to bed and soak them—kind of like dentures. They don’t really go with anything, but it’s part of the image. I’m also contractually obligated to wear them.
PK: So are they painful?
FS: A little. But I insist on stainless steel. I have them specially made in Switzerland—you just can’t beat that old-world craftsmanship.
PK: What about the constant pressure to be you? It’s not like you can just saunter out into broad daylight unnoticed. How do you deal?
FS: After all these years, if I can’t handle a few gawkers, I mean, come on. I don’t need to become some anonymous cubicle farmer all of a sudden. And besides, my driver, Cedric, is always ready to whisk me away in the Escalade if things get a little too heavy. The windows are heavily tinted. It’s jet black. Very stealth.
PK: Have there been any close calls as far as safety goes?
FS: There was a Raiders game a couple of years ago. Thought I’d fit in there, but I guess I didn’t down enough Hamm’s Light in the parking lot beforehand. Being around some of those hooligans is enough to make you want to swear off drink altogether. Really frightening. But then the Raiders lost another close one and we were all able to bond grieving our collective loss. I am still wondering if I got on ESPN that day.
PK: So in today’s world, what with all the violent video games like Grand Theft Auto, is it hard to really put the fear of God into somebody?
FS: I try not to compete with God, if you know what I mean. You’re not going to come out on top there. But I do hear what you’re saying. Today even kids are jaded. But every year around this time, I still get a special kick out of causing some random Joe to choke on a mouthful of candy corn just by encountering me randomly. It validates me.
PK: Are there threats to your franchise? I mean, over the years there have been some fairly friendly takes on your persona, like that lovable oaf Herman Munster, for instance.
PK: Oh, come on. You really don’t know who Herman Munster is?
FS: No, really. I must have been out of the country. What was it? A TV show?
PK: Yes. Never mind. So, where can we find you lurking about this Halloween?
FS: You know, normally I would say, come check me out roaming around the Marriott lobby signing autographs till midnight or something—but this year I just feel like being a little bit more spontaneous. I don’t want to be locked into some tight schedule with appearances where I have to talk to those inane local TV types. Who knows? You might see me in the 7-11 parking lot toting a 12-pack. Or I might have a glass of wine upstairs at Chez Panisse with my lady friend.
PK: Lady friend? What’s up with that?
FS: Oh, you didn’t know about Bernice? We’ve had a pretty longstanding thing now for about 150 years. She’s not into self-promotion so I try to respect that—but then again, I make most of my income this time of year so she understands. We always get away right afterwards to my ranch outside Kalispell, Mont. We can really just let our hair down up there. And the food is tremendous. I think it may become the next Aspen.
For more Kilduff, go to thekilduff-file.blogspot.com.
Astrological sign:Monsters are excluded from the Zodiac calendar.
American Idol: Dick Cheney
When I grow up I want to be: I’m way too old for that question.