Connect with us

Features

THE HIGHS KEEP CUMMING w/ Alan Cumming

Alan Cumming – icon, Scottish actor, author, producer, activist (among other talents) – is renowned for his groundbreaking portrayal of the Emcee in Cabaret, and came to widespread recognition in the U.S. as Eli Gold on The Good Wife. In between there have been hit films like GoldenEye, Spy Kids and X-Men 2; acclaimed theatre work around the globe; incredible achievements in humanitarian work, particularly for the LGBTQ community… and even the cheekiest of Reefer Madness(Fans should also be on the lookout for news about Reefer Madness‘s return to the stage; actor/producer Christian Campbell, who played Jimmy in the original Off-Broadway run and in the film, is currently fundraising for a 2019 Broadway production.)
Now that Cumming is embarking on new adventures, like playing the first gay leading man in a network TV drama (CBS’s Instinct, which has been approved for a second season) and opening his own club in New York City, he’s ready to spill all to Honeysuckle.  The cult hero gave photographer, filmmaker and Honeysuckle hero, Samuel Clemens Long, some naughty notes on his love for cannabis and why life should be fun.

Interview and photography by Sam C. Long

SAMUEL CLEMENS LONG: When did you start consuming cannabis and why?

ALAN CUMMING: I first had a puff during high school. Why? Well, because it sounded exciting and some cool older people were doing it and I was flattered they’d asked me. And I liked the idea of having my reality heightened. I still do. And I still think the cool people do it!

You’ve mentioned how, because of the difficult relationship you had with your father, you had to grow up quickly and have since embraced a second childhood in acting. What place does cannabis use have within the “second childhood” approach to life?

Well, what I actually said was that I feel I’ve lived my life backwards. When I was a little boy I had to understand adult ways and suppress my fun and joy. And now that I’m an adult, I fully embrace little boyness in terms of joy and fun in a way that I think most adults find it difficult to, or have lost the knack of. Smoking pot is all a part of that joy. To me it is something that unleashes a wave of fun and liveliness and creativity. And I feel lucky in that I can dip into that and it not become something that controls my life. I have a motto – Everything in moderation, including moderation. Equally I feel it’s important to be able to utilize pot for all the positive things it can do, and still be able to function well in every aspect of life. I suppose I’m saying I’m a responsible stoner.

In your native land of Scotland, do you smoke “flower” (what the kids are calling the bud nowadays) or hash?

It was always hash, growing up. I didn’t really have any grass till I went to America, many years later. Nowadays it seems that grass is more the predominant thing and hash is rarer in the UK, but in my day, it was rubbing off bits of that brown into a cigarette joint.

How have you seen cannabis culture change in California?

Well last year at one of the swag suites before the Golden Globes or Emmys, I forget which, I got two free gifts that were weed related! Those places are really weird – you walk into these big rooms and there are loads of stalls and people tell you about their product and you choose which color of shoes or sunglasses or deep fat fryer or vodka or whatever it is and there is some poor PA assigned to you with a massive and gradually-increasing-in-weight bag, and all of a sudden there was a stall with a weed vape pen and a little bag of grass, and they popped it into my bag and off I went! It was just so amazing to me to see how quickly weed and weed products had been subsumed into the celebrity gifting culture. But of course it makes sense, and also is the reason why the legalizing-marijuana train has truly left the station – no state is going to renege on its legality once they see the financial benefits of it, not to mention how much calmer and happier their citizens will be!

Didn’t you once do a shoot with High Times where all the publicists were freaking out because you were actually smoking cannabis?

I did a movie of the musical Reefer Madness for Showtime, and at the press junket for it in L.A., Neve Campbell and I did a shoot an interview for High Times magazine. They wanted us to have a spliff in each of our mouths, and of course, as grown-ups and also as people who were promoting a movie called Reefer Madness and doing a shoot for a magazine called High Times, we agreed, and lit up. But our personal publicists, and the movie’s publicists, went into a tailspin and were freaking out. I had to have some strong words. I mean really. This was in 2005, and so the laws in California were not what they are now, but come on! Chill out, people.

In Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical you play the fear-mongering bad guy. How fun was that?

Reefer Madness was a total hoot to shoot. We shot it in Vancouver and British Columbia weed is rightly venerated by its inhabitants. So it felt good to make a paean to pot, and a political statement on hysteria and fear being used as weapons of propaganda in a place that completely encapsulated the film’s intentions and aesthetic.

Just for fun: Are Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups still your favorite thing to eat while high?

No, I’m vegan now, so soy ice cream is my munchie of choice!

Let’s switch gears. You do a considerable amount of charity work and receive many, many awards for it. Is there one organization/cause/award that is especially close to your heart, or one that doesn’t get the attention you’d like it to receive?

It would be hard to choose one. Everything I do is for something I feel doesn’t get enough attention or money or justice. Often I will be asked to support new causes because of certain themes in my work. Like after the movie Any Day Now, which was about gay adoption, I joined the Family Equality Council Board of Advocates. When my memoir Not My Father’s Son came out and I talked about abuse in my childhood, I started working with Safe Horizon [the largest social service agency for victims of abuse in the United States]. But I am always drawn to organizations that help queer youth, because I think being comfortable with your sexuality or gender identity is hard enough and getting even harder each day Trump is in power, so having to deal with anything else like homelessness or abuse needs all the support we can give. To this end, I’m currently an ambassador for the Hetrick-Martin Institute and also support Bailey House, the Ali Forney Center, and the Trevor Project.

 

You’ve also become an entrepreneur; in fall 2017 your nightclub, Club Cumming, officially opened to the public in NYC. But it all started as a party in your dressing room. Tell us about your move to club owner and what someone walking in your doors can expect.

It’s another of those things in my life that just sort of happened. I feel sometimes like I have tumbled through life, but standing back from it at my great age, I can see a pattern: the older I have got and the more comfortable with myself I’ve become and the more able I have been to self-determine – I have understood the importance of fun. Not just ha ha ha fun, but feeling safe fun, feeling a part of a welcoming community with no judgment fun. So Club Cumming started off as parties where I brought together a huge mix of different people and made them all feel comfortable enough to let go, and now Club Cumming the bar is a place that is a manifestation of all these things – a place where everyone is welcome, where fun and kindness and sexiness and a sense of community are the only house rules! And singing and dancing and heavy pouring! And it’s working; people are loving it. And I’m loving it too. I love being a bar proprietor! (And I bartend sometimes too!)

You’re starring in the CBS drama Instinct, based on the James Patterson series Murder Games. Tell us about the character you give life to, Dylan Reinhart, as well as your trending behind-the-scenes interviews on Instagram.

Instinct is about a middle aged man who is an academic and writer, former CIA operative, motorbike rider, husband (to another man), former child musical prodigy and general Dapper Dan. He’s lured back into the investigative field when the NYPD ask him to help catch a serial killer who is leaving clues related to his bestselling book on abnormal behavior. It’s kind of campy and such fun, and I am playing the first-ever gay leading character on a network drama in U.S. TV history. So it’s no biggie.

Okay, another just-for-fun question: We know sex on cannabis is amazing. What element of intimacy is most heightened for you while high?

How amazing my penis is!

INSTINCT airs Sunday nights at 8PM EST/7PM CST on CBS. To view episodes and learn more about the show, visit cbs.com/shows/instinct or follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

For more information on Alan’s projects, visit alancumming.com and follow him on Twitter (@Alancumming) and Instagram (@alancummingsnaps). For more about Club Cumming, visit clubcummingnyc.com or follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

**A version of this article appeared in print in Honeysuckle Magazine’s CANNABIS issue. Order copies here or find one near you with our Store Locator.

Stay tuned for our issue ONE with more stories on sustainability, planetary wellness, holistic thinking, and the hemp/cannabis communities!

Newsletter Signup

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Epic New Growth at MJBizCon 2019

Features

The Future of Cannabis:
Importation

Cannabis

“Wild Projectz” Closes Fall 2019 Bowery Film Festival

Film

Fall 2019 Bowery Film Festival:
Relocating the Radicalness of Everyday Life

Film

How to Plant Cannabis Seeds Indoors

Cannabis

Rae of Mars:
Builder of Worlds

Art

My Girl Friday at NewFest:
New York’s LGBTQ Film Festival

Film

Historic Congressional Vote Approves Marijuana Legalization Bill

Cannabis

Connect
Newsletter Signup