Are you a member of #DopeyNation? A proud Mountainside alum? Someone in recovery? If so, listen as we turn the tables on Dave from Dopey Podcast. We ask him all about how it all got started, his addiction and recovery, his upcoming projects, and how life has changed since he got sober.
Want to listen to more stories about addiction and recovery? Visit Dopey Podcast.
Bill: Welcome everyone! My name is Bill Blaber. I'm a senior recovery coach in New York City here at Mountainside treatment center.
Jessica: And I'm Jessica Dolan. I'm the alumni relations manager at Mountainside and each month we highlight one of our alumni in our newsletter. And this month, we have someone here who is going to share their story, their experience at Mountainside, and what life has been like since they left treatment.
Bill: Today, we are excited to be sitting down with a dedicated family man, hardworking professional in the food industry, musician, artist and person in recovery. A man who has changed the conversation around addiction…
Bill: By pushing boundaries that depict the realities of the disease. He's an outspoken advocate, comedian, creative mind, the leader of a nation — the dopey nation. Welcome Dave, Mountainside alum.
Dave: This is the greatest thing anyone's ever said. You wrote it down?
Bill: I didn't want to miss anything.
Dave: This is good. I've never heard such nice things. I think it just captures everything that should go on my fucking tombstone.
Bill: I'll email it to you.
Dave: It's good. Show my…somebody. Somebody would be very happy to read that, like my dad. So thank you.
Bill: Welcome. We're happy to have you here.
Jessica: Yeah, we're excited that you're here with us because I know this has been something we've been wanting to do for some time now. And being a Mountainside alumni, we're just wanting to know a little bit about what your experiences have been like when you were there. When did you go to Mountainside?
Dave: I went to Mountainside in May of 2011.
Bill: Wow. It's been awhile. It's been awhile. How was your experience there?
Dave: It was good. It was funny cause I came in to talk to Anna a couple of times about potential business dealings between Dopey and Mountainside, and Anna would ask me questions about Mountain side and like I don't remember anything. Like when I got to Mountain side, I had I think two black eyes. I think my nose was a little bit broken. I had just walked into a brick wall on heroin and pills and I had a pretty tough detox at some place that I couldn't remember where it was. I think it was called High Point, but maybe not. Some place in Connecticut. And I got to Mountain side. And what do I remember about Mountainside?
I remember smoking a lot of cigarettes. I remember I met Chris at Mountainside. I met this kid Francis. I met this old guy named Rob and we played a ton of guitar together. I sorta remember groups. I remember not doing the overnight thing in the mountain. Yeah. Yeah. I didn't do CIA. I did do the sweat lodge. I remember I wore a green thermal hooded sweatshirt every day and the turn to spring while I was there. When I got there, it was very cold. And by the time I left it was very warm and it was good. I remember also, I took it incredibly seriously. I remember that dude who does nicotine cessation, who I heard died a, what was his name? Jared. And he was he was legendary. That dude. Do you guys know him?
Bill: I don't know him.
Jessica: I did know Eric. He gave out the coins at the meeting and did this whole thing.
Dave: He was hysterical. And when he would go out, he would like wear a cool hat. Yeah. And like dress up. And he was, he was awesome. And I remember there was a thing in the attic with an older gentleman who would really kind of teach 12 Step philosophy, which I thought was very helpful.
Dave: Mountainside was really good for me because I had a baby at the time. My, my daughter was I want to say, you know 17 months old or something when I was there. And I was desperate to get clean. I was desperate to make it work because if I didn't get clean, I wouldn't have custody of my kid. And if I didn't get custody of my kid, I'd be like a bad father. And in my mind, I just didn't want to live with that consequence of addiction even though I didn't, I didn't stay clean after Mountainside.
Bill: You mentioned Chris, and you and Chris are the ones who started the Dopey podcast. What brought the two of you together while you were both at Mountainside?
Dave: Well, I remember it fairly well. When I got there — and Chris also wrote about it actually — but when I got there, you know, I was a heavy cigarette smoker. I smoke Marlboro Reds and I liked rehab. Like I've been to rehabs like Mountainside probably twice or three times, and I've been to shitty detoxes more times than I can remember. But I've always liked it because it always seemed like you're stuck someplace with a bunch of people that you would never have met otherwise, and you don't have to work. You kind of get up in the morning, and you drink coffee, and you smoke cigarettes, and you tell crazy stories.
And when I met Chris, you know, he was like 6’1” and 10 years younger than me. He was very handsome, very weird. He had this very vacant quality to him. What he struck me as was a kind of a new England Catholic version of the big chief in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Like he lived there, you know. He was so casual. Like he would smoke a cigarette occasionally and then he wouldn't smoke. He would just, he came and went. He would be eating in the cafeteria when other people weren't eating, you know. And he wouldn't go to groups if he didn't feel like it. And like we would talk for days at a time and then I wouldn't see him for probably five days. He was just a very, like incredibly smart, incredibly warm, self-effacing, but mysterious in this weird way. But then at the same time, incredibly endearing guy.
I remember I had been there for a week or so and he had a crush on this girl who he kind of knew outside of Mountainside. And we would sit in these rocking chairs up on a hill, on the porch. The two of us would just sit there and I think I would play guitar and smoke cigarettes, and this girl would jog around the field and Chris would be like, “Oh, I like that girl.” It was very sweet. It wasn't like nasty or like lustful. It was like, oh, I really, really like her. And we'd sit there and talk about her, like we were two kids at summer camp or something. And that was like the beginning of my friendship with Chris. And that kind of turned into us just telling each other like ridiculous stories of our past. And his stories were… I mean, like, we could both make each other laugh. You know, his stories were so funny and the way I would tell a story would get him to laugh, you know? I think a lot of my friendships, like, you know how to get your friends to laugh and like, I really like love that — making my friends laugh. And I loved making Chris Laugh.
Bill: Yeah. And so when you guys got out of treatment and like you said, you relapsed, he had relapsed, and then you guys stayed in contact with each other. And then, so how did this idea of you guys doing something together happen? I know you had other projects going on and things that you were working on. But like how did this actually like blossom?
Dave: It was because I had other things. I had I'd always been interested in doing stuff. Like I'd always wanted to have a talk show when I was a kid, and then I was working on a kind of video talk show series where I worked and that got a lot of attention. And Chris was like, he was really into that. Like he was like, “Oh man, your thing gets so good.” And also, my thing had gotten picked up by a pretty big production company to become something bigger. And Chris, he loved the thought of something happening, something real happening. And then when it all had fallen apart, he was very much like, “I loved that thing.” And I was smoking weed the whole time during that thing. And I remember what he said about that and he was like, “Well, it's okay if you smoke weed as long as you don't go back to heroin but if you ever find yourself doing heroin, you can't smoke weed anymore.” And I thought that was very, that was something that I lived on for a long time. And after my web series kind of falling apart, I had been trying to do this thing with a cookie that I invented.
Bill: A cookie?!
Dave: Yeah, the Othello. You never heard of the Othello cookie? Oh Dude! That's like the greatest thing that ever happened. The Othello cookie was a reinvented black and white cookie. I was at work one day. I work at a deli. I work at Katz's Deli — very famous deli, and there's a Dominican kid, you know. Everyone that works at Katz is Dominican. So, this is going to take us off the beaten path for how dopey happened but it's a funny story.
So, I'm standing there at the back counter and there's Dominican kid and he has a black and white cookie, and he cuts the frosting off the black and white cookie and he puts the white and black frosting together. And he just eats it. And I was like, “Holy Shit, what is this kid doing?” And I took a couple of cookies after the shift is over. And I went home, and one of my best friends live in the neighborhood and he came over. I think we probably got stoned, and we're sitting there, and I said, “You know, I saw this kid at work, and he cut the white and the black side off the cookie and he put it together. And I said to myself, what if every cookie had black and white and every bite?” And then my friend was like, “It's black and white and every bite.” And it became this crazy thing where we were just, “It's black and white in every bite.” And do you remember the Game Othello?
Bill: Of course.
Dave: Othello was a game with these chips. That one side was white and the other side was black. So it was a reinvented black and white cookie called the Othello. It was going to be like three in a pack. Like this big, basically three and a half inch diameter, three in a pack. And one cookie was going to be white on white, which was all of the privilege and none of the guilt. And then one of the cookies was going to be black on black, which is so delicious. It could be a crime. And then the last one was black and white in every bite. And Chris was like, “That's a good idea, but you're an idiot. You know, you're never going to make enough of these to sell anything.”
And then I came up with this other idea, which was… you know how like bands have t-shirts and people wear bands t-shirts, and Katz's has t-shirts. And I was like, I wish people would wear my t-shirt. And I had a buddy who actually did the web series with me and he was a designer and he was like, well what do you want to do? Cause he had come up with a Dominican clothing line and I was like, let's do something and we'll call it oil Yvette. And we started making these “Oy Vey” shirts instead of like a Nike swoosh, but instead of just do it, it says “Oy Vey.”
We did one kind of like the Banksy Obama whatever. An Andre the Giant, but it was Charlie Brown with the Yamaka. And instead of Obey it said “Oy Vey” and like whatever. And instead of supreme, it was Oy Vey. And Chris was like, “This is so stupid.” He was like, “Can't you come up with something that that is better? Cause he's like, I know that you're going to come up with something that's really good and I want to be a part of it.”
And then to be totally truthful, I had this old friend of mine who I used to make TV with and he was really into podcasts and he was like, “I have an idea for a podcast. It's just gonna be drug stories because everybody knows the best stories are drug stories.” And I said, “Oh, that's interesting.” But he wasn't a drug addict and he barely did drugs. And he would cut together celebrity drug stories like Artie Lange or whoever, you know, like whatever famous person that told the story about getting high. And he sent it to me and I was like, I didn't really think about it. I just kind of threw it away in my head. And then when Chris said, “I want to do something with you”, I said, “Let's do a podcast about drug stories.” Because Chris had the fucking craziest drug stories, you know. So that was where it started.
Bill: So, if it wasn't for the failed cookie or the Oy Vey clothing line, there might never have been a Dopey podcast.
Dave: Well, the truth is the cookie is still underway. I have bakers in different locations right now developing the Othello cookie. So any day now that's going to happen. And also to be honest with you, last month I had the first ever OY Vey hoodies made.
Bill: Oh, so nothing is over then.
Dave: It's like, I believe that the Oy Vey hoodie, which is a Hoodie with the Nike swoosh and an Oy Vey embroidered could be a big deal. Like Oy Vey sweat suits and stuff. Nobody wants one. But I still believe that it could be a big deal.
Bill: There's definitely a market in New York City for that.
Dave: It's not as much as you'd think. Really. Yeah, no, but nobody wants it. I had a friend who said I should go to Yeshiva and do like an after shul sale, which I thought was a brilliant idea, but I never did it. But yeah, so Dopey might've happened, but it was definitely on the back of Oy Vey and the Othello. And I wanted to do with Chris and Chris wanted to do it and he came over one day and he said, “Well, how do we do it?” And I, you know, I used to, I record I like to make music and whatever. And I had just experimented with Garage Band and I said, “Let's just talk into the computer.” And he goes, “Well, what will we say?” And I said, “I'll just hit record and I'll talk and then I'll tell you to tell the story and we'll do it like that.” And, and it was that. I just wanted it to be like the Howard stern show, but just be drug stories. So that's basically what it was. Yeah.
Bill: Yeah. I remember that podcast. I just listened to it recently again before meeting you, and Chris didn't really know what to say.
Dave: He was funny though and he was like, he was self-conscious. But the thing that made the show so great, and I'll say it was great cause it was great, but the thing that made it so great was that Chris would let me beat him up. You know? And Chris loved getting beat up. He loved it when people made fun of him because he liked the attention. He was like a classic little brother — he had two older siblings. He was very mischievous. And the thing that made the show so good was that he had such a thick skin that I could just say whatever I wanted to him and he would laugh, you know, as opposed to like get his feelings hurt. Like if I was him, I would have really gotten my feelings hurt all the time.
Jessica: And he had more time in recovery at the time, right? Y
Dave: Yeah, he had two and a half years and I had four months.
Jessica: So, four months. I mean you're, you're new, you're new again. And we were thinking, the show is taking a little bit of a turn and everything since he's passed and stuff like that. But like early on in recovery, were there any like awkward moments that you had that were funny or things that you know… getting clean, it's uncomfortable. Like you're relearning how to do things again in life.
Dave: What kind of like what kind of awkward moments?
Jessica: I don't know, like just being uncomfortable in your own skin. I mean, you always sounded very confident when you were doing the show.
Dave: Well that's because I was like doing a Howard stern impression. You know, and I really liked it. You know, of the things that I thought about that I really liked about it was like, like I remember when I was a little kid, I would get together with my friend and we'd have a tape recorder and we would do a fake show.
Bill: I did the same thing when I was a kid.
Dave: Yeah. And that's what Dopey was like. It was like doing a fake show, but it just happened to be a real. I was like doing it like a little kid doing a fake show. So, like, no matter how confident I, I was still like in early recovery — uncomfortable. I wasn't with my family yet. My now partner wouldn't be with me. I was pretty miserable, very scared. I was going to meetings every day. I struggled with cravings, you know? I mean I struggled with, with everything. It was like kind of like quintessential road recovery and a and a lot of this stuff I got to talk about on the show, which was helpful. One of the things that was just kinda like built in was that Chris had time and I didn't and I'm a very vulnerable person so I could say anything kind of anybody. And like Chris had four years and he had been a terrible drug addict. So, I felt very comfortable talking to him about anything. And we wound up talking together every day, mostly about the show, but I would bug him with just personal questions. He was younger than me, so it was a weird dynamic because I would ask him for help. He also just knew 12 Step recovery so well that he had great answers for any kind of question. But he also knew me well enough to know that quoting it as 12 Step, would ruffle both of us a little bit. But then he would also say, “But this will work even though it's annoying that it does.”
Bill: So, you and Chris were friends outside of just doing Dopey together?
Dave: Yeah. I mean it was years between Mountainside and Dopey, you know. Mountainside was 2011. Dopey was 2015. So, there were four years between. We had both used most of them, you know, kind of at different points. Like I remember being clean and Chris asking me if I wanted to trip acid with him and then asking me if I wanted to do dope with him. And I also remember I was smoking pot and Chris would bring girlfriends by Katz's. I never understood. I mean, like it was always…I was very honored. Like I felt honored that he would bring his girlfriends to meet me. Like it was weird because we didn't see too much of each other. We didn't talk very often, but whenever we did it was very natural. But then when we started doing Dopey, we both knew that the only way it would work as if we never took a week off, if we never stopped. And the second that we started, we both kind of, we had to be obsessed with it in order to keep it in the air. And as drug addicts it was very easy to be obsessed with it as like kind of borderline narcissistic drug addicts. It's like, this podcast is about us and drug addiction. In the beginning, it being about recovery was like kind of on the back burner so to speak.
But I think our friendship really, really, really came together through Dopey, which is also like one of the most surreal qualities about the whole thing. It's like, he died just about three years into it. So, we had talked every day for those three years. So, it's like he was a new friend, but he was a great friend, but he was a friend and we did a show together. It was just very, very surreal. I was actually just talking about it today. So yeah, we were friends.
Bill: Totally. Were you actually filming or recording a podcast every week?
Dave: Yeah, no, no.
Bill: So, you were backlogging some of them?
Dave: He would drive in from Great Barrington and we would record for four hours. And in the beginning, we would do two half hour episodes and release two a week cause we thought that would help with downloads cause we're stupid. And then we decided we would just do one-hour episodes and we would do three or four episodes in a session. We'd like, we'd get a bunch of like chocolate and ice cream and then we would, we would record a couple of episodes. We'd order like Vietnamese food and then we would eat a bunch of chocolate and ice cream. So like usually the fourth episode was always the best one. It was like always the funniest one and the stupidest one because we didn't care about what we were talking about by that point. And those were always the best ones.
Bill: You're exhausted and high on sugar basically.
Dave: And just dumb, you know, it just got dumb by the end of it. And those were always, that's when it always got funny. And that's when you also felt like you really got to know us because we were like at our, at our weakest or whatever.
Bill: So how do you see Dopey today? A lot has changed. I feel like just naturally listening to it myself as a listener, and I don't know how to put it into words, but I feel like it's moved in a bit of direction, but in a really nice direction. I really, really enjoy it. And I feel like it happened really organically. I don't want to say it happened because of Chris's death. I actually feel like it started happening before he died and I just felt like, I don't know, I hate to use the word, but a little bit more serious. Like you guys started to take yourself a little bit more serious. Maybe that was just you getting really more comfortable doing it and I feel like it was more seamless. But how do you see it today? Like where do you see Dopey going? Do you have plans for Dopey?
Dave: I have huge plans. Are you kidding me?! But I've had big plans since we started, you know. In my mind it was going to be huge. It was going to be like the biggest thing.
Bill: It is pretty huge, isn't it?
Dave: You only think it's huge until you actually know that it isn't huge and then you kind of realize it's nothing, you know? And like, it's funny though, I think last week or two weeks ago I did an episode with his friends and I put at the front of it something we had done, like the baby back rib commercial. Like, “I want my…”
Bill: Oh right. Jessica and I are listening to that and she was like, “Enough! Enough!”
Dave: I know, I know. No, but that's where it got good, when it’s just too much. And then, Chris was like, “I can't believe there's hundreds of people listening.” And I would say there's nobody listening, but now there's thousands of people listening. And still, I feel like there's nobody listening, which is like what makes it probably very comfortable for me, you know. It’s still sort of a pretend show, only now I hear from a ton of people. I think I want it to just be like a talk show that happens to be about addiction, you know. Drugs, addiction, and dumb shit and like recovery being a piece of the dumb shit that's like talked about.
Bill: Who Do you hear from?
Dave: I hear from tons of people. I mean it's like, it's very cool. Listeners reach out via email, everywhere, Facebook, they talk to me via email, Instagram, Twitter, fucking reddit.
Bill: What's the craziest story that deals with somebody who reach out to you based on one of the Dopey podcasts that you did? Or maybe like, you know, did you ever have a stalker?
Dave: Well, I mean I've had a bunch of people show up at Katz's. Like a bunch of people. The first one was weird though. Because a lot of them don't just come up to me, they're there and I don't notice them.
Jessica: They're trying to selfie you?
Dave: No, no, no. They're like… I think someone told me once like that podcasting is powerful because you're talking into people's brains cause they're listening on headphones. And I never really considered that. And I think one of the reasons that our show isn't bigger because technically it's been so bad. So we never really directly get into their brain, but they still feel very close.
So, one the first people who showed up was this young woman and she like kind of introduced herself to me and she kind of cried and it was just like weird, you know? It was touching, but I was a little bit shocked, but still it was meaningful. It was very meaningful and I was touched. But it was also like bizarre because I don't like to think about Dopey as a thing that helps people. And I think that might be just me being self-effacing cause obviously if everybody says it's helping them, then it helps people. But like I just decided that I just want to Dopey to be entertaining and I decided if it's entertaining, and me and Chris talked about this, if it's entertaining then it will help people. But if we try to help people it won't be entertaining. And then it won't help people.
Bill: Are you becoming more aware that it really is helping people?
Dave: Yeah, but I think that it's better that I don't think about that. Yeah, I think it's just better to like kind of like zen that part out. Cause it needs to be funny. It needs to be fun. It needs to not care in order to do its job correctly. Cause if I start to be like Dr Phil or like if I start to take myself too seriously, it won't be good and it won't help anybody or it will be bullshit. It just wouldn't, it wouldn't do the same thing that it does now.
In the last episode, I had this very good friend of mine come on the show. Her name is Aurora and she's, you know a 12 Step person and she's talking about how the steps help her. And I just wanted to like stop right there and talk about something stupid because if we start — and I love Aurora — but if we start being preachy, I just don't think the show functions properly. I think the point of the show is to know that you can get sober and enjoy your life. That your life can get better being clean. That's really my point of Dopey, besides the entertainment value of all the ridiculous stuff that we had done. And I think, I don't think anybody, you know, my memory is so bad, but I don't think anybody topped Chris's stories.
Bill: You know, Chris's story has always seemed like the craziest story. They were the wonderfully crazy.
Dave: Yeah. Yeah, they were. You can't stop listening. I mean, I guess there are other, there have been some callers with crazy stories too, but like Chris's story is like, you know, I'm partial to his.
Bill: How do you feel? Do you feel like the show has changed since you're doing it on your own now? Since his death?
Dave: Definitely. I mean, I work way harder at it. I try so many different things. It's like, what it used to be was that all we had to do was have a conversation. I needed a list of things that had happened to me that week or something. And you know, and then he had a story, or I thought of a story and then, and I’d yell at him a lot and then he would deal with everything and he would like put music on the front and on the back. He would put it up and I was done. All I had to do was kind of like be funny and host the show or whatever and then cause he didn't want to do any extra work. That was just something about Chris. Chris was like, he loved to not care. Like he lived to be somebody who didn't give a shit. Like that was his great self-defense mechanism. And so when I wanted to like put a bit on the front or add some music someplace or do things like create a game or like whatever, Chris hated all that stuff. So we didn't do it because also like he was running the show, he was doing all the production. I was kind of running the actual content of the show.
So now with Chris not being around, I get to do whatever I want on one hand. On the other hand, I have to keep it moving because Chris isn't there to keep it moving. So, I try different things to sort of keep it going, you know, and I, and it's like, if I could have replaced Chris, I might've replaced him, but it hasn't been at all possible.
Bill: Did you consider replacing Chris?
Dave: It's impossible. I mean, it's like the first thing is Chris dies and you know, I think Linda — my partner — was like, “You should stop doing the show.” Cause I think Linda hated the show from the beginning, you know, because I'm just relentless with the show. Linda was like, “Maybe you should just stop making the show.” And like the truth was that all I ever wanted was to have a talk show. And here I have a talk show and like, yeah, Chris died but there's an audience and the audience cares about the show. I couldn't stop making the show and I didn't know how to keep making it. The first one was with Annie, Chris's girlfriend, and it was a fucking crazy episode, scary, sad, crazy episode. And then I had Dr Drew because I didn't know what I could do. I didn't know how to do it. And that worked kind of, and then I did then I started just getting as many celebrities as I could get because I figured that could work, but then that felt not right. So I started asking my friends to do like a half an hour at the end.
So it would be like, there was somebody I didn't know at the beginning to talk about their experience. And then it's like, I kind of like tried to make it so it felt like you're going out with your friends and then you meet somebody you don't know and then you come home, and you can talk shit, you know. So, the second half would be kind of relaxed. But I don't have a close friend who has crazy drug stories and is in recovery number one. Number two, Chris was dedicated to doing the show, you know, like to get somebody else to take his spot would be to never get the show done because nobody wants to do a show every week. Nobody can, you know what I mean? Like life is like busy.
Bill: Of course. Who do you dream about still getting on Dopey?
Dave: Artie Lange, Steve Jones from The Sex Pistols.
Bill: That'd be great.
Dave: Yeah, Michael Imperioli from The Soprano's, even though he's not in recovery. But there's a scene from The Sopranos that I want to reenact with him. I just think it would be so funny. You know, the obvious people like Keith Richards, Elton John, fucking James Taylor.
Bill: Oh yeah Elton John would be great.
Dave: Yeah, you're kidding me.
Bill: Have you reached out?
Dave: To Elton? How could we do it?
Bill: I don't know. I'm sure he’s got people. He just celebrated 29 years of sobriety a couple of weeks ago.
Dave: How do you reach out to Elton John?
Bill: Let me get back…I'll get back to you on that.
Dave: I mean like, fucking who would I want on the show? I mean, I don't even know. I would want Steve Jones. What good junkies? James Taylor. I would love James Taylor to be on the show. I would love Flavor Flav to be on the show, but I don't think he's clean. I reached out to Flavor Flav a million times. I reached out to most of these people, but I never reached out to Keith Richards or Elton John or James Taylot. I think I did reach out to James Taylor maybe. Robert Downey Jr. Who would you guys want to see on the show?
Bill: I'll come on the show. I'd love to…
Dave: I've reached out to you to be on the show!
Bill: No, I think those (people) are great.
Dave: What was the worst thing? What was your drug?
Bill: My drug crystal meth.
Dave: Oh yeah. You should come on the show! It would be great.
Bill: I don't know if I'm allowed to repeat half of what happened while I was in my active addiction.
Dave: You want to come on the show?
Bill: I couldn't do it under the Mountainside guise. I just have to do it as Bill.
Dave: That's fine. Yeah. It's better that way. Do you want to do the show?
Bill: I would love to. We should talk about it.
Dave: It's not going to be you. It's going to be just Bill
Bill: Can Jessica come?
Dave: No, she could do a separate one. What was your drug?
Jessica: Near the end I was smoking crack.
Dave: Yeah, that'd be great. Yeah. You’d both be good.
Bill: You know, it's funny that you say that…I would love to do your show one day, but you don't have a lot of LGBT people on your show.
Dave: Well, this week we did, we had Alaska Thunderfuck.
Bill: Oh, I’m a huge Alaska fan!
Dave: She’s not sober though.
Bill: Oh, she was at one point.
Dave: I can't… see, look at you. You don't even know! Oh my God.
Bill: I Love Alaska, she’s so fierce.
Dave: And coming up, possibly the return of Andy Dick.
Bill: Back to Alaska. Did she come in drag her out of drag?
Dave: Well, she came on the phone, so in my mind she was totally not in drag. But no, she was, she seemed like very fabulous and cool.
Bill: So maybe you can’t get Elton, but you got Alaska. That's pretty big. You know, Alaska is one of the top queens out there.
Dave: You know who else is possibly coming on? Who is Margaret Cho. Is she…?
Bill: Oh Wow. Yeah, she, I'm not sure. She actually, she had a lot of stuff at pride and she did speak, you know maybe she is cause she's spoken at recovery conferences.
Dave: Duce, we’ve had a lot of gay people and…
Bill: Okay, I'm sorry.
Dave: We had The Gayest Episode Ever. And then we had an Even Gayer Than the Gayest Episode Ever. And we were also accused of being homophobes.
Bill: Who accused you of being a homophobe?
Dave: This dude in Canada. It was one of my favorite dopey moments. He accused us of being homophobic and Chris got really nervous. And I like teed off on the guy, his name was Karneif and he's from Canada and Chris kept saying Canadia instead of Canada. It was just a very sweet, it was one of my favorite dopey moments.
Bill: I can't wait to hear Alaska. That's great. How did you get Alaska? You can't figure out how to get Elton John, but you've got Alaska.
Dave: Well, there's a young woman named Sarah who heard that This American Life piece and she is a reality show producer. And she contacted me saying she wants to produce for Dopey. And then I say, great. And she got in touch with me. She heard that Margaret Cho is in recovery and she found Margaret Cho’s publicists and Margaret Cho’s publicists also handles Alaska and said, “Would you take Alaska if I get you Margaret?” And Alaska’s over a million Instagram followers.
Bill: I think over 2 million Instagram now.
Dave: No, just over one. But she also isn't sober, you know what I mean? And she was like nervous when she came on because she's like, “I'm not actually sober.” And I was like, well just be honest about it. She wasn't particularly well received by the Dopey nation.
Bill: Have you watched Rupaul's Drag Race ever?
Dave: The day I interviewed Alaska I watched a bunch.
Bill: Alaska’s been on drag race twice. The first time was pre her recovery.
Dave: She was in fifth place the first time, and then she won All Stars.
Bill: But when she went all stars, she was in recovery. She was very proud of that.
Dave: So that would have been a great time to interview her.
Bill: That's why she won. It was one of the reasons why she won.
Dave: Do you know why she relapsed? Because Sharon Needles broke her heart and then she wound up dating a sommelier and saying, “What the fuck, I can drink a little bit of wine if I want.”
Bill: Sharon Needles. Do you get the play on words?
Dave: I only had Alaska on because her girlfriend's name was Sharon Needles. And she had some joke, some crazy joke, Alaska. But I'm gonna fuck it up. It was so funny though.
Bill: She is funny.
Dave: She was like…I’m going to fuck up the joke. But it was something like, Sharon Needles pricked herself on something in Alaska's house and she said, “Do you have any band aids? and Alaska was like, “No, but I have real AIDS so you're fucked.” Or something crazy like that. It was very funny. I liked that kind of stuff.
Bill: Okay. I got to listen to that. Has that aired?
Dave: Yeah, it’s online. Bill
Bill: Well, I mean, so we know we've been listening to, Jessica and I, to older episodes because you know, you listen to an episode and you forget it. Right. So like we've been listening to you. You should see my, my laptop at home. It's like episode after episode.
Dave: What have you liked?
Bill: I went back to a lot of the early ones because I hadn't heard of them in a while, but then I listened to some of the recent ones. I listened to the one where Chris's friends were on, you know that one, 164, whatever that was. And then we listened to…
Dave: It was actually 187.
Jessica: I mean, I was listening to them on the way to work. And honestly, like a week ago, I got out of my car at work to do our Alumni Share Night. And I was so depressed because I was listening to the one right before Chris passed, the one after. And I could hear the changes.
Dave: Yeah, it was terrible.
Jessica: I was listening to you on the share like go through the whole entire thing, you know, and how, you know you weren't, you didn't really think that that's what he was doing. Like I feel like maybe there was a little denial in there too, at the same time, like near the end or something.
Dave: It's fucked up. I mean it's like, cause it's also like there's a weird, this crazy mix of things happening like in those last couple of episodes. And this is like just me being crazy, because I told stories in those last episodes that were like the funniest stories I've ever told in my life. And Chris was too high to laugh at them. He was too high to follow them. You know, and like, and I just thought he wasn't interested in the show. He had gotten into this very serious relationship. He had just finished his master’s degree and had a lot going on. He had, he had just taken that sober coaching job. He had just gotten a new apartment and, and he was getting high. But like the getting high kind of created the “ I don't have time for you.” And me being nervous or like not thinking much of myself, I thought it was because he wasn't interested anymore. And I was also kinda thinking, how can I do the show without Chris if Chris doesn't want to come to do the shop? Cause he didn't want to come to do the show. But in reality, he was too busy getting high, you know.
Jessica: Which you didn't know. I mean, you didn't know that. I mean obviously you could tell something was off because when I listen, I could see the progression of it, like kind of not being the same like with his like personality and stuff like that. But I guess that kind of like poses the question. Because I'm in recovery too, sometimes our friends, you just want to believe what they're saying. But like what do you say now? Like if you, if you feel like there's a friend (using), would you push it a little bit more? Would you like have that conversation a little bit more?
Dave: I don't know. With Chris specifically, his friend had called me up weeks before, maybe, maybe months before, maybe give me a five, six weeks before. He said, “I think there's something going on with Chris. He just called his sponsor and he thought he was talking to you.” And my friend Todd had just died. And Todd was also a Mountainside alumni. Right. And, you know, Todd’s death, like fucked me up, like to this day, I really struggle with it.
Jessica: He was your first friend that passed, right?
Dave: Yeah. But also like, I had been like best friends with this guy since I was like 19. I had used with him the whole time and we lived in New York and we lived in LA and we drove back and forth. And I just, I knew him, I loved him, and he died. And then kind of that week, Chris's friend called me up and said, Chris was acting funny. And I remember I was waiting tables at Kat’s and I was scared to death that Chris was dead. You know, that was my first thought — that Chris is dead now. Because Chris would fucking literally texted me back in his sleep if I texted him, he would text me back like within a second, he would respond to me, and he wasn't responding. His friend was worried about him and I wound up messaging his girlfriend about it and then he got so angry at me for doing that, which was because he was getting high. But like I just believed him. Like it just seemed, it seemed impossible to me at that time for me to get high. It just seemed like it couldn't happen at that moment, you know? And I just believe that was how it was for him too. I mean, we talked about fucking recovery every week on the show. I just figured it was locked in. I didn't think it was possible for him to do it.
And like I have a friend now who helps me with the show and he's an alcoholic in recovery. And from time to time, I'll have a feeling like that he's drinking, you know? And if I ever say anything to him, it doesn't do any good. You know, he's not like, “Yeah, I was drinking, or I was struggling,” he just gets angry at me, you know? I find that most addicts that are using…and like, as far as I know, he hadn’t relapsed either. I don't know. I think that's the thing about addiction. You don't have any idea what the hell is going on. You know, like you can think you know, but you don't know.
You know, this morning I had a string of bad luck happening with me today. And I was really beside myself like with the day. I wasn't thinking about using, but maybe if you talk to me, you might think I was in some kind of a relapse because I could barely talk. You know, I called Anna and she called me back — I didn't answer the phone. The Dopey website went down last night, and I couldn't fix it. I was calling people to help me and they didn't want to help me. I had another problem at work. I had another problem. I took my wife's keys, the car keys, so she has no car. She has a baby and a nine-year-old and no car. And that was in the morning. You know, a lot of bad shit can read like a relapse, I think. Don't you think?
Bill: Totally. We all have our days.
Dave: But like, I'm not close to relapsing, you know. I just eat sweets. Like my biggest problem is sweets. I stopped smoking cigarettes, I stopped doing drugs, I stopped drinking, I stopped doing everything. Sometimes I think about smoking cigarettes, you know, and I'm not even close to smoking a cigarette, you know what I mean? Cause I imagine if I smoke a cigarette, I'd need to smoke every cigarette. Like there is not a cigarette for me to smoke. There's just every cigarette. And I feel the same way about cookies. You know, like you guys fucking leave all these cookies in the room.
Bill: Those are for you!
Dave: I figured. But like I also have a rule — I don't eat cookies before dark, you know. I just don't, because like if I eat one, I'll just eat all the cookies. I can't eat a cookie at night. What I do is now is I go to 7-11 and I buy the pack of two cookies cause there's only two.
Bill: Black and whites?
Dave: No, I buy the chocolate chips or 7-11 makes the Brookie. Do you know about the Brookie?
Bill: No, I don't know about the Brookie.
Dave: Oh my fucking God! The Brookie, it's actually called the super Brookie and the Super Brookie is a mix of brownie cookie and M&Ms. Oh my God, it's amazing. $2 and 19 cents, less calories than two chocolate chip cookies.
Bill: What? Do they have them at the counter or do you have to like go searching for them in the aisle?
Dave: The counter, they’re an impulse item. The Super Brookie. If anybody wants to sponsor Dopey, is should be 7-11. Now the super broken.
Bill: So you got a lot of people listening to Dopey. What are you listening to? What do you find yourself listening to or even watching that you feel accurately depicts addiction or recovery today? Cause I know one of the reasons you and Chris started though, he was, he like he just didn't feel like there was anything real enough out there.
Dave: I don't think that's why we did it. I think we did it because it was entertaining and cause we both wanted to be famous, I think. I think deep down we both wanted the attention. We didn't care like what recovery was depicted in anything. I love addiction in TV. I think it's fun. I've always loved watching addicts on TV. I like Euphoria.
Jessica: I’ve been watching it but I don’t HBO, so I have to wait till I go to a friend's house and my parents and then I'm throwing an episode on cause it's so good.
Dave: But that's good. You have something to look forward to when you go to a friend's house. It's like a friend with good comic collection or good video games or something. You get to go over there and do what you want that you can't do at home.
Euphoria is good. It's like, it's very dark. It's very crazy. It's like, and it's very sexy. Like it's hypersexual teen sex, drug drama. But there's a lot of recovery in it somehow. The guy who made it… oh my God, I can't think of his name — Sam Levenson, he's in recovery. He's a future Dopey guest. We have feelers going out for Sam as we speak. He does a good job. It's really hypnotic and varied. Beautiful show. It's like a very like hyper charged 90210 or something.
But like in terms of recovery stuff, I don’t know. Nothing. I have no suggestions or recommendations. That's fucked up cause I have so many friends who make recovery podcast now. I listened to Church & Other Drugs and The Addictionary and Omar’s show Recovery Revolution and Alexis Haynes’ Recovery something. Maybe addicted to recovery? Take this out. Don't put this in there.
Bill: Is that what you usually do? Would you edit?
Dave: If somebody told me to edit. I've edited a lot of stuff that I didn't want to edit. In fact, somebody recently wrote me like three years later, “Can you take this thing out of this thing? You read it, you read an email of mine and I want you to take it out.” It's only her first name and we read it. It's not even her voice, but she wants me (to take it down) and I still haven't taken it out.
Alexa, Alexis Haynes, whatever her podcast is, you should listen to that Bob Forrest podcast: Don't Die. Fucking Dr. Drew's multiple podcasts, listen to them. But I think you know what, I've been watching? What I really am enjoying is Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.
Bill: Never seen that.
Dave: Oh my God, I really enjoying it. Yeah. It's like the, I just watched this episode with him and Matthew Broderick and it's like, it's beautiful. It's great. He also had one with Eddie Murphy and he's so uncomfortable with Eddie Murphy that it's like, it's amazing just to watch Jerry Seinfeld get so uncomfortable, which I like.
Jessica: So, I guess we can get back to some other things. Cause you were talking about something earlier about you wanting to take creative stuff in the show. And I remember I was listening on the podcast and you did the intro right? You wrote the song, the intro to Dopey?
Dave: Yeah, sure.
Jessica: So, like you're into music, right? What are some of the other things that you do artistically or you, because you see me very creative.
Dave: I take pictures and I like to, I like music. I used to, I used to write songs. I haven't written a song a long time. I make a podcast, I tried to do bits on the podcast. That's it. You know, I've been trying to write TV shows kind of in my mind and I wrote a TV show that didn't make it and I try to do that kind of stuff. But I guess music and photography now mostly.
Bill: Yeah. I was going to ask you if you have any other special projects on the horizon or something, something secret that you're working on that you might want to share with us.
Dave: Well, there are a bunch of secret things that I'm working on, but nobody's listening to this anyway.
Bill: Yeah. Sort of how we feel. Right? Like that's how you guys feel like, you don't think like anybody's listening and there's a lot of people listening.
Dave: Isn't it so funny though? I mean, you're in some room, some weird place. You're having a conversation and like supposedly people are listening, you know? But it's just weird. You know the whole thing. How many people listen to this thing?
Bill: I don’t know. We’re about to find out. You're the first one.
Jessica: So, I write for our newsletter every month. Right. And so sometimes I don't even realize that people are actually reading it and I'm like, “No one's reading this.” And then all of a sudden, I’ll randomly get a message from someone who I've never met, I've never heard from before who's like commenting on something that I wrote about. And I'm like, oh my God, you're actually reading this. Like it's hard for me to believe that, you know, like that people were actually reading what I'm writing.
Dave: So, you know what I mean?
Jessica: I do.
Dave: Yeah. So you don't think anyone's going to edit this thing?
Bill: We're going to do our best to make sure no one edits this thing.
Dave: Ah, speak to Anna.
Bill: You've referenced Anna a couple of times, and Anna is amazing. She works for Mountainside and she really worked really hard at helping us set this up.
Jessica: She’s the leader of our marketing department.
Dave: And a good one. Anna rules with an iron fist.
Bill: Can you tell us a little bit about some upcoming episodes that you have without you know, spoiling the surprise? Anything you're really looking forward to that you've already got scheduled?
Dave: Well, Margaret Cho is scheduled and I'm really looking forward to that. Michael Imperioli says he's going to come on in September and I don't think he's going to do what I want him to do, which is re-enact this funny scene that's not actually funny. It's to reenact the scene where Christopher relapses on heroin.
Bill: Oh, I remember that in the car.
Dave: He's in the car with the junkie and he just hired the junkie to kill a guy and he's like, I'm only gonna give you half the money in cash. And the other half I'm going to give you heroin. And the guy's like, “Do you mind? Do you mind if I shoot up here?” and Christopher's like, “All right.” And Christopher is watching the dude shoot up and he's like, “I don’t know, there's just something about that that really wet my whistle.” And then Christopher starts snorting the heroin and I would always like do the whole scene line for line with Chris. Cause I just thought it was so funny because it's like, it's like somebody trying to capture a moment that would actually happen when they know nothing about the moment. You know what I mean? I'm looking forward to that.
I had this guy over at my dad's house recently. It's kind of like a classic episode that I'm into that nobody else is going to be into. His name is Larry ‘Ratso’ Sloman.
Dave: Excuse me. You gotta edit that out. All this seltzers making me burp. See, I don't know. That's the dumbest thing. “Anna's like, what do you want me to get you to drink?” And I said “Get seltzer.” And as soon as I said it, I knew that I would be burping during the podcast. And like I swear to God, every time I record the show, I'm suppressing burping the whole time cause I fucking drink the seltzer.
Bill: Is that what you record when you do Dopey?
Dave: Yeah. I do, I eat chocolate and I eat cereal and I drink seltzer and that's what I do. And coffee sometimes.
So this Guy Larry ‘Ratso’ Sloman… take the burp out in. Okay. Larry ‘Ratso’ Sloman was the editor in chief of High Times. He was a Yippee with Abby Hoffman. He went on tour with Bob Dylan. He's in that Rolling Thunder Netflix movie. He wrote Howard Stern's books. He wrote Mike Tyson's books. He's just this quintessential New York Jew and he came on to tell his story. He's not an addict though, but like, I think that's cool that he came on.
You know, to be honest with you. I'm most excited when one of my old friends is gonna come on and talk about our childhood and we're going to laugh. My favorite episodes to be honest, are the ones that are like ridiculously relaxed or like, you know. I think we'll do that guy Chris Herron. Oh yeah, he was great on the show and he just had another movie come out and we're going to have him back.
Bill: Do you like being on the other side of the microphone? Like this, being the center of attention?
Dave: It's fun. I like it. I think I like it both ways. Okay.
Bill: I was listening to a lot of interviews that you've done. You're a good interviewee.
Dave: I like it. It's like a fantasy, you know. It's just as much fantasy is being an interviewer, cause it's like you pretend that people care about what you think. Cause in my life people don't really care that much about what I think. So it's like when people act like they care about what I think it's very relaxing for me.
Bill: So how do you handle it when you're recording Dopey and it’s just not working? Like you got somebody across the mic from you or on the phone with you and it's just not working. What do you do?
Dave: Well, with Chris, when it didn't work, I would just say “This fucking sucks. This is the worst episode we've ever done,” and that usually would make it better. Or like with anybody really. Like if it's with a friend, like the best episodes are with friends and for some reason I don't have that many friends. Most of my best friends are not addicts, and they're not in recovery and they're not addicts. But when I have them on, I can treat them kind of sort of like Chris and be like, “That's stupid.” Or just stop it. You just go —in a different direction with somebody else. It's like a video game where you're going really fast and you see a lot of directions that you can go in and you need to pick a direction. And you know, you kind of know that if you go in this direction that it's going to go someplace that you don't want to go. So, you stay this way and you just kind of do your best, you know.
Bill: What if it's really bad? I've had interviews that are really bad. What do you do?
Dave: I send them to get edited. I like I or I just don't use it. You know, this is a classic Dopey bit. There's this bass player named Leland Sklar. We got Sklarz, one of the most famous studio-based players ever. He played on all of James Taylor's records. He played on all of Carly Simon's records. He toured with The Eagles and Don Henley and you know, he's there with Phil Collins, and he was around all that seventies coke stuff and I knew him from Katz's and I thought it would be a big deal to have him come on. I thought he would tell some funny stories about these guys being on coke and maybe him having some fucking debauchery stories, whatever. And Chris hated Chris hated having anyone on the show. He just did not like interviewing other people.
Bill: So, he didn't like guests? No, he didn't like guests.
Dave: No, and half the time when we'd have a guest, he would be like, he'd write down on a piece of paper, he first thing you'd write would be “drugs?” because we'd be talking about something that wasn't drugs and then he would go like this. He would just, he would make this thing gesture — the cut gesture. And then he would stare at me and he would mouth, “This sucks. Stop now.”
Anyway, with Leland Sklar, I was like, “So Leland, you know, you toured with James Taylor at the height of his heroin addiction. What was that tour like?” And he was like, “Oh, it was very pleasant.” I'd be like, “Well, can you tell us any debauchery stories from the tour?” And he'd be like, “Nothing really comes to mind.” And Chris was like doing the cut gesture. He'd go like this. We had Harris Whittles, you know, there's very famous TV actor, TV writer. His sister wrote a book and he overdosed and died on heroin. And his sister wrote a book about Harris, and she's like vulnerable talking about her brother's death. And Chris was like, “Stop.” He was like, he just fucking hated interviews, you know?
I don't know the point of the story. Oh yeah. With Leland's. It was kind of interesting to me. Chris hated it. It wasn't Dopey, so we just didn't use it. And then, and I told poor Leland that there was like an audio problem, you know. But I think that was the only one. Then I had somebody I work with that told a bunch of drug dealing stories and they were terrible, and I didn't use those either.
Bill: Is there ever a time you were interviewing somebody, and it was so over the top and it was, it would've fallen into like a good drug story, but it was too over the top that you had to stop it or couldn't air it?
Dave: No, no. We always aired everything — the worst, the better. I mean for the most part. I mean there were things like that I said that had to get taken off the show because my wife didn't want them on there and they weren't even like crazy drug stories. They were like talking about like hanging out with my father-in-law and my daughter and she was like, “How dare you talk about my family?” It was the earlier episodes.
Jessica: Oh yeah, the lost episodes.
Bill: Are we going to get a chance to hear more of the lost episodes?
Dave: I don't know. They're really, they're literally lost, you know, like basically Chris recorded them and put them on. It was like, I think it was episodes two, four, six, eight, 10 12 and yeah, they were all even numbers. What we did in the first place was first episode, Chris told the story, a second episode I did third episode. And that was before like we develop more of like a fluid, Dopey style. And so, all of my stories, Linda was like, “I don't want your stories on there.” And I was like, “Hey, we going to end the whole show.” But then I think Linda had read a couple of like positive emails from people who said the show was good for them and Linda is a social worker at worker and Linda liked the idea of this positive thing, you know. So we just, took those down. And then after that I started like kind of telling the same stories that I had told. There were no stories that weren't retold, but it is like really like defining early Dopey stuff. So Chris had recorded them all. I didn't have a recording of any of them, but Chris had a computer, maybe they were on that computer. And then Chris broke his computer and then he got another computer. So it’s on Chris's broken computer, which I think his sister has. And then I have an old computer that I have a feeling I downloaded the same ones so, and I can't find it and it's broken. So if I can find it and get it fixed, it's possible.
Bill: I imagined friends of yours in recovery or not in recovery, are huge fans of what you do and really get a lot out of it. How's your family — like your regular family, extended family who are maybe not necessarily in recovery —with what you've accomplished and what you've built because you know us, people in recovery get it. But how about like, you know, those that you're close to that aren't in this world?
Dave: The truth is that nobody really talks to me about Dopey, like at all.
Bill: Do you think they listen?
Dave: No. Like nobody talks to me about Dopey except for people who listen and they write me. And that's like the only place that Dopey exists for me. I go to work, nobody talks about Dopey except me, you know. I talk Dopey, my friends don't listen to Dopey. My father is obsessed with Dopey. My father is obsessed with it, which I really enjoy that, you know. I don't think my dad was really interested in anything I did until this. Maybe he was interested in the web series I had made too. But like, he's obsessed with Dopey and he's… I don't know. I don't really understand it. I think he's obsessed with it cause he's in it a lot and like he likes it when it's funny. My Dad loves that I make fun of him on it so much. He's like a little bit like Chris, like he likes to be the butt of the joke. But my family is proud of me from a distance and they're kind of like almost giving me lip service because they think they should because if they follow anything on Dopey, they see stuff and they're like, that's cool. But no, I mean for the most part, like not really nobody. I mean, it's like cool in a way that it's pretty much anonymous. So, it's like, not in my social media world, it's not on my page. It's not on my Instagram. It's on the Dopey page. So, like, even though if you're a fan of Dopey, you could easily figure out who I am. It's like my friends don't know about Dopey because it's not there. So like it's weird. It's very, it feels to me like I treat it in a way, like secret identity kind of thing.
Bill: Are you ever going to let your kids listen?
Dave: I don't know. It's not my choice, I don't think I, I think my older daughter has enough of me that she doesn't really need to find a place to listen to me. Do you know what I mean? But I do think that after I'm dead, she'll probably listen to it.
Bill: You think it'll take that long?
Dave: I hope so. I'm trying to make it seem boring to her cause I don't really, I think some of it's really funny, but it's a lot of really crazy stuff in there. I mean, I’ve never wanted her to listen to it.
Jessica: And how old are your children?
Dave: One is nine and one is a 15 months.
Jessica: And that was like a huge thing for you to actually stay sober and clean. Right? I mean like your family was super important to you and you didn't have them in your life for a little while and wanting to keep them back in your life and like, that's changed a lot obviously since now that you've been around for a while.
Dave: Being a father is like easily the best part of my life. And you know, my older daughter is a probably, I mean, it wasn't because of her, it was because I couldn't live with not having been there for her. Like, if I wasn't there for her, it would have been just, I wouldn't have been able to live with it. That's why I got clean. And now, you know, like yesterday I bought her a $1,200 bunk bed, you know, which was like a burden and like, “Oh my God, the $1,200 for bunk beds!?”But at the same time, it was very much prominent in my head that it was a gift of recovery that I could do this because I was sober and I was sober so I could do this. It was like a real palpable thing that I'm a responsible adult who takes care of a family and pays a mortgage and can buy a bunk bed, you know? And that's something I never really could have imagined before.
My whole life is sobriety is recovery. As much as I don't like to talk about it, it's just is. And like, you know, the last episode we had, I told you my friend Aurora was talking a lot about step stuff and I was talking a lot about how much I miss smoking pot because I didn't want it to be too like recovery driven. I wanted it to feel kind of natural and I loved smoking pot. You know, I loved smoking pot. But in reality I'm so not interested in smoking pot. If I smoked pot, I'm not just going to smoke a joint once in a while. It's not how I am. It’s like I said about the cigarette. If I smoked pot, I'll smoke pot every day. And if I don't smoke pot every day, I'll be angry that I smoked at once that I'm depriving myself. I'm an addict. You know, like, that's real. Like I can't do it once in a while. It just would never happen. I don't do anything once in a while.
Bill: We've talked a lot about Dopey. I mean, that's where everybody, where a lot of people know you from. Right? But you're more than just Dopey and the podcast. What else would you like people to know about you? Outside of like, being Dave from Dopey and outside of talking about Chris who was an amazing guy. I mean, you've done that a lot recently and I've listened to a lot of the interviews, so has Jessica, and they've been, they've been wonderful, but like, what else do you want us to know that you let us know?
Dave: I don't know what else could I talk about? You know, I like to cook, I like to garden, but I talk about that on Dopey. I like to play music. I talk about that on Dopey. I like cookies. I talked about that on Dopey. My job is expanding. That's too boring to talk about on Dopey, but I mean… Here's some new incredible development. Last week I stopped waiting tables. So, my waiter career ended last week.
Bill: Why did that spot, why, what happened? I I got promoted.
Dave: I created a position where I work and now I have this position and I don't wait tables anymore and I haven't told the story on Dopey because I like to be the sympathetic waiter character. I waited tables at Katz's for 10 years. I would do eight or nine miles in that restaurant a day, I'd say. And I hated it, but at the same time I knew that when it was over, I'd miss it and I already miss it and I already feel weird about it. So I work really hard. Like I work really hard at Katz's. I work really hard on Dopey. I work really hard at home. I find very little free time. Like my only real free time is on the train, my commute and I tend to work on Dopey and Katz's on the train. Like I'm finding myself a little bit of a workaholic, which I never would've thought.
The thing that I want to get into is fitness. Over the summer we went away and it was very hot and I would walk the baby, you know, so she would sleep and my dad has a house on the lake and we'd go to the house and I'd walk around the lake and I'd really sweat and like I find that I don't really sweat very often and I liked how it felt and I could see trying to get involved in fitness, but that's a long way off. I think I would miss not caring about fitness if I got into fitness. And anybody that knows me thinks that I could never get into fitness. But I like the idea.
Bill: Okay. Do you do anything else that you really enjoy for self-care?
Dave: I cook, I garden, I work, I walk. I walk fucking crazy every day. I come in two hours early just to walk to Katz's from Penn station. I walk to Katz’s and back every day and then if we do a party in a different place, I walked there.
Bill: You sound like a mensch, like a really good mensch.
Dave: How so?
Bill: Well you cook, you garden, you didn't say clean, but you walk the baby around the lake, and you sound like a catch.
Dave: Well, it's a new thing. It has to be done to keep the family in check. You know, what am I going to do? Lie around and watch TV. I wish, you know. love doing nothing. Like I loved doing nothing so much and I think that one of the greatest things about Dopey in the beginning was all we would talk about was how much we love to do nothing. And also like when I was using, I would do nothing. I didn't work for years. I had a girlfriend who supported me for 10 years or something. I didn't work. I just did heroin. I took Methadone, I took pills, I smoked weed. I would work at a pot dispensary and get paid in weed. You know what I mean? Like I did nothing for fucking ever. I did nothing for as, as long as I can remember. I graduated college, I had a job for three years and then I was addicted to heroin and then I did nothing for 15 years or something. And then I came back, and my mother died, and I got a job at Katz's and I got Linda pregnant and then I worked since then. So, it's like my dad would always say, “Well, you did nothing for so long. It's only fitting you work so much now.” And he's right. You know, I didn't do anything. I mean, when you were doing fucking crystal meth, what were you doing? Were you working?
Bill: Um, no.
Dave: So, you know what I'm saying? It's like now, I find that with my family, I have to. I mean it's like I am a mensch, but I was such a fucking piece of shit that I'm just catching up.
Bill: Okay, fair enough.
Dave: I'm almost, I'm breaking even or something.
Bill: Do you find it's this, this new position at Katz's takes you behind the scenes where you won't be out there? The I ask is like you said, like there are people who come in there and like to meet you and to see you. Like does (this new position) take you behind the scenes? Will they not be able to come there and see you on a daily basis anymore?
Dave: Yeah, definitely not. And like a lot of my friends were like bummed out when they heard because like as a waiter, I was like, I was very funny, and I was a total dick. I did this kind of character where I'd be a dick at the table and it was fun.It was a lot of work and I knew that I just couldn't wait until it was over.
It’s very much the end of an era for me. Sure. I kinda like wanna write a book about it. Like, I want to write a book about like starting to work at Katz's and being a heroin addict and trying to get clean. That's like a secret project that I'm like fantasizing about.
Bill: Yeah, that sounds great.
Dave: I think that for my life and it's just important that this is said that my life is nothing if I'm not sober and I don't say that, like, I don't say it Pollyanna-ish at all. Because that's like what I hate when people talk about it, but it's just true. I mean, for me, if I use anything, I don't get to function. You know, I'm looking at the fans after Chris died, started a group on Facebook — The Dopey Nation Facebook group. It's a closed group of a bunch of addicts. It's like 1,300 people and they're fucking very involved. Have you guys ever seen this thing? It's like a lot of people, mostly in early recovery, some using, some with a bunch of time. And some woman posted recently, she said, “I don't know about you, but I'm really bored that I'm not doing drugs and I'm not doing substances, whatever.” And I never comment cause “I'm famous.” I'm the famous Dopey host so I don't get involved with that. But I watch what they say and I just thought about that and like I'm not bored at all in recovery. Like I was so much more bored getting high, you know? I know that in the beginning I was probably bored being not an addict and not using it. I wanted to get high to have adventures and stuff, but that all changed once I didn't have any more adventures and my life really struggled and suffered. So, like I don’t know. I think that's interesting. Like that notion of like fear, like feeling like you're bored in recovery. But for me, like my life is so exciting and it's, it's only exciting because I'm sober because I have the opportunity to do things that I wouldn't have had otherwise.
You know? I'm surprised you didn't make this more mountainside centric.
Jessica: Yeah. I think that for me it was the idea of I'm not gonna have fun now that I'm not using, but I wasn't having fun (using). You know, I think that's the disease, like tricking me into thinking like this was fun, but it really wasn't. And so like with what I do, like that's part of what I do, like connecting people, keeping them connected in some way. And that's why, you know, we do six events a month, now we're gonna be doing 10 events a month and trying to get people connected. So with that person, maybe it's just that she hasn't made those connections yet and found out that you can actually have more fun and live a better life now than yourself.
Dave: Exactly. And it's also like turning a corner. I think. Like I know that I was hung up on using every day in the beginning of my recovery. And it isn't until you turn the corner and you put that behind you in a way. There’s so many cliches that are annoying but are really real. Like, “I'm not going to get high no matter what.” And once that's true, you get over that hill and you see this whole plateau in front of you, you could do anything.
Another thing that's coming up, which can be make Anna happy is this potential Mountainside collaboration with Dopey. You know about this?
Bill: I do not.
Dave: Do you really not? Are you playing for Anna?
Bill: I, you know, Jessica and I have been talking and I said like, you know, I was really looking forward to seeing you. And I said wow, if this goes well, I'd really love to see, you know, how we could partner in the future. And Jessica said, “I know Anna and him, I've been having conversations.” But that's all I know.
Dave: Has this been a letdown for you? Do you think I've been too self-centered?
Bill and Jessica: No, not at all.
Dave: So, Anna and I want you to introduce yourself. Come on.
Anna: I am the infamous Anna. Thank you, for coming in and talking to everyone. We really appreciate having you. I couldn't stop laughing. So, if you hear laughter in the background it’s me.
Dave: She laughs very quietly. It's very unsatisfying laughter.
Bill: Well Dave, you should probably tell us though, cause I know she's gonna edit herself out of this.
Dave: Oh okay.
Bill: What is the very exciting thing going on with you and Mountainside?
Dave: Potentially something very exciting is going to happen — the first ever DopeyCon or that's the name right now. But what it's going to be is a storytelling event. DopeyCon is going to be like a bunch of speakers telling stories, telling fucked up drug stories. So, maybe you two could get involved in that. But it's going to be like kind of like me ripping off The Moth and putting it in a Dopey format.
Bill: It's funny you say that because as we've been talking today, and I actually thought this before today, you remember when Howard Stern finally brought his broadcast on air. Like, you know, where you could watch, I think it was like the E channel. And then it became more riveting. Like you actually got to see them in the studio. Have you ever thought of doing something that like that on Dopey or at least doing like a one off? I know you do the whole anonymity thing, but like have you ever considered doing something like that? Like wearing sunglasses, giving people an inside red mask over your eyes?
Dave: Me and Chris wanted to do it. We wanted to do is do Facebook live, but wear clown outfits or like be Hasidic Jews or Groucho Marx mass or whatever. We always, we always wanted to do it, but we never did. And with him being dead, it makes me want to do it less, you know?
Bill: It’s not as fun to do it alone.
Dave: Yeah. It's not funny. But I had a friend who writes for The New York Times and I'm always, you know, I'm like, Mr. Self-promoter, you know. I try so hard to put Dopey out there. And I'm like, why don't you guys write about Dopey? And I guess an editor there was like, maybe we would, but I think we'd need to use your last name. And the truth is like anybody that wants to know my last name, knows my last name. So I'm on the fence about it. But I think at the Dopey event I’m not gonna wear a mask or sunglasses. I mean, maybe I'd wear sunglasses — but that'd be ridiculous. Wouldn't that be ridiculous if I wear sunglasses? At the Dopey event?
Bill: Well, I feel like it's funny. I feel like when someone puts on sunglasses, people pay more attention to you. I was always told that celebrities wear sunglasses because they know you're going to see them. So they don't have to make eye contact with you, which makes them uncomfortable. It's not so that they think they're incognito. Like if you were walking into a room, someone's got a pair of sunglasses on, you're like, “Why does that person have a pair of sunglasses on?”
Dave: But it's like, I think it would kill the connection, you know? What do you think if you went to DopeyCon and I was there and I wore sunglasses, wouldn't that be annoying? \
Jessica: Probably. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Dave: But I think we are going to do it like Dragcon.
Bill: RuPaul started DragCon.
Dave: I would love RuPaul to come on. Dopey.
Bill: Yeah. Rupaul is very open about his recovery.
Dave: Well, why don't we get him on? How come Rupaul is a him and Alaska is a her?
Bill: So RuPaul — that's his real name. He was born Rupal Charles. Rupaul is not a drag name. He used his real name.
Dave: But he used to be a her.
Bill: No, he wasn't a her.
Dave: He never referred to himself as a she?
Bill: Oh No. When you're in drag, you are a she. Yeah. Like you become a queen when you're in drag, you know. You're like, look at her. You know. But no, when you know, he's a man, he wears a suit.
Dave: So let's get RuPaul.
Bill: That'd be amazing.
Dave: Do you think you could do it?
Bill: Could I get RuPaul on Dopey? You know why not? I, it's a dream of mine to meet Rupaul. One of my best friends got married yesterday and I wrote a blessing. And at the very end of it I said, and this is from the gospel of Ru Paul.
Dave: “You better work!”
Bill: I didn't say you better work, it was “If you can't love yourself, how the hell can you love anybody else?” I said, “Can I get an amen in here?” and everyone, all the guests said, “Amen!” So, yeah Rupaul's very inspiring.
Dave: Yeah. So I'm excited about the potential of DopeyCon. It's very exciting. And originally DopeyCon was to have like all the weirdos who liked the show come and see each other and stuff. And then I like, I was ready to do it. I before Anna got involved and was interested. I had this friend who is opening a half, you know, regular karaoke bar and a half sober karaoke bar and she was like, we could do Dopey in the basement. And I was like, great. And like she's had all sorts of issues with permits and this and that and it's kinda small and you can drink there. And I think half the people in Dopey are going to struggle with a bar full of alcohol. And I'd just rather if it wasn't there, like, you know what I mean?
It's like, it's like with Chris, it's like I knew that I was sober and I assumed he was, I kind of assumed that all the listeners are sober, you know? And they're not at all. So it's like, I don't really want to put a bunch of alcoholics who are struggling into a bar.
Bill: Right. I agree with you. I mean, DopeyCon, it's like a sober conference, you know? And what does, that mean? It's getting a whole bunch of people who are under the recovery umbrella together, wherever, no matter where they're at in their recovery journey.
Dave: Right. And I think the idea is to do it as a storytelling thing more than a meet and greet. Because when I put it out there as like a live episode or a whatever come together thing, they were like, “No, we're not coming, blah, blah, blah…” But I have a feeling that if we do two or three, they'll start to come.
Bill: I love that. Yeah, you build it, they will come. And I know people who would go.
Dave: Would you go bill?
Bill: I will be there.
Dave: Would you go Jessica?
Jessica: I'll totally be there.
Dave: That's exciting. Yeah. Believe me.
Bill: Well, we wrote down a couple of quotes that we wanted to read — like at the very end. Do you mind if we go through some of these and you know, I wanted to know how they make you feel. Do you have a favorite one? Jessica?
Dave: Was there anything else you wanted to do before this? Was there anything I missed or is anything really good that you want to do that you feel like you wish you had done?
Jessica: Well, I mean I guess we did want to tell you that I don't, you know, you guys met in treatment, you and Chris, right? Yeah. So, and our founders actually met in treatment and there they built this whole thing because of an idea that they had together. So I feel like, you know, like great things can happen to people. Like if they —
Dave: If they go to the Mountainside? You know, Me and Chris, had this fantasy at Mountainside to create a rehab where you go to do drugs. That was our first big idea. But that didn't go over well. Kind of a reverse treatment.
Bill: I think you went the right route.
Jessica: I think that's called a crack house.
Dave: Yeah. But we thought of it like a luxurious one.
Bill: Is there anything that you've never been asked, but you've never been asked in any of the interviews you've ever done?
Dave: I don't know. I haven't done that many interviews. I've done like three.
Bill: But that you wish you were that with that you wish you had been asked?
Dave: No, I don't know. Like what? Like I don't know.
Bill: No, I'm asking you. Boxers or briefs boxers?
Bill: There's nothing, there's nothing out there that you're curious about that no one ever brought up.
Dave: No, I don't think so. I can't think of anything. I mean like nothing that's like meaningful to anybody that's not me. You know what I mean? Like I like read interviews with like Bob Dylan and like Howard stern and like people who like actually did something and you want to hear about like how they grew up. So, I think in my fantasy I’d like to talk about my childhood and how I grew up and stuff like that. But I don't think anybody else really wants to hear about that.
Bill: Would you like to have Howard Stern on Dopey?
Dave: I would love to have Howard Stern on Dopey! But I would much rather go back on Howard Stern. Yeah, that's what I would really like. Cause I snuck onto Howard Stern when I was super high. And I just, I think it would benefit Howard to have me on, but like he doesn't really think that, and I think it would be very hard to figure out how to do it. But I would love Howard to come on Dopey, but I think it would be more fun to go on Howard Stern.
Bill: Well, so you know, we put together some quotes and I just thought maybe we read some of them to you. I mean, you seem like a warm and fuzzy guy on the inside and as I was reading them and they're very moving. I don't even know if you check this stuff out, you know, like some of it… people write some amazing things about you.
Dave: I try to read all of the things you do.
Bill: Do you have a favorite one? Jess?
Jessica: Yeah, I mean, I'll just read this one. “I know that 100% Dave is response for helping me to commit and to take the leap of faith entering in to inpatient…”
Dave: A 100%?
Jessica: That's what I said. "To learn the tools displayed in those with a large blocks of clean time. I can't thank you enough, my friend.”
Dave: Who was there from?
Jessica: I don't know.
Dave: All right. Yeah, I don't think I ever read that one.
Bill: Well, no, how does that make you feel? That's what I want to know.
Dave: You know, it makes me feel embarrassed a little. It makes me feel like I don't believe it. It also makes me feel like touched, you know? I don't know. Like I find that I can read a hundred compliments and one insult, and I'm totally drawn to the insult.
Jessica: Is that why you guys used to read all the insult? because it made you more like, it made you comfortable reading that?
Dave: It just, they make more sense to me. I think it's beautiful that what I said mean something to somebody. It's very moving and very cool and when Dopey actually helps people, it blows me away. You know? It's weird, you know. I don't know, like when I got sober I, there wasn't anybody that I could say (helped). None of my sponsors were like particularly helpful. My sponsor now like has a lot of potential, but like my sponsors back then, like I didn't like, but maybe I'm like a little bit cold. Maybe I'm not as warm and fuzzy as, as you think. I might be a little dead inside. You know, there was a guy at a meeting who told me they wanted me to come back and that was very meaningful. I think it's beautiful, you know, I think it's hard for me to take compliment. What else you got?
Bill: I wrote this down a few weeks ago when we started doing research for this. One of the articles, I think this was the, one of the articles and somebody wrote this, I don't have the name of the person who wrote it though. And this person wrote, “Dave didn't realize it at the time, but by pushing forward with the show after the deaths of Chris and Todd, he unintentionally showed his audience how to keep moving forward after a tragedy without using drugs or drinking.”
Dave: I love that one. And I didn't even consider it, you know. I mean, I think that's the greatest thing about the show is that it's somehow, it's very self-serving. I do it because I like to, I do it because I love doing it. I do it because I love to hear from people. I love to see who listens. I love to see what celebrity I'm going to get on next. I love to see who's going to write about it, what can I do? But then on the other side, it's people, it does something for them too, to know that I'm doing it. You know what I mean? Like they know that if they turn on the show at, at, you know, channel 11 o'clock on Friday that there's going to be a new episode and that I'm going to be in recovery doing it. You know? And I think that that's cool.
You know, like we take it for granted, you know what I mean? I took Chris's recovery for granted or like whatever. It’s a beautiful thing, you know, that I I can do this thing and it is service. It is service to other people and, and I know that like the best thing about 12 Step recovery is that it only works if you give what you got to the next person and they can do the same. That's the only way any of that works. And that's the only thing that like really means anything.
You know, I fucking destroyed my whole life. Like to the point of like total pieces, destitute, fucked, particularly fucked. And I managed to get it back through working the program and I actually gathered that experience and I can parcel it out, I can parcel out on the show and people can get something from it. And like that's an amazing thing, if nothing else. That's everything.
Bill: Yeah, I think that's a great place to end. I hate to end it, but that's really, I mean, oh man.
Dave: Yeah, I'm happy to have it end there.
Bill: Dave really, it's been a pleasure to meet you in person after all these years. I'm really proud of the work that you do and especially that you have an association with Mountainside as well. I'm very proud to work for Mountainside. And I’m so happy to see one of our alumni that's thriving and doing so well as you are today.
Dave: That feels like a jinx. You can't spell Dopey without Mountainside. But really, there wouldn't be Dopey without Mountainside. And they didn't pay us to say that! But there would not, I mean, it just wouldn't have happened. You know what I mean? Like it wouldn't have happened. I mean, maybe it was luck, probably blind luck. But it was also the last facility that I went to and it wasn't the last one that Chris went to, he went one other place. Yeah. But Dopey never would've happened. And thank you for having me on here. And Jessica, your parting words?
Jessica: I’m just really happy to meet you. You know, we've been going back and forth for, I mean, like a whole year now, and it's just great to have you right in front of me. And I didn't know what you looked like. You just had a little mask on. And so I never really knew —
Dave: And what'd you think I looked like?
Jessica: I had no idea.
Dave: And are you pleasantly surprised?
Dave: Well, thank you. And I hope maybe we'll all have more conversations one day. Yeah. Look forward to you guys maybe speaking at DopeyCon.
If your loved one is struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction, we are here to help. Reach out to Mountainside by calling 888 833 4676.