This week Artie Lange sat down with Jessica Pilot and Adam Kaplan, to record an episode of their podcast series “Are We Still Talking About This.” The conversation took place ten years after Pilot wrote about Artie for Penthouse Magazine. The two are old friends now, and Lange spoke openly about his current legal troubles, his addictions, Howard Stern, Louis C.K. (he calls him mentally ill), and the state of comedy. He jokes about losing his 7,000 square foot “f-u” house when he traded it over a bad football bet. And he tries so explain what the hell happened to his nose.
The comedian- legendary for his comedy, his career and for his exploits- says its the question he gets asked most- “what happened to your nose?” He has given sarcastic, generalized or just extremely blunt answers (too much yoga, or I stop to sell roses and they have cocaine in them), but he hasn’t talked about the incident that he claims is at the center of his bizarre facial structure evolution on the record. And the story is as bizarre as his nose.
The answer to the nose question, Lange says, comes from a cocaine habit that dates back to the Reagan era, a resulting lack of a septum, and a kidnapping plan stemming from a $62,000 gambling debt. What? Yes, Lange says he was punched in the face by a 19 year old boxer as part of a kidnapping plot to hold Artie for ransom.
“I owed a bookie 62 grand, and a kid who worked for the bookie, we’ll call him African American, he was collecting and he thought I was a billionaire because he saw me on T.V. and he kidnapped me,” Lange says in the interview. Artie explains that he was walking to his truck when he heard someone call out his name, a 19 year old kid, and then Boom, lights out. “Knocked me out for 10 minutes. I woke up in his van, and his plan was to get the bookie to give me …” Lange trails off at that point and digresses, saying it was this incident that led to his incarceration because it alerted police that Artie had an open warrant.
It gets a little confusing here, but it seems that the 19 year old who worked for a bookie (we’ll call him the boxer) figured he’d kidnap Artie, to get Artie’s friend, (the bookie) to pay $100,000 to get Artie back. Here’s how Lange described it in his own words. “His big plan was, 19 year old kid. The bookie who I’ve known since I’m 12 years old, I knew his old man, whatever I just played bat with him. He wanted to get 100 grand from the guy to get me back, because he knew we were friends. I said to the kid “you gotta think this out. I’m friends with the guy. This guy, I don’t know anything about him, but I assume there’s people that make sure he gets paid. I’ve never had that problem. You’re just a kid. This is a dumb plan.”
Lange says the kid got scared and took off, leaving Artie alone in the van. Artie gets brought in by the cops at this point, either because of an old warrant or a probation violation, and while he’s in jail he hears from his bookie friend. The story is straight out of a gangster movie, complete with the bookie asking Artie if he wants retribution. “You know we got the kid,” the bookie told him on the call. Artie says “Yeah, not on a jail phone.” Artie laughed about the bookie’s willingness to discuss felonies on a prison call. The bookie asks “what do you want me to do with him?” Artie says “nothing. I don’t want anything to happen, just keep him away from me”. That, Lange said, coupled with years of drugs, wrecked his nose.
Lange doesn’t pinpoint the time frame of all this precisely, but he does mention something about 11 months ago which may connect to the mysterious “ang” tweet from December 2017 that caused fans to call local police to check on Lange’s well being. “Hey I got a quick message for u Ang. U ain’t the man. U run for the man. I fear nothing.” At the time the tweet was sent last December. Nobody had any idea what this meant, but the post included a photo with a new phase in the evolution of Artie’s nose.
Lange, who is now 51, says he thought his life would be less chaotic by now, laments the amount of attention tabloids pay to his legal issues, and expresses that he’s more afraid of losing comedy than any of the other threats to his wellbeing. But that doesn’t seem to be likely. He stays in demand, claiming he has the Stern show to thank for that. And despite the addiction and legal issues he’s facing, he says he just had a physical and he is “insanely” healthy joking that he is 30 sit ups away from the body of a young Marc Hamel. “I gotta feeling I’m gonna outlive everybody. That’s Gods plan. I’ll be here alone, shitting myself in the colostomy bag.”
You can hear Artie’s full 97 minute conversation with Jessica Pilot and Adam Kaplan for “Are We Still Talking About This” on iTunes, Spotify, and everywhere podcasts are heard. Lange continues to set dates as part of his Live to Tell tour and you can find dates via Twitter @artiequitter.