On the advent of his Edinburgh Fringe show, David Hasselhoff grapples with Scottish culture, doppelgangers and – perhaps most frighteningly – the affections of our resident drunken Knight Rider nut, Fred Fletch
When The Skinny contacted David Hasselhoff to arrange an interview about his upcoming show in the Festival, no one could have ever imagined how it would all turn out or that I would be involved.
David's PR people had agreed to a 15 minute chat to publicise his forthcoming show, An Evening With David Hasselhoff Live (running from 21-27 August at Pleasance Courtyard), and had probably hoped they would pick someone who knew what the fuck they were doing.
They chose me.
They bypassed every one of their experienced journalists in favor of the one person who has an A-Level in Tango & Cash and whose talent for interviewing celebrities reaches as far as emailing a very confused Michael Winslow my script for an erotic version of Police Academy called 'Police Asscademy: Laser Mission To Planet Assblast.'
It's crazy. Not only because it's a weird thing for a professional culture magazine to do, but I know enough about Mayan Prophecy to realise that if a man who writes clever dick-jokes involving Teen Wolf is asked to interview David Hasselhoff, there's a good chance either The Skinny has lost its goddamn mind, or this is part of a ritual to bring forth the apocalypse.
I guess It kind of makes sense when you consider that what I may lack in professionalism and journalistic talent, I more than make up for in knowing exactly what the fuck a Knight Rider is. I've read his autobiography Making Waves so many times I could get a job as his audio book.
David's career started in 1978 with the movie Starcrash (a film you've probably only seen if you've had sex with me) Even in this early role, Hasselhoff displayed the kind of charismatic, natural talent for knowing what end of a laser sword goes into an alien-gorilla's asshole that would see him cast as the star of a show about a crime-fighting Pontiac Trans Am.
Knight Rider stood out among all other shows in the 80s solely on the Hasselhoff factor. His style and personal influence on the show made it the hit that Airwolf and Streethawk never were, proving the NASA fact that 'everything is better with David Hasselhoff deep inside it'.
Part of Knight Rider's success was that it was a very moral show. Hasselhoff himself described it as being "about saving lives, not taking lives, and it was how one man really can make a difference." It sent a very strong message to its impressionable young viewers: 'If you do something bad, a man in a talking robot car will come and kick your fucking ass.'
When Knight Rider ended he swapped his hug-where-it-counts jeans for a pair of 1 inch visable cock-neck swimming trunks in Baywatch. Baywatch was a phenomenon of televisual broadcasting. The concept of combining the adventures of California's most exciting lifeguards with 45 minutes of really nice tits was an international success. Baywatch played for over a decade and even spawned a spin-off, Baywatch Nights, where lifeguarding was swapped for werewolf punching and the tits were at night. Baywatch still stands as a testament to 'giving the audience what they want'. Had Terra Nova just slapped a pair of boobs onto one of their dinosaurs, that show would run into its 348th season.
Four years in an impossible robot car and 11 in an even more impossible pair of Speedos made Hasselhoff a sex symbol. Away from TV, David proved he could do so much more than just life-guarding and knight-riding. He trained in song and dance under Patrick Swayze's mother, Patsy – a woman skilled in broadway razzamatazz – and took the music industry by storm.
David's music proved to be hugely popular in Germany and his 1989 hit Looking for Freedom became the official anthem to the wave of protest sweeping Eastern Europe and Germany at the time, ultimately cumulating in the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Sadly David's popularity rose and fell as unpredictably as Tom Sizemore's erection, with number one songs in Germany and a dodgy sequel to Anaconda everywhere else. He hit an all time low in 2007 when footage emerged of him skillfully combining 'Partying too hard' with 'Not being able to eat a hamburger.' During the subsequent fall out, the media questioned whether this particular display spelled an end to his career.
Thankfully the Hasselhoff love proved to be totally unkillable. His popularity held and he entered a new era of celebrity achievements by joining the judging panel on America's Got Talent. It's hard to name another celebrity who has had more impact on the culture of our planet than David Hasselhoff. He had a hand in Knight Rider, Baywatch, the fall of the Berlin wall. He even had a crab named after him. Now I'm no zoologist, but you don't say 'Biggest Star in Hollywood' and not instantly think of 'crabs'.
He is a godlike figure who is around three more Knight Rider reboots from having a statue of him erected in Valhalla...and I've been tasked with interviewing him. There was some last minute panic from my editor as word had reached Skinny HQ that my question list comprised of a beer mat with 'Would you fuck Mr T?' and 'Crabs?' scribbled over it, but by now it was too late to back out. The arrangements had been made and I would be talking to him in an hour. I did my best to reassure that there was nothing to worry about and that I absolutely wouldn't bring the Skinny into disrepute. I charged my iPhone and started drinking. Hard.
Five minutes before the interview I was seamlessly bridging the gap between being so excited I had a boner, and shitting myself. It was less an emotion and more of a medical condition. The phone rang. What was supposed to be 15 minutes chatting with a very busy Knight-Rider turned into 40 minutes of completely weaponised Hasselhoffery!
The following is a transcript taken from the two dictaphones and tapedeck I struggled to operate while drunk. It began as a once in a lifetime opportunity to have Mitch Buchannon slam a phone down on me... it became the greatest anything, ever.
[Hoff sets the scene by playing the sound of bagpipes down the phone...]
David Hasselhoff: Just getting in the mood.
Fred Fletch: [Confused] ...
Hoff: Hey, um, I'm thinking of doing a Scottish song and wearing a kilt for my show.
Fletch: There's not going to be bagpipes, is there?
Hoff: Thinking about it.
Fletch: You know, there is a common misconception that people in Scotland actually enjoy the sound of bagpipes.
Fletch: Bagpipes are pretty much a polite way of telling people you hate their ears.
Hoff: [to someone in the room] This guy says they hate bagpipes...hate bagpipes. Really?
Fletch: Don't get me wrong. They sound good in a movie and only if that movie is called Highlander, but anywhere else, in non-Highlander-based situations, it's a whiney invitation to punch someone in the face.
Hoff: Oh my God. So you're telling me that the bagpipes invented the Glasgow Kiss?
Fletch: Yeah, they were probably behind that...
Hoff: So who did invent the Glasgow kiss? Where did that come from?
Fletch: I'm no historian, but I don't think it was a specific person.
Hoff: It's a headbutt right?
Fletch: Yeah, or if you're feeling exotic; a kick to the nuts.
Hoff: [laughs] Might use that in future. 'Hey are you Knight Rider?" 'Yeah' BAAAAM! 'Get the Fuck away from me' [Laughs]. No more pictures with the Knight Rider. Well, you've just ruined the whole opening of my show, thank you very much.
Fletch: No problem.
Hoff: I saw this movie called Brigadoon last night. It's a movie all about Scotland. My girlfriend's mother and father love that movie, so we rented that, had a meal and there were lots of bagpipes...So I figured you guys like bagpipes.
Fletch: No, we don't.
Hasselhoff: So, the other question I wanted to ask you was: If you were David Hasselhoff...
Fletch: I fucking wish.
Hasselhoff: ... and you were to do a song that was typically Scottish and the entire audience would know...um, like Delilah, that I did at my last concert, recommended by a friend of mine who was quite Welsh. What song would you choose?
Fletch: Total Elcipse of the Heart...
Hoff: Is that Scottish? [laughs]
Fletch: As far as you know...
Hoff: Is 500 Miles big in Scotland?
Fletch: By the Proclaimers? Sadly, yes. It's exactly the right song to sing. Pretty much 90% of the lyrics are just directions, locations and distances and if we can slurr those at a taxi driver with 12 pints in our system, we can sing along to them in a pub.
Hoff: You guys like your drink down there in Scotland?
Fletch: Well I'm drunk now. So statistically yes.
Hoff: [laughs for a long time] Well I'm hoping the audience will have the right balance of water and alcohol in their blood to enjoy my show. So what Scottish songs should I sing, [laughs] in your expert opinion?
Fletch: I'm sorry to say that you're probably talking to the one Scottish man who doesn't actually have any knowledge of Scottish music. In fact you're talking to a man whose musical taste starts and ends with Milli Vanilli.
Hoff: [off phone to someone] I'm asking this Scottish man Fred who doesn't know anything about Scottish music to choose Scottish songs for my show. This is gonna be great.
Fletch: You seriously don't have to worry about that. Do you actually know how well loved you are? In terms of universal lovability, there's Barry Manilow's Copacabana and then there is you.
Hoff: Ooooh. Now you're talking. That's the nicest and strangest thing that's ever been said to me. You know, I met Barry Manilow. He was the following act at the Paris Las Vegas. I was doing The Producers show and he came on and sang; the audience were entranced with the power of that man. We got to talking and he's a great guy. Loved his style. Wanted to emulate that. Do you think I should do Copacabana on my show when I come to Edinburgh?
Fletch: Fuck yes.
Hoff: [laughing] OK. OK I'm doing it. Write that down. I'm doing the Barry Manilow classic Copacabana live on stage in my Edinburgh show because some guy on the phone who doesn't know any Scottish songs told me to do it.
Fred Fletch: Man. Do it because it's YOU and it's COPACABANA. Knight Rider sings Copacabana and I guarantee every woman in the audience will be so aroused you'll need water skis to get to their vaginas.
Hoff: [laughing hard] WHAT? [calling to someone off phone] Come here. Listen to this. Apparently, according to Fred, if I sing Copacabana on stage in Edinburgh "I'll need water skiis to get to the women's vaginas" [laughing] Oh man. Listen [coughs and puts on serious voice] I want you to know. I'm taking that line. I'm NOT paying you for it, but I'm putting it in my show... while I sing Copacabana. You come and see the show, I'm gonna sing that. What do you think?
Fletch: I think the Mayans might have been right.
Hoff: What? The Mayans?
Fletch: Yeah, the Mayans predicted the end of the world. There was probably something in there about the star of Baywatch singing Barry Manilow heralding the apocalypse.
Hoff: It won't be that bad.
Fletch: No. I think it will be so awesome that the world might not be able to cope.
Hoff: I think they'll dig it. I'm really doing it. You've convinced me.
Fletch: Do it in a kilt and the prophecy will be complete.
Hoff: Oh God ... so, um. I hoped to get some flavor of what Edinburgh was like from a true Scotsman and what I'm getting is 'drinking,' 'hating bagpipes' and [laughs] 'water skis'. Do I get the impression that you don't like Edinburgh very much?
Fletch: I totally love Edinburgh. I've lived in a lot of places around Britain and Edinburgh is definitely the best. It's frantic yet mellow. Relaxed and multicultural. I just fucking hate bagpipes and you can't turn a corner without ending up nipple to nipple with someone playing The Best of Runrig.
Hoff: Oh. Runrig. Do you guys still like Runrig?
Fletch: Yeah. People who have been in a coma since 1991 still like Runrig.
Hoff: No Runrig then. I saw them play once...
Fletch: I'm so sorry.
Hoff: They were big in Ireland at the time I was visiting. Ended up on a crazy tour of the place. Went out one night and didn't know where the fuck I was.
Fletch: [checks time] Shit. I've only got 15 minutes to speak to you. I should probably ask you some questions.
Hoff: Don't worry about the time. I'm enjoying this [laughs].
Fletch: Yeah. Me too. Seriously. I thought you'd be awesome, but I never thought you'd be this awesome.
Hoff: Thanks Fred. Go on, ask me some questions.
Fred Fletch: I should probably be honest and tell you that I'm not really a journalist. I write TV reviews for The Skinny and for some reason when the chance came up to interview David Hasselhoff for his upcoming show, my name was mentioned. So I have the chance to prove myself to my editor. You know, they were worried I'd fuck this up...
Hoff: [laughing] OK.
Fred Fletch: Seriously. I'm a professional... anyway, I have a few questions here that I wrote while drunk.
Hoff: [still sniggering] Go on...
Fletch: Okay. Number one. Obviously I wanna ask you about Knight Rider.
Fletch: It was amazing. I grew up watching the show, owning the lunchbox, pretending to be Michael Knight. It was a show built on morals which was part of the appeal...
Fletch: So clearly, I need to know... did you ever fuck anyone inside KITT?
Hoff: [Laughs] What?
Fletch: [LOUDER] DID YOU EVER FUCK ANYONE INSIDE KITT?
Hoff: [still laughing] NO! I wanted to and they wanted to but the problem was, there was always like two guys in the back of the car so it wasn't very private. I mostly took them back to my motorhome.
Fletch: Was your motorhome a robot crime fighting motor
Hoff: A what?
Fletch: You know, like KITT? Did your motorhome have artificial intelligence and help you stop super villains?
Hoff: No. No it didn't, but I had some good times. Sure, girls loved the car. But it was all special effects and special effects guys in there. Little hard to get intimate. So it was just back to the old motorhome.
Fletch: That's cool. Not the same as having sex in KITT. but cool. OK, question two...
Hoff: Can I just say, I wasn't expecting this. You're fantastic and I love, love the fact that you came up with these questions while drunk. That's journalism right there. This is gonna be good.
Fletch: Baywatch. Awesome show. Lifeguarding, California beaches and really nice tits. Did you come up with the concept?
Hoff: No. It was a great guy called Greg Bonann who came up with the idea. Fantastic guy. Did all those beautiful films for the Olympics in Sarajevo. He came to me with all this footage of lifeguards saving children and women. It was all in slow motion and I looked at it and said "I don't want to do that," but he sold it to me. Passionate guy. I decided to do it. The theme was 'all heart, all action, all adventure.'
Fletch: Great tits.
Hoff: I knew it had potential, so I invested in it. Considering everyone thought it was a dud I used my own money to buy it up. Produced it on the back of the strength of my music at the time with the Berlin Wall and pretty much ended up getting the whole rights to the thing for a dollar an episode and the rest is history. Great show though. Loved it. Knight Rider, Baywatch; fantastic shows.
Fletch: Talking about them both, I have to ask. In your opinion, who'd win in a fight between Michael Knight and Mitch Buchannon?
Hoff: [without hesitation] Michael Knight!
Hoff: Well, he has the car and...
Fletch: WHOAH. No cheating. He doesn't get the car. This is an even fight. Hasselhoff versus Hasselhoff. No crime fighting robot car and no fucking boogie board. and before you say it, they're fighting on neutral territory since Mitch has oceanic superiority.
Hoff: Well then, I think no one would win. Have you heard the term when an immovable object meets an irresistible force?
Fletch: Mitch Buchannon is an irresistible force?
Hoff: No one would win. The fight would go on forever. There'd be city wide devastation. It would be like me punching myself in the face. So no. Neither would win. Oh shit, that reminds me, you know last time I was in Edinburgh I ran into this guy who claimed to be Germany's third best David Hasselhoff lookalike. I mean, I'm walking along the street and this guy comes up to me and says 'Hey. I'm the third best you-lookalike' and I'm like 'wow.' I mean, he's really into it and he goes on about this town he comes from where they hold an annual David Hasselhoff lookalike competition...
Fletch: How much did he look like you? I mean on a scale of 1 to ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOT?
Hoff: [laughs] Nooooooo, he was good. I mean, too good.
Fletch: Two David Hasselhoffs? Fuck. That's like a paradox.
Hoff: I know. I mean I've met guys like this before and they're like 'Hey I look just like you' and they don't. I mean really don't and I'm all polite and say "Yeah. Wow, it's like a mirror." But this guy was good.
Fletch: Did you ever think of hiring him, to fill in for you when you can't be fucked, say, or maybe if your life was in danger – just send in the third best lookalike
Hoff: [laughing] For weddings. Yeah, I have to go to a wedding I don't wanna, so I'll just send this German guy.
Fletch: That's maybe a second best sort of occassion. I'd send third best to the Star Crash conventions.
Hasselhoff: No. Really he was good and such a sweet guy but... Oh my God.
Hoff: [calling off to someone] Paul, write this down. Must do my own movie with ALF. Yeah I totally see that. I would do it if ALF was the bad guy, like a terrorist. Maybe give him an eyepatch.
Fletch: God yes, and a sinister moustache.
Hoff: [again, off phone to someone] Seriously Paul, how's about me in a movie with ALF? Could that happen?
Fletch: I don't think ALF is up to much these days.
Hoff: Isn't he in rehab or something?
Fletch: Yeah I reckon ALF is all kinds of fucked up these days.
Hoff: Isn't Chuck Norris in the new one?
Fletch: Yeah, he is!
Hoff: Awesome. You know, have you read those Chuck Norris Facts? The ones on the internet.
Fletch: I've heard of them.
Hoff: They do some Hasselhoff facts. Crazy stuff. Might throw some of those into my show. Hmmm... Chuck Norris Versus David Hasselhoff.
Fletch: Versus ALF...
Hoff: Let's make this happen. I'm getting my people on it and once again; I'm stealing this idea.
Fletch: You're welcome to it.
Hoff: Last year I was in one of the worst movies ever made; Piranha 3DD (laughs)
Fletch: Dude, can I stop you there. I have four words for you; Anaconda 3: The Offspring.
Hoff: Fuck! [laughs]
Fletch: You want to talk about worst movies?
Hoff: Let me stop you there. Let me explain...
Fletch: Holy shit, I'm getting Knight Rider to explain Anaconda 3. I must be drunker than I thought...
Hoff: Firstly. Piranha was not the worst movie ever. It was a lot of fun. It did exactly what it set out to do. Entertain. I had a blast. It was a good bad film.
Fletch: No argument from me.
Hoff: Now Anaconda 3... [takes deep breath], do you want to know what that movie was about?
Fletch: Giant snakes? Super intelligent giant snakes?
Hoff: Well... [serious voice] That movie was about 120 minutes, and it was also about an attorney.
You see I was going through a rather messy divorce at the time and I was going to lose my Miami beach house and they came to me and said 'How's about you do this film about fucking giant killer snakes in Romania.... where there are no fucking snakes?' And I said 'There's not a figure in the world that you could offer me to go to Romania and make a movie about giant killer snakes.' They went away and came back with a figure, then I said yes. There was no way I was going to lose my Miami house and if I had to fly to Romania where, seriously, there are no snakes, and make a film about snakes in order to keep it, I would.
Some actors do things for art and others do things for their attorney. I did this for my attorney. I worked on pictures for the Weinstein Production company because right now I'm in talks to remake Knight Rider.
Fletch: You're shitting me!
Hoff: No, I am. and they own the rights. And I want it done right. So I'm in negotiations. I want it done to the true spirit of the original show.
Fletch: God I LOVE you.
Hoff: [laughs] You know, I actually have a copy of Anaconda 3.
Fletch: SO DO I!!!!
Hoff: But mine has absolutely no special effects in it. It's a print before they added all the computer snakes so it's just 120 minutes of Romanians screaming at NOTHING [makes giant killer snake sound). 'FUCK ME I'M BEING EATEN BY....NOTHING!' It's hilarious. I'm going to drag it out. Upload it to YouTube. No snakes in fucking Romania. No special effect ones either.
Fletch: Please don't think I was judging you on being in Anaconda 3. It actually makes you more amazing for having been in it. It's actually a great movie for a bag of unwatchable shit. You're great in it though.
Fletch: I think it's great you bought a copy of a film you were in. You know Ewen Bremner, from Trainspotting?
Hoff: Amazing movie. Yes. Spud or something? Not the other guy?
Fletch: Yeah Spud. Not Ben Kenobi. Well he used to come into a shop I worked in every couple of days. I think he has a place here in Edinburgh. Anyway, one day I just asked him, do you own a copy of Alien VS Predator? And he totally didn't. Don't blame him. Fucking awful movie, but he was ace in it.
Hoff: Yeah, like I was saying, people do things for all sorts of reasons. Some actors do great movies or shows because it's their art and they passionately believe in the project. Other people do it for attorneys. Even the biggest stars have done a film or two for reasons other than art. My show at the festival. Even if I sell out. I'll only break even. I'm doing it because I believe in it, I want to do it and it's going to be an amazing experience. It's not for money. It's for my art.
Fletch: Can I ask you one last question? And I apologise in advance. It's such an obvious one. One you've probably been asked a million times before. If you had to, I mean REALLY HAD TO, fuck one of the A-Team, who would it be?
Hoff: [long pause] You want to know something? I already have and not one of the men. [laughs] Shit, I shouldn't be telling you this. A girl – and I'm not saying who – who was in the A-Team. I fucked her. [laughs] I hope she doesn't find out about this story...
Fletch: Don't worry. No one reads my stuff anyway. Your A-Team secret is safe with me.
Hoff: Man. This has been hilarious. Thank you and please, tell all your friends to come to my show. There will be singing, comedy, audience interaction and more. Come along. Are you coming to the show?
Fletch: I don't ask Knight Rider which one of The A-Team he'd fuck and NOT come to his show. David. It's been a genuine pleasure.
Hoff: Alright! Yes it has. Thank you so much and you take care. I'll see you soon. [laughing, off phone to someone] Wait till I tell you what this guy asked? Ok Fred. See you soon. Get people to come to my show please.
Fletch: Farewell for now, Knight Rider.
In conclusion: During our brief conversation I was left in no doubt that this man is a legend. Genuine, honest, relaxed and reflective. You don't spend four years pretending to talk to a gay robot car without developing a sense of humour about life.
He wrapped me up in his charm and passion and I have come away from this experience loving him harder than ever before. David is a living reminder of better times and certainly not the punchline to a joke. I heartily look forward to his show when it arrvies in Edinburgh on the 21st.
And, if you're interested. I'd fuck Murdock. But only because Hannibal is dead and they have strict laws against that sort of thing.