PLAYBOY: Here’s another thing that goes against type: You have an art collection, right?
POP: When I was living in New York in the 1990s, the Broadway dancer Geoffrey Holder had a great Haitian art collection. He auctioned it off in Sotheby’s basement, and I’d loved that art all my life. I was newly separated and felt like spending my money on something I liked. “I’m not going to have any ‘family discussions’ about this!” I went to Sotheby’s and got quite a few things Geoffrey had. Hector Hyppolite is the most financially valuable of all Haitian artists, and I have one of his pieces through Geoffrey. I got a couple of Edouard Duval-Carriés, some Andre Pierres and George Liautauds. I can sit with a painting or sculpture for hours the way someone else watches a favorite TV show. I don’t need things to move.
PLAYBOY: You probably don’t take Orange Sunshine before shows these days. Are you done with booze and drugs?
POP: I drink red wine now. I’m partial to Bordeaux and Barolos. But I’m stone-cold sober on the job. Always. For the first five years of this century, I used—Zantac? Xanax? No, that’s different. It’s on TV; you get it at Walgreens for ladies to help them do their housework faster. Legal speed. I’d take one of those when I was doing the Stooges. Before that I was drinking three Red Bulls before a show, and I’d be burping and sloshing around. I’ve been on the natch now, onstage, for about eight years. I have two or three big espressos in the afternoon in the hotel before work. That gets me awake enough to care. The person I am now couldn’t write “I’m Sick of You” and record it with the same authority I had in 1977. If I did, people would be embarrassed for me.
PLAYBOY: What award would you like to win?
POP: I have an assistant, and when we haven’t spoken for a few days, I call him and ask, “Hey, Spencer, did I get the Nobel Prize yet?” And he says, “Nope.” That would be good. Think of all the peace that has been caused by me and the Stooges, running around the world and calming things down by acting out all this violent stuff.
PLAYBOY: You’ve written a lot of songs about death, and last year’s Stooges album was called Ready to Die. What will the first sentence of your obituary say?
POP: Oh dear. They’ll probably call me “inventor of the stage dive.” I have a beach house in the Cayman Islands, where there are sharks. When I go swimming I think, Boy, a shark attack would solve a lot of problems. I seriously do not want to go into assisted living or a nursing home, so I’m hoping for a shark attack. That would be good.
PLAYBOY: You appeared recently in a Chrysler ad, which surprised some people. You also licensed “Lust for Life” to the Royal Caribbean cruise line. How do you feel about doing commercials?
POP: I’ve done quite a few, including for car insurance and perfume. Here’s the way I feel about it: I was angry all through the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, because I had to suffer through music that was pretending to be art but was corrupt. It was a commercial clothed as art by a businessman with a guitar, presented by some fat fuck in suspenders with a baseball cap at some goddamn horrible radio station that picks what crap people hear. I never did any of that with my music. None of it. When I do a commercial, you’re going to know it’s a commercial. Most people who like what I do are aware of what I went through and are happy I can finally get a roof over my head and get paid—in some way, that I get justice.
PLAYBOY: When did your financial situation start to improve?
POP: I started getting organized in the mid-1980s, after David Bowie recorded our song “China Girl.” It’s still a very good earner. That was the beginning of my having any sort of success. I bought a place on Bleecker Street, and then I bought a house in Miami in 1998, and I’ve been there ever since. I lived in New York for 20 years. It’s a tough town. I won.
PLAYBOY: Bowie put out a very good album last year, and there have been rumors that he has cancer. Can you tell us anything about that?
POP: I can’t tell you anything about him whatsoever. We last spoke about 10 years ago. He called me to do a couple of things when he was curating the Meltdown arts festival in 2002, but I had a schedule conflict. We had a nice chat, and that was that.
PLAYBOY: People on Twitter were incredulous when you turned 66 last year. What surprises you most about getting older?
POP: It’s not so great! [laughs] Listen, I don’t recommend getting older as a happiness strategy. Most of my life I’ve been indifferent to what other people feel. Now I’m softening up a bit. That’s surprising. Other than that, I miss my parents. I feel I didn’t do well enough for them. If I’d had a different career it would’ve been better for them. That bothers me. Especially my mother. She passed away in the mid-1990s, when I was still one of those obscure American figures. I’d show up on some TV show and go, “Motherfucker! Motherfucker!” She’d say to my dad, “Oh, I wish Jimmy wouldn’t say ‘motherfucker.’” [laughs] I wish she could have seen some of my worldly success.
PLAYBOY: Do you collect Social Security?
POP: No. I was told to wait—apparently the amount you get goes up if you wait. I had a gut instinct not to depend on the government. I have three union pensions and my own pension. I’m not sure Social Security’s going to be there for me. Eric Cantor might say, “No money for you, Iggy Pop!”
PLAYBOY: Do you take advantage of the discounted movie tickets?
POP: No, but my business manager has been trying for 16 years to get me to join AARP. Every year, he sends me a pamphlet with a little note: “Jim, you should really look into this. You get some great discounts.” And it goes straight in the trash, every year. AARP? I don’t want to hear about the fucking AARP!