In 1962, future Pulitzer Prize–winning author Alex Haley sat down with jazz musician Miles Davis for what would become an institution of American journalism—the Playboy Interview. To celebrate the Interview’s 50th anniversary, Playboy has culled 50 of its most (in)famous Interviews and will publish them over the course of 50 weekdays (from September 4, 2012 to November 12, 2012) via Amazon’s Kindle Direct platform. Here, a glimpse at our conversations with three-time Oscar winner Jack Nicholson from the April 1972 and January 2004 issues.
“Imagine what acid is like when you know nothing about it. You think it’s going to be like getting stoned on grass, which I had done. But all of your conceptual reality gets jerked away and there are things in your mind that have in no way been suggested to you: such as you’re going to see God; or watch sap streaming through the leaves of trees; or you’re going to feel the dissolving of certain bodily parts; you’re going to re-experience your own birth, which I did on my first acid trip; you’re going to be frightened that your prick might be cut off, because you have castration fears; you’re going to come mush-ass to face with your own homosexual fears. I just wasn’t ready for half this stuff.”
“There have been other times when I paid sums of money not to deal with something, one extortion or another, and not because the other person was in the right. Through these experiences I have learned something that is the opposite of what I would have thought. I came to realize that ill-gotten gains are never good for the person receiving them. The contrary is true. So when you’re paying an extortionist, there’s a bit of diabolical delight and contempt in handing over that check. It’s like when you get robbed. You would think I’d be furious, but pretty soon I always feel bad for the person who has to lead that kind of life.”
“I think you’re impelled to have sex until you stop breathing, even though you have less energy for it and won’t go through the same machinations. I’m not, by some increment, as sexually active as I was, and it doesn’t have to do with a decrease in my libido. It has to do with the criteria to fulfill it. I can’t go through a lot of bullshit. Before, you could hurl the kitchen sink at me and I’d keep on smiling until I got where I thought I wanted to get. Let’s just say that my libido will always exceed my possibilities. As a friend says, “One day I’ll come over and ask you how things are going and you’ll say, ‘The nerve is dead.’” Believe me, the nerve is not dead.”
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