The Rum Diary Gonzo Channel

By James H. Ewert Jr.

Revel in the savage debauchery of Hunter S. Thompson with this archive of his Playboy articles before The Rum Diary hits theaters Oct. 28.

Hunter S. Thompson was just 22-years-old in 1959 when he first began writing The Rum Diary, or what he initially called “the great American rum novel.” He envisioned it as something of a contemporary and rum-soaked version of The Great Gatsby, one of Thompson’s favorite books. Based on the time Thompson spent working for an English language newspaper in San Juan, Puerto Rico, The Rum Diary fictionally chronicles the drunken and debauched life of Paul Kemp, an American journalist sauntering through San Juan with a savage lust for women, blood and booze. Once finished, Thompson spent nearly a decade revising and shopping it to publishers before reverting to other projects. It wasn’t until 1998 that Thompson was finally able to publish The Rum Diary.

Now, more than a decade later Thompson’s great American rum novel will make its way to the big screen Oct. 28, starring Johnny Depp as Paul Kemp and Amber Heard as Kemp’s enigmatic love interest, Chenault. Celebrating yet another milestone in Thompson’s ever-growing list of achievements, we’ve gathered some of Thompson’s most memorable stories from Playboy magazine in one place on and have curated the iPlayboy “On Beyond Gonzo” Commission of Thompson-inspired pieces and articles featuring the savage illustrations of Ralph Steadman.

  Correspondence between HST & Playboy

Previously unpublished correspondences from Thompson and Playboy about various projects he was working on, including one article Playboy refused to publish.

  The Unmaking of the President

Thompson confidant Craig Vetter reports on Thompson himself from the front lines of the 1992 presidential campaign trail—from the October 1992 issue.

  Johnny Depp Playboy Interview

A candid conversation with the star of The Rum Diary about growing up, getting sober and being a middle-aged sex symbol—from the May 2004 issue.

  The Playboy Interview: Hunter S. Thompson

A freewheeling conversation with the outlaw journalist and only man alive to ride with both Richard Nixon and the Hell’s Angels—from the November 1974 issue.

  Fear and Justice in the Kingdom of Sex

The original gonzo journalist salutes Hef and worries that old communist conspiracy theories are being repackaged as the War on Terrorism—from the January 2004 issue.

  Postcards from the Proud Highway

A compendium of hard-worn advice that Thompson was writing for Playboy when he died—from the May 2005 issue.

  The Curse of Lono

An excerpt from Thompson’s 1983 book of the same title about his experience covering the 1980 Honolulu Marathon for Running magazine—from the December 1983 issue.

  On Beyond Gonzo

A Playboy Commission of gonzo and new-journalism works by Thompson and his stylistic peers curated from the iPlayboy digital archives.

  Scar Strangled Banger

The good doctor writes about meeting outlaw illustrator Ralph Steadman on their first assignment together covering the 1970 Kentucky Derby—from the May 1988 issue.

  Hunter S. Thompson Unleashed

Playboy gathers some of the best Hunter S. Thompson videos from around the web.


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