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Q&A with Robin Quivers
Robin Quivers has the best female voice on radio,
just as Howard Stern has the best male voice, and they've made a uniquely successful team since they started in Washington, DC, in 1981. As it turns out, Andy Krents, George Tabb's entertainment lawyer friend, has known Quivers since he interned at the show, and he sometimes takes her out on dates to events her boyfriend won't go to. He insists there's no sex or romance involved?they're just friends.
? Quivers is chairing the 13th-anniversary benefit dinner for a charitable organization called the Child Abuse Prevention Program (CAPP). The gala dinner, at Bridgewaters in South Street Seaport, is next Thursday, Oct. 7, beginning with cocktails at 6:30 p.m. It costs $250 per person.
? Call 344-1902 for information or to make a donation. ? Quivers met with us at the NYPress offices last Tuesday, Sept. 21.
Russ Smith: We're going to do the opposite of your show and get the plugs in first. Tell us about this charity?
The deal is it's an organization involved in the prevention and education of legislative and enforcement organizations and child protection institutions. They teach the people who are involved, going out and servicing families with problems, what it is to talk to a child, how child abuse presents itself. They also go into schools and teach children what child abuse is. They present a puppet program?
You guys are sick! You guys are very sick! I can see right now that this is not The New York Times. They have these puppets who are kids who come in and present situations. One kid will have had something happen to them and the other kids in school will be whispering about it, and it creates a situation where the children get information. This is given to third-graders. They can talk to the puppet, ask the puppet questions... It's not a Howard Stern puppet show. It is a completely different puppet show.
George Tabb: Do the puppets have, you know, implants?
RS: What's your opinion of the school voucher program?
Well, seeing as how the public schools have not really been doing a very good job, I think if there is a parent out there who really cares about their child, and they have the wherewithal to be aware of the voucher program and want to select a school for their child where they can actually get an education without fearing for their lives, that's a wonderful thing for them to be able to do. If you don't care about your kid, and you're not paying attention to the school anyway, and you don't care where they are going as long as they are out of your hair for eight hours a day, let 'em go to public school, where you have to bring a boxcutter as part of your equipment. It's ridiculous what goes on in the city schools. And poor people have been trapped in that situation. They don't have alternatives. So the voucher is an alternative.
RS: Let's go back. I started listening to the show in 1981, when I lived in Baltimore.
From Washington, DC, [radio station] DC101.
RS: Right. Obviously the show has progressed quite a bit. I was a fan of the Beaver Breaks?
Yes, lots of people were.
RS: And Howard speaking as God, that was good. With syndication and everything the show has exponentially changed. Do you miss those days? How is it different now?besides the fact that you guys don't get to Roy Rogers like you used to?
Yes, it has changed a lot. In the time that you're talking about, the early incarnation, in Washington, we didn't even have the situation that exists now, where I'm there all the time. I was just there at the top of the hour and the bottom of the hour to do newsbreaks, and we would banter in that space. The rest of the time Howard had to fill up the space with something, so he'd use Beaver Breaks and God and different bits.
RS: And when did Fred Norris show up?
We were there for six months or so until Fred came. And he added another element to the show, and that's when I think the Beaver Breaks expanded, and there were other character-driven things that we used to do. To add something to the show. I think it wasn't syndication that changed the show, it was just that we grew up. Things changed, and as we grew up we had different things going on in our lives. All of a sudden Howard was a father, and I was a single, successful woman living in New York, people were getting married, other people were joining the broadcast, and we became this huge conglomerate of people who put it together. It was more interesting to find out what was going on with us, and what we thought about what was going on in the world, than to stop and do a Beaver Break or an out-of-the-closet Stern.
RS: Where did you grow up in Baltimore?
Near Pimlico. I went to Pimlico Jr. High School and Western High School.
RS: What's your fondest memory of Baltimore?
(Laughs) Getting out! Where's that train? Goodbye! What's my fondest memory of Baltimore! Crabcakes!
RS: I lived there for 14 years. I went to school there. John grew up there. That's what I would say, crabcakes.
I actually go back for the crabcakes.
John Strausbaugh: When was the last time you were back?
Some time during the summer. My father died, so I had to go for a funeral, unfortunately.
JS: I haven't been back for a year. It was looking beat the last time I was there.
You think so?
GT: My band played there and it was horrible. It was all rednecks wanting to beat us up.
(Laughs) That's Baltimore.
Andrew Krents: One thing I love about Baltimore is that you go into the tailor and you can buy liquor behind the counter.
AK: Anywhere. You go into a deli, buy a roast beef sandwich and a bottle of muscatel. It's a great city to be an alcoholic in.
RS: Private Parts the Movie. I liked it a lot. Although I thought it was a bit soft.
Well, it was a movie.
GT: The girl who played you looked just like you.
(Laughs) I have a younger sister.
AK: That's the one I date.
GT: Speaking of dating, you go out to dinner sometimes with Andy. How come you never put out for him?
You know what: I have been waiting for him to ask. He has never been bold enough to ask. I just keep getting away with it. We could just keep going out indefinitely and he will never ask.
AK: I just want to go on record and say that as long as her boyfriend has his service revolver?
(Laughs) He's always leading me on. He tells me all these stories. I guess I am not good enough to get in.
GT: Hey, look at me. I'm cute, I'm a Jew and my dick is bigger than the guy you were with.
That's only on your say-so.
GT: Andy knows.
Oh does he? You're leaving me to go to him?
Back to Private Parts?somebody's other than yours (to George).
RS: I was disappointed by the ending, how it ended so abruptly. I also thought there were a lot of liberties taken with what actually happened.
Liberties! How do you mean?
RS: Wasn't the chronology screwed up?
A little bit, because it is a movie. In a movie, rather than a book, you're more trying to convey the theme than the actual events. And in order to make it interesting and to carry the story along, some things were compressed. So you take one incident and put in a lot of stuff that actually happened that can drive the story and not detract from the story into that one scene. That's what happened a lot of the times. As far as where it ended, there was a lot more shot and the movie was supposed to go on and do lot of other things, but in the editing process they determined that there was such a high reached, with conquering New York and all that, it seemed anticlimactic to them.
RS: I guess it was just disappointing to listeners that it stopped in, what was it, '86?
Actually about '85.
RS: And the movie came out two years ago. To me it's like great, now we have to wait three years for the sequel. The movie was number one the first week, and what did it eventually gross?
At the box office I think like 43 or 45 [million].
RS: I lost a bet with my brother. I said this movie is definitely going over 50.
Sorry. I hope you didn't bet a lot.
RS: The press was just amazing. Were you and Howard disappointed?
Were we disappointed? Sure. I mean we wanted to do $100 million, what are you talking about? And we still do.
RS: But I think that was a realistic goal.
The point was that we are not national, so a lot of people only know us by what they read about us. And what people think about us by reading about us is far different than what people think from hearing us. If you just read about us, we're almost Larry Flynt in some parts of the country. "Oh they're just those smutty people who get on the air and talk about penises." If you've never heard us that's what you think of the program, because that's how we're portrayed in the press, which is national. So we didn't do well in markets where the show isn't on.
GT: Do you think one of the reasons that it didn't do well was because you didn't have my band on the soundtrack?
The movie you were in [Summer of Sam]?how much did that make?
(Prolonged laughter from everyone but Tabb, who slumps in his chair.)
Oh, he's quiet all of a sudden! And there's a guy who has made a lot more films. Maybe he didn't make money because you were in it.
RS: How real is the annual money haggling with Jackie?
Oh, gee, it's very real! The only reason I can laugh about it now is because it is not going on. But it becomes very bloody. Very bloody.
JS: I always figured it was shtick.
No no no no. We couldn't make that up. How do you make up a disgruntled guy who is quitting the show, who is not telling us, and we discover an empty chair one day and discover that he just quit? Then we start to think that he'll be back in a couple of days, it lasts for two weeks, and then we say, "Okay, we'll start looking in another direction," and a week later he shows up again. We couldn't make that up.
AK: He's just sleeping off a hangover.
No, I think he comes back to prevent going right to Skid Row.
AK: I was at a party and the guy dropped a beer bottle on my foot.
He can put it away. But when he has a job he's a little bit more responsible.
RS: I have a question that may be a little bit delicate. As I said, I am a regular listener, and I like everybody on the show except for Gary. I've got a huge problem with Gary.
This is so funny!
GT: Is this the first time you've heard that?
How could you have a problem with Gary?
RS: He is such a fucking asshole. And what I really, really object to about him, is he takes this reflected glory off Howard. Although I have no doubt that he works very hard.
Yes he does, and he really cares about the show. He would do anything for us.
RS: But he's such an asshole!
Have you had personal dealings with him?
RS: Never met him. Some of his promos are so nauseating. There was a promo where he says?it was a couple of years ago, for a Super Bowl party?and the prize was "Getting to hang out with us!" That is the last thing I want to do, is to hang out with fucking Gary.
Aw, you might like him.
RS: But professionally, he sucks up to Howard so badly.
Sucks up? We played three different bits on the air today where he called Howard a wimp, an asshole, and what was the other thing? They were fighting, and he was just, "You're an asshole. You're a wimp and I am calling you out right here."
RS: The only good thing about Gary in today's show was him talking about shitting in his pants.
One of the other guys told me today his wife is pregnant and I said, "Oh, very soon you'll be crapping your pants, too."
GT: Do you have kids?
No. Kids are not my thing.
GT: Do you have pets?
GT: As cute as my dog?
GT: Oh! (Slumps back down in his chair)
RS: My kids happen to love Scooter.
Oh, well he must have a great personality that is not coming through in that picture. No, actually I like ugly pets. Okay? I have ugly cats, and people are very fond of telling me that my cats are ugly cats.
RS: George got t-shirts for my boys that had Scooter on them, and those are their favorite t-shirts.
Aww. I'm sure he's a great dog. I'm just not a dog person. I'm a cat person. Okay?
GT: So you like pussy? You're a lesbian?
Well, you came out and let us know that you've been fucking Andy. So I guess it's okay.
RS: Let's talk about politics for a minute.
Oh God! You know that you are never supposed to do that at a party.
RS: I imagine that you guys will be supporting Mayor Giuliani.
Yes, definitely. I would never support Hillary.
I'm not sure she's sane, number one. I question that woman's morality, I question her motives. This is a woman who purports to be a feminist, but she's riding her husband's coattails into the Senate, if you ask me. What's that all about? I can't say much good about her. Who is she? Is she real? I mean I have never seen a real reaction out of her. Where does she stand on any issue?
GT: Do you think she fucks other women?
Quite frankly I don't think she fucks. I mean looking at her I really don't get a sense that there is a lot of warmth there.
RS: I think she'll pull out in December.
Do you think she'll sell the house?
RS: Well, they gotta live somewhere, and New York is a great base. It's either New York or L.A.
But all their friends are in L.A.
RS: So they'll get an airplane.
JS: And they'll have a little place out there, too.
AK: Why didn't they live on the Upper West side with all the other liberals?
They're trying to reach out to the people.
AK: In Westchester?
Well, as always, Hillary tried something and made the wrong call.
RS: Why didn't they move to Schenectady?
Oh please! You might as well go back to Arkansas!
RS: How much do you think the show did for Pataki and Whitman?
It seems to have done a lot.
RS: Probably less than Howard takes credit for.
But they seem to be very appreciative of the show, and they continue to stay in close contact. Which is quite a surprise to us. We never expected to be in that position.
RS: They both did great on your show. And who do you hope to be supporting next year?
In what race? Well, I'll support my mother...
RS: The only race. The presidential race.
Oh jeez. If it's Gore and Bush I think I might sit that one out, but if Bradley was running I would support Bradley. Just because he's different. He is not like the guy who is supposed to get it, so he might not have as many favors to dole out as all of these guys who are supposed to get it. I'm just...the whole political scene is so sad, and you know Gore expects to just walk in, and Bush appears to be walking right in, so there's really no conversation going on about what we are doing, where the country needs to go, what their political views are, what the platform is, what programs they would push. So what are you voting for? You're voting for personalities.
RS: I don't think that's quite accurate.
What does George Bush stand for?
RS: I'll tell you. The mainstream media, which is liberal, says that he's fuzzy, and Buchanan says there's no difference between parties. That's just dumb.
Okay, I agree. But are they setting an agenda or just stepping into an agenda?
RS: Okay, this is what George Bush stands for. Capital punishment.
(Laughs) And a lot that does for me! I can go far with that. Can we really run the country just having capital punishment?
RS: I'm just starting.
It was a funny place to start.
RS: Where do you stand on it?
I'm for it! Fry the bastards!
RS: Bush stands for cutting taxes.
Oh yeah, I'm for that! But he didn't think of that. At least Reagan came up with an idea?if we give money back to the people it will energize the economy and create jobs, you know. At least he had something going on. These guys, no.
RS: As a candidate no one thought Reagan was going to win. Everybody thought that Carter was going to cream him.
Nobody thought that!
Never never never. He was not a great president. He wasn't going to cream anybody. A man who had four years in office and had an uphill battle to keep his job. Please.
RS: Teddy Kennedy?
Please! Teddy Kennedy was not his real problem. He was his real problem. Carter had a record he was running on, and the hostages in Iran?he had some bad things going on. Things definitely did not fall his way.
RS: True, true. Back to Bush. Bush is for school vouchers and Bradley isn't.
But these are things, like I said, that have been here, they've been on the table. He hasn't said, "Here's what I see America doing, here's where I would like to take the country, here is how I would like to do it."
RS: But you know, Robin, there's a year until the election.
Yes, and you see that's my problem. Who is spelling it out? If he's not doing it, and it's a year before the election, obviously they're going to get a group of people together and they're going to spell it out, and then he's going to sell it. That's what we have now.
RS: What do you think Bradley stands for?
I think this is a thoughtful man. This is a man who thought about running for the presidency a couple of years ago and so he has been preparing for that up until now, and that is why he is gaining on Gore. And Al Gore has been the vice president. Bradley has actually been going around and talking with people and meeting them. It's just that when I have heard him speak I have been impressed, and I have never been impressed with Al Gore. And Al Gore is married to Tipper, and that is very scary to me.
AK: I think Bradley is married to the only white woman named Ernestine.
And that's another reason to vote for him.
RS: Bradley is running a smart campaign. I think it's a total con, but it is a smart campaign.
Well, at least you gotta give him that.
RS: I do. He's about as boring?
He couldn't be more boring than Al Gore! That is boring.
RS: He is incredibly condescending.
That's all right. Moynihan is condescending.
RS: And Moynihan is an old fucking lush. And he's pro-Hillary!
No he is not!
RS: Well, he endorsed her!
Well, he had to!
RS: Moynihan lost me when he didn't vote to impeach Bill Clinton. I mean that was just absurd.
But don't you think it's just wonderful the way Bill survives everything?
RS: But don't you think he should be punished?
Absolutely! He should be out of office is what he should be. He's like the cockroach?he'll be here when everything else is gone.
RS: So you pick Bradley.
Yeah, just to be different.
RS: Well, he ain't that different. But I think Bradley will get the nomination. So then you could split your ticket and go Bradley/Giuliani.
Yeah, I'm all over the place. I just vote for the people I like.
GT: But Giuliani just fucked up everything.
Yes, and I love it!
GT: People can't get drunk on the street without getting arrested.
I like that.
RS: Oh George, you don't drink that much.
Right, but he'd like to have the ability to. He wants to appear to be rock 'n' roll. (Tabb slumps in chair.) You're drooping again!
AK: You have Tramps closing, a lot of these other clubs closing.
Look, I couldn't stay up late enough to do that stuff anyway, so I really haven't missed it.
AK: What about the kids?
What about "the kids"? You two [Tabb and Krents] are going to say, "What about the kids"? (Laughs) Whenever they fail at any argument it's the kids, the kids, the kids!
RS: Giuliani is a complete jerk.
He is the vice principal of boys. He wants to run everything and he wants everybody following the rules.
RS: Yes, but there aren't bums lining the sidewalks.
I can get into the bank without being hijacked. You can walk up the west side after you watch a play and not be followed, which is a nice way to live. You know the pedestrian barricades, they are a little scary.
RS: And the jaywalking thing?
And Disneyland on 42nd St. is a little scary. It used to be that Times Square church was like a beacon of light in this den of iniquity. Now it fits right in.
GT: What happens when Giuliani wants to stop your show?
He wouldn't do that. He doesn't care about stuff like that. He simply cares about business. As long as we're good for business, we're all right.
I really love all of the people who try to defend all the craziness we had on the streets of New York. We had people?well, we still have people pushing people in front of subway cars. We used to have people pushing people in front of buses. You weren't safe anywhere you went. You didn't know when this person was going to lose it and become dangerous. You don't have that anymore. There are a lot of people who say, "Well this is not right, the rights of the mentally ill..." And you know, I am for everybody's rights. Every individual. Not just the crazy and the criminal. I think we went way overboard in defending the rights of criminals.
GT: But that's what made this place fun!
Right. When I first came here, people used to say, "When do you think you'll be mugged?" It was like something that was supposed to happen to you. It was ridiculous! That is no way to live.
GT: That's New York.
No it's not. It's not New York now, and New York is still fun. I don't need to be mugged. There are a few experiences I can live without.
JS: (to Robin) When you and Andy go out, where do you guys go?
AK: Oh we go to plays, we go to dinner...the amusement park, ball games...
RS: Robin, what's your favorite restaurant?
Oh, I have several. Nobu... I have lots of favorite restaurants!
JS: Are you like a celebrity when you go into a restaurant?
Am I "like" a celebrity? What does that mean? Does that mean that I don't make a reservation? That I push people out of their tables?
JS: Do people come over to your table for autographs?
Occasionally, but you know it depends on where you are. If I'm in Manhattan it's pretty quiet. It's okay.
RS: What're your feelings about the on-air commercials you do? Like Howard will start, and then you and a lot of the other regulars chime in about how good Ranch 1 is.
Ranch 1 is great. I love Ranch 1! In fact, strike it?my favorite restaurant is Ranch 1. (Laughs) Look, you people say what you will, it's the best chicken I have ever had.
RS: What I love is when Howard, who I assume really isn't a big drinker, when he says, "You know, when I'm in the mood for a beer..."
And that's absolutely true. He's in the mood every five or six years.
RS: Do you feel a little sleazy, when?
No. Our job as radio personalities and disk jockeys is to sell commercial time. That's what we do. It's part of our profession.
RS: I understand the commercial aspect. But you don't feel sleazy.
Not at all.
AK: Russ, you have 970-fuckmeintheass ads.
Yeah! What kind of ads you running in this thing? You don't feel a little sleazy?
RS: No, I don't feel sleazy about running those ads.
Tell me why you don't feel sleazy.
RS: I don't feel sleazy, because I think it's a service to?
You know, we always announce when we are having a commercial. It's "Commercial, commercial, commercial! Ranch 1 is the greatest chicken..." The sleazy music comes on, and we sell.
RS: But Gary will talk about his "favorite" beer. In July, Dos Equis is his favorite beer, and the next month it's Heineken or Sam Adams.
Now wait a minute. Does everybody stick to one beer? I am not a beer drinker, and I have never purported to be a beer drinker. But do people stick to one beer? Or do they have a range that they like?
RS: By and large people stick to their beers.
That's a hard and fast rule?
RS: Wouldn't you say so, John?
JS: By and large people stick to their beers.
If they don't have your brand, isn't there one that you sort of like enough?
RS: Sort of like enough is not like in July Dos Equis and three months later?
You know what, let me say this. I am not familiar with what you are talking about, because this is something that does not happen on my [part of the] show. So obviously this is something that he is doing the rest of the day. Some other time when I am not listening. I don't know that he endorses a different beer every week, so I can't speak to that. I don't know what he says.
RS: That was a Clinton answer.
GT: You don't take off your clothes on the Howard Stern show. The tv show. Why not?
I don't have the desire to. I don't want to sicken people. I am just always fascinated that there is somebody who wants to do that. I am an old-fashioned girl, and it's not special unless you're with somebody you really care about and the timing is right and etc. There seem to be a lot of exhibitionists in the world.
GT: Who was the woman who came on the show who'd set the record for blowing all those guys?
I don't know who set that record... I don't think Guinness is tabulating. But there are all kinds of nuts in the world, and they want a voice. And so there they are.
RS: Now when you guys do a commercial for Time Out?
Oh my God! We're back to commercials!
RS: This is what I love. Howard, who is a confessed recluse, says, "Robin when I need to know what's going on around town, it's got the listings." And then when he talks about the Village Voice. I mean surely Howard has not read the Village Voice in 20 years.
He must have read it sometime.
RS: (In Howard's voice) "And it's got the left-wing politics..." Please.
Excuse me. Once again, do you think any of those actors in commercials on tv are really familiar with the products that they're selling? You got Sylvester Stallone talking about one car and you've got Martin Sheen talking about another. James Brolin, you know, they're all doing something. What are they doing?
No, they're acting. They're making a living. There's nothing wrong with that!
RS: I'm not saying there is.
It is a time-honored tradition in this country. I mean, would you be grilling Ed McMahon about Alpo and did he really use it?
RS: I probably would.
I don't understand why it's so fascinating.
RS: Look, I'm not taking a Nation point of view. I like Howard's commercials, I love the gusto that he puts into it when he's just talking through his hat. He's really go