Published on October 2nd, 2011 | by Thompson11
Johnny Depp’s Personal Rum Diary: Day 1
Since 1998 and the big-screen release of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas starring Johhny Depp, I just knew Depp would have to make another Thompson film. That day has come, and I couldn’t be happier. The Rum Diary official trailer has been floating around the Internet and from what I can see, the film will be well worth the 13 year wait since Depp’s performance as the Gonzo legend. But seeing the trailer just isn’t enough. I had to find a way to throw people into a frenzy for this film. I want theaters to be a place of drug-induced orgies, packed to capacity with Thompson lookalikes carrying bottles of rum, weed, and LSD. There was no way this film was going to be released without a proper plug on this website, so I flew to Puerto Rico for an interview with Johnny Depp.
I landed in San Juan around dinner time on a Friday. I had an overnight bag with a change of clothes, a swimsuit, bathroom essentials, and my digital recorder. Johhny met me at the airport in a gorgeous, candy apple red ’55 Chevy Belair Convertible with the top down. The trip was already proving to be worthwhile. I met Johnny, and we shook hands.
“Quite the car,” I said.
“Oh, this is nuthin’. Every day is like a car show down here. We’ll see 3 more of ’em on the way to the hotel, but first we drink.”
I couldn’t believe it. I was in Puerto Rico with Johnny Depp during the filming of The Rum Diary wondering what kind of crazy shit we were about to get ourselves into.
“There’s a bottle of rum in the glove box,” Johnny says, “no use wasting time,” as he pulls out a mason jar half full of cocaine from under his seat. After struggling with the jar a few seconds, he turns to me. “Open that.”
“Jesus, Johnny! I thought the majority of your drug collection would be gone. You’re nearly done shooting.”
“I just picked it up this morning. I figured we’d finish it this weekend.”
“There’s nearly an ounce of cocaine here.”
“Yeah, and it’s 5 o’clock on a Friday, so buck up and get it open! I need a pick-me-up!” I open the jar carefully and stick my pinky in for a taste. I put the cocaine-covered finger on my bottom lip, careful not to upset the dip of chew I’d been sucking on during the flight.
“Jesus, that’s bitter!”
“Good shit, huh?”
“Hell yes. Tastes like pickles.”
“The good stuff always does.” I knew this to be true. The best cocaine I’d ever had tasted surprisingly like dill, but this stuff put everything I ever tried to shame. I dipped my finger once more and snorted a bump. The numbing effect of the cocaine went to work on my nostrils in no time, and the bitter drip began to ooze down my throat numbing my entire esophagus.
“Don’t Bogart that shit! Hook me up with a bump!” I dipped my finger once more and raised it to Johnny’s nose. At that moment, nearly picking Johnny Depp’s nose with a finger full of cocaine, I knew this trip would provide great experiences and terrible consequences. “Oh, Jesus!” Johnny screams as the car swerves. “You’re going to make a helluva wingman this weekend.”
“So where we headed?”
“Al’s. The absolute best place to get a cold, alcoholic beverage. Get this…bottles of beer for a dollar and shots of rum for two bucks. They cook a pretty good steak, too.”
I dip my finger in the mason jar once more and offer Johnny another bump. “Jesus, we could be smashed by 7 o’clock on $20.”
Johnny inhales the coke and gasps out, “That’s the idea.”
“When do we hit the hotel?” I ask as I prepare another bump for myself.
“With any luck never.”
I snort up the cocaine and shockingly mutter, “Never?”
“We’ll keep your bag in the trunk for now. You can change at Al’s. You’ll want to get some swim shorts on.”
“I guess you’re the leader of this freak parade.”
“God damn right.”
We arrived at Al’s, a rundown shack hardly resembling a bar with a cardboard sign on the front door with “OPEN” written in permanent marker. There was no air conditioning, but a few oscillating fans kept hot air moving through the building. You could barely tell the floor was wood with all the dirt and peanut shells we stepped on as we moved to the bar greeted by eager faces and loud cheers. Johnny was a regular here and worked the crowd while I hit the restroom to change. When I came out clad in my Puerto Rican duds, Johnny had already ordered two beers and two shots of rum at the bar.
“Now you’re looking like a local,” Johnny said laughing. Johnny raised both glasses and put one in my hand. “I’d like to propose a toast,” he bellows at the bar, “to the great Dr. Thompson! May we all forever stumble in his drunken footsteps!”
“To the Doctor!” everyone screams before they gulp their drinks. I put my empty shot glass on the bar after I forced down the rum. Johnny noticed my struggle with the liquor.
“Not a rum drinker, eh?”
“I’m a whiskey man myself, but I figure I’ll acclimate.”
“That’s the spirit. We’ll eat our steaks on the patio. Come on.” I followed Johnny to the patio where umbrellas shaded two wooden tables surrounded by ratty lounge chairs. We sat down and Johnny pulled out what looked to be a joint from his pack of cigarettes.
“That’s what I’m talking about. I’ve been craving some weed for the last 8 hours.”
“You didn’t smoke before the plane?”
“I did, but 2 hours for airport security and a 6 hour flight from Minneapolis.” Johnny reaches for his cigarettes in his shirt pocket and opens the pack taking out another joint and offering it to me.
“Well, here. We’ll do personal joints.” I accept the joint, smiling ear to ear.
“Johnny, you are by far the best host a wannabe journalist could ever have.”
“Anything for a Gonzo maniac, and this is only the beginning. We’re going to need some cigarettes, though.”
“You’ve got a full pack.”
“No, these are all joints.”
“Well, I’ll pick up cigarettes after we eat, and maybe a couple cigars.”
“Now you’re gettin’ it.”
We enjoyed our joints, and then our steaks, and walked to a small tobacco shop near Al’s. I spent nearly $50 on cigarettes and cigars and then Johnny and I made our way back to the car enjoying homegrown Puerto Rican tobacco. Johnny knew of a yacht party later, so we decided to head to the beach for a quick dip before the party started.
Johnny took us to Ocean Park, and may I say it’s one of the best beaches on the planet, especially if you’re single and looking…and you will be looking. The scattered ass on this beach is immense. The beach is near a residential area so it has a much more local vibe. The tourists generally stay near their condos at Pine Grove Beach or the San Juan Hotel and Casino, which Johnny insisted we would visit eventually. Johnny had definitely done his homework.
We set ourselves in an area with a considerably nice view and laid on our towels taking turns drinking from the rum bottle and snorting cocaine out of the mason jar from a straw we got at Al’s. We disguised the jar with an American flag handkerchief Johnny had in the trunk of the car as to not draw attention.
“I’ve been doing this every weekend for months, now,” Johnny said.
“Must be rough.”
“Yeah. It’s the second most fun I’ve had making a film, that’s for sure.”
“What’s the first?”
“Fear and Loathing.”
“Any particular reason?”
“Hunter was alive.” You could see the pain in his face. He missed his friend. It must be torture for him to go to work every day forced to think and act like a friend you miss dearly. I had to change the subject.
“You think the film will put asses in the seats?”
“Oh yeah. I mean it’s got everything – comedy, action, suspense, drama – and it already has a hell of a following with Fear and Loathing having done so well. I’m hoping your article will throw people into a frenzy for it.”
“Well, that’s the plan. Would you say it’s better than Fear and Loathing?”
“I’d like to think so.”
“Is it better than Where the Buffalo Roam?”
“You know, who can really say? I put up money for this film because it just had to be made…for Hunter…in his memory.” Johnny pauses to snort cocaine from the Freedom Jar as we had come to call it. He passes me the jar and continues. “Hunter and I were out here scouting locations before he died. He was so excited about the project and loved the fact that he had more control with me being a producer this time around. And I truly think we made the film Hunter would have wanted. I just wish we could sit down and watch it together.”
“I’m sure he would love it.”
“Yeah, well now we’ll never know,” Johnny laments. “Come on. Let’s take a swim before sunset.”
I could tell the talk of Hunter and the film was troubling Johnny as he walked toward the water. It was like speaking to a boy just doing his best to make his father proud. This film meant a lot to him. He spoke of it with such passion you’d think he had written it himself. And despite his destructive lifestyle he took this very seriously. In fact, Johnny was probably so stressed that drinking a few bottles of rum every day and doing a ball of blow were probably the only things holding him together. I followed Johnny to the water and we swam for about an hour until the sun started to fall into the sea. Johnny proved to be a strong swimmer as we raced to a buoy a good 500 yards from the beach, but when we wanted to go in we soon realized our mistake. Emerging from the water, we both collapsed on the sand gasping for air. “Now I really need a pick-me-up,” I said as Johnny and I crawled for the Freedom Jar. Johnny got there first, but offered the jar to me as he lit a cigarette and made a phone call.
“Yeah, Ocean Park. Come pick us up. Give us an hour,” I overheard Johnny say.
“Who’s picking us up?”
“The yacht. It’s on the way.” Johnny puts his shirt on and pulls a joint from the cigarette pack in his front pocket. “Let’s get stoned and watch the sunset.” We sat there silent just smoking and enjoying the sunset when two beautiful, local women passed by shooting us a look as if to say, “Wanna play?”
“Go get ’em, tiger,” Johnny said.
“Are you kidding? You’re the one they’re interested in.”
“Don’t be so sure. Plus, I’m married. I can’t be fooling around, but you…you’re single and looking and in Puerto Rico…home of some of the most beautiful women in the world.”
“Ok, I get it.” I rose to my feet and ran after the women until I was close enough for them to hear me and shouted, “Hey, you ladies want to party on a yacht?”
“What yacht?” one of them shot back.
I looked to the horizon and saw the yacht starting to emerge in the distance, pointed, and said, “That yacht.” Both girls were speechless as the yacht approached and a lifeboat was headed our way. Johnny began collecting our things as I brought the girls over to meet him. They were, of course, in awe of Johnny, but very aware of his unavailability, which he made perfectly clear. He also made it perfectly clear that I was, “A very nice, young man with no diseases and a jar full of cocaine,” as he so eloquently put it. This, of course, got the girls very excited, and I escorted both of them through the shallows and to the lifeboat. The boat turned toward the yacht and in every second we grew nearer to the yacht the more shocked I was at the immense size of the thing. I’d never seen such a big boat, and when we boarded the shock only grew. There were folks playing blackjack, craps, and hold ’em while people danced to a live band. There were scantily clad waitresses serving bottles of rum…BOTTLES! I mean they came right up to Johnny and I carrying a platter full of unopened rum bottles. Johnny took one and I took three – one for myself and each of the girls. Johnny proposed a toast to drunken debauchery and we took pulls from our rum bottles only to be interrupted by a man calling himself Mr. Smith. He was very excited to see Johnny, and he was apparently the owner of the yacht. He led us to the captain’s deck where we met the man driving this inevitable disaster. His name was Oscar, a once successful stock trader turned drunken sea-captain after the Internet bubble collapse. He fled New York due to overwhelming gambling debts and an intense cocaine addiction and was now working as captain and general assistant to Mr. Smith. Johnny and I found him most interesting, and despite his addiction, Johnny thought it would be best for him to try a line of blow.
“We need a mirror,” he said.
“There’s a giant fucker in the master bathroom,” the Captain recommended. So Johnny and I ventured below deck to Mr. Smith’s private room where we luckily found his attention focused on two lovely ladies. We snuck past the bed on hands and knees into the bathroom, and there we found the biggest, most perfect cocaine mirror I had ever seen. He stood in awe of it for a few minutes.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Johnny said between swigs of his rum bottle.
“My God. It’s perfect.”
“Well, let’s tear it down before that asshole gets bored with the ladies.” We had little trouble getting the mirror off the wall, but how we were going to get it through the bedroom was beyond me. Luckily, Johnny had a plan.
“Not to worry my good friend. We’ll have this thing out of here in no time,” he said. Well, before I knew it, there I was standing in the middle of the bedroom carrying one end of a 6 foot long mirror as Mr. Smith made it with two women. At first there was nothing to worry about as Mr. Smith had a butt in his face, but a shift in positions put us at a disadvantage. Johnny and I fell to the floor with the mirror in hand and set it down carefully.
“What do we do now?” I whispered.
“We wait,” Johnny whispered back. Knowing it could be awhile, Johnny busted out the Freedom Jar and emptied a bit on the mirror to test that the fucker was in good working order. It was. Johnny and I cut lines for about 20 minutes until we noticed a nasty smell coming from the bed. Johnny and I peeped over the edge of the bed and saw something we would never forget. While working one of the girls over doggy-style, Mr. Smith had the other laying underneath him caressing his balls…which is totally acceptable and almost expected…but with Mr. Smith’s back to us we soon found the source of the smell. Mr. Smith was shitting all over the woman caressing his balls. I nearly puked, but Johnny pulled out his phone and snapped a picture.
“What the hell are you doing?” I whispered.
“This shit doesn’t happen very often, so when it does it’s good to get a picture.”
“What for? Why would you ever want to relive this?”
“In case someone doesn’t believe you.” The man had a point. We decided it was time to move, so we crawled to the door sliding the mirror over the carpet and lifting it up once we got to the door. When we got there, the woman covered in shit went to the bathroom and Mr. Smith turned around facing the door. We were lucky we moved, but then Mr. Smith hovered over the other woman and did the unthinkable. While Mr. Smith shit in the mouth of the woman, Johnny snapped one more picture before we left.
We entered the captain’s deck to a hero’s welcome. The Captain was ecstatic that we made it out alive, and was even more excited to hear Mr. Smith was shitting all over two women. After telling the story and showing Johnny’s pictures, we set up the mirror on top of the Captain’s map table and did lines all night while taking turns driving the yacht. The Captain thought it’d be best to make a game of it, so before long we were searching for fishing boats on the water to see how close we could get to them. The Captain was last to go.
“I’ve got one in sight. Full steam ahead!” he shouted. The Captain really had the boat moving and was surely striking the fear of God into the folks on that fishing boat, but when Johnny and I noticed the Captain had no interest in stopping we braced ourselves. Just as the folks in the fishing boat jumped ship, the yacht crushed their boat and the Captain screamed, “I win! I win!” as he laughed hysterically.
Well, when Mr. Smith found that his mirror had gone missing and was disturbed by the bumpy ride he kicked Johnny, the Captain, and I off the boat. He instructed the captain to take a lifeboat to shore with us aboard and sober up. Well, we weren’t about to go without a fight, so before the Captain came aboard the lifeboat, Johnny and I grabbed the six-foot long mirror, tossed it in the boat, and we headed for land, laughing and doing lines the whole way.
When we arrived at the beach we started a fire and enjoyed the Captain’s stories about his days in New York until he took his leave and headed back for the yacht. Johnny and I shared a joint and fell asleep in the sand as the sun began to rise. It was an interesting day to say the least, but I had no idea what I was in for tomorrow.