The highlight of the Trailer Park Boys' recent Still Drunk, High, and Unemployed Tour stop in Oakland, California came about midway through. John Paul Tremblay, who was very much in character as "Julian," invited fans of the long-running Canadian comedy franchise to come up on stage and buy a $10 hamburger. Hundreds of drunk and stoned fans took him up on the offer, handing over real money for real meat, along with a chance to get some quick face time with their working class heroes. The line only abated after Julian had cleared, by my estimate, about $1,500 cash. And it only ended because he ran out of product.
Now, to the uninitiated, literally stopping your show to sell overpriced burgers to the audience hand-over-fist, and then spending that windfall on booze and pot, may sound like a greasy way to go through life. But fans of the series—which started with a low-budget independent short in 1998, and has since spawned eight TV seasons and three feature films—wouldn't have it any other way. Not just because we've shared so many laughs and good times with Julian, Ricky (Robb Wells), Bubbles (Mike Smith), and the other denizens of Sunnyvale Trailer Park over the years, but because we've also shared copious amounts of love, hope, friendship, community, and an old-fashioned kind of solidarity you don't often see on television these days.
Also, let's be honest, even the boys' more illicit capers—from growing and selling dope, to bootlegging Russian liquor—are actually far more honest hustles than what the rest of society does for a living. Because whether you're a greeter at Walmart or a financial analyst at Goldman Sachs, most of us work, for the man, while these three best buds manage to get by on the margins—at least when they're not in prison.
Ricky grows the finest herb in Eastern Canada. Julian runs an unlicensed bar in his living room. Bubbles "finds" broken shopping carts, fixes them, and then sells them back to the mall. And, of course, all three star in an altered-reality show perhaps best described as Cops from the other side of the story.
Two years ago, the principal actors acquired the rights to Trailer Park Boys for themselves, and then subsequently signed a deal with Netflix to produce new episodes going forward. Still proudly made in Canada, the show's ninth season will premiere on March 27, with at least one additional season already in production.
Since the boys only do press in character, I caught up with Julian, Ricky, and Bubbles earlier this week by telephone from Sunnyvale Trailer Park, as they prepared to indulge in the first joint of the day.
You guys just toured the US, and now you're back in Canada—so who's got better weed?
Julian: They call it medicine down there, or they use these fancy names. I'd rather just call it weed. If it gets me high and I'm happy, that's all that matters.
Ricky: I've always thought our dope was way better, but I don't know, the last couple trips down there, I've been pretty blown away—especially in Colorado and places like that where's it's legal.
So then are you still against legalization?
Ricky: Well, legalization sucks for people like me trying to make a living growing it, but you can get a lot better quality stuff and it's a lot more available. I've got mixed feelings on the whole thing.
Legalization is emerging as a pretty big election issue in Canada, how is that playing out?
Ricky: Yeah, well, the dick that's in power now [Prime Minister Stephen Harper] is against it and his opponent, who might or might not be a dick [Liberal Party of Canada Leader Justin Trudeau], is for it. So hopefully, he'll get elected.
And if marijuana is legalized in Canada, how will you guys replace that income?
Ricky: My stuff is way better that any shit the government can grow, so I'm not really worried about it.
How'd the rest of the tour go? What was the greasiest experience you guys had out on the road this go around?
Bubbles: Probably the strippers that Julian picked up. It was the first time we performed in Vegas and it got out of hand. Julian had about 40 strippers hangin' off him.
Were they fans of the show, or how did you get them so interested?
Julian: They thought we had lots of money.
Do Americans recognize you more now that you're on Netflix?
Bubbles: Oh absolutely, everywhere we go people buy us drinks and give us free dope. And ladies come up and smooch me and grab my wiener!
Bubbles: Not really.
You've got season nine of the show coming out very soon. What are some of the highlights?
Julian: I was close to retiring again, which was awesome…
Bubbles: It's hard to talk about the upcoming season, because the people with the—you know, that edit it all together—we don't get to see it until it goes up on the TV, so we've learned over the years that a lot depends on what they use and what they cut out.
Do you like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black and some of the other shows they make?
Ricky: Bubbles has been trying to get me to watch that stuff, but I find it very hard to follow. It's just, I don't know, written by a bunch of people who think they're too goddamn smart and it drives me crazy. Bubbles likes it.
Bubbles: I like the shows, but I wish Netflix would give me a goddamn free account.
They're making you pay every month?!
Bubbles: Well actually, J-Roc's got it rigged up, he's foolin' the thing somehow, so I mean we get it, but it would be nice to not have to do that, cause I love all of those shows.
Who negotiated your deal with Netflix that you didn't even get a free account? Who is your representation in the industry?
Julian: I was worried about making money, not free accounts. It's $8.99 a month, isn't it?
Bubbles: Yes! That's a lot of money!
Julian: I was trying to get us hundreds of dollars, not $8.99.
Bubbles: You could have just said, "Oh, by the way, I need a free fuckin' account."
Julian: I'll try next season.
What will you guys do when the new season premieres online? Do you get the whole trailer park together and binge-watch?
Ricky: Yeah, it'll be a big party, I'll probably have about 50 joints rolled, and Julian's got a bunch of booze, and were just gonna get lit up.
Axl Rose is a big fan of the show, right? Think he'll show up?
Bubbles: I just talked to him a couple days ago. He sent me a platinum record for Chinese Democracy. It's awesome.
You performed with him once, right?
Oh more than once, I went on tour with him and played about 80 shows all over the world.
What did you do on the tour?
Bubbles: I got up on stage at the end of the night for the encore. Axl and I would sing a song I wrote years ago called "Liquor and Whores." It was fantastic. And Axl has this whole touring thing all figured out. He's got a private jet, all the booze you can handle and ladies around. You know we usually tour in Ricky's car, but for this last one we got a nice big bus—that's a trick I learned from Axl.
Ricky: We also just talked to Snoop a couple of days ago.
Julian: He says he wants to come to the trailer park and visit, so we're hoping he does.
If you were going to host Snoop at Sunnyvale, what would the preparations for that be like?
Ricky: We'd roll up a shit-ton of joints. All hands on deck rolling joints.
Bubbles: And hopefully Snoop would bring the party himself. Snoop rolls big, right? We did his show and he gave us 200 bucks each straight from of his pocket.
Did Snoop give you anything else?
Julian: Two-handful's of dope each.
Ricky: It was really well done, whoever was growing that.
Do fans often bring you gifts?
Julian: In addition to tons of dope and liquor, we've gotten bongs, clothes, hats, knives—all kinds of crazy shit.
Bubbles: I get sweaters and socks that people knit with kitties on them.
How are your kitties doing? It's been a tough winter in Nova Scotia, right?
Bubbles: Yes, very tough winter, but they're all doing great. I got a nice little wood stove in my shed, so we all huddle around that and it's awesome.
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