THE PUBLICIST: In the media relations arena, no one can rock like the Nuge

As I mentioned last week, some stars approach the publicity water trough only after their slipping stature makes them thirsty for attention. Not Ted Nugent. Since bursting onto the scene in the '60s - playing ear-splitting rock and roll on a jazz guitar - the Nuge continues to court the media as both knight and jester.

As I mentioned last week, some stars approach the publicity water trough only after their slipping stature makes them thirsty for attention. Not Ted Nugent. Since bursting onto the scene in the '60s - playing ear-splitting rock and roll on a jazz guitar - the Nuge continues to court the media as both knight and jester.

An avid hunter and personal-liberties advocate, Nugent has ridden a wave of conservative media to become a leader of the "firearms lifestyle" and bio-diversity movement. With his PR savvy and rapid-fire onslaught of anti-liberal platitudes, he's a formidable front-line soldier in the cultural war. Preferred weapon: the press. Basically, the Nuge will talk to any journalist willing to listen. Even me. And I emphasize listen. You don't interview Nugent. You turn the tape recorder on and hope it won't start to smoke. I ran into him during his concert tour with ZZ Top and queried him about his publicity-friendly attitude. "In a single week," he says, "I did Letterman, Conan, the BBC, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Larry King, Michael Savage, Howard Stern, and about 70 radio interviews, not to mention papers like The Wall Street Journal. We reached a billion people worldwide. And I was on tour at the time!" I listened enviously while recalling difficulties I've had in getting stars to do one interview during a four-month shoot. "I shatter stereotypical expectations," he says. "The PC contingency assumes I'll be a perfect foil. Instead, I give them the rope they dangle around their necks." Let's be clear: Nugent is sufficiently self-enamored to express a desire to perform anatomically-challenging sex acts upon himself. Unquestioning in his political beliefs, he takes sharp aim at many targets during our chat, including Bono's Third World missions. "Not one African got a grain of rice after Bono left," he says. "But as a hunter and hands-on conservationist, I've helped establish a program in Africa where indigenous people are fed surplus wildlife harvested by hunters - experts who can manage these resources." Soup kitchens and the Salvation Army have lauded Nugent's similar program for the US' homeless. Such philanthropy and a PR juggernaut have turned the longhaired, loin-clothed singer of Wang Tang, Sweet Poontang into a darling of religious, gun-advocacy conservatives. Is he the pied piper of pistol-packing pioneer politics? Or is he just fiddling while Rome burns?
  • Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer

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