Cheech Marin holds a prediction for America, and it has nothing to do with marijuana: "I always say, 'Hey, if you like tacos, you're going to love the next hundred years.'"
I'm talking to both Cheech and his comedy partner, Tommy Chong. They're the country's foremost icons of cannabis culture, but let it be known that Chicano pride also figures into the mix of their latest comedy tour, Get It Legal, which hits the Pikes Peak Center on Oct. 15.
"Get It Legal also pertains to the immigration problem that Cheech's people face," explains Chong, 72. "It was a double meaning, not only pot but immigration."
But mostly just pot. After all, in just a few weeks back in their home state of California, Proposition 19 will give residents the chance to vote for legalization.
"I think it'll pass," says the 64-year-old Cheech. "And once it does ... I think all the other states will fall in line and it'll happen in the courts. It's semi-legal, quasi-legal now — it's legal in 14 states for medical purposes — and it's kind of like being quasi-pregnant."
So, you either are or you aren't?
Well, Chong says the signs are pointing much closer to "are" than ever before.
"We're really close to it. And I think the reason it's been so long getting it legal is because there's never been like a push to [legalize], really ... Potheads are very passive people, so we don't fight, we'd sooner just smile and laugh at everything. But having a ... uh. I forgot my train of thought."
Cheech picks up where he leaves off, reasoning that marijuana is hardly the worst among Americans' favorite intoxicants. "Let's put it this way: They don't have a big surge for medical beer."
"You know what's really interesting," adds Chong, "is that the right wing of the Republican Party are all pro-legalization. Because I guess anything the Democrats oppose, the Republicans are embracing."
"There's a saying," Cheech says, "that goes, 'This is the greatest treason: to want the right thing for the wrong reason.'"
Of course, pegging GOPers as all for legalizing is not exactly true, but it begs the question: Are there any right-wingers who Cheech and Chong believe would benefit not only from legalization, but utilization?
"Well, definitely Bill O'Reilly," says Chong of the FOX News personality. "He should have gone to pot therapy."
On the other hand, says Cheech, "Rush Limbaugh is a big Cheech and Chong fan. Every time I see him at a golf tournament, he comes right up to me: 'I've listened to you guys all the time, right from the beginning. I love you guys.'"
And that's one thing they say has changed about their audience since they started back in the '70s. When asked what kinds of new faces they're seeing at their shows, Cheech replies instantly: "Rich white people."
"Last year when we were playing in Detroit ... drunk white guys in suits [were] trying to get on stage, and I go, 'What is happening here?'"
Whatever is happening, it's happening all over.
"There's a joint being smoked in every movie," Chong says. "It's almost obligatory. That's how mainstream it's gotten in our culture. Pot became middle-aged!"
"The whole pot culture is way more widespread now than it has ever been before," says Cheech. "When we look at the audience who comes to see us, it cuts across all socio-economic, political, age, religious preference — all those lines.
"Liking Cheech and Chong is like liking butter."
In Colorado Springs, Chong expects that the varied audience will make the show even better. "You've got Mexicans in Colorado Springs, right? And you've got servicemen, Air Force, so that's the only mix we need. We need young guys that can't smoke, sitting next to Mexicans and hippies that can smoke, and everybody's enjoying themselves. Perfect mix."
Cheech agrees: "Whether they're stoned, straight, drunk, religious ... it doesn't matter."
"We represent the good times," says Chong. "When people come to see us, it's not about revolution, it's about laughing at stupid things. And that's what we do."
The costumes were amazing and added to the brilliant production.
The striking colors and textures are reminiscent of Southern Colorado and New Mexico. Lovely work.