Bill Maher Interview for Elle - Wise Guy: Bill Maher

Locating le mot juste to describe Bill Maher can be taxing, like trying to order a pizza with your two buddies, the vegan and the Teamster. The 54-year-old Maher's loyal fans might label him provocative visionary, perhaps even prophet.

Others—namely George W. Bush and the evangelists Maher taunted in his 2008 God-denying documentary Religulous—might start with putz.

We'll just take the easy way out and refer to the host of HBO's Real Time With Bill Maher as controversial. But here are a couple of indisputables: Though he might not admit it, Maher costarred with Mr. T and Gary Busey in 1983's D.C. Cab. He's also logged many an hour partying at the Playboy Mansion.

Starting this month, his show—with its psychedelic mix of guests, including Salman Rushdie and Ashton Kutcher—will air Fridays on HBO (an hour earlier, at 9 p.m.). Another big change is afoot: That commitment allergy of his seems to have been cured, and all it took was some love and heavy metals.

ELLE: What famous woman did you fantasize about the most as an adolescent?

BILL MAHER: Barbara Eden from I Dream of Jeannie. You didn't see bare midriffs in the late '60s on TV. I think it was only allowed because she wasn't human. She was vapor, and of course you can't fuck vapor.

ELLE: What's the angriest you ever saw a woman?

BM: I was engaged to a woman who whizzed a pool ball right at my head. It could have killed me.

ELLE: Yikes. Was this in public?

BM: No, this was in my dining room, where I had my pool table at the time

ELLE: I suppose the fact that you had a pool table in your dining room might explain why your fiancée was so angry.

BM: Well, that's true.

ELLE: If you had a do-over with any event with a woman, what would you try again?

BM: There was a girl I was crazy about my senior year of high school, and I visited her at college. We slept in the same bed, but I was intimidated by her, so I didn't try anything. I was too young and dumb to understand that women want you to take the lead. I never made that mistake again. I think with women, once you blow it once like that, you're out. And if you watch any of those old shows like Elimidate, you see that it's the asshole who wins or comes close. The shy one's always eliminated first.

ELLE: You seem like a guy who wouldn't be shy about asking for what he wants. Could you trace that quality back to that college girl experience?

BM: No. I was never a guy who had the facility to cold-talk to a girl. Even up to age 30, I was still making friends with guys who could do that. I think one of the reasons people want to be famous is that it's finally a solution to that problem. At a certain point, you no longer have to say, 'Hi, I'm so and so' to a girl.

ELLE: But does it bother you at all to think that women approach you because of what you are, rather than who you are?

BM: No, because I think who I am is what I am. If a woman wanted someone for superficial reasons, there are people younger, cuter, and richer than me.

ELLE: What male celebrity had the kind of game that you've always been in awe of?

BM: Warren Beatty was the hardest-working. If he wanted to get a woman, he'd just work at it endlessly. He never acted like he was great looking, rich, or famous, which of course he was. He acted like a guy who had to work really hard.

ELLE: You've been single long enough to have developed serious game. Explain your most trusted methods.

BM: I've never been a worker. If it doesn't happen easily, I've never had the patience to be there for the long haul, especially when women withhold sex. If you're attracted to a man and you're having a good time with him, take it to the next level. To me, when a woman withholds sex, it's like she's saying, "I have nothing else that could possibly interest you, so I have to embargo my vagina." All this is moot now that I have a girlfriend. Hopefully I'm over ever having to date again.

ELLE: Holy crap! Bill Maher is spoken for?

BM: I'm not saying I'm getting married. I'm just saying I have a steady girlfriend—and you have to think it's going to last. And we share the same beliefs: We don't believe in God, marriage, or living together.

ELLE: I saw photos of this Cara Santa Maria. She's beautiful, but isn't it awkward kissing a woman with a lip ring?

BM: No, I like piercings. I find them sexy almost everywhere they are. And if you've never been blown by a girl with a tongue ring, you're missing something. There's just something about metal.

ELLE: I'll seek a special dispensation from the wife. Has a woman ever said anything mid-sex that made you unable to continue?

BM: This didn't make me stop, but years ago when I was on Politically Incorrect, a very attractive girl on the road ended up in my hotel room. While we were doing it, she said, "Will you sing something to me?" I realized she thought I was a singer.

ELLE: Which singer? You think she mistook you for Glen Campbell?

BM: I don't know exactly. Apart from that instance, women wouldn't typically go to bed with me just because I was famous without any idea what I was famous for.

ELLE: John Edwards has been on your show five times. I feel like he botched the handling of his sex scandal like no politician has ever botched one before. If he had sought your advice before vehemently denying the whole affair, could you have counseled him on how to save himself politically?

BM: I don't know if he could have saved himself, but he could have made it better if he'd just owned up to the whole thing right away. That's the only thing you can do in America. David Letterman proved that. He showed everybody what to do when you get caught. You get it out there and call yourself creepy before anyone else can. And the same thing with Bill Clinton. He should have just come out and said, "I fell off the wagon. It happens to married people. A lot of you out there have gone through the same thing and know how hard it is to keep a marriage together for decades.' I don't know if John Edwards could have saved his career. But he could have said, "I'm sorry, I feel terrible about it, but I made a baby.'

ELLE: I can't help but feel that he has to be something of a sociopath for going on 20/20 and so vehemently denying he fathered the baby.

BM: It's in politicians' default mode to always lie about something like that because it's such a deal breaker with the American public. It shouldn't be. We should be more like France or some sophisticated European country. Clinton's first instinct, too, was deny deny deny. But that's a gamble, because if the truth does come out and you're shown to be a liar—then you're really gone.

ELLE: Knowing Edwards a bit, did it disappoint you?

BM: Way less than most Americans were disappointed by it. I find America to be such a childish nation when it comes to its puritanical sexual views. Let me tell you something. John Edwards and Eliot Spitzer are two guys that the Democratic party and the country could really use right now. Edwards' big issue was poverty in America. And Eliot Spitzer was the Sheriff of Wall Street. And why did they get drummed out? Because they got their winkie dinks caught in the cookie jar. So what! When so many people in this country face the same issues, it's so hypocritical to say these guys can't be in public life. I understand it's not admirable to cheat on your wife, but the question that I've always asked about someone who's been married a long time and who gets caught cheating on his wife is, What do you want this person to do? To me, there are only a few alternatives. One: cheat. Two: dump your wife and marry a trophy wife. Is that really better? The third option seems to be, just suck it up and suffer. You haven't had sex with your wife in years, so you should just go through your life in this sexless, miserable existence. None of these are good options, but to me it's unrealistic to think the "suck it up and lead a sexless life' option is ever going to happen.

ELLE: Please speculate on the lovemaking styles of fellow broadcasters Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity.

BM: Whatever goes on in the minds of these conservatives sexually is driven so deep underground that when it does finally surface, it's usually a lot weirder than what normal people do. Hannity criticizes me for being a libertarian but secretly wishes he were me. What a man thinks about when he masturbates tells you more about who he is than anything. I think what you'd see in the minds of both these guys would make you want to put a bullet past your tongue.

ELLE: On your show, you created an uproar among so-called “lactivists.” When discussing the breastfeeding mother asked to cover herself by an Applebee’s waitress, you compared breastfeeding to public masturbation. Would you have had an issue if she’d covered herself?

BM: Not as much of an issue. But the idea that my mother would have ever breastfed me in public is unimaginable.

ELLE: You do realize babies need to eat every couple hours.

BM: Is it a big deal? No. But don’t they have changing rooms and bathrooms?

ELLE: You’ve always denied rumors that you and your verbal sparring partner, Ann Coulter, ever dated. But you once called her “a witty drinking companion,” which made me wonder whether you two had perhaps enjoyed a drunken tumble?

BM: That’s ridiculous. Somebody being witty has no effect on if I want to sleep with them. I don’t think I got laid during my first two years at Cornell, and even then, when I was horniest, I never went to bed with an unattractive woman because I was drunk. My method was to go home, masturbate, and plot to get better women.

ELLE: This seems like a non-denial denial.

BM: Believe me, I have never slept with Ann Coulter. I couldn’t go to bed with someone as politically abhorrent. First of all, conservatives are conservative sexually, and I don’t think they even have casual sex. I have no idea how James Carville and Mary Matalin do it.

ELLE: Conservatives are all sexually conservative? Hooey. I bet there are some latex outfits in Mary Matalin’s closet.

BM: I agree. But I’ve never wanted any of that tying-up stuff. I would never want a woman’s hands tied. I want them on me.

By Andrew Goldman

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