If you have the chance to listen to one of Howard Stern’s old interviews, don’t, the radio icon advises. If you have one of his previous best-selling memoirs, “Private Parts” or “Miss America,” Stern advises, “Burn them.”
Famous for asking celebrities about their sex lives, Stern regrets the shock jock he was.
“I was an absolute maniac,” he recalls of his career’s first couple decades. “My narcissism was so strong that I was incapable of appreciating what somebody else might be feeling.”
He adds: “I have so many regrets about guests from that time. I asked Gilda Radner if Gene Wilder had a big penis.”
Of course, he hasn’t changed that much. His new collection of interviews and reminiscences is titled “Howard Stern Comes Again” after all.
“That was a conscious decision,” Stern, 65, says in an interview with The Post from his Long Island home. “I was almost going to call the book ‘Howard Stern: The Interviews’ or something. Then I said, ‘Wait a second, that’s really not reflective of who I am.’ Because while we’re doing these interviews . . . in the next minute, you know, we might be doing our fart humor and having people throwing up on one another.”
“My sense of humor hasn’t changed,” he said, before referring to his old superhero character. “I am Fartman, I don’t deny that.”
What he does deny, or at least has moved away from, is outrageous for the sake of outrageous.
He recalls unfortunate on-air encounters with George Michaels, Eminem, Will Ferrell, Carly Simon and others.
“Possibly my biggest regret was my interview with Robin Williams,” he said, recalling when he badgered the star about having left his wife for his son’s ex-nanny.
“I’m not proud of my first two books,” Stern writes. “I don’t even have them displayed on my shelf at home. I think of them, and of the interviews I did with my guests during those first couple decades of my career, and I cringe.”
Stern began facing his demons in the late ’90s — by finally seeing a therapist. Today he’s happily married, he paints, he gets along with publicists.
“I really wanted to get out there and tell people that psychoanalysis works, to not be afraid,” Stern said. “It took me five years to call this psychiatrist I saw. I didn’t want to admit I needed anyone. I didn’t know what it was all about. I found it incredibly intimidating.
“In fact, one of the reasons I included Bill Murray in the book… he sums it up by saying, ‘You take a good hard look at yourself and sometimes you don’t like what you find.’ And that’s true.”
But, Stern said, “when you do, real profound change can happen.”
Even though he was in therapy up to four days a week, it took Stern 20 years to “work up the nerve” to call Williams to apologize — but the comic died the day after Stern sought out his number.
“I’m still filled with sadness over his loss and remorse,” Stern writes.
He reports he has made “amends” to many others.
So does Stern consider himself to be in recovery?
The book has a section titled “Drugs & Sobriety” that includes talks with Bradley Cooper, Miley Cyrus, Slash, Scott Weiland, Chris Cornell and many others.
And while Stern writes, “I’m not a drug guy,” he told The Post: “If anything, I’m addicted to people. And what I mean by that is I’m addicted to the spotlight. I’m addicted to getting attention from people. And a lot of those things come from being very starved in a way. I’m actually surprised I’m not obese — because I need to fill myself — but I’m filling myself with people.
“There’s no difference between a drug addict, an alcoholic or gambling [addict], or people addict. I tried to get the audience’s attention in so many ways that’s it’s a struggle. I mean, what are you really looking for with all of that? Sure, you want to be an entertainer, but there can be room for other people on the dial. There’s got to be some balance in your life.”
He recalled that when he was on terrestrial radio prior to jumping to SiriusXM in 2006, Stern’s station did a study that revealed one in four drivers on the Long Island Expressway was listening to him.
“And I got depressed,” Stern told The Post. “Now that’s an amazing accomplishment, and yet I thought, ‘Well, why are the other three cars not listening to me?’ Now that’s called an addiction. That’s an addiction to attention … That’s a pretty sad statement. So yeah, I think likening it to recovery is a fair way of looking at this.”
He also suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder, which he says made writing the book excruciating.
The book of interviews is also the result of a cancer scare in 2017, which the warts-and-all DJ kept private from his listeners.
“It is weird for a guy who admits so much on the air not to admit that,” Stern told The Post. “I ultimately was glad I didn’t, because I really needed to just kind of process the whole thing.”
He recalled: “I was having a hard time coming to grips with my own mortality, and also when I went back on the air a week later, I was having a lot of difficulty after the surgery. There was a discomfort. I had had seven incisions in my abdomen. [I didn’t] want the audience to be like, ‘Oh, he didn’t have a good show today . . . He’s uncomfortable from his surgery.’ I didn’t want that to enter into the performance.”
(During his hospital stay, he recalled, “I was afraid the New York Post would find me . . . I was nervous about it. I did take some precautions. Not many. But I certainly tried to keep it on the down low.”)
A growth on his kidney, which his doctors thought had a 90 percent chance of being cancerous, turned out to be a benign cyst. But the scare made him think about his legacy.
“I wanted one great thing that I could hand to somebody and say, ‘Here’s what I’m doing. Here’s what I think I’d like to be remembered for.’ When I had that cancer scare, I was like, ‘Oh, wow, I’m not going to live forever.’ I hadn’t even considered it [before] . . . I just figured, ‘Oh, I’ve got a lot of time.’ And I don’t. I feel like I could walk up to somebody, hand them this book and say, ‘This is what I’m up to now.’ ”
He added, “I guess in a self-serving way, I’m attempting to reach some people who either didn’t come to satellite with me, or people who aren’t fans of mine.”
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