As one half of 70’s stoner comedy duo Cheech and Chong, “Cheech” Marin, 75, has successfully reinvented himself as an actor, musician, activist, author, art collector and marijuana entrepreneur. (He recently teamed up with chef Zach Neil to launch Muncheechos, a nationwide virtual brand for stoners run out of ghost kitchens.) Thrice married, he tells SENIOR PLANET how he’s happiest at home in Los Angeles cooking for Russian pianist wife Natasha Rubin and his family:
Q: What do you think fans would be surprised to know about you?
CHEECH: That I’m a good cook. Many years ago I cooked in hotels in Canada. I learned all the basics and can make just about anything. I still do today. I’m the cook in the house and make dinner every night – because I want to eat what I want to eat. It’s the best way to guarantee it.
Q: What’s your secret to aging with attitude?
CHEECH: I smoke weed all day and avoid all exercise. I think that’s the key. You can decry it all you want but here I am!
Q: There must be more to it?!
CHEECH: Well, my wife and I walk together every day wherever we are, and I do Tai Chi most days which is really good for circulation. Also I recently started not over-eating, eating a lot less than I used to, so I’ve lost weight and feel more energetic.
Q: Do you eat a special diet?
CHEECH: My worst nightmare is that I wake up and I’m a vegetarian. That scares the hell out of me. It would be like boarding an alien ship. I like food and eat everything.
Q: Do you still get high every day?
CHEECH: No, I go through long periods where I’m not smoking – just meditating instead. I’ve been into meditation since I was 19 years old. I had a second knee replacement recently. For the first one I was prescribed opioids which made the healing process a lot longer and didn’t really lessen the pain. Also I had to beat an opioid addiction by the end so that wasn’t good. So for the second knee replacement, I discovered Dabs, concentrated marijuana which looks like taffy, and that took the pain away without any side-effects. After two months, I was fully healed. I’m not saying its gonna work for everybody but it worked for me.
Q: Have you ever considered retiring?
CHEECH: Every time I say I’m gonna retire, I get more jobs – so I’ve figured out the strategy now to not say I’m gonna retire and then the jobs will stop coming I think.
Q: You have so many interests, but Chicano art has to be one of your biggest passions?
CHEECH: Yes, I’ve been studying western art since I was 11 years old but I discovered Chicano art when I was married to an artist (Patti Heid) who introduced me to Chicano (Mexican-American) painters. I recognized how good they were and wondered why they weren’t getting any shelf space in museums so I started down that path.
Once I had a big enough collection, I began looking for ways to exhibit it so I’m excited for the opening of The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture & Industry opens in Riverside (CA) on May 8.
Q: How often do you see Tommy Chong?
CHEECH: I saw him yesterday. I was over at his house doing Tik Tok stuff. He lives in Pacific Palisades just down the street to me. Weirdly enough, we’ve always lived near each other, no matter where. He moved to Paris, I moved to Paris. He moved to Malibu, I moved to Malibu. So now we’re neighbors again. Next he’ll move out to Joshua Tree so we can live close there too.
Q: What’s up next?
CHEECH: I just returned from Winnipeg in Canada, doing a Bobby Farrelly comedy called Champions with Woody Harrelson. I’ve known Woody a long time from when we did a play together in San Francisco while I was doing Nash Bridges on TV so we’re pretty close. He and I are pretty much on the same plank!
Q: You famously didn’t used to be fluent in Spanish. Has that changed?
CHEECH: I’m a lot more fluent now than I ever was. It came about after I started going to Costa Rica for a month at a time where I was forced to speak Spanish and so my Spanish improved. It’s not perfect but it’s much improved. But I’m not as talented as my wife who speaks six different languages fluently.
Q: The world mourned the passing of Betty White although she holds a special place in your heart?
CHEECH: Yes, I got to know her when we did Golden Palace together. You could tell her any joke and she would just laugh her ass off and right away run to her manager and tell him that joke. She just had the best sense of humor and was so light and airy.
Q: What makes you happiest?
CHEECH: My family. All my kids and my wife – ex-wives even. I try to make sure everybody is happy and see that everybody gets what they need in life – an education, a roof over their heads, food. My youngest daughter came over yesterday and we spent the day cooking, just me and her. That was cool. I have four kids. Three live in LA although my eldest daughter lived in Colorado with her husband and my three grandkids. It’s nice to be close to them all.
Photo credit: Melissa Richardson Banks