By: Nafeesha “Flawless” Pasha and Desmond “Dmc” Carter for DRTYBSMNT Multimedia
It has been our pleasure over the years to be able to bring to both our radio and print audiences interviews from many artists and personalities that we greatly admire. This could not be more true for our next guest. We have watched and been entertained by this gentleman for many years in a multiple of classic and memorable roles on television, stage and the silver screen. With a career that spans over 50 years more than one era has experienced his dramatic and comedic talents. Sitting down with us today is Mr. Antonio Fargas.
Mr. Fargas it is an honor, a pleasure, it’s a pleasure, a honor to talk to you. Thank you so much Mr. Fargas, in case you don’t know who we’re talking to we are talking to…Well hold on a second let me just let you guys know who this man is. This is Huggie Bear from Starsky and Hutch. This is the man with the fish shoes on “I’m Gonna Get You Sucker”. This is the man Fly Guy. This is the man from everywhere you name it Martin and so much more….
Also Everybody Hates Chris. Let’s back step to that old, you know you might remember me on All My Children. If you’re into nostalgia Foxy Brown, I played a character called Link. In a film called Car Wash, I played a character called Lindy. Well you can go on and on cause I can’t even some of that stuff is so old I can’t even remember. But I’ve just been blessed that 54 years of doing something that I love and it’s been a gift. And my gift has been you know, that I’ve been able to give it to you and to share it with so many people. Not only in this country but around the world through the miracle of television and film and not even the internet.
Do people still call you Huggie Bear?
It Depends you know, people call me fly guy, they call me doc, they call me Huggie Bear. Huggie Bear was the most, I guess like a foundation in a 54 year career in film, television and theater, because Starsky and Hutch was syndicated in over a hundred countries around the world. And I always tell people, you do a play for five years but a Full House does not reach as many people as a syndicated show like Starsky and Hutch reached around the world on any given evening. So, television is a very powerful media, so powerful that no matter where I go even in Europe or you know South America, Mediterranean wherever television reach I reach people. So there is some old school folks around the world and new school because it has been continually showing around the world. In fact, when I was doing a play in England a few years ago, I had to take a taxi to the theater every night in a small town in England. They have a great theater tradition in England, even in the small town. So I was doing a play there and every time the cab driver would pick me up he would say you know what Antonio I just want to thank you for what you did for me growing up watching Starsky and Hutch, you don’t have to pay me for this fare. So it was something that they could give back to me which makes me feel like I am a very very blessed and rich man because of all the love that I’ve been given back through my participation in this business that I love.
Okay Mr. Fargas I’m gonna need the phone number for that cab company because I need me some free ride because I can’t……
You can get a ride with me. You can carry my head shot…You carry my head shot you can say hey I know Antonio. I know Huggie…
That’s what I may have to do cause I’m tired of peddling. I got to ride my bike to go everywhere. And I got to dodge traffic, sanitation truck, fire truck I try to live, so I try to be….
That’s because they don’t know who you are cause you know Antonio and he is very close with Huggie Bear so you know let me give me at ticket to ride baby.
Yes, that is what I’m talking about. Now let me ask you this Antonio. You are something else and I love your energy and I love I’ve always watched everything that you’ve done. I’m a big fan. You’ve been around for a while. You were in Blaxsploitation movies. You all don’t understand what this man has done for black actors. How hard was it for Black actors to crack into the entertainment business when you first emerged as an actor?
If I knew how hard it was I probably wouldn’t have done it you know. I was naive and hungry. And now I look back and I realize that every time you even get a job in a series it’s like hitting the lottery because everybody wanted that job. Everybody thought that it wasn’t even available so I was just like one of the young pioneers of television. As an African American to be on television starring in a series in the early 70’s when it wasn’t fashionable yet for us to be in these positions and then it got better and better on the shoulders of those who never made it to series television. When I did my first job I think I had a guest star role when I got to Los Angeles on Bill Cosby show. When he had his little cartoon. The Bill Cosby show and so it was and then he was almost the first, he was such a pioneer that he had that I Spy show when it was just unheard of. And because he was a squeaky clean and sharp cat who just came out the comedy clubs it was very palatable. It was just Sidney Poitier in film and Bill Cosby on television and then we all stand on both cats shoulders and then again it was just a it was really tough but at the same time I didn’t pay any attention to that, cause I just had a hunger for what I did. And God provided me with opportunities that I could show what I could do and gain a reputation as being somebody who could be depended on or who represented characters that were just people just wanted to see as well as characters that represented the streets with dignity and then in characters that represented the people that you know when I was like playing the kinds of roles of survivors.
Huggie Bear was a survivor. Lindy in Car Wash was a survivor. Lincoln in Foxy Brown was just trying to get along you know, just trying to make it in a hostile world. So to gain a reputation as a urban street actor who also did theater who was trained almost in the classical sense. But we didn’t get an opportunity to do those things, we didn’t get an opportunity to play decent characters until one of the biggest cats on television broke thru. Before that it was very easy for them to present the negative side of our community; the pimping, pimps and all that and survivors and all that. But eventually you know we were able to show that we could be a doctor, we could be an astronaut, we could be lawyers, I mean Denzel Washington on television as a doctor. After a brilliant theater baptism in New York and then he went once he began on St. Elsewhere it was on from there and his star is still continuing to rise and he has been such an inspiration to us. So it’s just that we came from a community where we helped each other. Living in New York was a very small family of actors who were just hungry in just doing it. And then we get a little break and we go to LA and then we come to television and movies and then we start to get a separation. Everybody is competing against the next one an all that, and its been on from all that. But that small community I found……
You’ve made it happen. You open the door and what he is saying guys if you’re listening in. It was just the beginning when these black actors were actually getting in. No matter how you got in whoever open the door for you, you kick the door in and you made it happen.
You had to be good. You had to be the best, you hear me. There were no slouches I mean we had to be better than the next. We had to be you stronger you know, we had to have the more fortitude in spiritual conviction in order to survive.
And I love that word spiritual because I hear you mention God you know and I’m not the type that always preach on the show. But you know lately I’ve been calling on God a lot and he has been answering you know and so I love I’ve been calling on and he has been answering and so I appreciate you for saying that because a lot of times a lot of people don’t understand that there is a higher power and that you have to put something out in the universe. You got to put it out there in the universe what you want. You got to believe and you got to understand that you can’t do it alone there’s gotta be somebody else to help you and in my opinion and in my heart is that man above that he’s the answer to everything. I want to say thank you.
I just found out that my life has always been spiritually guided. And like you say, I pray, I pray and God always answers it’s just sometimes I didn’t understand what the answer was but he always, he always answers prayer. And so you know my life has been a continual prayer I know he has been taking care of me relaxing and knowing that all this was predetermined before we were born. This conversation, this radio and internet and all that stuff was predetermined by that higher power. Then I go about my business, try not to hurt nobody, try to put something into the stream of life, try to put away the shopping cart, try not to get mad at the person who cuts me off you know, when I’m driving my car. I mean I have found an inner peace that came from this struggle. It came from you know, becoming compliant you know, to God’s will. Not just compliant with the handcuffs, and the things that we get addicted to and all of that not just becoming but to being compliant to the spiritual guidance, to the spiritual source of whence all this comes from. That has been the cherry on the cake of my 68 years old on the planet. My 54 years in this business.
Let me ask you this what was your favorite role what did you love the most out of everything that you did?
I get asked that question and the only thing I can go to is that each one I love each one of these roles. I don’t care if it was a small role or a larger role and I always did small roles. I just made my color of that vivid color of that character that I get a chance to show his stuff in movies and television because I wasn’t the star, but I love each one of those roles like I love my children you know, and I love all my children no pun instead. And so it’s hard for me to pick one over the other you know. It was a love for each one of those roles and each one of them was a significant part of the foundation in the matrix of the amalgam of the steel that I forged in this business and in life.
Did you just say cause you have been on All My Children but did you just say you love every last one of them roles like you love all your children, no pun intended?
Yes, yes. I love it, I love it.
I had to go there, I had to because you got me cracking up over here honey. You got me cracking up.
You’re very special you know what I mean. Every discipline requires someone who is blessed to be able to be in that position. And the way you handle yourself, the way you’re aware of the higher things and knowing how to, you know, to have that swag it’s amazing you know what I mean. You know we can talk at a certain level because we understand, there is a whole lot of things about concepts and theories, but we have to walk the walk and talk the talk. Not only just talk the talk we have to walk the walk and I feel you. I feel you and I appreciate you and you know, and I’m just really blessed to be in this position to be able to share this time on your show. What is the next thing you want to know about the Fargas?
Okay, okay cause I got questions honey. I got questions, yes I do. So I’m gonna ask you this, considering how much things have changed in the art of acting in film and theater over the past years since you’ve been, since you are a pioneer and since you’ve been in the industry. Have you ever watched a Black film as of late and thought like wow we’re still exploiting ourselves like this is Blaxsploitation in the new millennium.
Well you know it’s not exclusive to Black folks, it’s not exclusive to African Americans. Ever since the phenomena of reality television and Jerry Springer we have seen what we’re willing to put ourselves out there to do for attention or whatever it is. I don’t care if it’s you now if it’s about selfie, I don’t care if it’s about photography, I don’t care if it’s all of the things that you know that. I mean people actually believe that reality television is reality and it’s so far from reality but that’s how much we’ve been tricked and people are tricked by that. Some people believe, I mean even when I was doing soap operas people actually got into the story so much. If you’re a bad guy in the film, you know, people want to come up and hit you in the supermarket. Why did you do that to Angie, why you… People get all up in there now because they can go on the internet and behind these talk shows and they can come have all these fantasies and play them out and again it’s not just African American but I’m very concerned about my people on the spiritual level.
We talked about the spiritual it’s such a lack of spirituality, such a lack of family, there is such a lack of caring about your neighbor that I grew up in my neighborhood we did care about each other. If I did something wrong my neighbors told my parents you know, and I would get a whipping. That isn’t today. I mean you can’t even touch your kid, they’ll be calling 911 you know all those kinds of things. Babies are raising babies, there are people who are taking advantage of their kids and doing the right thing, so we do need that protection but at the same time there has been a break down in in the moral fabric and it’s not exclusive to color.
How do you stop a runaway train though. It stops with the individual cause I get so much out of the discipline when I mentioned it in just the little thing about putting away the shopping cart, about caring, about not littering. Those kinds of things are just unheard of today for people to have because you know, people do what they see. They see somebody else doing something so therefore the neighborhood goes down because people don’t care. We’re not our brother’s keeper anymore because we cant even keep ourselves in check. So it’s tough and then the industry there are no more record companies because everybody makes their own records you know, everybody you know. I mean when Motown was happening they told the artists how to dress, how to talk and how to handle themselves. Now everybody is their own manager, they can wear what they want, say what they want you know and act the fool just because they have some talents you know. People are lip syncing doing all this stuff. There is no more musicians around anymore because everything can be done by the computer.
I mean what’s interesting now and why even the musical industry has turned into that, it has to be about lies and they have so many machines and what not, that you can sound just like your record, you can talk into automatic auto tune, they put you in tune you don’t even have to be singing in tune no more because of the technology. So people who are gifted you know, the people who came out of the church you know, the Little Richard, the Al Green’s and the people who came from those humble beginnings they are no longer. I mean all we have today are these new pop stars. But once you get into the mill of having to be a superstar and be protected and all that stuff. Mariah Carey could sing her butt off but here she is lip syncing the stuff and so why should anybody care about the arts you know. All you got to do you know, is wear a short dress you know what I mean and do all these kind of stuff and all of a sudden you become famous you know. You got the Kim Kardashian you know being famous for doing a porn film and now all of a sudden…. You know it’s just amazing where we’ve come and I’m glad I don’t have that much more time on the planet. All I can do is try to be the best human being l can be and be the best artist I can be.
I am so good at what I do. I’m now a master of my craft because I’ve gone through the systems. I call it the feudal system. Maybe like 50 years ago I was an apprentice but today I’m a young master of my trade because I care about it. I’m good at what I do. I can still do Huggie Bear because nobody knew how old Huggie Bear was cause he was an old soul like you ‘re an old soul you know. We’ve been around a long time and we’ve been able to talk to people because we can communicate at this level.
Right absolutely. Now let me ask you do you think we can ever get that old thing back. Can we ever turn back time and get that old thing back?
I think it’s about memory you know we gonna have to but the beautiful thing is you know I get lost on YouTube sometimes just looking at the old performances and stuff. The band that I have got the New Jump Blues. We’re looking back cause we are giving homage to the shoulders that we stand on in terms of those musical giants of the new jump blues era and it’s refreshing you know. What’s good about what we do in terms of that band that I talked about which can be found on the New Jump Blues.com or on YouTube look up the New Jump Blues and also our new Jump Blues cd can be purchased on I tunes The New Jump Blues. Just plug in Antonio Fargas, the New Jump Blues and all that stuff comes up.
It’s based on live musicians. It’s based on relationships and talking about songs that make sense. Pop music lost itself, I mean we were rhythm and blues. Blues talked about I lost my baby and I found my baby which is why I even have a great respect for country and western music because it’s the way Rhythm and Blues and the Blues used to be. It talks about heartaches and all that other stuff and it ain’t talking all this pop stuff and you know what I mean all this. There ain’t nothing wrong with rap and all that because it’s some very intellectual stuff you know, it’s cutting edge. I mean some of the groups like Public Enemy and the old school cats you know, who were putting it down or Ice Cube, Ice T and Ice Cube and some of the other pioneers of rap, Tupac that was some, that’s some deep, deep stuff. But it also was getting away you know. It was interpreting what was the black reality you know, the civil rights movement. It’s the pain and the suffering and the loss of innocence, not caring about your community, slinging drugs or using women you know talking about pimping as if it’s like some kind of pop you know fun time. People don’t really know what pimping is about they don’t even know what hoeing is about you know, it’s just I can go on and on baby.
I could listen to you talk all night and for days because I’m getting so much, so much knowledge from you and I appreciate it and all the jewels that you’re dropping right now.
It’s all available. You know sometimes I’ll be sitting in a restaurant and somebody like come up to me with their “I thought that was you”, before you use to be able to get away when people want to take your picture. You didn’t have a camera sometimes they say will you wait here while I run to the store and buy one of them disposable cameras. Now people come up to you with their cell phones. They say this is you because they google you on their smart phones and then they want to take a picture. Lots of times they don’t even know how to put the flash on, on these wonderful devices that they have. But you can’t get away no more so you know, being a public person is a responsibility.
Well see that’s what happens when you’re famous cause ain’t nobody never come running up to me talking some oh I knew that was you. Now, now on that note…. (laughter)
Well they just don’t know. See the stars are in you know the people, the great singers are not always the ones that are making the records. The great humanitarians are not always the ones that are getting the noble peace prize you know. There are people who are doing it on the front lines doctors, and teachers, and people who need the praise and even police believe it or not. I mean the job that they have to do under the stress that they have to live under with people who are having a breakdown of society. You have what you have today you know, you have inhumane demands and it goes through all different cultures and all different occupations. I know some very bad people who are in my business and there are bad apples everywhere. But at the same time I do do have a respect for the essence of what religion is about. Every religion is about love but people take it you know radical this and radical that and they take it over there and do all this other stuff. You know it’s tough out there. It is hard to recommend my business to people but at the same time if you have an hunger to be an actor then hopefully you’re gonna be willing to wait on tables to do whatever you need to do to support that hunger to support your dreams but if you just want to become a star because you need to get millions of dollars, I don’t care if you’re an athlete, or an actor, or musician you got to pay your dues. You got to have respect for the craft, you got to study. People want stuff instantly they think anybody can act like Fly guy or think it’s easy to do that. I have a craft that I study for years in order to do that, in order to make it look like you can just step off the streets and do what I do. And then you get people stepping up to me because they play football all of a sudden they starred in a movie you know what I mean and they don’t know how to spell Hamlet you know or Shakespeare. And believe me that I’m not bitter either you know. I’m just telling you like it is.
Interview conducted by Nafeesha “Flawless” Pasha and Desmond “Dmc” Carter for DRTYBSMNT MULTIMEDIA