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Michelangelo: An exclusive one-on-one interview with the former ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ star

The 38-year-old reptile sits down with TheComedyPage to discuss his new book “Coke & Cowabunga: The True Story of the TMNT”

It is a mild afternoon in January and we are sitting outside a Greek café in the Lower East Side. Michelangelo, or “Mikey” as he is known to his friends, leans back into his chair as the waitress brings us our drinks. “Bacardi and diet?” she asks. “Right here” says Michelangelo. The now more-than-slightly-portly turtle explains that he is under strict doctor orders to watch his waistline. “My mom had diabetes,” he says. “Gotta watch what I eat. Getting a little cramped in this shell.”

A small crowd of teenagers hustle by us on skateboards. Michelangelo smiles as if reminiscing.  He moved into this neighborhood two years ago after his divorce. “It’s still a melting pot after all these years.” he says. “No one seems to think it’s strange that a giant mutant turtle is walking around. It’s nice to be able to go out and get groceries without some yuppie pissing his pants when they see your tail.”

Crisply dressed in a Tommy Hilfiger button mock sweater and jeans, he seems to relax a bit more as he sips his drink. “Some kid called me ‘Raph’ on the way over here. Really? After all these years? I know, he was just a kid, but still, Christ man. I’m the orange one.”

THECOMEDYPAGE (TCP): Do you still keep in touch with your brothers?

MICHELANGELO: Oh, yeah. Just saw Donnie last week actually. Everyone is living in the city again, which is cool. Once Splinter was diagnosed (with Alzheimer’s) we all decided it would be best if we were closer to him.

TCP: How is Splinter doing?

MICHELANGELO: Pretty bad-he can’t remember anything from the last 20 years. He still thinks he’s human. One of the nurses called him a rat and he jump-kicked her into his armoire. That was a mess. He even believes Oroku (The Shredder) is still alive and is his best friend. He’s always like “When’s Oroku coming by?” and I just want to tell him “Dude, ol’ Shred Head is gone.” Editor’s note: Oroku Saki died during a prison riot in 2003.

TCP: How do they feel about you releasing this book?

MICHELANGELO: They haven’t said anything but I can tell they’re uneasy. But I think once the read it they’ll see there’s nothing to worry about. All this shit went down a long time ago man, and we were kids. At least we turned out better than those Partridge Family brats.

TCP: It’s brutally honest. The rampant drug use on set was staggering. Is it safe to say that you were high during most of the series?

MICHELANGELO: Well let me be clear: I never wanted to do that damn show. I knew nothing good would come of it, and contrary to popular opinion I’m a private dude. Give me some comics and a Steve Martin record and I’m good for the day. But we needed the money. Living in a sewer gets old after awhile. It’s hard to pick up chicks when you live in a sewer. You’re like ‘Wanna come back to my place? Just ignore the river of shit outside my room, baby.’

That being said, yeah, I was pretty lit most of the show. We all did weed, that was no big deal. Even Splinter was into it-he would go away to “meditate” and an hour later he would stumble out of the dojo with bloodshot eyes. Splinter could fuck up a plate of sushi when he was stoned, let me tell you. He saw it as a healthy way to relax, but in no way did he condone my heavier drug use.

TCP: When did you start with the cocaine?

MICHELANGELO: I think it was during the second season. Casey (Jones) introduced me to it while we were waiting for Cory (the dwarf who played “Krang”) to get into that big ridiculous suit of his. People seem surprised when I tell them Casey did blow. I’m like ‘Really? The dude was 30 and had no job, no family, and ran around in hockey gear at night. How is this surprising?’ He always claimed he got kicked out of pro hockey because of an injury. I don’t think anyone ever bought that shit.

Donatello and Michelangelo get high during a break filming their first movie.

TCP: So at what point did you realize you had a problem? Did your brothers stage an intervention?

MICHELANGELO: No, that never happened. Leo likes to claim that he tried to get me into rehab but that’s bull. Truth is we were all so caught up in our own hype that even though we spent all day together on set, we were never really close to each other. Frankly I didn’t think I had a problem ’till I realized I had no money. Like, nothing. I had blown everything on coke. Plus, I was surrounded by hanger-ons who were always hitting me up for ‘loans.’

TCP: What did you do when you realized you were broke?

MICHELANGELO: I whored myself out man. Do you remember all that shitty merchandise? That was all my idea. If someone offered me money to put my image on something I said yes, no questions asked. Someone recently e-mailed me a link to an eBay bid for a ‘Sewer Surfin’ Mike’ action figure. Do you fucking believe that? I must have been coked out of my mind to approve that shit. It’s kind of funny now though. I bought one and now I keep it on top of my toilet.

'Sewer Surfin' Mike'

TCP: When did you finally decide to seek treatment for your addiction?

MICHELANGELO: Right after the third movie was released, the one about time travel. God that was bad. I caught it on Starz a few years back-I don’t think I had ever seen it before. It was unbelievably bad. I can’t believe they put it in theaters. (laughs) Casey was so messed up during that movie, they didn’t even let him time travel with us. His ass never left the sewer. (cont.)

Michelangelo at a NYC strip club in 1990. He famously went through $10,000 in one night.

I know it sounds weird but I couldn’t tell you why I decided to go into rehab. I think I just got to a point where I realized that if I didn’t quit soon I would be turtle soup before I was 25. I mean at one point I was sleeping in the Party Van on a nightly basis. Some crazy, ultra-illegal shit went down in that van. But, once I kicked cocaine I never looked back. Been clean since ’93.

TCP: That’s great. So what are your plans for the future?

MICHELANGELO: I’m hoping to use the money from the book to start a charity for troubled teens called “Shell Shocked.” I’m working with Corey Feldman and other former child stars with a history of drug abuse. I’m going to auction off some stuff from the show and I’m expecting to raise a lot of money from that.

TCP: That’s awesome, congratulations. Thank you so much for sitting down with us.

MICHELANGELO: My pleasure. Party on, dude.


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