It’s January 10, 2016. My head is swimming. I’m labeling Boost-Mobile phones, accessing unsent messages in draft format and setting up anonymous email addresses because I sure as hell don’t want my friends knowing I’m talking to that piece of shit Sean Penn.
They call him an “Academy Award Winner” and “Ambassador-at-Large for Haiti,” but here’s my question: why is this man—who has so much to work on, and so much responsibility on his shoulders to the people of Haiti—doing wasting a bunch of time and capital to back-channel talk with, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, a reputed drug lord who would literally kill people if their drug shipments didn’t come in on time? Is this all just to make a weak-ass argument about the futility of the drug war?
Couldn’t he have made that argument without spending all that time, money, and effort running around to send a murderer a bunch of vacuous questions?
I had to find out.
I contacted my friends at Queen Mob’s, who allowed me to reach out to Sean Penn to find out why his self-righteous ass was so convinced that his Rolling Stone interview with El Chapo would do anyone any good rather than just make people hate Sean Penn more than they already do. (By the way, is it just me or did it take like three months for him to go from a good looking surfer dude to a withered old raisin?).
Through back channels and my contacts, I finally met with him. He hadn’t slept in days and smelled of pot and tequila, probably vices he reconnected with in Mexico.
We didn’t have a lot of time. I didn’t want to be caught talking to Sean Penn, there’s no way my friends would forgive me.
We shook hands, and agreed that I would send him questions, and he’d respond via video. His assistant was there, and since Sean Penn had no idea how to use a laptop, nor a smartphone, nor anything besides a rotary phone, his assistant assured me once Mr. Penn was completely lucid—which might be days or weeks—he would ensure the video was sent to me on a burner phone. Our exchange was met by glares and confused eyes from Mr. Penn, who looked at us as though we were speaking Mandarin.
Mr. Penn looked around his hotel room, mumbling things about the drug war, Haiti, Shanghai Surprise, and if I thought Madonna was “still fuckable.” I ignored him and worried about the open windows to his room and the chance I’d be seen with him, and quickly finished writing my questions. I then politely excused myself.
It took a while, but finally the assistant sent me back the video of him asking Mr. Penn my questions. Here are the responses:
Are you a reporter?
No. I like to rough reporters up, but I’m no reporter.
Why did you go through all that trouble to talk to El Chapo?
Because as Ambassador-at-Large for Haiti I thought this project would do nothing at all for the country I’ve been entrusted to work with. No one, ever before, ever, has mentioned the futility of the drug war, so I thought I would go through all these great lengths to talk about it. At the same time, I wanted to help a magazine that’s in desperate need of attention and relevance, while being derelict in my duties.
Do you see anything in common between yourself and El Chapo?
(uneasy laugh) A few things. Our violence towards people… although I just rough them up, like my ex-wife and a couple photographers… I certainly don’t just shoot people point blank in the face like my buddy! And our carefree ability to bite the hand that feeds us…. El Chapo takes advantage of Mexico’s weak political system, while I get the perks that come with having celebrity status in the United States and still bitch and moan about the country I live in.
Why do you think people dislike you so much?
Well, I guess for starters my face looks like an old catcher’s mitt. And I suppose it’s the same reason people hate a lot of celebrities. In Hollywood we all live outside the law and can do whatever the fuck we want without any consequence. And if our star power fades, we can do more outrageous bullshit, and then get attention for STILL getting away with not facing any consequences for our behavior.
Shouldn’t you be more worried about Haiti, which you took an oath to serve, rather than going through all the hassle of meeting a person who is a main contributor to drugs in the USA, and a convicted murderer, just to make a statement about the futility of the drug war?
(uneasy laugh again) Shit, probably. Hey… do you think Madonna’s still fuckable?
Christopher McMullin is a rejected writer for Poetry Magazine, and made a guest appearance on the Bozo the Clown show when he was 5. He resides in Michigan.