Arnold at the Tribeca Film Festival last night.Photo by Getty Images
Tom Arnold once wrestled a woman in Afghanistan. He knows how to tell if his family’s been smoking crystal meth. Sometimes he kisses men. These are just three of the things Arnold told us last night at Pace University, where he helped kick off the Tribeca premiere of The Final Season, his feel-good movie about a baseball team in small-town Norway, Iowa. What else did we learn about Arnold, who arrived with his brother Chris as his date?
1. Norman Rockwell didn’t use chalk.
“My brother Chris is gay, but he’s from Iowa. His first boyfriend was black, so my parents didn’t know what to be mad about, so they weren’t mad about anything. He lives in Scottsdale now and he puts [his homosexuality] in people’s faces, especially my family. I once bet him $10,000 that he never slept with a woman. But we tracked down a woman — my sister who’s in prison now had this skanky friend who would sleep with anybody — who had sex with him. So what I did is, I gave him $2,500, and a $7,500 painting I bought from a homeless guy who said it was a Norman Rockwell. This was when I was married to Roseanne and I had a lot of money. I found out later Norman Rockwell didn’t work with chalk. But it was worth $7,500 to me, because that’s what I paid for it. So that’s what he got.”
2. Don’t lend your family money unless you know what it’s for.
“My brother’s got a really good job. My family has to go through him to get to me for money. He always makes them prove that their power was shut off in their trailer. ‘Oh, your power is shut off? I’m looking up your power bill on the Internet. What is your number? What is your landlord’s number? He’s really kicking you out? I want to speak to him.’ So if they don’t send him the information, he knows [the money’s] for crystal meth. That’s how he protects me. He’s smarter in areas that I’m not smart.”
3. Pro-gay-marriage doesn’t necessarily mean pro-monogamy
“Chris always has a boyfriend. About the gay marriage thing, I keep talking about it with Arnold [Schwarzenegger]. Because my brother’s against it. Because [if it’s legalized], then he’s going to have to get married. And he says he sees the way it worked out for me and every other … But, I say ‘No, you don’t have to. You just keep your relationship as it is with [your boyfriend]. It’s good.’”
4. Sometimes talking dirty is patriotic …
“I was over there [in Afghanistan]. Let me put it this way: The last thing I did over there was see people killed. I mean, it’s a different war in Afghanistan than Iraq. Like, in Afghanistan, the locals aren’t fighting each other. They’re with us fighting the Taliban. And they’re really nice people. The people I met were smart and nice, and, you know, I never heard an anti-Semitic word — of course, I never understood a word anybody said.
“I felt like I had to do whatever [the soldiers] wanted. I slept about an hour a day. It was supposed to be G-rated comedy: Men over here and women over here, very separate. Well, the comedy, as it starts going — you know, guys got shot. They pulled me out and said, ‘He just got shot a half hour ago, his best friend was killed, can you go cheer him up?’ So I got all my old Roseanne jokes, I showed him my tattoos, I’m doing everything, and he’s laughing. I get his mom on the phone. I talked dirty to his mom because he wanted me to. I mean, I broke so many rules.”
5. … and sometimes wrestling is patriotic
“A woman came up, she was waiting in line after we had done the show, and had on knee pads and shorts, and she wanted to wrestle me. She was the No. 1 wrestler in the Marines. I had three broken toes, by the way, but that doesn’t matter — it’s a chick! You can beat a woman or you can lose to a woman, you don’t really win either way. But the soldiers started — the men — started cheering for me. So anyway, I was like, ‘I will wrestle you. Do you get down, like Olympic, or whatever?’ And before I could turn, she had me by the throat. It’s a martial-arts thrust. If I moved my neck down, she would have had me in a hold that chokes you and you have to tap out because you can’t breathe. So we’re on the floor, and I’m sweating, and the one move you’ve got to do if you want to win at wrestling, is go under here [motions to the crotch] and lift them up and over. You have to put them on the shoulder blades, you know what I mean? I tried to avoid that, because she’s a woman, but in the end, it was me or her. I went up under and slammed her down and pinned her. And she was like, so excited about it. So she stayed around and said, ‘Oh, Tom is so great. What is he doing later? I’d like to spend a little more time with him. I’m still a little wet.’ And then I go to Dax Shepard, the actor, ‘Dax, what is our commitment to the troops? How far are we supposed to go?’ And the major general — who is always so stiff — he goes, ‘Mr. Arnold, you have your men over here, and you have your women over here. The person you just wrestled is somewhere right in here [in the middle]. So I’m going to let it go. It was just good to see my men laughing.’ Because we were just, getting shelled everyday.
6.… and sometimes making out with soldiers is patriotic.
“When my brother comes to L.A., I take him to West Hollywood. We go to all the [clubs], and if there’s a band, I’ll get up and sing, I’ll play. You’ll see pictures of me kissing soldiers. It was totally inappropriate; a lot of those women are commanders. So I’d say, if they want to mess around, I better do it with a guy, too.” —Bennett Marcus