WASHINGTON, D.C. — 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the single most famous address in the United States, has been the home to 44 of our 45 presidents (it remained under construction during George Washington’s two terms), as well as countless celebrity visitors.
For the most part, famous figures drop by the White House as part of an organized event that’s often in their honor or as a special guest and/or supporter of America’s commander-in-chief.
The luminaries listed here, however, also took the opportunity to absolutely inhale under the same roof as the Oval Office.
1. WILLIE NELSON IGNITES A “BIG, FAT AUSTIN TORPEDO” ON THE ROOF
Country music mega-star Willie Nelson is known world wide for a few unmistakable things: his singing and songwriting genius, his long locks (which are often braided), and his endlessly active advocacy of marijuana.
In 1977, Nelson ate dinner the White House with President Jimmy Carter, who loved the Texas troubadour’s music. Afterward, Nelson said, an “insider” invited him up to the roof to see D.C. at night. Nelson later wrote of the smoky visit:
“Sitting on the roof of the White House in Washington, DC, late last night with a beer in one hand and a fat Austin Torpedo in the other … Certain philosophical questions come to mind, like… how the f–k did I get here?”
Nelson also added, “I guess the roof of the White House is the safest place to smoke dope.” [Noisey]
2. SNOOP DOGG SMOKES A BONE ON A WEST WING BOWL
In all of hip-hop — a music and culture that’s rarely holds back on the topic of getting high — no icon is more instantly associated with smoking weed than Snoop Dogg.
In 2014, rapper formerly known as Calvin Broadus told Jimmy Kimmel that he toked up on a White House toilet while in D.C. to attend a Kennedy Center event, stating:
“I said, ‘May I use the bathroom for a second?’ And [Secret Service said], ‘What are you gonna do, number one or number two? ‘I said, ‘Number two’… So I said, ‘Look, when I do the number two, I usually, you know, have a cigarette or light something to get the aroma right.’ And they said, ‘Well, you know what? You can light a piece of napkin.’ I said, ‘I’ll do that.’ And the napkin was this [holds up a joint].”
Kimmel spoke for many when he responded: “This is some story!” [Us Magazine]
When planning the May 1970 party to celebrate her “debut” in high society (pun not yet intended), Tricia Nixon, the 24-year-old daughter of President Richard Nixon, requested a live performance by her favorite pop-rock group of the day, the Turtles.
Led by puckish pair Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman — who performed with Frank Zappa and as a duo under the name Flo and Eddie — the Turtles raced to bring a dose of psychedelic anarchy to the archly square Nixon White House.
Before the show, Secret Service officers nearly shot the band on sight after they mistook a ticking metronome for some kind of time bomb. Once that got cleared, the Turtles proceeded to get wasted. Kaylan wrote:
“One member of our crew still had a few tricks up his sleeve, however, and not only did I get to take a few precious tokes of his mystery stash before the show started, but we were able to actually lay out lines of coke on Mr. Lincoln’s desk. As the powder flew up my nose, I wondered if this was exactly what the founding fathers had in mind. Land of the Free, indeed. Well, I felt free and on top of the world.”
Mark Volman, always the more outwardly rambunctious of the twosome, also reportedly hit on Lucy Baines Johnson, the daughter of the previous White House occupant, in front of her husband. [Ultimate Classic Rock]
4. GARY MCCLAIN, NCAA STAR, SNORTS RAILS BEFORE MEETING REAGAN
Throughout the 1985 NCAA basketball championships, no star on the court played better or shone brighter than 21-year-old Villanova point guard Gary McClain. Just two years later, McClain would lose a Wall Street job and enter a drug-treatment program.
After getting clean, McClain revealed that not only did he use cocaine throughout the Final Four games, but that he also tooted up when the victorious Wildcats met President Ronald Reagan at the White House, saying:
“I was standing in the Rose Garden, wired on cocaine. President Reagan was welcoming my teammates and me at the White House and giving his little speech about how inspirational our victory was. And the cocaine had me floating in my own private world …. I was standing a couple of feet behind him, looking in his hair, thinking, this guy has more dandruff than your average man. Thinking thoughts like, I could push him in the head, just a little tap, and make news across the world. That’s how high I was.”
At the time, First Lady Nancy Reagan was deep into her “Just Say No” campaign regarding drug use, particularly among young people. Perhaps at some point, McClain came down enough to notice the irony. [AP]
5. MR. BLOW: DAVID CROSS SNORTS COKE AT WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS DINNER
The annual White House Correspondents Dinner is a light-hearted affair, where politicians, members of the press, and professional funny people take off the gloves for one night and have a blast making fun of one another.
In 2009, Mr. Show comedian David Cross took the opportunity to have another kind of blast. Sitting, he claimed, “65 feet away” from President Barack Obama, Cross snorted cocaine, telling an interviewer:
“It wasn’t even that much cocaine. It was literally the size of, I don’t know, a tick. It was a tiny granule of coke that I put on my wrist and said, ‘Watch this. I need a witness. And then I ducked under the table and did it. It wasn’t like I got high. The jolt was similar to licking an empty espresso cup. It wasn’t about that. It was just about being able to say that I did it, that I did cocaine in the same room as the president.”
Cross later made clear that he wasn’t “ashamed” of the stunt, but did regret the effect it had on his then-fiancée, Amber Tamblyn. He said, “Because of that, she’ll never be invited to the White House again. That’s not cool.” [Hollywood Reporter]
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Main photos: Willie Nelson [Wikipedia]/Snoop Dogg [Wikipedia]