Las Vegas

Richard Abowitz on pop culture

Every time I talk to Artie Lange his professional success seems to grow alongside his personal turmoil. These days he has quit heroin but tells me he is sticking to a heavy mixture of drinking, gaining weight and, when possible, lots of gambling. He estimates that between the day I first met him in June 2006 and today he has gained more than 100 pounds. He won't go to a doctor though he is worried about his health

Yet, at the same time Lange is bigger than ever commercially: He commands $100,000 (at least) a night for his stand-up comedy appearances and does a steady stream of television and movie work. And, of course, Lange remains on the  Howard Stern show Monday-Thursday. Asked why he doesn't gain more of a foothold of sanity with so much to lose, he says: "If you are famous and you have money there is no incentive." This is what it is like to be Artie Lange these past months. Oddly, the latest drama in his personal life and success in his professional life both begin with his sold-out show at Carnegie Hall at the end of last year. Here is Lange, in his own words, on how that night changed his life:

"Why wasn't Jackie Gleason healthier? Booze and broads and you know. If you're famous and you have some money, chicks don't care if you are fat. I did a gig in Pittsburgh last week and got laid. If I was able to meet a girl in Pittsburgh, Vegas should be a slam dunk. The night I played Carnegie Hall on November 9, I broke up with my girlfriend. Since then I banged eight chicks, a couple of them multiple times. For me, that is a torrent pace. That is like a chick a month. In Vegas, on Super Bowl weekend, I banged a stripper. And I am the type of guy where, in Vegas, if a chick is hot enough, I'll pay for it, too. I don't mind a whore. I'll pay for a broad if she is hot. We'll see what happens when I come out there.

"Playing Carnegie Hall, though, was a big deal professionally. That made my stand-up money go through the roof on the road. That led to playing all these 3,000-5,000 seaters. I make $100,000 a night now on the road. I played Carnegie in November. The first big gig I booked after Carnegie Hall was $50,000 to play this theater in Miami. Then my agent called, and there was a little bidding war going on to get me in Vegas for Super Bowl weekend. I draw people like me. People who drink too much and are shitty gamblers. The Luxor gave me $200,000 for two nights. I remember going home with the 2G in my pocket thinking, that is pretty good. Now it is up. If I do 3,000-5,000 seats, it is now always at least $100,000. I can't turn that down. That kind of money is crazy. It all started with selling out Carnegie Hall in two hours."

Artie Lange will be performing (and, looking for love in all the wrong places) at the Hard Rock on Saturday night. Tickets and information: 474-4000.

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