Caryn E. Johnson: Recovering Heroin Addict Runs for President

October 5, 2015

Would this be what the headlines read if Whoopie Goldberg were to actually run for President? Maybe, maybe not, but according to her, this type of ridicule and past life investigating is what keeps her from doing so.

Caryn Elaine Johnson a.k.a. Whoopie Goldberg, got her nickname from a whoopee cushion, because she farted so much. Born in New York in 1955, Goldberg was dyslexic, she dropped out of school, left home, slept rough for a while and became addicted to heroin. A drugs counsellor helped her get clean, but by the age of 20 she had married him, given birth to his child and got a divorce. She worked as a bricklayer and a makeup artist in a morgue, while trying to make it as an actor and stand-up comedian (having taken Goldberg as a stage name in honour of Jewish forebears). Then Steven Spielberg saw her one-woman routine about ET and cast her in The Color Purple. “I turned it down at first,” she has said, “because nobody wants to suck.” But she was mesmerising as Celie, the lead in a film that changed the way black actors were perceived.

Whoopie tells the Guardian UK, “It's great to see Barack as president, but there's a lot to get done and he really is in the stuff. There's no money and everybody's out of their minds and pissed at America.”

There are now higher hurdles. “It is an almost impossible job, not least because of the damage done by George Bush. Never before has America been so alienated. For a little while there we were like, 'Fuck the rest of the world, we don't need you.' But we do. They tried to dismantle the UN and get rid of Nato. I mean, who did we think we were?”

Not that her anger is confined to the former US administration. “I saw the leaders of Germany and France saying the crisis was a defeat of America. You gotta go, 'Whoa dude, what are you talking about? Your bankers saw the problem and went, 'Hey, stop that you'? No. They all deregulated and got as much money as they could, then said, 'It's not working, see you, bye.' As usual, the people on the lower half of the ladder get fucked. It's always been that way, but it has never been so … despicable.”

No wonder windows get smashed, but mention of that makes her fret. “Yell and scream all you want, but to destroy stuff? It's not one bank, or the people; it's a system of banking that's the problem. Also, if you start to break the windows, that means its OK for the other guys to come and break down your door.”

Whoopie has thought about running for office, but says there are “still skeletons in the closet” and fears attacks of the kind the Obamas faced. “Everybody was freaking out about his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, saying, 'God damn America.' They were saying he's a racist. I said, 'Yeah, he's a fucking racist. He went and fought in world war two, came back and had to ride in the back of the bus. He's pissed. If you know your history you know there is a certain generation of black folks who are not happy. If you pretend that that is a shock then you're full of shit too.'”

“Last year Danny Glover, a co-star in The Color Purple, told me he was worried Obama would turn out to be just like any other career politician. I don't think he's right,” says Goldberg. “Will Barack Obama turn out to be what everybody wants him to be, this messiah walking on water? That, I don't think will happen. Is he going to try to get some shit done? Yeah. Is he gonna work his ass off? Yeah. I just want to see somebody try. After the last eight years, that's all the fuck I really want.”