"CHiPs" Chat Transcripts: Prodigy Chat with Erik Estrada
The following is a transcript of a May 23, 1997 chat with Erik Estrada on Prodigy

Moderator
We're glad you could join us for tonight's chat...ERIK ESTRADA starred as Frank "Ponch" Poncherello on the hit TV show "CHiPs" back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The show made Erik a national star and sex symbol. In fact, in 1979, People magazine named him one of "The 10 Sexiest Bachelors in the World." Erik also starred on the highly successful Mexican soap "Dos Mujeres, Un Camino." Please help us welcome Erik Estrada!!!

Erik Estrada
Bienvenidos. Hello to everybody out there! Welcome to online! I'll answer any kind of question. Happy to oblige.

Moderator
And we're happy to ask the questions, Erik!

Let's get to our first, from CKinkaid...

CKincaid
Do you keep in touch with your CHiPs castmates?

Erik Estrada
I see Robert Pine at the gym, occasionally talk to Harlin on the phone, who played the mechanic. The last time I saw Larry was when he was at my home for our Christmas open house two years ago.

Moderator
Erik starred as Frank "Ponch" Poncherello on the hit TV show CHiPs. The show made Erik a national star and sex symbol. In fact, in 1979, People magazine named him one of "The 10 Sexiest Bachelors in the World." He dominated the cover, which also featured Willie Aames from "Eight is Enough"...

Brian67
Hi there. After playing a cop for so long, Do you get a lot of offers to play a cop still?

Erik Estrada
It seems that I do always get asked to be a cop, in movies or TV. I sort of welcome a good "bad guy" role sometimes.

Arguille
DO CHIP'S FANS STILL WRITE YOU FAN MAIL?

Erik Estrada
Oh, yes. Because of CHiPs being in syndication, I still get quite a bit of mail, and I get quite a bit from overseas because it is quite popular in foreign countries. CHiPs was dubbed in 87 different languages.

Moderator
Erik also starred on the highly successful Mexican soap "Dos Mujeres, Un Camino." He received an ACE Award (Latin Press) for his performance, and was also recently honored with a Golden Angel award for Lifetime Achievement in Television at the First International Television Films Festival in Nice, France.

CKincaid
What role are you most proud of?

Erik Estrada
My first movie was called The Cross and the Switchblade, in which I portrayed Niki Cruz, who is now an ordained minister. There were many roles I have enjoyed, but Ponch is the max, until today.

Moderator
If you're just going us, we're chatting live with actor Erik Estrada! Submit your questions now...

Baba Gee
Did you speak spanish before starting your soap.. or did you learn it as you went along?

Erik Estrada
Actually, I grew up in Spanish Harlem, NY, and, as a child, I spoke nothing but English in the streets because I always had a job after school, and I lost all manner of Spanish. When the soap came up I enrolled myself in Berlitz, eight hours a day one on one to learn how to speak and read Spanish. While in Mexico I just kept getting better at it.

CKincaid
Hi! How did you get started in the business?

Erik Estrada
Actually, I was going to become a New York city policeman. From the age of nine to the age of sixteen I was going to be a cop. It just so happened that at the age of seventeen I stepped on a stage and I loved it. I tell about my life from the age of two years old until the age of forty-eight in my autobiography, "Erik Estrada, My Road from Harlem to Hollywood."

Brian67
I use to watch CHiPs all the time, and I loved the show. Have you always rode a motorcycle, or did you have to learn?

Erik Estrada
Actually, I had to learn to ride a motorcycle when I got CHiPs. They had to put me through a course. They had a gentleman named Scott Wilson come from the Police Academy give Larry and I a course, but Larry already knew how to ride.

Moderator
Erik has co-starred on TV shows from "Martin" to "Cybill" to "The Nanny," which earned the highest rating that CBS has had in that timeslot in two years for his appearance!

morleysafer
Do you ever turn on CHiPs and just sit and watch it? It's on twice a day where I live!

Erik Estrada
Oh, yeah. I get a kick out of it when I watch it. Sometimes I sit there and wonder, "was that me?" The seventies was a great time in this country...post war, pre crack, pre gang banging, it was a fun time in this country. There wasn't the problem with AIDS and other types of disease out there.

jonnytwo
Erik, what was it like going from American TV to Mexican TV? Any big differences?

Erik Estrada
There is a difference. One, in language, and two, in Latin TV soaps you don't have to memorize your lines, they are fed to you in a little receiver in one ear and a microphone in the other ear, and you hear your dialogue and every other actor's dialogue as you are going. It's not an easy technique to learn, but I had to.

south5
Erik-How long have you been acting?

Erik Estrada
Well, I have been acting now at least twenty-eight years. I have been up, I've been down, I've been under and around and through!

Arguille
do you have any kids?

Erik Estrada
Yes, I have two boys...for now! Brandon, who is nine, and Anthony, who is eleven. And I hope to have many more children.

Moderator
Many? : )

SelltheBuick
Are you married? Did you get a lot of offers when you were on the cover of People mag. as one of the sexiest guys? (I still have the issue!)

Erik Estrada
{lol} I wish I still had that issue! No, I am not married now, I am engaged, and I am looking forward to marrying my best friend. We have been dating for seven years and she's a really terrific lady.

Comedylang
Hi erik! Saw you on Viva Variety! You were hysterical! Was that fun to do? Do you like performing comedy vs. drama?

Erik Estrada
I really enjoy comedy. It's not a known fact that I have a really good sense of humor and I love comedy. When offered to do the Viva Variety gig in drag I thought it would be really cool, as long as it was done in a really funny way. The people were great and it was a blast. I kept the wig...no, just kidding.

blndbomr
Mr. Estrada, It is nice to meet you, are you currently working on any shows or movies?

Erik Estrada
I'm on my book tour with my autobiography right now and have been all month. I can be seen this weekend on Talk Soup. I will be on Rosie on the 27th, and Ricki Lake the same week. I will be doing a movie in the fall called Operation Desert Gold, to be released next year. It's only a 3 or 4 million dollar budget, so I don't think it will be a blockbuster, but it's what I do. Thanks for asking.

Moderator
If you're just joining us, we're chatting live with actor Erik Estrada! Submit your questions now...

morleysafer
Do you cook? What's your fav. kind of food?

Erik Estrada
I cook to some extent. I really like lots of kinds of food. As a young man I didn't care for vegetables much, but now I really like grilled or steamed vegetables with a little bite or kick to it.

zWeaponkill
What do you do in your spare time????

Erik Estrada
Actually, I have started to develop quite a few hobbies, and in the last few years I have discovered power tools....I am about ready to invest in a lawnmower...am I getting older or what? I like skeet shooting, the shooting sports...I am into miniature trains, and building all amusement type rides. Rollercoasters, ferris wheels. Now my latest hobby is cement and flagstone and tile work.

CA 4 ME
where do you live ?

Erik Estrada
I live in Southern California. I live in the same house I purchased in 1979. Before that I lived in New York City.

south5
Was "CHIPS" actually filmed on the roadways of California, or was it filmed on a studio lot?

Erik Estrada
All the interiors were done inside MGM, but all the exteriors were done on unfinished portions of the freeway, and a lot was done in Long Beach, CA.

Moderator
If you (or a friend) miss any part of tonight's chat, just JUMP: transcripts in a few days to see a complete account of tonight's chat!

south5
What was your first acting job?

Erik Estrada
A movie called The Cross and the Switchblade. My first play was called Dark and the Moon, where I played John the Witch Boy.

Moderator
Erik is currently co-host (with Laura McKenzie) of "American Adventurer," an exciting syndicated travel-adventure series. Check your local listings...

Moderator
Speaking of which...

ZappaGod
WHat's the best part of doing American Adventurer?

Erik Estrada
The traveling, the stuff that you don't see on camera. The laughs that we have, visiting different countries and states. It's a fun gig. In a matter of five days we can do ten shows. It's a real cake job.

SxyGirlfrnd
Hi Erik! Welcome to computer land...Tell me, how did the members of the band 'Butthole Surfer' approach you to appear in the creative video for the song Pepper..(you were great in that!)

Erik Estrada
I have a young manager and he thought it would be very cool to put me in a contemporary music video. I asked him the name of the group and he said the Butthole Surfers, and I said "WHAT?!" I said he'd better let me hear the song, and if I liked it it wouldn't matter what the band name would be. I like the song and we did it!

Moderator
Erik appeared in the video, as did drag queen Erika Strada... It's true!

Saved4Him
What about a CHiPs reunion?

Erik Estrada
Hopefully, now that we're in the 20th year of the first show...it might be doable. But, in reality, you gotta have a studio wanting to go for it. We'll just keep our fingers crossed, and you guys just keep hoping and praying like I do, and we can do one and have some fun.

CA 4 ME
Hi Erik, How can I get a signed copy of your book ?

Erik Estrada
{lol} Where are you calling from?

SxyGirlfrnd
Is it discouraging there are so few good roles for hispanic actors today?

Erik Estrada
It's sort of discouraging, but you've got some good TV parts going on. Jimmy Smits, Eddie Olmos, Hector Elizondo, they're playing positive parts. We need more parts in the movies, but you've just got to keep trying. In action, you just get to be the bad guy, but if we just keep trying, it will happen, hopefully in my lifetime.

LeVoyage
Its the Good News Gang again!! How's Nana???????

Erik Estrada
The Good News Gang are a great, great gang! I love them! I will be calling soon, I'm on my way New York, I have been very busy but will be in touch soon. Nana is great! My best to you, and best to your Nana.

DA BOMB 486
why did chips go off the air

Erik Estrada
Because MGM had six years of CHiPs episodes and what they wanted to do was complete sales for product syndication. When they pulled us off the air we were still in the top 20. Then they sold MGM. They were in the business for a long time and looking to get out. I was lucky to get CHiPs, to have that.

Novo730
were you on any other show before chips?

Erik Estrada
I was in a lot of episodic TV. Guest spots on Beretta, Kojak, Hawaii-Five-O...a lot of episodes before I was able to land the role of Ponch.

Moderator
Since then, Erik has co-starred on TV shows from "Martin" to "Cybill" to "The Nanny," which earned the highest rating that CBS has had in that timeslot in two years for his appearance!

LeVoyage
Have you ever worked on a small puppet show and if so tell us exactly what your experience was and how much you miss those people!! {tee hee}

Erik Estrada
I do miss them, and I want to go back and do some more with these puppets! They were great...I miss the puppets, especially the Tom Selleck puppet that I was fooling around with!

Goldwingnut
Hello ERIC, I was recently in southern TX and caught your spanish Soap opera...how long have you been doing this?

Erik Estrada
The soap opera was supposed to be 100 episodes, a total of four months. Latin soaps don't go forever, usually just 100 episodes. We went 157 hours, a year and a half, and it was lucky for me. The number one rated soap in Latin America, and still number one in reruns.

Mechie1
I saw you on an episode of the show "UNhappily Ever After". You portrayed yourself as kind of washed up and attention hungry. Were you comfortable doing this?

Erik Estrada
I didn't have a problem with it. I thought it was funny, and comedy is basically laughing at yourself, or ranking on somebody else, and I prefer to make fun of myself. I didn't have a problem with it, I thought it was fine.

I don't have that kind of ego that doesn't allow me to laugh at myself. I think laughing at one's self is very theraputic. And, besides, I been there and I done that and I got the T-shirt to prove it!

Goldwingnut
ANY new TV Series in the works

Erik Estrada
There are two things in the works. One is a possible sitcom with Kathy Ireland, and an already signed deal with Douglas Kramer for a show called Miami Muscle. Like everything else, I'm ready to go, but they've gotta do what they've gotta do to get it goin'.

SxyGirlfrnd
What is your favorite movie of all times..and what is your current favorite film now?

Erik Estrada
I have a great many movies that I have enjoyed. When I was a kid I enjoyed watching Yankee Doodle Dandy...I enjoyed the westerns. There are too many great films to choose one. Now I'm a member of the Motion Picture Academy so every year I vote on the Oscars, so I see so many terrific films, so I wouldn't be giving you an honest answer if I picked one. One of my favorites is the Godfather Series, I also love Shine, and, of course, the Lion King.

Good4Fun
Is your soap dubbed in English for those of us who don't know spanish?

Erik Estrada
Actually, Rupert Murdoch who owns 20th Century Fox, bought it and aired it all over Europe in several different languages including English, but it doesn't air in this country in English.

Moderator
Erik starred on the highly successful Mexican soap "Dos Mujeres, Un Camino." He received an ACE Award (Latin Press) for his performance, and was also recently honored with a Golden Angel award for Lifetime Achievement in Television at the First International Television Films Festival in Nice, France.

Suzie1
I saw you on an episode of "The Nanny". Was that a fun show to work on?

Erik Estrada
Actually that was the first thing I had done since I finished my soap opera. That was a really special thing for me, because it set a precedent for me, because I was blacklisted in TV in Hollywood after CHiPs because I took on MGM for my profit participation. It was also special for The Nanny, because it was the highest rated Nanny. That says a lot about my having to go south to do what I love. Life can be a tough thing, when you have a dream and you chase it and you still have to fight for something you earned under contract, and have the rumor around that you won the battle but lost the war. The Nanny was great, it kicked butt.

Moderator
We've got time for a few more questions for Erik! Stay tuned...

Goldwingnut
Do you still ride a motorcycle in you private life?

Erik Estrada
As a matter of fact, yes. On the cover of my autobiography is my bike, it's a Harley. Every year I ride for a couple of charities, especially one in Atlanta called The March of Dimes Ride for Healthier babies.

CKincaid
Can you PLEASE say hi to Beth, Terri, Gerri. Debbie and Maria,?

Erik Estrada
A big hug and a kiss, to Beth, Terri, Gerri, Debbie and Maria! Who loves ya, baby!

YDomenech
When your watching CHIPS do you ever feel that then and now that violence on TV has gotten a lot worse?

Erik Estrada
TV has gotten more sensationalistic, of course. I think CHiPs was the last of it's kind. Violence is definitely in TV, because it's really in every day life, now. The movies have really gone in that direction, so TV is a close second.

Moderator
Let's all thank Erik for being with us tonight...

Erik Estrada
Thank you all for calling in, I really, really appreciate your time and energy, and spending this time with me. It was really my pleasure. Remember to always follow your dreams, go for your goals, and to search for your heritage and background, it will give you a sense of self you can't get from cars, women or song. Tu amigo siempre. To get an autographed picture or book, send a request, or a book, SASE, to Erik Estrada, 11288 Ventura Blvd., Box 446, Studio City, CA 91604.

Moderator
There's your answer, CA 4 ME!

Moderator
If you (or a friend) missed any part of tonight's chat, just JUMP: transcripts in a few days to see a complete account of tonight's chat!

SONGPEG
Like everyone else, Erik, I love you!!!

noTRALIno
Thanks Eric

Moderator
Thanks again everyone and goodnight!

Chat transcript is copyright © 1997 Prodigy Services Corp. All Rights Reserved.
Thanks to Bryan Hoch for providing the transcript.