AOL Chat with Erik Estrada

The following is a transcript of an April 30, 1997 chat with Erik Estrada on America Online

OnlineHost: EstradaE has entered the room.
OnlineHost: Copyright 1997 Oldsmobile; licensed to America Online, Inc.
OnlineHost: AOL Live is the largest gathering place on the service, bringing celebrity guests right into your home, and offering a host of entertainment events led by a team of talented emcees. It’s capable of accommodating thousands of guests and is truly the showplace of the America Online service.
OnlineHost: Your hosts tonight are AOLiveMC9 (Marilyn) and AOLiveMC5 (Meg).
OnlineHost: Erik Estrada’s talents and personality have captured the imagination of audiences worldwide for two generations as a result of his six years starring in the world renowned television series, “CHiPs” as well as being discovered by a whole new generation and culture who know him as “Johnny” from the #1 international series for Televisa entitled “Dos Mujeres, Un Camino.” Welcome to AOL!
AOLiveMC9: Welcome to American Online Erik Estrada!!!
EstradaE: Hello! Thank you all very much for supporting me throught he years, and hopefully I can answer all your questions and get as many answered as I can. If I can come on a dozen more times, I’ll come on just to answer all your inquiries to tell you what’s going on, what’s up, what’s down. But thank you for your support all these years. It’s greatly appreciated. Signed, Ponch!
AOLiveMC9: Our first question is from Des ree10.
Question: did you ever try to start a singing career??
EstradaE: Actually, I never really chased a singing career because I never felt confident with my voice. I rmemeber doing my very first play in high school called Dark of the Moon and I played John the Witch boy. I had to sing a song and I was going to all over the place with the key. My dramatic performance was good but I was neve confident as a singer. I can sing a song in a sense of portraying a character, but I would not try to sing a torch song or sing solo. I hope that answers your question. But I love music. All kinds.
AOLiveMC9: And HAMTON wants to know:
Question: Erik: Do you feel that you actually ARE the Barcelona Man?
EstradaE: LOL! That’s a very cool question. At my age right now, I wish I was. I was portraying him on the show and I totally forgot about that episode. Thank you for reminding me!
AOLiveMC9: KISTOCKS is wondering about parental influence with this question:
Question: Eric, did your parents have any influence on you before you became a actor? Leah
EstradaE: My dad certainly didn’t have any influence on me at all. Like I explain in my autobiography, which comes out in bookstores this week, — it’s called Erik Estrade, My Road from Harlem to Hollywood. My mother divorced my dad at 2 because he was unfortunately become a victim of heroin and she had 2 kids to deal with. So she had to ask him to leave. She’s never remarried, but he was no influence. My mother was certainly a great influence. She had to conduct both roles of mother and father, and she instilled great things in me – integrity, respect for women, patience, understanding and kind which, as a Latino growing up in Spanish harlem, it’s not easy trying not to be hot headed. Totally influenced by my mother. Hey…1 out of 2 ain’t bad. My grandfather taught me generosity, and he sold snow cones in Harlem. I went with him at 5 and he let me hand out the change and snow cones. That was fun. I learned a lot in the couple of years that we did that. It made a workaholic out of me.
AOLiveMC9: CClvyA is interested is your book as the following question demonstrates:
Question: Will you be doing any book signings for your new book? When? Where?
EstradaE: I’ll be doing some book signings in New York. I”ll be at Barnes & Noble, 600 – 5th Avenue on May 7th between 12:30 and 1:20 pm. I also will be in Florida on May 8th at Liberty’s Book in Boca Raton, FL at 7:00 and 8:30 pm. I’ll be in Miami on May 9th at the Planet Hollywood in Coconut Grove in the AM hours. That same day in the evening at 7:00 pm, I’ll be at Ft. Lauderdale at Border’s Books. I’ll be in FL on May 10th at Pembroke Pines, FL at Waldon’s Book at 2:00 pm. In LA on May 12th, I’ll be at Border’s in West LA at 7:00 p.m. In Texas, I’ll be there at May 13th at Borders in San Antonio. On Wednesday May 14th at 7:00 pm, I’ll be at Book People in Austin. On the 15th, I’ll be signing books at Borders at 7:00 pm at Stafford, TX. That’s my book signing schedule as of now.
AOLiveMC9: Sounds like quite a schedule. Here’s a question from Shandarr5:
Question: Eric, Que tal?! Are you planning on doing any more “Novelas Espanolas”?
EstradaE: I would love to do another soap opera. I just need to be asked. I would love to do another soap. It was a great experience for me. Having parents with a Puerto Rican background and growing up in New York, I lost the Spanish language. Once I learned to speak in reproper Spanish, I got great intensive pride I’m very proud of the accomplishment of the soap opera. It did more than put me on the TV. It gave me a sense of great pride. But yes, I would love to do another soap opera. I’m just waiting for someone to ask me. When I talk to young kids of all ethnic backgrounds, I tell them to get in touch with the language of their forefathers because it’s a major push and the key for your future.
AOLiveMC9: LKlodt is interested in CHIPS.
Question: How many episodes of CHIPS were made?
EstradaE: We made, I believe, it was 6 years of CHIPs and we made a total of 144 episodes, if I’m correct. I may be off by 1 or 2. We made the amount of 22 – 24 for 6 years. It would vary, because some would be 2 parts and we made a couple of 2 hour specials.
AOLiveMC9: CClvyA doesn’t want to miss you at all.
Question: Will you be on any talk shows promoting your new book in the next couple weeks? Which ones? I don’t want to miss them.
EstradaE: Starting tomorrow evening, on May 1st in the evening, I’ll be on Conan O’Brien. On May 6th, which is a Tuesday, I’m going to be doing as an actor a guest episode of “Home Boys from Other Space” on UPN, 8:00 pfc. On Wednesday the 7th, I will be on “Good Morning America” on ABC, 7:00 am PST. Also on Wednesday, I will be on the Caryl & Marilyn Show at 10:00 am PST. On May 12th, I’ll be on Politically Incorrect, ABC midnight PST time. On Tuesday the 13th, I’ll be on Viva Variety, Comedy Central (cable show). That’s at 10:00 pm PST. That’s what I have right now. I’m going to be on Rosie on the 27th or 28th of May. I’ve got listed to be on Charles Grodin, Geraldo. I got Talk Soup on the 23rd. That’s what’s on my schedule.
AOLiveMC9: TheCAMILL asks:
Question: Mi Mr Estrada…I have seen you give many interviews and it seems that you are asked the same 3 or 4 questions over and over again. Are you really as patient and gracious as you seem?
EstradaE: Well, I”ve learned to become patient as a young kid and struggling actor, I was impatient. I’m impatient with myself. When it comes to other people, I am very patient. You make the time. I believe once I leave home, I’m in public. Any person who expects an autograph, I have a responsibility to respond and give an autograph or take a quick autograph. It’s my way of saying, “Thank you for your support” for letting me come into their home, in my case, in reruns everyday. For a couple a minutes you meet someone who says “hi, I’m a fan,” the pitter patter of conversation can be fun. It’s icing on the cake.
AOLiveMC9: Cario44 has this question regarding your book:
Question: What made you decide to write a book?
EstradaE: Well, for so many years, I have been trashed in the rags. I have been rumored about. My 2 ex-wives have trashed me, and my big fight of MGM where I owned 25% of CHIPs. When I tried to get the money, they forced me to leave the show for 7 episodes and threatned to sue me. When the rating went in the toilet, they were forced to negotiate. But in that interim, I had a bad boy image in Hollywood. I was stuck with the image after CHIPs, and it was difficult for me to get a job. If I was a plumber, it would be ea to get a job. But for me, I’m an actor and to hurt me, they didn’t give me work. They created a false image of me as a bad boy. After going to Mexico and doing the soap opera, which turned into a Godsend, someone gave me the opporunity to tell my side of the story. No one heard my side, and I never felt it was necessary to defend myself. Now that I’m older, wiser and more comfortable, someone presented me a platform to tell a story. I didn’t bitch, whine…just told my side of the story. Make your own decision. There’s 3 sides to the story: his, theirs and the truth. I used it as an opportunity to present my side. At the same time, I wanted to take the opportunity to thank the fans who have enjoyed what I was doing. I wanted to thank the Hispanic people in Spain, Mexico, Puero Rico, South America and here, who supported my soap opera. It was the viewing power that made that soap the #1 soap opera in the world. And it still is.
AOLiveMC9: Grapejuz asks:
Question: what actor and actress do you most like working with
EstradaE: Also, I wanted to show that I handled my career and personal life with the knowledge that I had. Whether it was right or wrong, I handled it with what I had and I made some major mistakes. My 1st marriage, I was absolutely stupid, dumb and ignorant. I shouldn’t have gotten involved in it. My 2nd marriage, I shouldn’t marry but we were dating for a year, she was on the pill and then she got pregnant. I was not in love with her but I married because she said that she was going to have the baby and leave for New York with it. Here I was, 35 years old at the time, CHIPS was gone for 2 years, I was trying to erase the bad boy image and the rumor was I was going to win the battle against MGM, but lose the war. Apparently, it worked. Here I was, raised Catholic and I was going to marry this girl. But that wasn’t the only reason. I didn’t wa a kid to grow up without my name. I made mistakes. I want people to learn from what they read and not make the same mistakes.
EstradaE: Grapejuz – I worked with quite a few in my early days. I worked with Karen Black, Cathie Lee Crosby, Myrna Loy — a legen in “Airport 75”. There were great many. Cindy Williams, Patti Duke. Alot. I can’t remember all the names. I like working with an actor who works with you, and doesn’t do the oneupmanship. One who has no trick and gives a true, honest performance. You never know what you’re gonna get until you’re there. But my favorite actors when I was a kid, besides all the cowboy actors, was John Garfield. I always preferred him the best.
AOLiveMC9: JackiR135 wants to know:
Question: erik, do you fully understand the impact you had on kids while you where doing CHIPS?
EstradaE: Yes, I knew that responsiblity. That’s why I try to keep my p’s and q’s in line. I used to be a cigarette smoker, but no one caught me smoking. I used to go 9-10 hours without a smoke because we were on location. I didn’t want any kids to see me smoke, and no one ever did. I knew the influence I had. I was influenced by a cop when I was a kid who my mom dated. That’s why when I was being trashed by people who were involved with me who had their own agenda, I never said anything because if I did, I’d give it credibility. That’s why I wrote the book — say it one time one deal. But I always had a sense of responsiblity becuase of the uniform. And I still do. Hey…kids are the future. I was a kid once and I know how important it was for me to be thrilled by somebody on television and enjoy it. I have 2 boys now. I”m totally aware of the responsiblity of a parent.
AOLiveMC9: Our next question is from TAZ GIRR:
Question: I have two questions-1 would you consider doing another Tv series, and 2 did you ever take dance lessons??
EstradaE: To answer the 1st, I would love to do another series because I love the grind and hours. I would love it to be a Hispanic dramatic cop, but if not a comedy sitcom. I went to American Musical Dramatic Academy in NYC, and I had to take dramtic movement, jazz, ballet — you had to take all of that stuff because it came along with the program. You have to know how to move. Yes, I did have a lot of dancing with various teachers. Jo Jo Smith in California. I’m Latin! I have a built-in advantage.
AOLiveMC9: BDEscort is interested in karate:
Question: Are you still practicing your discipline? karate
EstradaE: Well, I really really the karate thing I did on CHIPs. I studied with a trainer because I knew we’d do episodes that had karate. But I had a major motorcycle accident on CHIPs once that gave me a 50-50 chance to live, so I broke a lot of bones and fractured ribs and broken wrists. For a long time, I had lower back problems so I can’t do the roundhouse comfortably like I used to, but I practice the discipline of mind with karate as much as I can. If you practice it, don’t give it up. Stay with it!
AOLiveMC9: Redtbird4 asks:
Question: Hi Eric, I still watch reruns of CHIPS, love that show. And you have gotten even better looking..I have pics of you from Battle of The Network Stars…remember that?
EstradaE: Yes! First of all, thank you, thank you and thank you. And yes, I remember. That was cool in those days. We’d get together with others on network shows and have a weekend of fun, frolic and sportsmanship. I remember the Battle of the Network Stars. And Thanks!
AOLiveMC9: Here is an interesting question from Gherkin3:
Question: Mr. Estrada, does acting in Mexico differ a lot from acting in the states and how do th people treat you differently, by the way, buenas tardes.
EstradaE: Buenas tardes y gracias. The difference when I was doing the soap, they do the soaps differently in Mexico because there, you just have to know the storyline and not
OnlineHost: EstradaE has left the room.
OnlineHost: Eric Estrada will be back shortly
OnlineHost: EstradaE has entered the room.
AOLiveMC9: Welcome back.
EstradaE: Anyway, there’s a little box that they run down your back into two boxes… receiver and transmitter. You don’t have to memorize the lines because there would be someone feeding you lines while you were performing. And you’d hear all the other lines and the stage directions. As far as the way people treated me, I was lucky because CHIPs was dubbed into every language imaginable. I was treated with great respect. They hold a special part in my heart. They have a special place there.
AOLiveMC9: Ramjuan asks:
Question: did you meet SELENA while filming DOS MUJERES UN CAMINO and if you did want kind of a person was she
EstradaE: I met Selena and I have to tell you, I’m really really saddened by this incident that happened. The termination of such a beautiful creature. She was a total blessing for the Hispanic women in the entertainment industry. She was a major talent, very sweeet, easy to approach and talk to. Even I, when I meet certain people, I get a little bit nervous too because I’m a big fan like everyone else. I can relate to actors and such, but I’m also a major fan. Meeting her was delicious and she was just as delicious in person and it’s just really sad that she’s no longer with us. You would have loved her if you met her, but her music will always be with us. But if she was still alive, she’d be a major contributor in this century and the next.
AOLiveMC9: Taurus198 is interested in autographs:
Question: where can we send stuff to get autographed by you?
EstradaE: Tomorrow, I’m going to set up a place. I do get a lot of mail. I get a lot of foreign mail because my mail gets mixed with Emilio Estevez. If you send it to 11288 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, CA 91604, I don’t have the box number but if you send it there to Erik Estrada in care of there, it will get there. I will get to the mail. If you don’t get a response right away, just hang on. On Friday when I do the show, I’ll have a box number. I’m going to set this up because I get mail at home when people send it to Erik Estrada, Hollywood, CA. To have a real direct line, I’ll set it up. Thank you!
AOLiveMC9: NJDevilGu would like to know:
Question: who was your favorite costar on chips?
EstradaE: Well, I enjoyed Larry when we weren’t upset with each other. I used to have the best laughs with Larry to the point where we couldn’t get a shot done. The director would walk off and come back. After working 14 hour days straight for about 7-8 days straight like that, you get punchy. No pun intended. You get slap happy, and we would laugh for days. He had a way of doing this country & western stuff because he was a rodeo rider. He’d put on a Texas voice and go to town doing dialogue about riding horses and doing the rodeo. He would floor me. Larry was the most fun, although we had our disagreements. But I enjoyed him for the great laughs. Also I enjoyed the rest of the cast. They were all cool. All nice. As much as the controversy about our feuding, it was there. But when we weren’t, we had a great time. And it showed in the Ponch and John relationship. It wasn’t all feuds
AOLiveMC9: Rodney312 has this comment for you:
Question: Erik will be gues hosting the Wheel of Fortune Live at the Grand Palace in Branson, and that is where i am from, just wanted to let him know, we are looking forward to it!
EstradaE: Well, I will be there for 5 weeks and I’m looking forward to it myself. I can use the rest. I’m working in the morning, but in the afternoon I’ll tone up at the gym, play golf and relax. I’m in need of a rest that way, but it’ll be fun. I’ll be meeting people from Branson and that area, and it will be fun. I’ll see you there for sure!
AOLiveMC9: Uscgmom has a question about one of your movies:
Question: Eric, where can I get a copy of your movie “Final Goal”?
EstradaE: I don’t know where you can get a copy of it. Unfortunatley, I don’t know because it was done out of the country and maybe I guess you can go to a video store and ask. Astral Video. It’s in their case. Ask to get it from there. The Producer was Arrow Entertainment. It was a Five River Films Production done in 1994. It was directed by Jon Cassar. You could check it out that way.
AOLiveMC9: Besides your hectic book schedule, Ruby7162 asks:
Question: Erik what are you doing now?
EstradaE: I hope that helps! And if things get bad and you don’t get it, I’ll make you a copy of mine, only that would be breaking the law!
EstradaE: Ruby – Right now, I’m going on a major tour with the book. I’m doing in-between sitcom appearances and will be in Branson, MO for five weeks staring June 16th to the 22nd of July, and then I have a film that I’m going to be doing called “Operation Desert Goal” this fall. I have another one lined up called “Over Town” in Miami and in the interim, I’m trying to spend time as I can with my kids because they’re at a great age: 9 and 11. I have a few projects cooking as far as a television series, so I’m ust hoping it all comes up. I’ll be guesting and doing and keeping very busy. It’s important to me and my career, but I dig my home. I really do.
AOLiveMC9: Uscgmom also asks:
Question: Hi Erik, I am a big fan of yours and “CHiPs”, did you really ride the motorcycles in the shows?
EstradaE: Also, I am co-hosing a show called “American Adventure” on NBC here but I don’t know where it will be syndicated around the country. I co-host with Laura Mackenzie. I get to travel around the world and country showing people around the country. It’s a fun job so that’s another thing I’ll do.
EstradaE: Usc – For the 1st 6-7 episodes, yes. Most of the time they had really tweaked the recording of the voices down, so they’d hold us down for the chase sequences. But we felt like dorks so we asked them to let us free wheel. Obviously, we didn’t do the big heavy stunts and got hurt, they’d have to shut production down. But yes, we did ride the bikes and I have the broken bones and scars to prove it.
AOLiveMC9: Here’s a question from ZOMBIESM:
Question: erik, what was it like working with the Butthole Surfers on Pepper?
EstradaE: Lol. YOu know, those guys are really nice guys. They were very cool. They were very cool and nice to me, and I brought along some cigars because I knew they liked cigars. We had a really nice time.
AOLiveMC9: Dunk 99 asks:
Question: what was your best memory from CHiPS?
EstradaE: I think it was every morning, it kind of felt like sunshine. I might have been tired, but it was cool when I got to the motor home and put on the uniform. There were a lot of great memories but I need more time on chat for me to tell you. There was pleasure doing Make a Wish Foundation where they’d bring a kid and I’d put them on the bike and we’d take off. And all the beautiful girls…and the pleasure of signing pictures. But it was a hard job, but it was a lot of fun and I’ll always be grateful to Ponch. He was a part of me.
AOLiveMC9: Time has really flown by. We have time for one more question.
AOLiveMC9: And it’s from WritrsBlc:
Question: Will we be seeing you in any movies in the near future?
EstradaE: Yes, you’ll be seeing me. I did a movie for video called “Crossing the Line”. It’s a real good movie, but no T&A which is alright because I’ve done some really bad movies that I didn’t care for. I’ll be doing “Operation Desert Goals” for Alpine Productions. An I’ll be out there. I won’t go away. In the meantime, you can catch the various talk shows and “Home Boys from Outerspace.” And don’t forget the reruns! Thank you!
AOLiveMC9: We’ll be looking for you. Thanks for being with us tonight.
EstradaE: I liked to say thank you for letting me part of your time for an hour. I hoped I’m asked again and again and again because it’s a good source to communicate with people I might not run into. But if I do, remind me! An hour of my time is a tiny price to pay for all the support I’ve gotten from my fans. I hope if you don’t buy a book, read it from someone who bought it and get insight of me and where I was then and where I am at now. Don’t make the mistakes I’ve made. It’s all in the book. And LOVE YOURSELF. If you don’t love yourself, you won’t be capable of loving another. Be cool, be strong, be wise and be happy. Tu amigos siempre, Erik Estrad. Hugs and kisses!
AOLiveMC9: Thanks again, and thanks to our audience for their great questions.
OnlineHost: Thanks for joining us in the Oldsmobile Celebrity Circle this evening. Remember, Oldsmobile brings an exciting guest online every Monday through Friday, and transcripts from the events can be downloaded using keywords: “Oldsmobile” or “AOL Live” within 24 hours after the event has ended.
OnlineHost: Copyright 1997 Oldsmobile; licensed to America Online, Inc.
OnlineHost: EstradaE has left the room.

Chat transcript is copyright © 1997 Oldsmobile; licensed to America Online, Inc.