The following is a transcript of an May 2, 1997 chat with Erik Estrada on The Microsoft Network’s “Nelson’s World”
Nelson: Erik Estrada will be flying in shortly to take all your questions and comments. He’s a prolific actor, having appeared in scads of motion pictures, tv-movies and episodics. Of course he’s best remembered for his long-running role as Ponch on “ChiPs.” And he’s become an international star since appearing on the Spanish telenova “Dos Mujeres, Un Camino.” He’s also written his biography, “Erik Estrada: My Road from Harlem to Hollywood.”
Nelson: I asked him what subjects he’d like to talk about this morning and he told me that NOTHING is off limits. He wants to “set the record straight” since he’s been rumored as one of Hollywood’s baddest boys for years.
Nelson: So don’t hold back! Send in your questions and comments! Our screener will try and pass through as many as possible. Just try and keep the language clean, will ya? We’re also going to have two interactive polls so you can voice your opinions. If at any time you run into trouble, try pressing the help key. It offers insights, answers and even a frisking! And after the show, you can always check out the Nelson:’s World Salon.
CHiPper: I still watch CHIPs everyday on TBS!
Nelson: Chipper, you are going to love this show. And you can always talk about it in the salon…it’s unmoderated chat, a great place to post messages, and e-mail. Although there’s nothing we can’t talk about with Erik Estrada.
Nelson: Lets launch poll #1. Try to vote within the next 15 minutes. RSVP or else! It will test your “CHiPs” trivia knowledge. We’ll go over the results with Erik and see if HE can come up with the correct answer.
Nelson: We ask, Which of the following people have never appeared on a “CHiPs” episode? A) Heather Locklear, B) Larry Hagman, C) Gerald McRaney, D) Tina Louise
Nelson: You have 15 minutes, after you’ve entered your response, click on the show icon to return to the chat screen.
Nelson: So how was everybody’s week? I hope it wasn’t a week from hell!
Nelson: If you had a challenging few days, an argument with your boss, or any other disasters, we wanna know about it. We’ll make you feel better. That’s the way we are around here. Was it a good week or a bad week? At least you can look forward to Cinco de Mayo if it was a tough one.
Gina: So so week.
Nelson: Gina, that just means you’re gonna have an awesome weekend.
Rose: Long week….
Nelson: And what better way to kick it off than with Erik Estrada? He’ll be here in a few minutes. So get your questions and comments ready for him.
Nelson: You know who had a rough week?! Mariah Carey. She got into a little bit of fisticuffs with her manager over all the attention he was paying to rival singer Samantha Cole. I’ll bet she was really screeching out the high notes. Any Mariah fans out there?
David: Mariah’s hot.
Nelson: She’s got a lot of fans!
Rose: No not a Mariah fan at all
Nelson: Well, since Mariah is probably in the pokey, we’ll introduce now our special guest for today! Please welcome television / film / stage star……
Erik: Tony Orlando…
Nelson: No no! Erik Estrada! Welcome to Nelson’s World, Erik!
Erik: Hey, it’s good to be here. Thank you for the opportunity to say hey to anyone on the network who’s interested to say hey back!! And I want to say hey to those who are NOT interested.
Nelson: There’s no such animal.
CHiPper: I saw you on Conan last night. You looked good.
Erik: Oh, cool. Thank you. I didn’t think anybody would be up.
Gina: How was your week Erik?
Erik: This week was a really good week.
Erik: I was able to do some tiling…and some flagstoning on my property. It’s one of my new hobbies.
Nelson: Are you a fixer-upper Eric?
Erik: Yeah, I enjoy getting in the dirt, planting perennials, putting little twinkly lights – Xmas lights – on my trellis. I like sprucing up my joint.
Nelson: Hollywood is the right town for getting into the dirt.
Erik: Yes, believe me, I’m up to my neck in dirt in Hollywood.
Aaron: Erik, will there be a “CHiPs” reunion movie?
Erik: God, your mouth to God’s ear.
Nelson: That’s all the rage right now.
Erik: Well, the story goes like this. Turner purchased MGM and all the CHiPs rights. Periodically, Rick Rosner who created CHiPs, would approach Turner to see about making a reunion. And Ted Turner would say “Why should I do an update CHiPs when the show is making a lot of money in worldwide syndication?” So that idea is out the window. Time Warner purchased all the CHiPs rights. They’re open for conversation.
Nelson: I hope it happens.
Erik: I hope it happens.
Nelson: Erik, do you still have any of the “CHiPs” collectibles like action figures, lunch boxes?
Erik: What I have is a couple of Ponch dolls … I have the playing cards with a big piece of gum in them. I never, never got a lunchbox, and I’d love to dig one up somewhere.
Nelson: You should check out the Pasadena Flea Market.
Erik: Yes. Yes. I haven’t had the opportunity to get there. I also have an assembly model with glue of the motorcycle… and a couple other items. What I have is really choice – in the 6 years we did the show, the Teamsters and all the gaffers and union guys were really grateful to be on a show that was successful for 6 years. A lot of them bought houses, boats, from the continuous steady work. When CHiPs ended, we had a total of 12 motorcycles (for 6 years).
Erik: They put together an entire CHiPs motorcycle from spare parts and delivered it to my house. And I put it in my guest house, and I hooked up all the lights and kids come over and have a blast with it. And Planet Hollywood asked me once for that bike – and I said, No Way.
Nelson: Erik, do you ever watch the “CHiPs” reruns?
Erik: Oh, yeah!! Absolutely. I really like Ponch. I really enjoyed Ponch. It was easy for me to dress and have the attitude of a police officer. For from the age of 9-17 I really wanted to be a cop. And it was until I stepped on a stage in NY that I changed my mind and decided to become an actor.
Nelson: Let’s try to take a question for Erik.
bunny1: Who was your favorite guest star on CHiPs?
Erik: There were really quite a few terrific people who came through the show. People with talent and great background in the business. But one of the foremost who comes to mind is Ed McMahon. After that, we developed a great friendship. We used to – with his wife then Victoria – and my lady friend at the time was Beverly Sassoon – we for a number of years would party and travel…
Nelson: That must’ve been a heady time….party party party!
Erik: We would jump on a jet on a Friday night and fly to NY and see Lena Horne in her show – and then go to Studio 54 and dance – and then come back Monday morning.
Nelson: Let’s catch up with some of the questions, and we’ve relaunched the poll. You may want to vote again, because of technical difficulties. But now it’s fixed!
bunny1: While you were on the show, did you ever get stopped by a cop and if so, did you get out of it?
Erik: Yes, and No. Yes, I did get stopped one time. I was late to the location – and I was taking PCH…And I was going an excessive speed. And then a squad car pulled up behind me – and the candy – (which are the lights) – were going – so I pulled over. By the time the officer got out of his car – I had my license out for him. He gave me a ticket – and I deserved it. But what I didn’t think was really cool of him was when I got to the location after that, he already radioed everybody saying he busted Ponch!
Aaron: Have you seen or talked to Larry Wilcox or Robert Pine lately?
Carla: What about John did you enjoy working with him? I heard that both of you had a falling out of sorts.
Erik: 1st question – Aaron, Larry and myself now communicate by phone quite a bit…once in a while…And he’s been to my home. I have a couple of hobbies – miniature scale amusement parks that light up and work – and miniature scale trains – N scale and Z scale. And if I know I’m going to be in town during the holiday months, I will put out my trains and my amusement park stuff – (bumper cars, roller coaster, ferris wheels, etc., you name it). And I have an open house. A Christmas open house.
Nelson: Did Larry come over?
Erik: I’m happy to say that Larry brought Marlene, his new wife, and his son, over to enjoy the Christmas holiday.
Nelson: Very cool.
Erik: 2nd question – John is really a terrific guy. But you gotta understand that he was hired to be the Lone Ranger on CHiPs, and I was supposed to be Tonto. But as luck would have it, I was fortunate enough to be chose to be the Lone Ranger because of viewer opinion, viewer mail…
Nelson: You were TV’s first Latin stud…
Erik: I guess, and I was also the first Hispanic in a national network TV show portraying an Hispanic in a positive role.
Nelson: That’s right.
Erik: And then there was Eddie Olmos in Miami Vice as a Capt., Jimmy Smits in NYPD Blue as a plainclothes detective, and Hector Elizondo on Chicago Hope…
Erik: So I’m proud of the stud thing, but I’m happy that I set a slight precedent.
Nelson: I would be proud of the stud thing!
CHiPper: do you ever make little disaster scenarios where the train crashes into the roller coaster?
Erik: What I do is actually make sure I don’t put the trains near the roller coaster.
Nelson: You have disaster experience though, you did “Airport ’75”
Erik: Yes I did. I worked with Myrna Loy.
Nelson: Gloria Swanson was in that too!
Erik: You know you’re right. Gloria was in that. So was Helen Reddy…
Nelson: Lots of stars…
Erik: The girl from Exorcist – Linda Blair…
Harris: Erik, I recently moved here from Florida, and I heard about a film you were working on there: Oliver Twisted. What’s that about?
Erik: I play a doctor, psychiatric doctor in an institution. This is sort of like a Jason-type movie…where we have a patient that is mentally disturbed and there are all these people showing up mutilated – and dead.
Nelson: Good and gory.
Erik: Right. We should be doing a sequel to it soon.
luna: What was your favorite role, ever?
Erik: This is a difficult question…because there were so many parts that I really enjoyed. But my first role was in a movie called “The Cross and the Switchblade” where I played true-life now ordained minister Nikki Cruz, who was a war lord and leader of a gang in NYC in the late 50s called the MauMaus – when gangs didn’t really carry guns and pop a cap in your ass…like they do today.
Nelson: You grew up in a rough neighborhood…
Nelson: Hence the title of your new book.
Erik: Right – “Erik Estrada: My Road from Harlem to Hollywood”.
Nelson: It’s in bookstores now so even non-“CHiPs” fans might wanna check it out…If there are any non-“CHiPs” fans…
Rose: Do you ever go back to the old neighborhood?
luna: where did you grow up and go to school?
Erik: I was born in Harlem Hospital and grew up in Spanish Harlem for a good portion of my early years until 8 years old. And then we moved to the west side, the Amsterdam Projects…where at the age of 13 I watched them film ‘West Side Story’.
Nelson: Did that have an effect on you?
Erik: Until I saw the guys start dancing and singing.
Nelson: LOL. Real gangs almost never do that.
carlino: Do you think kids from your old neighborhood feel inspired by your success?
Erik: Well, I hope that they’re happy for me. I was recently in NYC, on May 13th I’ll appear on Comedy Central – a show called “Viva Variety” – in full drag. Before I came back to California, I wanted to track down some of the dudes I grew up with. I was able after 2 hours of trying, to reach an old buddy of mine- -Ronnie Pegliari…who lives in Staten Island now. And we’re going to meet when I go back to do my tour for my autobiography.
Carla: Eric, I’m curious to know if the rumors around that you use to do Pornos before you got the big spot on Chips. Is this true?
Erik: I am proud and happy to say that NO I’ve never done a porno…and I thought that I had heard every rumor they could possibly make up about me. But this one was certainly a very refreshing one. But my answer is NO.
Nelson: It’s probably just wishful thinking on the part of some people.
Sarah: I was wondering if you have done any behind the scenes work, like writing or directing, or if you would like to?
Erik: I don’t particularly want to wear too many hats. I really enjoy being in front of the camera. But I also enjoy the working together, the collaborating with other actors and directors on what is needed to make the given scene work well.
Nelson: Erik, we’re gonna share the results of our cyberpoll with you.
Erik: Oh no, don’t blow me out of the water yet.
Nelson: It’s trivia! We’ll see if you know the answer yourself! We asked, Which of the following people has never appeared on “CHiPs”? Do you know the answer, Erik?
Erik: I wanna say all these guys. No, no, Tina Louise I believe was on CHiPs. I don’t think Larry Hagman ever appeared.
Nelson: You are correct! Larry Hagman was the one on the list that never appeared.
Erik: YEAH – [clapping]. I got one.
Nelson: The results were: 20% for Heather Locklear, 40% for Larry Hagman, 20% for Gerald McRaney, and 20% for Tina Louise. We’ll have one more poll for you which we’ll now launch. You’ll have 15 minutes to respond. After you’ve voted, click on the show icon to return to the chat screen.
Nelson: We ask, Chelsea Clinton has decided to go to Stanford, but where do YOU think she should go? A) Yale, B) Harvard, C) Princeton, D) Stanford
Nelson: Now let’s take more questions for our guest, Erik Estrada.
LunaLove: Will you be doing any book signings?
Erik: Yes, I will be doing some book signings. I will be in Los Angeles next week at Borders Books. Check your listings. I will also be in NY at Barnes & Noble (May 7th). And then I will do one at Planet Hollywood (Coconut Grove) the later part of next week. One in Boca Raton, one in Ft. Lauderdale, one in Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas.
Nelson: I hope you are signed up for frequent flyer miles, Erik!
Erik: Yes, and there will be more added if I survive. Thanks for asking.
CHiPper: Hey, Erik, you guest starred on Pauly. Were you surprised that the Pauly show got cancelled? Is he as much a dweeb as he seems?
Erik: Actually, I worked on a lot of sitcoms in the last five months, and Pauly was the only comedian who could really throw me for a loop….because his mind goes at 375 RPMs.
Nelson: How did you get along with Fran Drescher when you did “The Nanny”?
Erik: Ah, she was great. Fran was great. What you see is what you get there. She is really terrific.
Nelson: Your appearance helped that episode get the highest rating up to that point.
Erik: Ah, YES, and I’m really happy about that for one particular reason. That was the first show I did after I had to get back to Hollywood in the back door – when the Spanish soap opera became the highest rated and most successful show in the history of Latin television internationally.
Nelson: Doesn’t that make you feel powerful?
Erik: Actually, that made me feel really proud in the sense that I had to hustle and read and learn to speak Spanish…which I didn’t know how to do when I grew up in the streets of NY. It made me feel good, because after CHiPs, I disappeared.
KingRad: Is there a role you have turned down that you wish you had taken, or, a role you took that you regret?
Erik: There aren’t any roles that I regret. If I take a role, I take it because I feel I can do some good with it, and make it believable. Now there were times I took a couple of roles in movies I didn’t think were cool to be in, but at the time, I had to do what I had to do – for financial reasons or responsibility reasons…and it’s because I’m an actor. That’s what I do. There are some things out there I’m not proud of.
bunny1: Do you have any kids…any plans for more?
Erik: I have two sons from a previous marriage. Anthony Eric and Brandon Michael Paul. And yes, I wanna have a little girl.
Nelson: Speaking of children….
Erik: I want to see my gray hair turn completely white.
Nelson: A friend who saw Conan last night, told me that you carry pieces of your son’s umbilical cords in decorative lockets! Is that true? What’s next!?
Erik: OK, wait, I need to set this thing straight too. When my ex-wife was pregnant with both of my sons, I never missed one pre-birth doctor appointment with her. I never missed one post- doctor appointment with her. And I did Lamaze, I did all the breathing, hyperventilated a couple of times. And at birth, I was able to cut both umbilical cords of my sons. Now, when you have a child, and you cut the cord, they tie off a little bit of your cord, and then you take the baby home – and you have to keep the area around the belly button clean with alcohol. So you swab it and keep it clean until it dries up – and the little piece that is left over falls off.
Erik: Then, most people will take that little piece and toss it.
Nelson: But not Erik Estrada!
Erik: NO! Not I! said the Puerto Rican.
Erik: I felt, this is a piece of my son. A piece of his lifeline. So I put it in little gold lockets. There you have it.
Nelson: I’m assuming your sons were not circumcised.
Erik: Yes, I did, I cut 12 inches off my boys.
Erik: Because I wanted to give them a good head start. Yes, I had them circumcised for sanitary reasons. But I didn’t put the left-over pieces in lockets.
Aaron: Do you have an address I can write to for an autograph?
Erik: Aaron, I’ve got one coming up soon.
Nelson: In the meantime, you can e-mail Nelson’s World, and I’ll pass it on to Erik. He’s gonna have me over to see that miniature amusement park.
Erik: Oh, yeah, and also you should see my yardwork.
Nelson: And the lockets! I’ve heard so much about ’em!
Erik: I had them last night because Conan had heard this story before.
Nelson: How old are your boys now?
Erik: 9 and 11.
luna: The Hispanic community has always been proud of you and the positive role model you’ve set.
Erik: Yes, and I think – and believe me, personally – that holds a special place in my heart because I now have a different kind of pride from learning the language of my forefathers, my grandparents. I’m very very proud of that fact – that Hispanics have always been supportive of me.
Nelson: What are you doing for Cinco de Mayo, Erik?
Erik: I was going to be in the San Jose parade as Grand Marshal, but on the 5th, I have to leave for NYC to start my tour. In NYC, I’ll be on Good Morning America, Homeboys from Outer Space on Tuesday night…Carol & Marilyn on Tuesday afternoon…
Nelson: I’m glad you squeezed us in Erik!
Erik: And don’t forget, “Viva Variety” in drag –
bunny1: How old are you?
Erik: I am a delicious 48 year old – for all you delicious lovers.
Rose: Would you want your children to be actors?
Erik: I want my kids to strive for whatever they want to become, and what would make them happy within themselves.
Nelson: Erik, we’re now gonna give you a little challenge! A little game we call…..
Nelson: ……DYING TO KNOW!
[Erik gives a fanfare.]
Nelson: We have 10 short questions that require 10 honest answers!
Erik: And I don’t know these questions, because I didn’t want to look at them.
Nelson: 1. Do you prefer showers or baths?
Erik: I like showers, preferably. But I will bathe once in a while.
Nelson: 2. What is your favorite fast food?
Erik: Ah, Sushi.
Nelson: 3. What is the most beautiful beach you’ve ever seen?
Erik: Ohh, Phuket [Thailand]. Second is Pipi Island off of Thailand.
Nelson: 4. What kind of car do you drive?
Erik: Right now I’m driving a Grand Cherokee Limited.
Nelson: 5. What’s the last movie you rented?
Erik: See, I’m a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, and I vote every year – and they send me tapes for my vote.
Nelson: 6. What’s your favorite board game?
Erik: Pin the Tail on the Donkey. No. Scrabble.
Nelson: 7. Did you make your bed this morning?
Erik: No, I didn’t make my bed. Because I got in at 4 am after Conan.
Nelson: 8. What brand of toothpaste do you use?
Erik: I use AquaFresh and Pearl Whites.
Nelson: When’s the last time you went dancing?
Nelson: That was #9
Erik: I love to go dancing. I love to have a couple shots of Tequila – and then hit the dance floor for 45 min. straight. The last time I went was in Monte Carlo last year-May, when I went to the Cannes Film Festival.
Nelson: 10. What gives you goosebumps?
Erik: Spiritual confirmation. Let them sit on that one, dude. If anybody wants to know what I mean, “spiritual confirmation”, I will gladly elaborate.
Nelson: We only have a few minutes left. Let’s see how you voted in the poll! We asked, Chelsea Clinton has decided to go to Stanford, but where do you think she should go? 80% for Stanford, 20% for Harvard.
Nelson: Let’s take a few last questions for Erik Estrada!
bunny1: What religion are you?
Erik: I’m a Catholic, man. But sometimes I’m a real bad boy!!
Nelson: LOL. That’s why they made confession.
Erik: And aren’t I lucky.
luna: Are you into metaphysics?
Erik: I’m into respecting the soul and energy of a person who’s been alive – and has left this earth and body. Because I believe in angels, I believe in guardian angels, and I believe that we’re all here for a reason, and whatever is dealt to us, we must always wake up with the attitude – today, I’m going to wrestle with life. Because life is a really beautiful journey – but you got to start with one principle-by loving the most important person first. And that is yourself. Because then you can’t put out for anybody else if you don’t.
Nelson: We’ll take one last question for Erik.
bunny1: How bad are you? (re: bad boy comment)
Erik: Well, in what category?? Sometimes I’m in confession for at least 45 minutes – an extra 45 min. of Hail Marys and confession beads.
Nelson: Obviously, we could sit here and rap with Erik all day.
Erik: No, this can’t be over.
Nelson: We didn’t even get to the horoscopes, the news headlines, the simulchat, we just had too much fun talking with you Erik!
Erik: Oh, man, well…if your subscribers want me back, I hope they jump on your case.
Nelson: His book is “Erik Estrada: My Road from Harlem to Hollywood.” It’s on sale in bookstores now and we’ve made Erik promise to come back and let us know how the response is.
Erik: And if there is no response, I’ll come back anyway – because I like this. This is really cool.
Nelson: You are committed now! Thanks for coming and thanks to all the audience.
Erik: And a farewell word: thank you for taking the time to ask questions, and having me here. And remember to be cool, be wise, be strong, stay healthy…and be happy!!! Tu Amigo, Siempre. Erik Estrada (alias Ponch – alias Bad Boy).
Nelson: Later today, at 4pm Pacific / 7pm Eastern, join us for Nelson’s Celebrity Buzz with “Wings” star Amy Yasbeck. She’ll be talking with me, and YOU! See ya later everybody! XOXOXOXOXOXO
Chat transcript is copyright © 1997 The Microsoft Network. Used with permission.