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The Oral History of Deadwood: Part One

In the wake of Vanity Fair’s fascinating retrospectives of Friends and The Sopranos, we here at The Hairpin sat down with the characters of the late, lamented HBO original drama, Deadwood.

Al Swearengen: I was having lunch with my agent, a bonafide New York Jew, a real Heeb, and needling him about trying my can of pork and beans. “Al,” he said to me, “how would you like a trip out West?” And, I won’t lie to you, I was tired of all the cocksuckers in the summer stock I was doing at the time. “Scale?” I said. “Whores and dope,” he said. The next thing I know, I was packing my dirtiest linen and booking a wagon train.

Alma Garret – You know what I remember? I remember they told me not to shave my pits. And then Joanie Stubbs, she said to me, look, they’re right. A lot of men like it, and you are a LOCK for the Emmy. Not-shaving your pits is basically pulling a Monster. And then Calamity Jane got the nomination instead. To be fair, I don’t think she was shaving her pits either. I was always out of place on that set. Thank God for the laudanum, while it lasted.

Doc Cochrane – Alma and the laudanum (shakes head).


Seth Bullock – I had a lot on my plate. For my purposes, Alma was easier to deal with while she was still on the damn stuff. You think the rest of us were sober as judges? The crew begged us to lay off the whiskey.

Al Swearengen – People think I’m unpleasant. Seth was the unpleasant one. Grousing, grousing around, constantly. We tried whores. We tried dope. I feel like I tried to be friendly. I made numerous overtures. He’d just put on that damn hat and stomp off, like he had somewhere to be. With the Widow Garret, mostly, as it turned out. Maybe she coaxed the occasional smile out of him, but I never saw that smug cocksucker so much as nod his head.

Alma Garret – Seth? Everyone told me to give it up. Calamity, Joanie, the Borg Queen. Jane would show up, loaded, day and night, trying to get me to read her copy of “He’s Just Not That Into You.”

Calamity Jane
– Huh! That man was into her snatch like it was made of molten gold, he was just always going to be more into being fuckin’ NOBLE about everything, all the fuckin’ time. I was the idiot. I’d have done anything for her. She had that way about her, just ask Ellsworth. Too goddamn late for THAT, isn’t it?

EB Farnum – We always had problems with the suits, that was the worst of it. “EB, you’re not likable,” they’d say. “All of the focus groups hate you. You come across as sort of a petulant, whiny, conniving sort, without any real redeeming qualities.” Well, then why did they make me mayor?

Sol Star – After he became mayor, there was no dealing with Farnum. The Jew jokes? It began to seem like he’d been holding back before. Say what you want about Seth, that was never his way. Sure, he’d be snide about Trixie, he’d double-check the register to make sure I wasn’t giving away rakes, but he never rode me about being a Jew. I don’t know where any of them got off doing it, anyway. D’ya remember seeing any churches? Apart from that one, nutcase preacher, where was everyone getting their whole Christian thing on? Anyway, I’m a Scientologist, now. Fewer jokes, if you can believe it.

Wu – I was tired of going on callbacks for Miss Saigon, if you want to know. And I liked Swedgen. He treated a man right.

Part Two to follow next Friday.


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