By, Charlotte Wilson-Langley
This article has been edited for clarity and length.
You may recognize Susan Saiger from the cult classic “Eating Raoul,” in which she played Doris the Dominatrix. After having a great run as an actress in the ’80’s, Saiger temporarily hung up her corset and collar when she became a mother. But she picked it all back up again 10 years ago when she became a stand-up comic. Now that all three of Susan’s children are adults and her comedy career is almost 10 years old, she sat down with Marijuana.com to talk about how she was able to do two of life’s most difficult things: motherhood and comedy, all while staying so cool, calm and collected — most of the time.
Q: I want to talk about how weed helped you in your comedy and made you a more chill mom. Are you comfortable talking about that?
A: Uhhhhh, Yeah. I mean it’s legal! Ya know? And my kids are now over 18. It’s funny, I just got back from the weed store and I still can’t really believe that you can just walk into a store and buy weed. And that it’s behind cases — it’s like Willy Wonka and the Weed Factory. It just blows my mind. Part of me still feels that it’s clandestine, even though it’s not.
Q: Let’s talk about that. Do you think that’s because you lived in Florida?
A: I think it’s because I first smoked weed in 1970 when I was 15 years old. I remember having a boyfriend who was selling pot and me flushing it down the toilet with the police coming. Just all kinds of crazy shit that one does.
Q: What was it like when you first smoked weed?
A: I don’t really remember. I remember I was with a girlfriend and I don’t think I got high. I’ve been smoking weed as long as memory serves. I’m 63, so that’s 48 years. I’ve been smoking weed for 48 years! And the only time I stopped was when I found out I was pregnant.
Q: How long have you been smoking in front of your children open and freely?
A: Two years, because I waited until my youngest child was 18 years old.
Q: What was your reason for keeping it from them?
A: I didn’t think it was a good idea, and I didn’t want them to know even though it was like, “duh” when I finally told them. I do talk about it on stage. I say, “I’ve been smoking weed for most of my life and for sure all of yours. And I’m no different a mom than I was before you knew. And it doesn’t change your childhood.”
I just didn’t want anything that I did to influence any decision they would make in that area. Because I think it’s something where, if my mom does it then it’s ok — or if my mom does it, then I’m not going to.
During the years where I had three teenagers at the same time, my girls’ hormones were on their way in, while mine were on their way out. It was a freak show at my house. And then there was a divorce. Weed saved my life, and stand-up did in a different way. Back then I smoked cigarettes so I could go on my back deck and always hide my weed while [the children]were inside watching tv.
Q: How would you describe to people how weed helped you get through that tough patch?
A: At the end of the day, when you look at the clock and it’s 10 p.m. and you go, “did I sit down today? Did I eat today?” To be able to walk outside and sit on your back patio and have a couple tokes off a pipe, it really helped.
I used to drink wine when I was younger, but when I had my kid, I became allergic to sulfites, and wine would mean an instant headache for me. Valium put me to sleep, and that’s what they’d always say was mother’s little helper in the ’60’s. But weed, on a day to day basis, just kept things on a more even keel. No matter how upset I’d be at night or want to throttle somebody, I could just go and sit on my back patio, take out my pipe, have a few tokes and breathe.
I look back at all the stuff I did, three lunch bags everyday, etc., etc. and if I could have a few tokes before I did all that shit it was much more fun and creative. We had a snack shack in the house with pull out drawers and we had every type of snack you could imagine. I was Super-mom! I knew what I was making for dinner by 9 a.m., and I would smoke during the day if I wasn’t working.
I was also teaching school at the time, isn’t that funny? They didn’t drug test teachers. But I was a substitute teacher, so on days I didn’t teach, I could smoke a little in the afternoon and get stuff done. It never stopped me. I know for some people it de-motivates them, but that’s never been the case for me.
Q: Now that your kids are grown, do you partake with them?
A: Now that they’re old enough, I still don’t sit down and smoke with them. I just don’t think it’s right, I don’t wanna party with my kids. It seems weird to me. Maybe that’s being hypocritical but I don’t know, that’s just how I work — except on my birthday.
Q: Tell me about your birthday.
A: On my birthday two years ago, [my daughter]Haley took me to Universal [Studios] and I took out a one-hitter. We smoked right in the park, and she couldn’t fucking believe it. It blew her mind. (Laughs) And I said, “It’s my birthday — I do what I want.” Then this year [my daughter]Emily took me to Universal [Studios] for my birthday and we smoked in the park, too.
Q: Were your parents more open-minded than most?
A: My dad was an artist. He went to art school with Andy Warhol and they worked together designing window displays. My dad was actually against it, until the very end of his life when he got cancer and I made him tea with weed in it. He said it made his stomach feel better. I remember my mom went to some place in the [Florida] Keys and scored the weed. One time someone told my brother, “Hey! I just saw your mom scoring weed in Hialeah Park.” In Florida, it wasn’t legal yet.
Q: In your early days when you were in LA and acting, did weed ever come into play with that?
A: No. I did smoke weed at night by myself, but back then it was cocaine, honey. I was at the Comedy Store back then and that was the heyday for that. One day my mom came into town and there was an article in Reader’s Digest that said, “It’s Snowing in Hollywood.” It was a two-part article about cocaine and how it was delivered to different sets, etc, etc. So my mom comes into town, puts a $100 down on my table and said, “Get me some cocaine, I wanna try it.” It was the most hilarious thing. What’s that movie with those two idiot guys that are dancing are dancing and they’re so stupid?
Q: “Night at the Roxbury?”
A: Yes! That’s how we were.
Q: How old was she?
A: I would have been 27 and she was 53. Same age I was when I started stand up. Why am I not surprised?
Q: Like mother like daughter a little bit?
A: A little bit. Yeah. I remember all her friends were always way younger than her, and she never could be like a fuddy duddy.
Q: When you first started doing stand-up, was it nerve-wracking? Was it a calling? How did it feel?
A: I did it on a dare, and it felt like I was skydiving for the first time. I’ve never been skydiving but I imagine that’s what it’s like. Then when you’re on stage, you have this “aha” moment where you connect with the audience and realize this is what you’re supposed to do. Then you go out the next day and eat a bag of dicks [bombing onstage]. That happens! And that’s when you smoke weed and figure it out and ask why? For me that was just as much a part of the process that I enjoyed, and maybe that’s cause I smoke weed. I write a lot when I smoke because it opens my mind to a lot of places.
Q: When did weed come into the stand up game for you?
A: When I first started doing stand up, I never smoked weed, but in my first year I would have a shot of Jack [Daniels]. And then I started to realize, because I was doing 5-8 minute sets and writing more and more material that I was going too fast and trying to cram it all in. It didn’t matter what I did, but I couldn’t slow myself down. So I did a little experiment and I thought, “Let me smoke a little weed before I go on stage and see if that’ll slow my ass down.” And it did! I only did it at open-mikes for my own timing, my own rhythm and it helped me take it down a notch.
Q: How would you see yourself as a mom if you weren’t able to smoke weed?
A: Well this isn’t going to sound funny, but there was a mom in Tampa who shot her kids — and I kinda understand. She shot ’em for being mouthy! I tried to do this as a joke on stage and nobody was having it, let me tell you. Being a mom really colored a lot of my stand up. But without weed I know I would’ve been more on them about homework and all that stuff. Kids don’t need that kind of stress. You only get to be a kid once. My parenting was just, I don’t know if it was good or not to be honest, but one thing I worked out with my kids is that I did the best I could. And definitely, getting high helped me do that.
Q: Would you say you’re wound tightly?
A: I think that’s my general MO, yeah. You’ve seen me high, you’ve seen me not high, I’m just mom. I think I’m the type of person where I just smoke to be normal. It just makes me a little more relaxed. I’m one of those type-A stressed personalities.
Q: What was the hardest part about being a mom to all those teenagers?
A: Getting them to listen to me. My dogs don’t listen to me, either, so it’s gotta be me.
Q: How has weed been beneficial overall in your life?
A: I’m easier to get along with for sure. … You end up taking a step back and you don’t say things in the heat of the moment and it gives you a chance to process.
With parenting, rather than saying “yes” about something right away, I’m able to say let me think about that and get back to you. There were a lot times where I had to talk to [the children]about shit and I thought they were fucking crazy! But I had to act like I didn’t [think that], and be really reasonable, and always be the voice of reason. And I was basically a single mom. My son didn’t see his dad at all, and the girls went for seven months not seeing him. It was all me all the time, and I was doing stand-up back then too.
When it comes to her acting career, Susan said that she has no regrets stepping away from the business because she used those 18 years to raise her kids. But recently, the acting bug came crawling back. She was nominated for best actress in a web series in 2018’s LA Web Fest for her performance in “The Doll.” It was her first time in front of the camera in 25 years.
“It’s never too late to do what you want, and I always go back to something my son said: ‘The meaning of life is to find your gifts — the purpose is to share it.’ That’s from Picasso, and how right that is,” Saiger said. Her next goal: To entertain the troops.
Susan Saiger’s favorite weed
A hybrid that keeps her brain high and alert but relaxes her shoulders. She’s not into edibles, unless it’s her psychedelic peach cobbler.