Dan Aykroyd is one of those rare comedy legends who’s actually become more entertaining in the twilight of his career than he was in his prime. Sure, he’s responsible for some of the best comedy of the 1970s and ’80s, from his stint as one of the original “Not Ready for Prime Time Players” on Saturday Night Live to headlining movie classics like The Blues Brothers and Ghostbusters. But at 61, his mainstream comedy career has taken a backseat to his newest passions: selling vodka in glass skull bottles and talking about his unwavering belief in extraterrestrials and ghosts. He might say crazier things now, but we never stopped loving him.
I called Aykroyd to ask about his vodka business, which of course led to all sorts of other bizarre topics, like showers made out of skulls, his plans to be abducted rather than leave a postmortem mess, and why there’ll never be a Doctor Detroit sequel.
Crystal Head Vodka first came out in 2007. Why the big promotional push now?
Well, we’ve been winning awards with the vodka. We’ve got some great new packages, like the Rolling Stones 50th anniversary limited edition gift set. But basically, when you’re marketing and selling a brand like this, the work never stops. It’s total war. We’ve got to be consistently more clever and aggressive than the competition.
Last month, while you were in Boston promoting your vodka, you performed at a drag show. Do drag queens drink more vodka than other people?
That Boston club, Machine, is actually one of our best markets. I went there to thank them, and they had a drag show with Ghostbusters logos and everything. I don’t know, it was just so lovely and fun. All they wanted to do was sing and make people happy. I think drag queens are such fun and gentle and wonderful people. The gay community in general seems to really love this product.
Why is that?
Maybe it’s because gay people appreciate sophisticated design, which is what our bottle is all about. They also have more disposable income to spend on luxury products. And I think there’s a large contingent of gay people who are into health, so they appreciate the clean, green aspects of our vodka. Those are things we should all be interested in, but I guess gay people are just smarter than everybody else.
The bottle’s design was inspired by magical crystal skulls that were supposedly used by the Aztecs, right?
The legend has it that there were thirteen crystal heads, and they were used by the Navajo, the Aztecs, and the Mayans as crystal balls. These skulls were capable of giving the tribe their positive enlightenment. They contained all human knowledge and provided insight into the past, present, and future. That’s the same experience we’re hoping to offer with our vodka.
Yes, absolutely. We hope people are enlightened when they drink it.
That’s interesting, because usually when I drink vodka, I get noticeably dumber.
You won’t get that way on our vodka. You won’t even get a hangover the next day.
Our vodka contains no ethylene glycol, otherwise known as antifreeze. I’ve had eight shots in a single sitting and there was no hangover the next day.
But you couldn’t go beyond eight?
I haven’t tried it, and I wouldn’t recommend it. Crystal Head is 80 proof alcohol. If you go beyond eight shots, hey, best of luck to you. It’s also been triple-filtered through Herkimer diamonds, which gives it a psychic touch. Herkimer diamonds are only found in geophysically anomalous regions on the planet; one is in Afghanistan and the other’s in upstate New York. These are semi-precious quartz crystals, and I’ll admit as much — we pour our vodka over it because of the extraterrestrial link.
The Navajo, the Aztecs, the Mayans said they got their skulls from the star children. Herkimer County is of course near where Griffiss Air Force Base is, where there were a lot of scrambles on UFOs in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s.
Are you being serious?
Are you familiar with Einstein’s theory of spooky interaction in the distance? Are you familiar with the work of Richard Feynman, the physicist who discovered the proton that spun backwards? Are you a quantum fan at all?
No. Can we go back to the UFOs for a minute? What does that have to do with vodka?
If you go on Black Vault, John Greenewald’s site, you’ll see the scramble orders from Griffiss Air Force Base and how it’s linked to Herkimer. One can imagine that if these beings who gave the skulls to the Aztecs, the Navajo, the Mayans, if they have vessels that can visit this planet, Herkimer would show up as a very interesting scan.
On their… spaceships?
It’s basically a semi-precious diamond field where they’re just inches under the earth. So any mineral scanner would show Herkimer as a really, really super-charged area. And maybe that’s why they were coming down.
If I can change the subject slightly, before you joined SNL, you studied at Chicago’s Second City theater with the late improv guru Del Close.
That’s right, yeah. I haven’t heard that name in a while. Del was one of my teachers. He trained me and