From our private conversations on Facebook Messenger:
Ryan: I’ve wanted to do an interview with you guys forever. How do you like the book?
Kidman: I brought it with me to read at night. The book is great so far.
Ryan: Do I get one of those bad ass portraits done of me? That gonzo/Steadman style. That shit is dope.
Kidman: Maybe. The EIC and I are trying to decide if this is going to be a written interview or if it will be the inaugural episode of The Official Gonzo Today Podcast. Keep that under your hat though.
It is funny how you start remembering the stupid little conversations after someone close to you passes away. Those times seem so insignificant until you know that you won’t have them with that person again. All of it becomes so clear in your head. You begin to replay highs/lows, the laughs, the mourning of a friend (RIP Paul), everything, including warning signs.
We ended up doing an audio interview. We used a picture of Ryan and Will De Los Santos in black and white for that interview. I’m finally getting you that gonzo/Steadman style portrait you wanted Ryan. You were right, that shit IS dope.
Ryan Leone was a wonderful author, a restless soul, and my friend. Leone was the author of the bestselling book “Wasting Talent” and the recently released “ANTIHEROES.” Leone passed away on Friday July 2, 2022. He was a month shy of his 37th birthday.
He leaves behind his fiancé and soulmate Karina along with their two beautiful sons, Nico and Weiland.
For those that didn’t personally know Ryan; you all know the guy that worked with the drug cartels, the on again off again heroin user, and the guy who did federal time and released his novel only to go back to jail on alleged pimping charges. He was much more than those things to many people including myself.
I originally met Ryan in 2017 when he reached out to me and Gonzo Today. He was an excited new author looking for some exposure and being a huge Hunter S. Thompson fan, he was focused on Gonzo Today to bring his story to life.
He first contacted me on Facebook Messenger on October 24, 2016,
It wasn’t love at first sight. In fact, I just assumed that our other writer was handling the interview with him, but it never came to fruition. At that point I figured this guy went to prison and we would never hear from him again.
I didn’t hear from him for almost six months.
He got back in touch with me about doing the interview because our other writer wasn’t contacting him. At that point I stepped in and told him to send me his materials. He sent me a little (unknown at the time) book with a startling cover called “Wasting Talent.”
Once I got the book, I couldn’t stop reading it. It was so gritty and real. I once told Ryan that his writing was like “if William S. Burroughs and Quinten Tarantino fucked one another in a dark alleyway with a pineapple stolen from Lenny Bruce’s kitchen counter.”
That made Ryan laugh, I should have published that back then, but I didn’t. The book was/is laugh out loud funny, if you have that dark sense of humor that was akin to Ryan’s.
We did two interviews in 2017. The first one had to be revised due to a change in the team producing Ryan’s documentary at that time. The second was with his friend, writer/director/producer Will De Los Santos.
Ryan was always very open about his follies in life. During our interviews he didn’t want to hide anything. I believe that is not only what made him adored by many, but he was able to draw his strength from it as well.
Later on and after his second stint in prison, I was lucky enough to be asked by Ryan to lend my voice to “Drug Stories for Truckers Vol. 1” as the radio disc jockey at the beginning of the story.
Why the Hell did I bring that up? It seemed a little random, didn’t it?
I brought it up to display the loyalty Ryan had to the people he cared about. The reason Ryan cast me in that part was because I was a former radio disc jockey and had a great voice. The other reason was because I was a trusted and loyal friend who was one of the first to really see the greatness in his work. He never forgot that.
In a very short period of time Ryan was able to enjoy many laurels in his career. He wrote two novels, one of which I haven’t read yet. Ryan was nearly finished with the documentary “Idiot Savant: The Savage Life of Ryan Leone.” He sold one of the scripts that he wrote as well. Ryan was also working with Nick Stahl and Johnny Depp on a script. The weekend he died he was set to fly overseas to meet with Depp to discuss the project.
With all of his career highlights, his biggest accomplishment was his family. They were the driving force in his life. I know how much he loved Karina and the boys. He was a proud and beaming father.
There was always this heavy air of confidence in Ryan that shined over his lesser-known insecurities. Ryan was a very sensitive man. I wish he could have understood that that sensitivity was what made him stronger than ten men with forty-pound weights hanging from their testicles.
Ryan was also an outspoken activist against the prison system in the United States and talked about it every chance that he got. He didn’t just talk about it, he donated money from his book sales to the cause in an attempt to make the world a better place.
I am going to miss our long talks. He was a special friend to me and a great cheerleader for my work. He loved the fact that I was writing my first book and we talked about him putting a blurb on the cover and he wanted to write the forward for my book.
During our last talk just a couple of weeks ago, he scolded me about potentially signing with a publishing house. Ryan was a DIY monster of a man. If it was going to happen, it was going to happen by his hands. He was magic. Ryan could literally think things into existence.
I am going to miss our special friendship and have even caught myself riding out to the pier, looking up at the sky, and talking to him. You are gone now Ryan. I hope you know how loved you really were by your family and friends. I pray that you have found a serenity in death that you couldn’t discover in life. You were a true Gonzo. A truer friend. You were a man that had so much love to give. I am going to miss my kindred soul brother… tell Paul hello for me.