Former California Gov. and cheater extraordinaire Arnold Schwarzenegger swooped in and wrapped an audience around his finger last night at a book talk and signing in downtown Washington. His newly published tell-all is aptly called Total Recall.
WaPo and Politics & Prose Bookstore co-sponsored an hour-long interview at the packed Hamilton Restaurant that included audience participation. WaPo‘s national political writer Ned Martel was tasked with interviewing The Terminator. But from the get-go one thing was abundantly clear: Martel was going easy on him. And though this was supposed to be an interview, Schwarzenegger was clearly running the show.
It was impossible not to be charmed. “This is for concentration curls,” he started off in his signature Austrian accent, using his thick book to do reps. There was a temperature shift. No matter that he’s fathered a son with a woman other than his wife and had other dalliances, the crowd warmed to him immediately. Even the swarms of media in the far back were taken, hanging on his every word. From then on, the audience was his to lose.
Part of what was so likeable about him was that no subject, however awkward, was off limits — a good thing since his audience paid $15 a seat to see him. So he addressed it all, including whether he regrets letting the maid reside in his home, if he hopes to reconciling with Maria — he does but he says it’ll take time — and of course, his views on politics.
“Washington is the most frozen place I’ve ever seen,” he declared, quickly insulting the evil ways of the city in which little gets done and Republicans and Democrats rarely come together.
Asked about tonight’s debates, Schwarzenegger remarked, “This is really freakout city when you’re out there.” He explained how nerve-wracking it is to maneuver the teleprompter, and what it’s like to go off script and then try to return to it. Next up: an impersonation of AOL-HuffPost Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington so good that he really ought to perform it on stage.