Marion Barry on doing cocaine: 'What the hell? Why not?'

The former D.C. mayor has accused the FBI of orchestrating a campaign to publicly humiliate him.

By Matt Bradwell
District of Columbia Mayor Marion Barry (L) playfully punches former heavyweight boxer Riddick Bowe in 1990. (UPI Photo/Jennifer Law/Files)
District of Columbia Mayor Marion Barry (L) playfully punches former heavyweight boxer Riddick Bowe in 1990. (UPI Photo/Jennifer Law/Files) | License Photo

WASHINGTON, June 16 (UPI) -- Former Washington, D.C. mayor and current Council Member Marion Barry is candidly and bluntly addressing his life, legacy and controversies as he promotes his new memoir, Mayor For Life.

Barry, who served five terms as Washington's mayor from 1979-1991 and again from 1995-1999, may be most known outside of Washington as the mayor caught on tape doing cocaine with a prostitute -- an issue Barry is making no efforts to talk around.


"How else could you explain how so many media people had gotten a hold of it so fast," Barry poses, accusing the FBI of assisting distribution of the infamous video to disgrace his political career. "It was all over the news before I had even arrived home that night."

"They couldn't find anything corrupt on me, because I had never taken a dime. So they become desperate to attack me for my personal life instead."

Despite blaming the FBI for the public relations fallout he incurred from his drug use, Barry graphically takes responsibility for his experience with the illegal stimulant.

The first time he tried cocaine, a woman Barry would eventually have sex with offered him the drug and he accepted, rationalizing, "What the hell? Why not?" After a failed attempt to snort the drug, Barry asked for a mulligan and successfully got high for the first of many times, comparing the feeling to having an orgasim.


"The cocaine was a powerful stimulant that went straight to my penis ... From that point on, you chase that same high and sex that you felt the first time. But I never considered myself addicted to anything or having problems with substance abuse."

Barry's memoir does not exclusively deal with sex and drugs, as Barry speaks with great pride and admitted hubris about his role in Washington's city history. As a young politician and power broker, Barry says he would often take a step back and think, "Damn! I did all of this [expletive]? How did I do it," but noting the dangers of complacency, "didn't have time to be too proud or introspective."

Barry sees himself as a civil rights icon who fought to take down and old boys club of white political allies in Washington's city politics.

"I don't want my life and legacy to be all about what happened to me at the Vista Hotel."

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