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The Legends Speak

We take the words right out of their mouths as Cigar Aficionado imagines what it would be like to have a face-to-face with history’s most famous cigar smokers.
P.J. O'Rourke
From the Print Edition:
Cigar Aficionado's 20th Anniversary, September/October 2012

(continued from page 5)

CA: What did you smoke?
BURNS: Any five-cent cigar. I was 14 years old. But I liked a nickel cigar called Hermosa Joses the best.

CA: I assume that you eventually graduated to fine, hand-rolled Cubans?
BURNS: I smoke a domestic cigar. It’s a good cigar. It’s called an El Producto. Now the reason I smoke a domestic cigar is because the more expensive Havana cigars are tightly packed. They go out on the stage while I’m doing my act. The El Producto stays lit. Now if you’re on stage and your cigar keeps going out, you have to keep lighting it. If you have to stop your act to keep lighting your cigar, the audience goes out. That’s why I smoke El Productos. They stay lit.

CA: But in private?
BURNS: If I paid $3 or $4 for a cigar, first I’d sleep with it.

CA: At least you’re honest about your taste in cigars.
BURNS: You’ve got to be honest; if you can fake that, you’ve got it made.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy


CIGAR AFICIONADO: Some of us are still mad about the Cuban embargo.
JOHN F. KENNEDY: The day before my inauguration, President Eisenhower told me, “You’ll find that no easy problems ever come to the President of the United States. If they are easy to solve, somebody else has solved them.”

CA: But you knew in advance that you were going to impose the embargo, so you were able to…
KENNEDY: In a time of turbulence and change, it is more true than ever that knowledge is power.

CA: What did you think when Pierre Salinger accomplished his mission and returned to the White House with that bounty of cigars?
KENNEDY: All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. But let us begin.

CA: I realize you come from a prosperous family. Nonetheless that was a somewhat extravagant purchase.
Jacqueline Kennedy (interrupting): A newspaper reported that I spent $30,000 a year buying Paris clothes and that women hate me for it. I couldn’t spend that much unless I wore sable underwear.

CA: The embargo was a bit of a challenge for the rest of us.
KENNEDY: The New Frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises—it is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer the American people, but what I intend to ask of them.

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