Precious Chong’s Teacher Blamed Her for Cheech and Chong Movies

‘I was like, it’s a character!’ she says. ‘What are you, nuts?’
Precious Chong’s Teacher Blamed Her for Cheech and Chong Movies

Kids with strict parents often mutiny by listening to outrageous music, doing weird things with their hair, or experimenting with drugs. But if your dad is Tommy Chong, one half of counterculture comedy duo Cheech and Chong? “When I was growing up, I was a goody-two-shoes and I liked getting straight As,” says Precious Chong, Tommy’s daughter. “Obviously, the effects of growing up the way I did, you rebel by being straight.”

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But that didn’t stop people in her life from assuming she was counterculture as well. On a recent episode of the Rarified Heir podcast (a show about the children of celebrities), Chong remembered an episode from her private school days. “I had this teacher. He was from Texas, and he was my geography teacher and history teacher,” she recalls. “He came to me one day and he's like, ‘I watched one of your dad's movies and I'm disgusted!’ He went off on me about the drugs and sex. And I was so appalled! Even as a kid I was like, it's a character! This is a movie. What are you, nuts?”

While Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin had some similarities to their onscreen personas — yes, they smoked a lot of pot — they weren’t Cheech and Chong. “I realized that people often made the mistake of thinking it was a real thing and they weren’t playing characters,” she says. In actuality, “they were kind of healthy people. They meditated and worked out. They weren't doing a lot of coke.” 

Still, you don’t get through childhood as Tommy Chong’s kid without a story of two. “My parents dropped acid and took to me to see Thumbelina when I was like three or four,” she says. “I remember them laughing hysterically and not keeping it together. I remember being a little kid and wondering ‘What is wrong with them?’ And they never did that again.” 

While Cheech and Chong are lovable icons of another time now, their comedy represented something disturbing to the establishment when they began their careers. “In the 70s, it was very dangerous,” she says. “People were very upset by Cheech and Chong and upset by hippie culture. My dad had long hair and there were a lot of assumptions. People were shocked by it.”

The early days in the life of Cheech and Chong weren’t easy. Tommy, a Canadian immigrant without a green card, got around on a Honda scooter. With no trunk, he would travel to open mics wearing his costumes because he had no other place to put them. The duo’s drug humor was scandalous to some in the early 70s, causing the occasional waitress to run out the door when they performed. The Chong family was barely scraping by when a bank error accidentally dropped hundreds into Tommy’s bank account — he quickly spent it before they could ask for it back. The bank did come looking for the money, days before Cheech and Chong got a record deal and recorded “Dave’s Not Here.”

“As a kid, it's kind of scary because you want to be accepted and you want to belong,” Precious says about growing up as Tommy Chong’s kid. “But as an adult, I really appreciate it.”

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