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CAREY-ED AWAY; COMEDIAN-TURNED-STAR DREW CAREY PROUD TO SAY HE'S NOTHING LIKE YOUR TYPICAL CELEB.

Byline: Keith Marder Daily News Television Writer

There is a dark side to Drew Carey. A side that owns a four-piece gun collection. A side that twice attempted suicide. A side that favors dating strippers, that has pierced nipples and once paid a woman $100 to bare her breasts during Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

It might surprise some of his fans that he's not always the roly-poly, clean-cut geeky, glasses-wearing chucklehead that you see on ``The Drew Carey Show,'' 9 p.m. Wednesdays on ABC (Channel 7).

Carey insists he is just a man doing what he enjoys - and enjoying it without shame.

``I'm not afraid of what anyone thinks of me,'' Carey wrote in his new book, ``Dirty Jokes and Beer'' (Hyperion; $22.95). ``A lot of people (especially celebrities) stop themselves from doing all kinds of things that they would like to do because they're afraid of what people will think of them. Not me.''

Watching him in action, however, you'd believe he would never do anything to offend his followers.

Carey is not your garden-variety Hollywood type, and his fans sense it. They see Carey - assault rifles and all - as one of them.

At a recent book signing in Santa Monica, hundreds of people showed up to meet, greet and touch Carey. He made it a point to make sure that everyone who came got their book autographed, a photo if they brought a camera and a cheerful smile.

The stream of humanity, like Carey and the characters on his show, consisted of average-looking people, and the network would be happy to know that most seemed to be in the coveted 18-to-49-year-old demographic.

Security and publicity personnel were instructed by Carey not to cut off the line under any circumstances. He didn't care how long he had to sit there or how many pens he went through.

``A lot of time, they think they're doing you a favor by being rude,'' Carey said of his support staff. ``I was really mad at Madonna for a while. I was shoved by her bodyguards into a bunch of people at the Golden Globes. Then somebody told me that she probably had nothing to do with it. You have to tell the people who are around you to be cool to people.''

That Carey was. He even took a phone call from a radio talk-show host during the signing, keeping track of two conversations at once.

His banter with the signees was at minimum cordial, at its best, outright friendly.

One woman called him the sexiest man on television.

``Sexier than Frasier?'' Drew mused. ``Sexier than Detective Sipowicz? Sexier than Jonathan Taylor Thomas?''

When he delivered those lines, Carey capped the sentences off as he generally does, with a laugh that sounds more nervous than self-congratulatory.

Earlier in the evening, a friend of his - a biker-looking woman with a semi-mohawk - came by and asked what Carey was up to.

``I'm just selling books, making money,'' he said. That comment, too, made him laugh.

And why not laugh? His show is currently ranked 17th, according to Nielsen Media Research, and topped NBC's powerful ``3rd Rock From the Sun'' in its only head-to-head meeting.

Although he is not personally a fan of the show, award-winning producer Sam Denoff, who teaches two sitcom classes at USC, understands Carey's appeal.

``He's a very funny fellow,'' Denoff said, ``and there's something very likable about him. I think the combination of those two things is essential if you're going to be received well. He's certainly Mr. Everyman. He's a very talented and cute guy.''

The advance for ``Dirty Jokes and Beer,'' a collection of essays, personal stories and enough jokes to get you through office parties until the millennium, was $3 million.

But for Carey ``making money isn't as important as earning it.''

To that end, Carey decided not to hire a ghostwriter. He sat down at his personal computer and wrote all 62,000 words. He actually wrote a lot more than that but the publishers edited some of his thoughts, including one very off-color chapter about what a Kennedy would have to do to lose an election in Massachusetts. (``People in Massachusetts have to be the biggest dopes in America.'')

``I didn't want to pay any money to a ghostwriter who can't write as funny as me,'' Carey said. ``I didn't want to pay 100 grand to do something I could have done.''

The book is ostensibly made up of jokes and funny essays, but there is a brief exposure of his inner-Drew - a few serious moments, but even those have punch lines.

Carey reveals that he twice took sleeping pills in an effort to kill himself, and was molested when he was 9.

``Hey, that ought to sell some books, huh?'' he wrote about the molestation. But he does make the point that victims of sexual crimes should not be ashamed of what happened to them and should seek help.

``Part of the problem about molestation and rape and date rape,'' Carey said, ``is that such shame is attached to sex that people can't talk about it because it's a sexual thing. People tiptoe around it. It's like cancer, which used to not be mentioned, except for a whisper. AIDS used to not be mentioned.''

Because of the two attempts to kill himself, Carey says that he is more willing to live life on his terms and take risks.

``I got my nipples pierced just for the hell of it,'' Carey wrote. ``I date strippers because I finally can. I let myself drink and gamble without feeling guilty about it. I take more chances.''

The guns, two 9mm handguns and two assault rifles that are locked in his house and haven't been used in over a year, were bought for another reason. The impulse for those purchases came from his political side. The side of Carey that considers the American tax system ``Byzantine'' and ``unfair.''

``The only reason I ever considered buying them in the first-place was when (U.S. Sen.) Dianne Feinstein came out with her gun ban,'' Carey said. ``I wasn't going to be able to buy guns any more; what if I wanted one? If I had more money, I would have bought more guns.

``Guns are, I hate to say it, you almost need a gun in America - and definitely in L.A. I vote for police stuff whenever they ask if we should spend more money. I love the police. But if someone breaks into my house, I'm not going to dial 911 and wait for the police.''

Again, it's a case of Carey being himself, not, mind you, an average guy ``I'm a TV star,'' he said. ``I try not to be too Hollywood. I get a lot of free movie tickets and Nikes, and the money's great, but I am really more ambitious than the average guy.''

And his ultimate ambition?

``Who wouldn't mind being rich and retired?'' Carey said. ``I never had a job for more than 14 months until I got on television, except for the Marines, which I couldn't quit.

``That was the pattern of my whole life. I'd have a career, get bored and quit. If you gave me Seinfeld money for a couple of years, I'd be so out of it like Johnny Carson. Do you think he's bumming? He lives out in Malibu with a beautiful wife. He can read books, have hobbies and do a ton of different things.''

CAPTION(S):

2 Photos

Photo: (1--Cover--Color) YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW DREW?

Think again. The eccentric comic who took TV by storm reveals his darker side

Cover design by Cesar J. Quebral III

(2) No caption (Drew Carey)
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Title Annotation:L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 8, 1997
Words:1288
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