It was the ’80s — and we were all giddy about hair metal. The Spandex, the mile-high coifs, the God-awful but irresistible music. It was the perfect soundtrack to the detestable Reagan years, bereft of substance yet hypnotic just the same. Mötley Crüe, Ratt, Bon Jovi, Cinderella and Dokken were among a long parade of shiny happy bands that rocked hard but always seemed to manage an arena-sized love ballad to make the girls swoon.
Perhaps the best known of those power-ballads (even bigger than the mighty Bon Jovi’s “I’ll Be There for You”) was Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” It was tender and sincere, based on a breakup between lead vocalist Bret Michaels and a former lover. And it was an essential counterweight to a career built on party anthems and a reputation rooted in hard drinking, brawling and groupie mongering.
Though grunge delivered hair metal’s deathblow in the early ’90s, many of our favorite pretty boys thrived in the aftermath. Michaels, for one, became a reality TV star, with his own VH1 show, “Rock of Love,” which followed him in his quest for a mate. Michaels also wrote and directed a couple of low-budget films and released several successful solo albums.
So you’d think a man who rocked so hard, who nearly died in a car accident at the height of his stardom, whose homemade sex tape with Pamela Anderson was stolen, duped and sold on the black market, who is an advocate for sufferers of diabetes (a condition he has battled throughout his life) wouldn’t shy away from a little more publicity, especially if it helped promote an upcoming concert. But dang it if Michaels isn’t a hard man to get a hold of. Since we were unsuccessful at procuring an interview with the fair-haired Renaissance man, we decided to concoct an interview of our own. So here it is, an imaginary (i.e., fake) interview with Bret Michaels, constructed solely from lyrics lifted from Poison songs.
Folio Weekly: First, Bret, let me say thanks for a wonderful evening last night. You really know how to party. My head is still reeling, and I can’t seem to get that smell out of the carpet. So do you think maybe I could have a few bucks to get the thing steam-cleaned?
Bret Michaels: Not a dime. I can’t pay my rent. I can barely make it through the week.
F.W.: Dude, seriously? You’re a millionaire … or at least a thousandaire, right?
B.M.: They say I spend my money on women and wine, but I couldn’t tell you where I spent last night.
F.W.: Helloooo? On my floor, in a pool of vomit, remember?
B.M.: Almost drowned in a puddle of my own sweat, I swear.
F.W.: That was puke, man. Anyhoo, so you’re touring again. I think you’re calling it the “Get Your Rock On” tour. You’ve come a long way since the early days when you were playing the bar scene in Los Angeles.
B.M.: In a smoky room, could have been the devil’s tomb, 90 miles east of L.A.
F.W.: Damn, my bad. Your rise to glam-rock fame was clouded with some pretty rough times. You treated your body like a cesspool, you wrecked your car and almost killed yourself, you had that whole issue with the bootlegged sex tape — which I still haven’t gotten a copy of, by the way.
B.M.: I’ve seen things in my life that should never be seen, I’m talkin’ things that’d make your skin crawl. I wanna go back to a simpler time.
F.W.: Like when you and C.C. DeVille first met? What was it like when you guys first got together and started making music?
B.M.: Stupid, stoned and dumb.
F.W: Nice. You’ve had a few surgical procedures due to health problems. You’re lucky to be alive, I’d say.
B.M.: Though it’s been a while now, I can still feel so much pain. Like a knife that cuts you, the wound heals, but the scar, that scar remains.
F.W.: Ouch! Speaking of your health, I hear you do a lot of fundraising — for diabetes, for animal welfare and for the men and women of the U.S. Armed Services.
B.M.: What you heard about me was probably right. I’m the boy next door.
F.W.: So what advice do you have for a young person trying to make it in the music business these days? What with the changing face of the industry and the decline of record sales, it must be a tough racket for a young musician to break into.
B.M.: You can’t give in without a fight to make it, baby. You gotta aim high, baby, whether you lose or win. And when you get to the top, you gotta get off or go right back down again.
F.W.: Sage advice, Mr. Michaels. You are a wise man.
B.M.: May not be much, but it’s the best I can do.
John E. C