A little while ago in this space I wrote about the bittersweet reunion of Led Zeppelin and what becomes of rock stars when guitar god status has long since passed them by.
I thought I had it all figured out — that sometimes rock stars should disappear while still on top or find a dignified exit strategy to usher them out of the rock world if they hang around one summer tour too long.
I’ve since decided that some men need to be driven from the rock business, forcibly if necessary, to save them from themselves.
This all came to mind this weekend when I was given a DVD compilation of Rock Of Love: The Complete First Season, starring Bret Michaels (in stores April 8) and discovered — after having only seen half of one episode and a Saturday Night Live parody until that point — that not only is the show a complete train wreck, but the lead singer of Poison is the cheesiest man alive.
Rock Of Love is like other reality shows where a bevy of beauties compete for the affection of a B-list celebrity — former Public Enemy star Flavor Flav and Happy Days’ Baio have had similar shows.
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For those who weren’t into the band or were born after their ’80s heyday, Poison was one of the best-selling hair metal groups of the era pumping out mega-hits such as Smokin’ In The Boys Room, Talk Dirty To Me and their trademark ballad Every Rose Has Its Thorn.
They were basically mascara-wearing, androgynous caricatures back in the day. Although the androgyny has been toned down a bit, little has changed in Poison’s world since then. If you were wondering, they still tour to packed, relatively large venues full of nostalgic fans and retro-loving kids.
Rock Of Love basically features a group of very worn, plastic women, some of whom are actual strippers (one real porn star in Season 2), vying for Bret’s love with the usual series of outrageous challenges (mud football, dumpster diving, etc.) while the bloated rocker does his best to feign sincerity with descriptions of how turned-on he is by these women.
But they’re not really the problem. Michaels, one would assume, needn’t reduce himself to such a level to gain attention (because let’s face it, we know he isn’t doing this kind of show to find true love) or pay off his L.A. mansion.
So the only rational conclusion is that the man is prepared to stoop this low just to maintain some sort of public presence.
“I’ve either had crazy, wild rock and roll bus sex, or I’ve had long-term relationships,” Michaels — who apparently enjoys dressing like a Sunset Strip pimp — tells the women in a Season 1 episode in which he discusses his wild rock and roll lifestyle.
It’s sad to see a guy fall off his pedestal. It’s worse to have seen him fall about 15 years ago without getting the message — you had your day my 45-year-old, wig-wearing friend, now it’s time to ride your Harley into the guitar-shredding sunset and let it go.
Chris Atchison has been working as a journalist for the past seven years in both freelance and full-time capacities. A Guy Thing, his take on the everyday travails of the urban male, runs biweekly.