Watching Tom Cruise preen around in tight pants brings back memories of his manic Oprah couch jumping fiasco, but all this Rock of Ages hoopla also conjures up glittery, Jack Daniels infused memories of my own love affair with hair metal. I was drinking Cherry Coke instead of Jack at that time but no matter. I pretended it was Jack, which is just as cool.
After several years of mistakenly thinking the pretty, short-haired boys posing in Tiger Beat and swinging their girl hips in boy bands were sex on a stick, my friends and I thankfully, mercifully discovered the true measure of a dude’s power: Hair. Lots of it. Long, flowing, and wavy. If this mass of man hair framed a face decorated with pink lipstick and glittery green eye shadow all the better. As long as he wore leather pants and dated D-cup strippers he passed the test. We’d never kissed anyone and sex was something you read about in Judy Bloom books, but we were pretty freaking sure we wanted to roll around in a blissful tussle of fringe, leather, tattoos, and of course… long, kinky hair. Sure those ginormous bulges in their tight-ass pants scared the crap out of us, but we read in Rolling Stone and Spin that those bulges got a boost from rolled up socks or cucumbers usually, so it was all good in the hood. The hood of suburbia, where bored pre-pubescent girls everywhere stuff their faces with Fruity Pebbles and contemplate cucumber crotches. Now girls have pale, skinny, shorthaired dudes like Bieber and Edward Cullen who probably don’t stuff their pants unless it’s with a mini gherkin.
The first love of my life was Bret Michaels. Now he’s more into Botox than bourbon, but he was so sexy in his pink leopard print bandanas and frosty lip gloss. It was ordained from above: I would marry Bret and my sister would marry his Poison band mate CC Deville (I was the oldest so obviously I got to choose the best husband). CC’s electric shock hairdo was long enough – my sister was excited for her nuptials. It was all a big dumb Disney fantasy until shit got real.
Since Motley Crue was just as hot (well, maybe not Mick Mars – sorry dude) we moved away from Poison and into the hardcore shit. They lit themselves on fire, sang about the devil, and supposedly Tommy Lee didn’t need no freaking cucumber. Maybe they wore a little makeup but these dudes were full on man whores and we loved them. The Girls Girls Girls video is really what pushed us over the edge. These chicks were boobalicious, slutty, and gorgeous and our men loved grinding up on them, so our life’s mission became crystal clear. We would become those girls. Motley Crue would grind up on us and make us their bride.
My lofty goal of going away to college to become a marine biologist or a “dream doctor”- whatever the hell that was – quickly spiraled out of control into a fantasy of quitting school, heading to LA either by bus or hitchhiking, becoming a stripper, and marrying Vince or Tommy. So what if “antibiotic” was their middle name – it was on. This was no dream, this is America and any bored little girl could bail on ballet class and totally pick up stripping and live the dream in LA.
My friends and I studied the Girls Girls Girls video. We shut the door and practiced our own unique stripper routines using flower printed couches or antique end tables as our stripper pole. No clothes came off, but there was a lot of Sun-In drenched hair flipping and we tied our oversized T-shirts in a knot to make it sexy. We would grow our hair out until it touched our ass, dye it blonde, and with one whip of our bleached mane we’d snag Vince or Tommy. How fucked up is that? Pre-teen girls abandoning a promising future as a dream doctor to go pole dance and seduce Motley Crue? At the time it seemed like a romantic escape. Like Cinderella, but the cool stripper version.
Eventually the allure of the stripper pole faded. We moved away from hair metal and entered the brooding, deep, pissed off phase where you listen to The Smiths and imagine fleeing to rainy England and eating toast with Morrissey. Then other phases happen – punk, Bjork, Miles Davis – but hair metal will never die. If you can listen to Ratt or Def Leppard and not feel a thing, you might need to go grind up on that flowery couch in your apartment. Only a real man can rock hairspray and glittery shadow and still be a Rock God. Even if he needs to stuff a cucumber in his crotch.