When I was about 11 years old, Ratt and Motley Crue became my life. I made books of their pictures that I had cut out of rock magazines like Cream and Circus. I’m not exactly sure why my parents never paid any attention to my obsessive behavior, but I guess at the time I was still being a good enough child that I was relatively under the radar as far as them having to be suspicious of my behavior.
We lived in a huge old plantation house on Maxwell Air Force base in Montgomery, Alabama. It had a really cool attic that became my play room. My time in the attic allowed me to turn it into a place where I could plaster the walls with pictures of half naked, long haired, tattooed drug addicts that played rock and roll.
Again, none of this was setting off any sort of alarms to my parents, and looking back on it as an adult, it was very organic. To me it doesn’t seem like it was out of the ordinary that I would travel that path, and I didn’t think that it was out of the ordinary for me to love rock and roll as much as I did. It was awesome, and the guys were magnetic. Why wouldn’t everybody like it? Why wouldn’t everyone want to live and party like that with those guys? Why don’t people want to do it now?
(My fascination didn’t really get out of control until I was 23 years old, but that’s another story.)
At some point in my early years a band I really liked put out an album that had gotten a little airplay on MTV’s Headbangers Ball, and they were on tour promoting it. Back then Blockbuster used to sell music. I want to say they were called Blockbuster Music and Videos. I don’t really remember. All I know is that the band was doing an autograph signing, and I wasn’t going to miss it. The autograph signing was easy to get to. I can’t remember if my mom or dad took me (both deny it to this day,) but it was basically walking up to a table and getting an autograph. It sounds dumb explaining that, but I didn’t know what to expect. I was excited beyond words to get close to the band! I could see the singer sitting at a table signing posters and albums and such. About halfway through the line I realized I had nothing for him to sign. I frantically rooted around in my purse and found a flier for a party that my sister’s friends were throwing that clearly advertised hallucinogenics and good times. I pulled it out and handed it to him. It was (still is) bright pink with all kinds of neat stuff like a smiley face with a bullet hole in its forehead, a ‘disguised’ LSD symbol, etc. He made the requisite small talk, asking me if I loved to rock or something cheesy like that, but he was clearly hung over. Sunglasses on and everything. We’ve all been there. He signed my hot pink invitation to drop acid at a later date, and handed it to the rest of the band to sign, then gave it back to me.
I kind of looked at it for a second and started to walk away. I don’t know what I was expecting. Some kind of heavy metal blessing should have been bestowed upon me. I should have felt different. That’s what I thought then.
So, I’m walking away and the singer says ‘that isn’t what you expected, is it?’ and of course me being me I said ‘no…I don’t know…no.’
He started to laugh at me and he goes ‘what is it that you want?’
I really didn’t know. I knew he couldn’t lay his hands on me and change my life like a preacher, (at least not then I didn’t think that’s how that worked. It actually depends on the band.) I said again that I didn’t know and that I wasn’t sure. He was signing autographs, asking people if they were rocking and rolling in the free world or something, and talking to me at the same time. Finally he goes ‘are you going to the show tonight?’ and I said ‘My parents won’t let me go do that by myself, and none of my friends are into metal.’ He goes ‘oh yeah, the parents. The pretty girls always have to worry about the parents.’
Now THIS is what I think did it. This is what I think made me know what I wanted out of this experience. I wanted this famous guy to call me pretty again. It didn’t matter that my parents were included in that sentence. This rock star had just called me pretty. I knew I was now going to see him perform come hell or high water, but in order to accomplish this I had to lie to my parents. At this point they had started to realize things were afoot they weren’t aware of , and although they had tried to thwart my attempts to become what they were so very worried I would eventually become, I was always quite a few steps ahead in the game to outwit them.
He said to me ‘I’ll leave your name at the door plus one. If you make it to the show, just put the sticky on and come find me.’ This made no sense to me. Now it’s like a second language: Tell the guy checking tickets that I’m on the list, get my VIP badge, sticker or wristband, and head backstage. Back then there were no cell phones which made sneaking around so much easier, but it made things a lot worse when you did finally get in touch with your parents because they hadn’t heard from you all day and night. Mine were extremely big on checking in. They still are, but now I don’t mind. It reassures us all. So my main thing was going to be the cover story. How was I going to manage to stay out all night without them finding out? Enter my awesome friends that lived downtown near the venue. I spent so much time with them that it wasn’t out of the ordinary for me to be at their house for days. My parents knew them, and they knew where they lived, so it wasn’t a big deal. I got a bunch of my stuff together and told my parents I would be back. Not when, just that I would be back. When I got to my friend’s house I got dressed for the show at the Aztec theatre… I think that’s where it was. Anyway, I get down there, and everything went smoothly. I got in. I found the singer. I drank beer. I watched the show. I realized that was exactly what I wanted, and somehow in meeting me for all of two minutes, this guy had figured me out. I never regretted that night. I never got in trouble for it because my friends told my parents I was still asleep when they called the next morning, but I was actually on a tour bus in a hotel parking lot.
Thank you, rock star. I’ll always remember that day as being the day I completely fell in love with music.