With a twenty year run as lead singer of the band Poison, Bret Michaels
is one of the most enduring rock musicians of the past two decades. Known
throughout the eighties for hit singles like Nothin But a Good Time,
Talk Dirty to Me, Unskinny Bop
and the ballad that earned Michael's
millions of devoted female fans, Every Rose Has Its Thorn
group reveled in their massive popularity and the excess that came with
The nineties brought a different kind of fame, with a
headline making car crash that nearly ended the singer's life and a passionate
and volatile relationship with Pamela Anderson which produced an intimate
videotape of the couple having sex, something that both would live to
regret. Not enchanted by the attention, Michael's joined forces with Pamela
Anderson to pursue aggressive legal action that would eventually curb
exposure of the tape. Rebounding with the inception of a film production
company started with actor and friend, Charlie Sheen, Michaels displayed
an undying love of the creative process. He wrote, directed and starred
in the independent film A Letter from Death Row and directed Sheen
in the film No Code of Conduct.
For the most part, Michaels has unrelentingly focused
on his music, continuing to record and tour with Poison band mates C.C.
Deville, Rikki Rocket and Bobby Dall, as well as write and record solo
music. Bret Michaels is also known in music circles for throwing legendary
parties and that fact did not escape VH1 execs or the producers at Mindless
Entertainment, when they approached him with the idea of doing a hybrid:
rock music/reality/dating show as part of their continuing "Celebreality"
lineup. The newly single rock star and father of two was game, on the
condition that he could do the show on his own terms. Extreme sports,
rock music and plenty of debauchery are incorporated into Rock of Love.
The formula is simple
one blonde, blue eyed rock star plus twenty-five
beautiful and willing women all shacked up in the Hollywood Hills
and the alcoholic beverages flow like water.
For my experience, Bret Michaels is a wonderful guy who
displays a genuine down to earth nature. He was an open book and always
willing to poke fun at himself. He assumes no false airs. We had a great
time analyzing love, relationships, and music and he is someone I would
be happy to count as a friend.
PR.com (Allison Kugel): Where are you right now?
Bret Michaels: We are actually in the lovely city of
Nashville, Tennessee, one of my favorite cities. I was down here finishing
up some work on a solo record that comes out in the fall. It's called
PR.com: And right now you're touring with Poison?
Bret Michaels: Yeah. Poison is out all summer long until
September 3rd in Atlanta at the HiFi Buys Amphitheatre. That's the last
PR.com: Since you mentioned Nashville, in my research
I noticed that although you're a rock musician there's a strong country
music connection in there. What's the country music connection about?
Bret Michaels: For me it's very big. First and foremost
I love rock music in all its forms! I love a good distorting guitar and
good melody. I like good melody and that's where my connection to country
is. When I grew up, my father was a huge country music fan. He likes the
old school traditional stuff. When I was growing up my mom was big into
a lot of what I call hippie folk-esque music, [like] James Taylor. I think
that's led to what I bring to the band, which is not only just a sense
of good rock music, but a good sense of being able to tell a story whether
it's funny, sexual, deep
I'm able to complete the story with the
lyrics and the melody.
PR.com: Was music something your parents were very
passionate about when you were growing up?
Bret Michaels: Only on a listening level. My mother played
acoustic guitar and I got guitar lessons when I was a kid. One of the
first instruments I learned to play really well was the harmonica (laughs).
How un-cool of an instrument is that when you're a kid?! I'd be like,
"Can I be the harm player?" and they're like, "No one in
this band needs a harm player." (Laughs) My dad loves harmonica
because every old country song had a harmonica player. Then I picked up
the guitar realizing that was going to get me much more attention from
the girls, if I was standing in the front of the stage with a guitar.
And then the realization hit me that the singer seems to get the most
PR.com: (Laughs) Right.
Bret Michaels: So I said, you know what, I'm gonna buy a
p.a. system so I can front my own band. I'll sing, play the guitar and
some harmonica. And then I found Poison. When you talk about a garage
band, here is how garage bands are formed
it's whoever owns whatever
PR.com: So it's not who's most talented on what instrument?
Bret Michaels: No. If you own something, you come to the
garage and jam. My first band had like fourteen guitar players, one bass
player, a fiddle player, a drummer and a keyboardist. You couldn't be
in a garage band if you didn't own an instrument.
PR.com: If you owned an instrument you were in, no
Bret Michaels: You were in! And then this is how it eliminates.
It's a natural process of elimination, a lot like life. Eventually one
of them couldn't afford gas money or their parents wouldn't drop them
off, so they were out of the band. And eventually it gets down to where
there's only four or five of you left, and that's your band.
PR.com: Let's talk about this new show, Rock of
Love (premiering Sunday, July 15th on VH1). I can't imagine that you
have trouble meeting women. What happened here? Why did you agree to do
Bret Michaels: I don't believe that anyone who goes into
doing reality TV really accepts it for being reality. It's really supposed
to be unscripted TV. I don't think you go in for just the dating process.
I think you have a firm realization that it's bizarre dating on TV. So
let's just call it straight. I can't beat around the bush.
PR.com: That was going to be my follow up. Is this
more about promoting the music? What's this about?
Bret Michaels: It's bizarre dating on TV. I knew that
going in. The first time they had asked me to do this show I was still
in a relationship that was coming to an end, and I said, "At this
time it's not right for me to do it. I don't want to fake the show. If
I'm single in the future and you're still looking for somebody, it would
be great." I have truly partied with all of the VH1 executives. They
knew I could throw a good party, which is what they were looking for.
They said, "Do you have any interest?" And I said, "Here's
my deal. I'm going on the road with Poison. I need to do this show on
my terms. I'm a diabetic. I want that to be part of the show. I take four
or five [insulin] injections, and that will be part of my everyday life.
I'm very independent and I'm not a big posse guy." In other words,
I don't have fifty-two people in an entourage. I've got a couple of good
friends and we do stuff. What happens with a posse to me is that you have
to move in a herd. You spend more time getting the herd to move then just
going and doing what you want to do. All the things I've done in my life,
VH1 and 51 Minds or Mindless Entertainment (the show's producers)
were very open and very cool about. I said, "Can I take the girls
on activities that I would do?" I didn't want a bunch of forced arguments,
where every night we sit at the Jacuzzi and
they're all madly in
love with me. How can they be madly in love with me if they don't know
PR.com: Well I saw the promo clips on VH1's website
and the girls were all over you. They were clawing at you!
Bret Michaels: But there were adult beverages involved
PR.com: (Laughs) It was alcohol fueled.
Bret Michaels: Tequila makes your clothes fall off.
PR.com: Liquid panty remover.
Bret Michaels: Yes, liquid panty remover. They may have
had a few adult beverages, and I think what made the first night great
is I went into that show and they had no clue what to expect from me.
I drove my Harley to the house. I got off the bike and I said, "Girls,
here's what I want to tell you. I want to get to know all of you. You
all look beautiful. Let's go into this house and throw a party and see
what happens." They originally only bought six episodes because I
was a little bit of a loose canon. They couldn't quite get a grip on what
I would and wouldn't do. The first night we partied, and immediately the
girls started to separate into groups. You could tell which were conservative,
who were sexy, who were slutty, and who completely wanted nothing to do
with me. And that's really life. That's why some of those shows are so
phony to me.
PR.com: Where they're all clamoring for the guy, and
he's everyone's ideal type.
Bret Michaels: Yeah and there's going to be some girls,
that even if they would have liked me, they're just going to be turned
off by the craziness going on and by the lifestyle. That immediately eliminated
a few of the girls right off the bat. It took on a very natural process.
I found this, and I say this because I have two beautiful daughters, and
they're young but they're very competitive, especially with each other.
Girls are very competitive. I don't mean just over guys, I'm talking about
in life. So I said, "Why don't we pick natural activities where they
can learn to bond with each other or learn to hate each other." So
we did full contact mud football, motocross racing, gun shooting
you name it. Let me specify that I love to shoot but I'm not a hunter.
PR.com: I'm an animal lover so
Bret Michaels: I'm an animal freak lover!! I do
not kill any animal! However I do love to shoot. I grew up as a kid in
Pennsylvania learning to hunt, and I just decided for myself very early
that it was not for me. I love animals and I'd rather save them then kill
PR.com: Especially for sport. It doesn't make any
Bret Michaels: Yeah, it didn't for me. I'm like, "Hell,
we got plenty of hamburger meat. Why do we have to kill this bear??"
(Laughs) "Why am I killing this bear?!" There's two things
I think I got from my parents. Some form of common sense, and an ability
to be very driven. I like to get up and do stuff, and I'm pretty spontaneous.
I think that was also a big fear of the producers. And in their defense,
they let me do what I wanted to do.
PR.com: I want to ask you about women, because people
have a certain idea about what rock stars want in a woman. The stereotype
is that rock stars like to hook up with the blonde haired, big boobed,
not much going on upstairs, type. I feel like a lot of women play into
it because they think that's what you want, and I don't know if that's
Bret Michaels: I'm only going to speak for myself. Obviously
in my past I had a quite wild relationship with Pamela Anderson
PR.com: I'm not saying she's not an intelligent woman
Bret Michaels: Go with me
I found Pamela, and obviously
she has blonde hair and big boobs, and she was very intelligent. Don't
let her fool you. She knows what's going on. Here's what I'm looking for
in a woman. The first thing you have to find, forget about the hair or
the breasts for a minute; I'm looking for what I say is a physical attraction.
That physical attraction comes when there's something about them that
you look at, and one day that can be blonde hair and humongous breasts,
and the next day it could be a very exotic looking girl with dark hair
and green eyes and small breasts who's just beautiful. It doesn't have
to do with the hair or the breasts. The first thing you need is physical
attraction. You don't walk into a party and find the person you're most
un-attracted to and then want to start a relationship. Everyone walks
into the room and they say, "Wow! That person's really attractive."
You walk over and you start talking and hanging out. Next thing you know,
a couple of them immediately turn you off once they open their mouth.
You're like, "Eeek! That will never pan out..."
PR.com: Yeah. "Peace out."
Bret Michaels & the Girls of "Rock
Bret Michaels: Maybe one night on the bus if I'm really
drunk that could work, because I could drift out of town quickly. But
for a relationship that will not work. Second, what I'm looking for is
a great sense of energy and humor combined. I'm very self- deprecating.
I'll make fun of myself before I will put someone else down. I'm looking
for that in a woman as well; [someone] who can roll with the punches.
I don't like high maintenance. High maintenance does not work for me at
all. And I don't like anybody who talks down to people. I don't speak
down to anyone who works around me, and so I won't put up with it in a
PR.com: Then you've debunked some of the stereotypes.
Actually Pamela was the furthest thing from my mind.
Bret Michaels: Well that's the image that every rocker
gets. Meaning, you go, "Damn! She's hot, blonde, big breasts."
Kid and Tommy and myself
but I was first (laughs)!
PR.com: (Laughs) You were there first!
Bret Michaels: I was the number one man!
PR.com: You set her on this path towards rock musicians
Bret Michaels: I set her on this path towards rock destruction
(Laughs)! I am the man who can claim that. We used to laugh and
she'd go, "Gosh, I used to go out with models and actors, and then
I met you and it's been a path of destruction ever since."
PR.com: (Laughs) I don't think she's recovered
Bret Michaels: No! She hasn't recovered! And I'm so sorry
because she's such an awesome person (laughs). But once she got
a little taste of that rock, she just couldn't go back. She got that bad
boy thing and then she just couldn't go back. She tried and tried, but
never went back to the other side.
PR.com: Girls like a bad boy with a good heart.
Bret Michaels: What you're saying about what girls are looking
for, I think that if a guy is a likeable good hearted bad boy, who also
can be creative and driven and spontaneous
in other words, girls
talk about a bad boy, but they don't want a guy that hits them. That's
not the bad boy they're looking for.
PR.com: Actually, you know what, I misspoke. Women
misspeak when they say that. You're looking for someone with a deep creative
spirit and oftentimes that gets misunderstood as being bad.
Bret Michaels: We're both saying the same thing. A good
hearted bad boy, meaning a guy who has this deep spirit, he lives outside
the box and it's a turn on because they're likeable and great to that
woman. What they want is this likeable good hearted bad boy, meaning rocker
bad boy. That's not a bad thing. That guy's got a good spirit, he's creative
and driven. They're looking for a guy that's got something going on, but
he lives outside the box.
PR.com: Right. And that's oftentimes misinterpreted.
Bret Michaels: Yeah, but we like the word "bad boy."
PR.com: (Laughs) Yeah, we'll stick with bad
Bret Michaels: We like the loveable bad boy (laughs).
Bret Michaels & C.C. Deville of Poison
PR.com: The loveable bad boy, yeah. But the reason
I bring up this point is because in those promo clips for Rock of Love,
there were these girls who were hanging all over you and they didn't seem
too intelligent. If they were, then they were hiding it, because they're
trying to fit into this category that they think you like.
Bret Michaels: A couple of the girls who were extremely
intelligent and funny, at first, just were sort of living out what they
thought I wanted, so I made a speech. I said, "What you need to bring
is the real you. Just pop it out. I don't care." And a couple of
girls, and this is no lie
I had one of the girls that I was really
head over heals for, and you know when you start to sniff out that something's
wrong? I take her on this amazing date and on the way back in the limo
we're sitting there talking and we're sort of connected, but not completely.
I go, "What's the deal? I'm a big boy. I can handle rejection."
Not well, and I may cry later, but not on TV (laughs). This show
got very real. It brought out real conversations. One of the girls even
booted me to the curb. How many people get kicked to the curb on their
own show (laughs)?! That was a painful moment, but the reason I
loved it is because I think people will understand that no matter where
you are in life, rock star or not, the same shit happens. It's not like
there's this magical vale. You may meet more people, but the same emotions
PR.com: That makes sense. Because the more people
in the public eye who I interview and speak to, on a human level, the
more I realize that there's no magic carpet ride. We're all just people.
Bret Michaels: That is one of the best comments ever. There
is no magic carpet ride. We're just people. And you've got to really fall
in love. And this is my thing about being a "loveable bad boy"
is that people know what I am and what I do. It's not like all of a sudden
they woke up one day and I was working at a job and then I get a hit single
and then I'm on the road. This is what I've done for twenty years, so
they know what they're getting into. When [women] get around me, the one
good quality I have in most of my relationships, well two qualities, is
that I'm a good listener and I love sex. And I told them, "Please,
do me a favor. If it's going to happen, let it just happen no matter if
it's on a table, a chair, the floor, or the bed. Please don't take, like,
an hour and a half shower to prepare to do it."
PR.com: Did you sleep with some of the women on the
Bret Michaels: No comment! There was a lot of sex involved
PR.com: No comment means yes. Because if the answer
was "no" you'd just say no.
Bret Michaels: Just let me say "no comment." I've
always wanted to say that. I've never said that in an interview.
PR.com: Haha! Ok. How did 51 Minds (the show's
producers) and VH1 choose the twenty-five girls for the show, and
where did they find them?
Bret Michaels: They went to every city looking for girls
who wanted to be on a rock dating show with Bret Michaels. They wanted
to originally start with thirty girls. What happened is, the premise is
that I cannot have known or have partied with any of them. I cannot have
had sex with any of these girls prior. The next thing that happens is
[the producers] say, "We're putting the thirty girls on the wall.
Is there anybody here that you know?" I looked and said, "Well
yeah, I've partied with her before." And they said, "Well she
says she's never met you." So I said, "Ok look at this picture
on MySpace. Here's the bus from a year ago, and here's the girl standing
on the bus."
Bret Michaels: So we eliminated five girls, so now it became
twenty-five. Then we went into the house and we threw ourselves a hum
dinger of a party.
PR.com: Which girls were you most drawn to, the ones
who came on very strong or the ones who were more aloof?
Bret Michaels & Some of the Girls of "Rock
Bret Michaels: At first there's going to be a physical
connection to the ones that are much more aggressive. But on the first
night I went out of my way to try to sit and talk and hang with every
one of them, individually. Then as they got drunker, and more adult beverages
got poured, it got out of control to the point where the producers were
starting to flip out because all of a sudden you'd be on the couch and
five girls would jump up on the couch and start dancing. I think they
weren't quite ready for the rock party that opened this show up.
PR.com: They don't know the groupie syndrome?
Bret Michaels: Well, it's not even groupie syndrome. What
they were not prepared for was that these girls were not fake. They were
truly being who they were. They were having fun. And you noticed right
away, there were two or three that were real conservative and they would
be over in the background by the pool and not say a whole lot. There was
one that was extremely aggressive and drunk out of her mind!
PR.com: Lap dance girl, right?
Bret Michaels: It was just the alcohol, because she was
actually a really nice person. But she shouldn't drink a whole lot. But
those moments are what make for great TV. We started the party at 6pm,
and it ended at 5 the next morning. The next day when I woke up, I got
up and had to take my insulin. I worked out, did my thing. No one was
feeling super great. And the next day, I've never looked more awful in
my life (laughs)! My face was puffy and my hair was all stringy
and hanging in my face. It wasn't my finest hour.
PR.com: What about the music? I know that you incorporated
your music into the show. Is it songs from Poison, or new songs that you
Bret Michaels: Part of my whole reason for doing the show
was that I would get to write the music for the show and get to play music.
Most of the music in the show is solo material and Poison material. So
you're getting the best of both worlds. If you didn't have music in a
show by a musician, then that would be absolutely fake. That's what I
do. Today I have my acoustic guitar. I get up, I jam a little bit. I have
a full studio on my bus on the road. That's what I base what I do in my
life on. I find what I love and then find things that surround it. I don't
want to just be known for anything.
PR.com: You want your entire public identity to be
wrapped around music.
Bret Michaels: Thank you.
PR.com: Your're welcome. I'm on fire today!
Bret Michaels: You are on! Can we just use your quotes
as my quotes (laughs)? It took me an hour and a half, and you nail
it in like four words.
PR.com: That's what I do (laughs). I like the
single on your MySpace page, "Fallen." Is that from your newest
Bret Michaels: Yes. It gives you that side of me, and
then there's another one on there called, "Go That Far," which
is the Rock of Love theme song.
PR.com: People have labeled you, and I hope you don't
get mad at me, but Glam Rock
Bret Michaels: Whether we're called glam rock, hair metal,
I look at us as just a rock band. When we came out as
Poison, we wanted to be shocking because when we moved to L.A. there were
at least twenty thousand bands trying to make it. We wanted people to
take notice of our music, but you couldn't just go out there in that day
and age when everything was over the top. You needed to be extreme for
people to take notice of what you were.
PR.com: Do you think you were pigeon holed into that
glam/hair metal genre?
Bret Michaels: We were the ultimate garage band. Our band
has been beaten up by every critic. Whatever people thought was a "punk"
band, meaning you did it your way, you didn't care. That was Poison. We
were independent, and we kept all of our publishing. We're our own record
label. We did everything that was what punk rock was supposed to be. We'd
have hit single after hit single, the critics would still crucify us and
we still have massive fans. One day we realized this is who we are, and
whether they call us hair metal, hard rock, glam rock, punk glam, punk
I've been called everything. It seems like they could never
put their finger on us and here we are twenty one years later, still selling
out almost every arena we play.
PR.com: What's going on with your production company
that you have with Charlie Sheen? Are you guys still producing movies?
Bret Michaels: We did three or four [movies] together
and we had an awesome time. I want to say nothing but great things about
Charlie. He treated me great and helped me to break into a very tough
industry. I wrote these independent movies, and then we got Dimension
and Miramax buying up some of my movies and letting me direct them. It
was all great. Then [Poison] started heavily touring, and [Charlie Sheen]
went on to do Spin City and then Two and a Half Men. It
just wasn't business-wise to do a full production like we had been doing
for about two or three years. We knocked out about three or four movies
in, like, a three year span. But this year I'm going to do an independent
film called Between a Rose and a Thorn (A title, no doubt, inspired
by Poison's hit ballad, "Every Rose Has Its Thorn").
PR.com: Is that semi-autobiographical?
Bret Michaels: Semi. You will see a mixture of what I
call a Spinal Tap approach to a serious movie. It shows you the
full spectrum of a person a lot like me, and the crossroads in my life.
When we're a child we fantasize about what rock n' roll is
caviar, Lear jets
but no work involved. You pick your guitar up,
managers fly you in, and you magically appear on stage; there's millions
of women, and then you leave. I found out the hard way that, well, there's
many a slip between the cup and the lip. You know what I mean (laughs)?
And that's what this movie is about. It shows you the crossroads of my
life. The day Poison broke big, when our first album went from three copies
sold to three and a half million, we were getting all these plaques and
all this stuff. I'll never forget walking outside the Capitol [Records]
Building after they gave us this big ceremony and the news was there.
They locked the door and I couldn't get back in the building. I'm standing
outside going, "I gotta get back in. I think I left my car keys inside
the building." Here I am in one of the greatest moments of my life
and I'm standing outside by a dumpster while the janitor's cleaning stuff.
How do you show the world these moments?
PR.com: I get it. It's like total elation and then
this anti-climatic moment.
Bret Michaels: (Laughs) Yeah, I'm like, "Does
anyone have the car keys? Fuck! We left them in the building!" It's
that moment of greatness and then the moment of complete deflation. I
want to show people that this is what happened in my life and that it's
the journey, not the destination.
PR.com: What about you, would you say, is most like
the cliché of what people think a "rock star" is, and
what quality or thing about you is most un-like that cliché?
Bret Michaels: When you meet me and come onto the tour
bus, I like to through a great party. I won't say all that I do, but I
like to have a little drink or maybe a little smoke
I'm just saying.
But I'm a fun party guy. I don't go bad on alcohol. I don't become a mean
drunk. I'm a happy-go-lucky party [guy]. Every cliché rock party
you could think of, I have thrown on my bus.
PR.com: And the most un-like?
Bret Michaels: When I need private time, I get in my
vehicle, and my love in life is to drive. I can get in a car or my Harley
and I like to go out in the desert for four or five hours and have nobody
and nothing around me. Just listening to some tunes, driving, and just
completely clear my head. And I'm a Weather Channel freak (laughs).
I love Court TV and The Weather Channel.
PR.com: One last question. I don't know what you can
tell me or what you can't tell me. I know you can't tell me what happened
on the show.
Bret Michaels: (Laughs) But you're gonna ask me
PR.com: I'm gonna ask it in a cryptic way
Bret Michaels: You're gonna sneak it in, aren't you?
PR.com: Well, I'm announcing that I'm sneaking
it in (laughs)! Is there anyone special in your life right now?
Bret Michaels: I will say that obviously my two daughters
without a doubt. That is very special as a father. But, on a love connection
side, there is someone special. And I'll just leave it at that.
"Rock of Love" with Bret Michaels premieres
Sunday, July 15th on VH1. Go to www.vh1.com.