Crazy, crazy women.
They speak of sex and scratching one another’s eyes out, of fake boobs and real drama.
But mostly they speak of Bret Michaels, Poison frontman, spandex Don Juan, star of the hit reality show "Rock of Love" and a veritable CEO of chicks on whom mom would be inclined to slam the front door.
As Michaels explains it, VH1’s "Rock of Love" is like "Extreme Dating" meets "Survivor," a battle of the wits — well, "battle" might be too strong a word, perhaps "pillow fight" is more apt — where a couple dozen lusty gals try to win the affection of a dude whose life seems like it was cribbed from the letters section of "Penthouse."
It’s funny, revealing, embarrassing, as heated as a pile of burning strippers and enough to make cupid hang himself.
It’s hard to ever know what’s coming next, even for the show’s star attraction.
"I see the show the same time you see it," Michaels says from a tour stop in Iowa. "They will not give me an advance copy, because I’ll want to edit it. If it was up to me, I’m like, ‘I look like a (expletive) idiot there, you gotta fix that.’ But that’s what makes it funny. I would fix it, and then it wouldn’t be funny anymore.
"I say to myself, ‘Man, I’m a (expletive) goofball,’ " he continues with a chuckle. "Sometimes I’m like, ‘Why did I say that? I’m an idiot. When I was saying it, I thought it sounded really cool.’ I just laugh at myself."
That’s the thing about Michaels — and his band, too. They’re a self-deprecating lot, well aware that they’ve been the butt of a billion jokes, goofing on everything from their dudes-just-wanna-have-fun tunes, their past fondness for Dr. Frank-N-Furter-wrestling-with-a-call-girl makeup and their once teased-to-the-heavens hair, formerly the envy of every Pomeranian.
But when hair metal became a punch line in the early ’90s, and Nirvana and Pearl Jam replaced the usual cheetah print Speedos with flannel lumberjack gear, Poison’s happy-go-lucky demeanor never really faded, a stark contrast to the bitterness that consumed many of their peers (Hello, Warrant).
If anything, the grunge fad benefitted Poison. It thinned the herd of so many faceless glam rock bands that ultimately did the scene in, allowing this bunch to continue to prosper to this day.
"When music changed and grunge came in during the mid-’90s, Poison was never mad about it," Michaels says. "That was a turnoff to me to a lot of the bands in my genre. All of a sudden they were in interviews going, ‘I hate everything that we did.’ I said, ‘So you’re telling me that every piece of music that you made on your first six records was not you, and you sold a bunch of (expletive) to your fans?’ Look, I like what we did."
And these guys are nothing if not likable — even if you don’t really like them. Their catalog is a big, loud, sweaty celebration of everything that rock ‘n’ roll was born in response to — namely, chicks.
You could dismiss it all as disposable, but really, this stuff will only go out of style when sex with strangers does.
Michaels and company are thoroughly cognizant of as much, and they’re really serious about not being too serious.
Like always, they don’t fight any trends — though they do occasionally battle one another.
Last summer at a gig in Atlanta, Michaels and bassist Bobby Dall got in a now-infamous scrap onstage, with Dall eventually hurling his instrument at Michaels, who then declared that the band might be over.
"The next day, here I was in a leg brace with stitches in my leg, and we played in Memphis at a sold-out show and we were best friends again," Michaels recalls. "We got in a fight that could have killed each other the night before, finished fighting onstage and then finished the song. I walked up to the mic, I said, ‘This may be the last time you’ll see us in this shape, but we’re going to finish this song.’ I knew in my mind the next day that we’d be friends again. We just had a few words and it got real bad, real fast. How many bands do that? Normally, that’s the end."
Ah, but Poison can’t die. Seriously, what would that say? That getting loaded, shamelessly ogling the opposite sex like a recent prison parolee and doing lots of stuff that you’ll regret the next day has become, well, regrettable?
C’mon, that’s no world that any of us really wants to live in.
And so Poison continues to tour every summer, averaging around 10,000 fans a night, catalyzing nearly as many drunken hookups, and this year they’re back to blow up lots of stuff onstage and make everyone forget just how popular Nickelback is, if only for a night.
"It’s bar none the biggest production that we’ve ever had on the road, and we’ll be bringing a great big fun rock concert," Michaels promises with a discernible air of satisfaction tinging his voice. "Very few bands do what Poison does any more."JASON BRACELINMORE COLUMNS
who: Poison when: 8 p.m. today where: The Pearl at the Palms, 4321 W. Flamingo Road tickets: $45-$60 (942-7777)