In Defense of Hair Bands

This, dear friends, is the exact moment that a frontman in a hair band locked eyes with me for the very first time.  (Please note the super boss Metal Edge magazine t-shirt.)

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This particular frontman is CJ Snare from Firehouse.  A great triumph of mine in recent years was finding a karaoke list that included Firehouse “Don’t Treat Me Bad”, and I sang the shit out of that song.

I’ve drifted apart from many things of my youth – things that I thought I’d love forever.  Winn-Dixie Superbrand individually wrapped cheese slices, white Fayva high-top sneakers, respect for Corey Feldman as a dancer, but the one thing I’ve never parted ways with is hair bands.

If you’re wearing red and black tiger-striped spandex leggings and suspenders with no shirt and preening around a stage singing songs about (a) strip clubs, (b) the Sunset Strip, or (c) strip clubs located on the Sunset Strip, then hell yes.  Count me in.

If your band name is filled with deliberate misspellings and needless accent marks, names of cities in east Asia even though you’re from Scandanavia, or is simply the last name of the person who has the coolest last name in the band – I’m all about it.

I was thinking about it last month when Anne and I went to see Poison for the tenth time, or as most of my “cool” musician friends refer to them, “Do you seriously like those bands?  I have lost all respect for you.  Don’t ever talk to me again.  Ever.”

Fact:  The only reason I ever took my Poison door poster down was to put up a Skid Row one, that I promptly covered with red lipstick kisses.  The Skid Row door poster was surrounded by posters of Kip Winger.  I bear no shame, and I shame no bears.  Related, Kip Winger is an unapologetically hairy man.

My cool friends will often accuse me of just trying to be “ironic” by liking these bands, even after I assure them that I’m not, and pull out my collection of Winger t-shirts, much to their horror, as proof.  My love for all things hair band runs as deep as the swimming pool in the L.A. Guns video for “The Ballad of Jayne”.

It blasts forth from my heart like a fire hydrant in the Slaughter “Up All Night” video.

It is as pure and platinum as Matthew and Gunnar Nelson’s long, blonde locks.

That’s right.  I’m at Nelson level hair band fandom.

Nelson.

I feel like you really need to know the depths to which my feelings lie, or else this entire conversation will be for naught.  I don’t want you walking away from this thinking I’m talking about rock bands like Van Halen, a band that managed to be the perfect hybrid of wicked fun and incomparable talent.  I don’t want you to think, “Hey, that Maggie sure does like AC/DC!  What a cool lady!” and then call it a day.

Motley Crue is, in fact, the most cerebral band I like from the 80s.

I want you to know what you’re getting into here.  If you put on an Enuff Z’Nuff video, my eyes will glaze over and I will sing along.

Hair bands came along at a time in my life when things really couldn’t have been worse.  Poison, in particular, came around when I was in middle school, the literal worst.  The god awful, miserable, worst of the worst.  The onset of the hideousness that was puberty, living in a house with caved-in bathroom walls and falling-down ceilings, carpets blackened with ground-in cigarette ashes, and piles of old furniture rotting in the yard.  Where when you flipped on the kitchen light, you could be assured that at least 200 cockroaches would scatter for cover, and at least one of them would stand there, defiantly, like “Fuck you, kid.  This is my house,” and you’d know that, deep down, they were right.  Getting shipped off to live with out-of-state relatives when the shit really hit the fan at home.  Getting groped in school nearly every day when the going attitude was, “Ignore it.  Maybe all these guys with their hands all over your body just like you!”

Having a goddamned perm at the exact same time as 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner became popular.

Mr. Belvedere being cancelled.

Middle school in the mid-to-late 80’s:  It was a real crap festival.

No matter how shitty things got, when I turned on the television, I could be assured that Bret Michaels would be there wearing leather chaps, fingerless gloves and a bandanna, literally humping his way up a microphone stand while singing about bops that were unskinny and dancing with laser beams in the shape of ladies.  You could always count on fun times with those bands.  And as a matter of fact, as a singer my entire vocal affectation can be directly attributed to the thousands of hours I spent singing Poison songs as a tween/teen.  I wanted to be Bret Michaels.

Fun was always part of the package with hair bands.  They were like a candy necklace around the bag of garbage that was my life.

I’m not telling you this to get your sympathy for my troubles.  I’m telling you this to get your sympathy for hair bands.

Hair bands provided me with an escape from the misery of my life, and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.  I know it because I can see it on the faces of the thousands of people who still show up for the reunion tours, who still scream like it’s Beatlemania when Kip Winger walks out onto a stage in his leather pants, and to women like me who feel proud to see Lita Ford still tearing that shit UP.

It’s the pageantry.  The wink-winkiness of it all.  The pointy guitars and choreographed moves while ripping out scales at nearly supersonic speeds.  The men in frosted pink lipstick and thigh-high red boots and the women in flamey leather jumpsuits pouting for the photographer in Circus magazine.  The frontman wearing a pair of cow-print chaps and doing high-kicks onstage.  My god, how could you not love it?  How could you not love every single second of it?

I mean, it’s just rock ‘n roll. Why you “cool people” gotta be so uptight about it?

And I’ll tell you this much, smartypants, the fact that I love hair bands doesn’t detract from my love for “ooh serious bands” like Wilco and Dinosaur Jr even one little bit.  Just because you love sumo wrestling doesn’t mean you can’t also love greco-roman wrestling, or professional wrestling, or mud wrestling.  The love for one thing doesn’t detract from the love for all the other things.

That being said, if Jeff Tweedy from Wilco and CC DeVille from Poison were both tied to train tracks and I could only save one of them…

I’m just saying the guy doing the high-kicks in the leather pants is probably not going to be the one who ends up becoming train meat.

I was an internet troll.

I didn’t plan on it.  Not unlike breaking into a Wendy’s after hours because you really need to get at that Frosty machine, or rebooting the television show “One Day At a Time”, it was one of those things that just sort of happened.

Related, there is only one “Schneider” and his name is Pat Harrington, Jr.  So anyway…

The year was 2006, and the television show “Rock Star Supernova” had just premiered on CBS.   If you didn’t have the privilege to have ever watched it, Rock Star Supernova was a singing competition-type show, but instead of winning the title of “American Idol”, you got to become the lead singer of a made-up band called “Rock Star Supernova”, which was a supergroup that featured Tommy Lee from Motley Crue, Jason Newsted from Metallica, and Gilby Clarke from Guns ‘n Roses.

Now, this would have all been just fine because whatever, except that they also made these guys the judges, and there were two things they all liked to do:

  1.  Compliment the dewd singers on things like their voices and stage presence.
  2.  Compliment the lady singers on things like whether or not looking at them gave them a boner.

Tommy Lee had one thing in particular that he liked to do in addition to those two items:

  1.  Use the phrase “Off the chain!” more times than I thought I would ever be able to emotionally and mentally withstand.

And even that may have been fine in 2006, except they made one crucial error, in my opinion.  One un-fixable error.  They made Dave Navarro from Jane’s Addiction/Red Hot Chili Peppers the host.

I think Dave Navarro is, what’s the term?  Grody to the max.  Super ew?  Whatever the word is that comes to mind when you have to reach down into the drain of your sink and pull out some hair and you’re pulling the loose hairs up and they’re all slimy.  That.

Disclosure:  I don’t know him.  Never met him.  I have no business registering an opinion on the man.  As most people will tell you with regard to most subjects, I should probably just shut up.  My feelings about him have no place in reality, I know.

Here’s my issue:  He just does the whole “rock star look” to the point that it makes me want to run screaming into the arms of rap-country just to get as far away from rock ‘n roll as possible.  Rap-country.

Rap-country.

Every episode of the TV show he was nearly-shirtless, in that while he technically had a shirt on, it was unbuttoned to his pubic bone, with some form of leathery pants, slicked wet-look hair, eyeliner, some kind of scarf or feather boa, had on tons of huge rings, and then the necklaces.

My god, the necklaces.

So many necklaces.

He looked like what would happen if they held the Mardi Gras parade inside a Hot Topic and made you exit through a car wash of Astro-Glide.

And maybe this look was fine, and even something I was thoroughly, thoroughly into when I was 16 years old, but by the time I was 30 and had dated more of those types than I care to think about, so the thrill was gone.   By the time I hit 30, I thought that particular look on a man was the equivalent of flying a flag on top of their heads that read, “This Guy Has The Clap and Don’t Even Get Me Started on His Ego, Which Also Has The Clap”.

In order to adequately address my feelings on the subject, I started trolling the comment board on the TV show’s website.  Like any troll, I did it because I had a lot of free time on my hands, and my personal life was fucking miserable in every conceivable way, so I took it out on people who had nothing to do with my problems.  It was a dick move.

For reference, this was also around the time I used to start fake Myspace flame wars between several accounts that I actually controlled, to make it look like people were fighting when it was actually just me working both profiles.  This was when I ran an advice column as a fake nurse who was into BDSM just so I could make fun of other bands.  I used to hate-listen to Rush Limbaugh on the radio during my lunch break so I could yell at the radio while wagging a Burger King bacon double cheeseburger at it, and then blog about in open letters to him.  This is pre-therapy Maggie we’re talking about here.  Pre-Bobby Maggie.  Asshole Maggie.

Don’t be a smart-ass.  Yes, there is a difference.

I started by going onto the comment board for the show and posting a thread titled, “Dave Navarro Needs to Put On a Shirt”.  As you can imagine, this comment board was filled with people who were actual fans of the show, rather than me, who watched it merely so I could hate it.  Most of the responses to that thread were along the lines of, “Are you crazy?!  He needs to take that shirt all the way off!  He’s hot!!!” and then I would comment something back like, “What he needs to do is set up a termite tent around his body so he can fumigate whatever is surely living in his crotch.”

I found my way into as many threads as I could just so I could act like a dick to total strangers.  I made it my job to make fun of people for liking the things that they liked and, as an asshole, it made me feel better.  This is the very definition of an internet troll, by the way.  Did I mention that it was a dick move?  It was a dick move.  I feel really bad about it.

I kept posting threads, and making fun of everyone on there, until one day when a commenter flat out asked something to the effect of, “What is wrong with you?  Why do you spend so much time commenting on here if you don’t even like the show?”

Hmm.

It was a real wake-up call for me.  Why was I spending all my free time coming up with newer and better ways to be mean to people who I didn’t even know?  What was wrong with me?  I stopped commenting on the board that day, and stopped hate-watching the show.  I didn’t want to be that person anymore.

So maybe there is hope that you can say just the right combination of words to a troll to make them go away.  Maybe?  Hell, this was 12 years ago.  Trolls have only gotten stronger.  You probably have to pull some of that magic powder out from Weekend at Bernie’s 2 if you want to stand a chance against them.

That being said, it was with great pleasure that I read the part in Bobbi Brown’s memoir “Dirty Rocker Boys” where she basically described her first meeting with Dave Navarro as him answering the door completely naked, telling her he was having sex with a fan in his basement and filming it, and then he sat her down in his living room and told her to wait for him until he was finished.  Before he left the room he said, “Oh, hang on,” and put on a videotape for her to watch.  The videotape was of him wanking it.

So.  Internet trolling?  Wrong.  My opinion on Dave Navarro.  COMPLETELY ACCURATE.

A Cup of Heartbreak in B-flat

Someday, as your musician boyfriend will no doubt promise you, he is going to be rich and famous and he will definitely, absolutely, without a doubt, pay you back for all the stuff you’ve had to buy for his sorry ass.

Okay, that was a little harsh, not to mention, inaccurate.  Let me re-phrase that.

Add “by dumping you to bang indie actresses” after “pay you back”, and then replace “sorry ass” with “career that will eventually end with a poorly-received experimental electronica album”.  Hang on – I have included the mark-up below:

Someday, as your musician boyfriend will no doubt promise you, he is going to be rich and famous and he will definitely, absolutely, without a doubt, pay you back by dumping you to bang indie actresses for all the stuff you’ve had to buy for his sorry ass career that will eventually end with a poorly-received experimental electronica album.

One of the most hilarious, yet oddly enduring, grifts with regard to dating musicians is that if you love and financially support your unemployed musician boyfriend, after he “makes it big” and his album sells its first few million copies and he wins a couple of Grammy awards, the two of you will get married and move into one of those mansions in the fancy outskirts of Nashville where guys like Jack White will pop by unannounced to ask if they can borrow a cup of heartbreak in B-flat.

(I assume all of the successful musicians who move to those neighborhoods have a dedicated cellar in their mansions where they store heartbreak in various musical keys, because it’s mandated by Nashville’s city charter just above “2. Get down, turn around, go to town, the Boot Scootin’ Boogie”.  Also, I chose B-flat because it was the key Whoopi Goldberg had to figure out in Jumpin’ Jack Flash after listening to the song on repeat over and over again so she could get on the secure computer line with that British spy who was trapped somewhere in Eastern Europe.  When’s somebody remaking that movie?)

Regardless, it’s certainly better than having a dedicated cigar cellar in your mansion, which automatically means you are the most insufferable person on the planet, not to mention the stinkiest.  For the record, I have never seen someone smoking a cigar and thought, “I bet that’s a cool person.”  The only people who think you look cool with a cigar are other guys who are standing nearby also smoking cigars, and you think they look cool, too, so all you’ve really done is created one of those human centipede scenarios.  Now I’m just picturing three cigars attached to each other ass-to-mouth.  Thanks.

You’ll move into this Nashville mansion that’s got one of those pools shaped like a music note, adopt a bunch of rescue dogs and start a foundation in your spare time between your personal yoga training appointments and lunches with Drea de Matteo and Shooter Jennings, who tell you that while they are no longer together as a couple, they remain on good terms for the sake of the kids.  You’ll eventually become tennis buddies with them and “totally razz” Shooter when he comes out of the clubhouse wearing white tennis shorts with a wallet chain and a tall boy of local craft beer bulging out of his pocket.

Drea will throw her arms up and say, “I know!  You can’t take this guy anywhere!” and then you’ll all laugh about it later on when you go check out that secret after-hours show at The Bluebird Cafe where Miranda Lambert is trying out new material for her next album.  You’ll tell regular people you forget “all the time” that Drea was on The Sopranos, but you know damn well it’s literally all you ever think about anytime you see her, and you have to stop yourself from calling her “Adriana” every time you talk to her.  Anytime you think about that scene where Steve Van Zandt tells her to get in the car, and you know she definitely won’t be coming back, it makes you start to tear up, because you’re NOT MADE OF STEEL, FOR GOD’S SAKE.

The bittersweet memories of the beginning years, the tough years, the years when you had to work two jobs and sell your blood plasma to pay all the bills and get your unemployed musician boyfriend the guitar he wanted for his birthday, the “Livin’ On a Prayer” years, will be but fading images in the rearview mirrors of your fleet of fully loaded luxury automobiles.

His newest number one song that has rocketed to the top of the charts will be about you and how your never-ending love and devotion were sometimes the only things that got him through another tour of the Pacific Northwest in a broken down, leaky 1989 Chevy Astro van that his drummer had to push-start half the time.  This earned his drummer the nickname “The Pusher”, even though he likes to make up a story that he actually got the nickname from being an “enforcer” for the IRA back when he still believed in “The Cause”.  The Pusher’s rosary beads, that used to dangle so proudly from the rearview mirror, now reside in the glove box next to his St. Christopher keychain, because even when Catholics decide they aren’t Catholics anymore, they still believe that jewelry and keychains will keep other cars from crashing into them on the highway.

Your successful musician husband will surprise you on your second wedding anniversary with a tattoo across his back that says “Angel of Montgomery”, and it’ll be a portrait of you done by Kat Von D, depicting you with angel wings and your bought-and-paid-for, brand new bitchin’ rack of boobies.  Also, you are from Montgomery, Alabama or that tattoo doesn’t make any sense.

Your eventual children, Gunnar and Patton (twins!), will go to one of those preschools where people like Zac Brown send their children, and they will weave you a wine glass-cozy for Mother’s Day out of sustainably-harvested felted wool that says “Mommy Juice” on the side, and you’ll laugh one of those hearty, belly-type laughs even though you have rock-fucking-hard abs from all the Pilates you did with Nicole Kidman’s trainer that morning, as you sit on the porch with a glass of Rose’ that was made at your friend Jon Bon Jovi’s new vineyard.

Overlooking the gorgeous, lush rolling Tennessee hills of your rustic, yet palatial estate, you’ll remember all the times, all those years ago, that you overdrafted your bank account to make your unemployed musician boyfriend’s car payment and buy his gas, all the times you cried when you got your paycheck because it was already gone from having to pay the rent and all the bills by yourself, all of the times you picked up the dinner check while he looked down and fiddled with a pointy charm from his many black leather cord necklaces, and you’ll smile a knowing smile and think, “I loved him when he was nobody, and look at what we built together with that love.  It was all worth it.”

Then you will wake up from this dream in the rags you now wear for clothes, shake off the street-scabies, and push your bag-lady shopping cart down the street to get a bowl of soup down at the mission.  You will pass a store window with a television showing the live red carpet arrivals at that year’s Grammy awards, and the unemployed musician boyfriend you loved and supported all those years will be on the screen in a Tom Ford tuxedo and ironic high-top sneakers from the 80s, with someone Hollywood refers to as “The Next Jennifer Lawrence” on his arm.  He’ll tell Ryan Seacrest that he couldn’t have made it this far without her, and that even though they’ve only been dating a month, she is his “soulmate”, and you will go to the library so you can use their computer and free internet to post a one-star rating for her latest movie and point out her cankles.

He used to make fun of people who used hokey terms like “soulmate”.

You will shuffle back from the library to your cardboard box only to be served with a subpoena from the credit department at Guitar Center for all of the shit you were manipulated into buying for Mr. Grammy Winner when he didn’t have a pot to piss in, and then you will proceed to lie down and die penniless in the gutter, still with your original boobs that he used to call “just okay”, and a credit score of 480.