Warts. Herpes. Just general, irremovable, genital funk. Those are probably the only three things left out of Mötley Crüe's autiobigraphy, The Dirt. To believe that these rock 'n' roll miscreants survived without continual cotton-swab urethra checkups and penicillin shots to the penis-chamber is just plain naive.
The stories, by now, are infamous: Tommy Lee hammering home Pamela Anderson on camcorder; Ozzy Osbourne snorting a line of ants, then licking up not only his own pee, but also Nikki Sixx's; Vince fucking his A&R rep's girlfriend; Nikki fucking his A&R rep's girlfriend; Vince fucking Tommy's soon-to-be wife; Nikki screwing Tommy's girlfriend; Nikki trying to screw Tommy Lee's mother; Tommy passing his girlfriend around the hot tub like a fellatio machine; Tommy coming home with blood all over his face because he had performed cunnilingus during the wrong time of the month; the entire band inserting telephone receivers into women's nether-regions and forcing them to bend over and call their mothers.
Mötley Crüe were dirty, filthy animals.
They were also, by all standards, an anomaly. They were a hair metal band in a time when grunge was rendering big hair and makeup a dramatic tragedy of rock's past. They shouldn't have been the gods they were. They shouldn't have survived.
And yet they did, because as the angst of grunge materialized into inward and serious anti-stars, Mötley Crüe took a lifetime of broken homes, drug addiction, sex addiction and feigned narcissism and turned it into an over-the-top rock circus.
It's crazy, debauched, ludicrous material-and The Dirt is the dilapidated, rock "n' roll fairytale written without sparing a detail, save for the part where they all had their scroti embalmed with preventative potions. The autobiography is unique in that it was written from a variety of perspectives-primarily from the four members: singer Vince Neil, guitarist Mick Mars, bassist Nikki Sixx and drummer Tommy Lee.
And the perspectives often clash. When first meeting in a record store, Mick thought Nikki "seemed like an all-right guy. But then he said he listened to Aerosmith and KISS, and I can't stand KISS. I instantly crossed him off my list of possible people to play with." In his subsequent chapter, Nikki recalls the same encounter, viewing Mick, who was into Jeff Beck and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, as a "hunchback who looked so demented, had such lame, predictable taste."
All told, however, the band members' accounts of their career align for a cohesive story-one that is so grotesquely tell-all that it makes Led Zeppelin's Hammer of the Gods (which was considered the peak of all-access rock "n' roll sleaze literature) look like tame, political doublespeak.
You get the feeling that the members wrote their chapters in seclusion, though able to read what each other had written. And, just as in their careers, they tried to outdo each other. If one person spilled a few beans from the bag, the other dumped out the entire thing for all the world to see. At one point near the end of the novel, when Tommy is divorced from Pamela Anderson and once again looking for love like an overgrown and hapless puppy, he runs into Nikki's ex-wife, Brandi.
"I might have to fucking get in on that," he writes. "After all, I'm Mr. Single right now. And, besides, I just looked through Nikki's chapters in this book and read all about him and [my ex-girlfriend] Honey."
Obviously, the eloquent wit that Nikki shows in extrapolating tales of debauchery was helped by the fact that rock critic Neil Strauss co-authored the tome with the Crüe, fresh off a bestselling autobiography of Marilyn Manson, The Long Hard Road Out of Hell.
What emerges from The Dirt is a mixture of literary genres-smut novel, drug culture narrative, celebrity biography, relationship self-help and psychological textbook.
Nikki is the fatherless drug addict, always putting things in his body or his body in things to try and fill the hole of abandonment. He is also the life force and iron grip of the band. His biggest admission in the book is that he and Tommy essentially gang-raped a groupie in the closet at a house party.
Vince is the hedonist, toughened as a kid from a life in the streets of Compton, but somehow tragically Hollywood and plebian in his taste for race cars, Hawaiian shirts and hanging with celebrities. His most harrowing moment comes when, driving drunk and drugged, he killed his friend and passenger in a car accident. He also struck another car, causing brain damage to two others. After two and a half weeks in jail, he is released after agreeing to a mid-tour lecture circuit about the dangers of drunk driving. A particularly stinging headline read: "Drunk Killer Vince Neil Sentenced to Touring World with Rock Band."
Tommy is the neediest member, always looking for validation between the legs of others. His insistence on peppering every sentence with "dude" tips the reader off to his intelligence level-he's a dense musician, albeit the most talented of the bunch. During the four months he spent in jail for assaulting Pamela Anderson, he nearly lost his mind, which is harrowingly detailed.
Mick is the old man of the Crüe-thrice a father while the others were still fatherless fuckups- a "hunchback" who suffers from a debilitating bone disease that explains why he was such a static presence on stage and a closet alcoholic. When doctors try to balance out his depression with psychotic drugs, he sees little men in his bedroom and believes the ceiling is melting.
When The Dirt was released two years ago, hoots shot through the rock world, nearly every media source claiming it was the band biography to end all band biographies. Despite "Shout at the Devil" having changed my life in middle school, I wasn't a huge Mötley fan, and therefore never picked it up.
After a friend dropped the tome in my lap, however, nothing else except what Mötley Crüe would say next mattered. So many people got fucked, physically and mentally and spiritually. They snorted and injected and drank a small country's GNP. They self-destructed with such a reckless totality that it was lifestyle as Dadaistic art.
I missed deadlines. I didn't call back relatives. I just turned the pages.
Mötley Crüe temporarily ruined my life.