Let me start with two things: 1) I’m glad I don’t have to code this post, because the amount of ö and ü I’d have to type in this band’s name would drive me to an insane life of unabashed hedonism, and 2) I wish I had to code this post. But seriously folks, although I was supposed to write Part II of “Dracula Was Killed by a Texan with a Bowie Knife,” even vampires would step out of the way for those other children of the night, Mötley Crüe—specifically their 2001 tell-all, “The Dirt,” whose Netflix version debuts today … to some pretty good reviews! (I’m just dying to see Game of Thrones’ Ramsay Bolton play Mick Mars. Talk about role reversal. Now if only they could’ve gotten him to do Mars’ part in Welsh.)
By the time I got into glam rock, Mötley Crüe were already the elder statemen, and indeed Vince Neil says that by 30 he was having a mid-life crisis. Poison were the new Crüe, Neil had killed Hanoi Rocks’ drummer Razzle in a drunk driving accident, and as he saw it, “I had two choices: I could kill myself or I could go to Hawaii with a stripper and get over it.” (He chooses the latter, and pairs up with then-famous stripper Savannah … who eventually kills herself.) This was just another day in the life of the Crüe, or at least how the book makes it seem. Every day is an opportunity to get wasted, punch someone, crash a car. I don’t remember anyone talking about recording music, but I think it’s because they don’t remember.
“The Dirt” is an “autobiography” written by several men, from manager Tom Zutaut (a name I hadn’t heard since I read RIP Magazine) to Mötley Crüe themselves: Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars, and Tommy Lee. I deliberately didn’t put Mick Mars at the end because, poor guy, he always got short shrift. (He’s the Staten Island of Mötley Crüe.) Not only was he much older than the three other jackasses in the band, but he lacked the glam-boy looks (I once read an article where he was referred to as “the thing that is Mick Mars”), and suffered from a chronic disease that caused arthritis. For a guitarist, that’s bad. (News At 11 – ed.). For anyone, that’s bad, but no one cared much about what Mick endured to keep the band going, since they were a raving band of narcissistic drug addicts. Mick supplies the grumpy old man narrative, and since most of us reading this are over 40, we can relate.
Though “The Dirt” is called an autobiography, since it’s by more than one person I classify it as an oral history (something that happens to be huge these days). Were it not for the fact that Nikki admitted that he and Tommy raped a drunk girl (something he now says didn’t happen), I would believe “The Dirt” was published pretty recently. Each person get his own chapter, and though they do vary somewhat in tone and level of innate intelligence (Nikki’s first chapter starts with: “I was fourteen years old when I had my mother arrested.” Tommy’s first chapter starts with: “Duuuuuuude”), you can hear the author, Neil Strauss’s, voice throughout. This is supposedly Vince Neil’s description of the apartment they shared during the Whisky A Go Go years—“In the sink festered the only dishes we owned: two drinking glasses and one plate.” I don’t think Vince Neil has ever said “festered” in his life. I don’t think I’ve ever said “festered” in my life.
But that’s not why you came here. You came for the strippers, blow, smack, ludes, sucker punches, Heather Locklear, heartbreak, jail, more strippers, adrenaline injections to the heart, Daddy issues, cops, Pamela Anderson, mud wrestling, more strippers … I can affirm that there is plenty of all this, which makes “The Dirt,” somewhat intriguing from a voyeuristic point of view, but nothing more than you wouldn’t already guess. It kind of reminded me of Season One of “Game of Thrones,” when there was so much banging that the banging got boring. I remember saying, “If I see one more sex scene I’m turning this thing off.”
Yes, there are a smattering of surprises: Tommy’s first instrument was the accordion, and he loved to play “Smoke on the Water” on it as a kid; Mick believes the dinosaurs were killed by Ebola and did not have colors dreamed up by “someone like Martha Stewart”; Vince Neil says his father is half Native American but I can tell you through my own research on heavymetalgenealogy.com that it’s actually his mother; and Nikki Sixx … well, he was always my favorite till I read the part where he raped someone. And then it occurred to me—there’s only one female voice in this book. Sylvia Rhone, then-head of Elektra records, has a very brief interview with, I presume, Neil Strauss, and is described in unflattering terms as the “Mighty Potentate” of Elektra. It lasts about two pages and she sounds like an evil corporate shrill. Which is refreshing compared to the way every other woman is described in “The Dirt.” At least she had a job. While I do believe there were some horrible women who crossed paths and even married members of Mötley Crüe (Mick Mars got taken to the cleaners by a backup singer), it would be insightful to hear what they had to say about being Mrs Mötley Crüe. Or engaged to Mötley Crüe (there were many). What was it like and why did they do it? Is there ONE woman who would’ve stepped up to the task of being interviewed? Were any asked to be interviewed?
In the end, if you’re a fan of Mötley Crüe, you will probably enjoy this book. I liked the surprise name-dropping—yes, there was Ozzy, but there was also Kelsey Grammar and Fran Drescher (Bobbi Fleckman!). However, this territory has already been covered, and was much more shocking for its time, in 1985’s “Hammer of the Gods” about Led Zeppelin. It was also better written and had that notorious shark scene that no other rock ‘n’ roll book can compete with. (If you have to Google it, you’re not metal enough.) When it comes to music and literature, Zeppelin still rules.