The Dirt by Motley Crue and Neil Strauss
You’ve studied hard my daughter. Now, time to recuperate with some unadulterated trash. Cleanse your graduation palette with Motley Crue.
Post Summer Graduation Palette Cleanser: The Dirt by Motley Crue and Neil Strauss
You might be wondering what place an autobiography of one of the world’s most chauvinist rock bands has on this particular website?
After all, aren’t Motley Crue the house band for 90% of American strip clubs and isn’t their name synonymous with court cases, overdoses, groupie gang-bangs, domestic assault charges and cheesy 80s hair metal? Yes, they flipping well are – which makes The Dirt a perfect literary palette cleanser after completing a degree. Time to cast aside constricting corsets and embrace sweaty spandex as this rollercoaster of a book takes you through the highs, the lows and all of the clichés that accompany rock super-stardom.
Tommy Lee Jones considers stuff.
What will you learn from reading this book? First off, you’ll discover that everything you’ve ever heard about this band is true. There are some stories in this surprisingly weighty tome that will have you thinking ‘eeeeeeewwwwww’ for years to come. My personal favourites include use of a burrito to conceal infidelity (if I wasn’t a big fan of the burrito before reading this, I would petition to have them outlawed now) and Ozzy Osbourne’s test of manliness. I won’t ruin it for you but it qualifies as a pissing contest (just not as we know it).
Yeah, they’re pretty grown-up now.
Within these pages, drugs are consumed like a there’s a free-for-all at the pick ‘n’ mix counter. The band don’t realise they are addicts until it is too late, labelling themselves as ‘enthusiastic’ partakers. It’s surprising the band remember those days with such detail. And it’s very surprising that they can remember the names of so many of the women that pepper the book. The girls in this world show an unencumbered willingness to bite, kick, scratch and screw on a par with the men. Their crime according to the writers is to forget who are cast as the heroes and who are cast as the villainesses. Wives are characterised as alimony-mad harpies who wield children and divorce lawyers as weapons. Girlfriends are forced to fellate jacuzzis full of useful record producers and are humped and dumped as usefulness dictates. Groupies are installed as mud-wrestling entertainment. And you don’t want to know what happens when the band come across a woman whose career isn’t dependent on stripping for Playboy.
As for relations within the band, hypocrisy abounds as you would expect from a group of perpetually petulant addicts. Each member has found themselves frozen out of the group for addiction while the others continue on their own. Group rehab descends into squabbling. During jail terms, the other members neglect to visit or even remain in contact with the imprisoned, who invariably asks the reader for sympathy.
Aw, poor Motley Crue. Who’s been a bad boy? Er, all of them.
It is the conduct and almost flippant nature of the earlier chapters that makes it difficult to sympathise with these men when the book takes some very dark turns. Vince Neil is jailed for the manslaughter of his friend in a car accident and subsequently loses his five year old daughter to cancer. Mick Mars uses alcoholism to mask the pain of a very nasty chronic illness. Tommy Lee struggles with heroin addiction and losing custody of his sons. Most poignantly, Nikki Sixx is continually rejected by his hedonistic parents before uncovering the existence of a blind, mute sister who has Down’s syndrome and has been institutionalised her whole life. The prospect of a reunion helps Sixx to turn his life around, only for her to die one day before their meeting. These are horrible experiences and the stories of damaged upbringings help to round out a portrait of manhood in crisis. These fully-grown men want desperately to be good husbands and fathers but have no idea how to go about it. The contrived attempt at a happy ending seems optimistic to the point of stupidity (I mean, how many Playmates do you have to marry before experience triumphs over hope?)
Veteran rock ghostwriter Neil Strauss does a good job of condensing the wondering egos on the page and capturing the four characters. Every other word in Tommy Lee’s chapters is ‘f***’ and it rings true (my path has crossed Mr Lee’s and he really does speak like that). This book was released in 2002 and the ten year anniversary edition catches up with the predictable collapse of the original’s happy endings. But hey, that’s rock n roll.
Will this book enrich you life? Hell, no! But it’s very kind of these lads to document the realities of living in the rock bubble so that you don’t have to. On to War and Peace…