Mötley Crüe, Poison, Guns n Roses, Ratt, W.A.S.P, Def Leppard and many more have graced that infamous boardwalk, plastered the lamp posts with poster, rocked those clubs and broke many young girls hearts but they made it their sleazy playground. “A cesspool of depravity” as Vince Neil (Mötley Crüe) put it in the band’s autobiography “The Dirt” back in 2001.
The 80’s was the decade of excess. Everything was/is big in the USA but the L.A. club scene was fit to burst at its sweaty leather seams, dripping with body fluids, charged with cocaine, stinking of booze all tarted up with make up and held together with hairspray, “There was never enough hairspray as far as I was concerned!” – Bret Michaels, Poison. West Hollywood became every wannabe Rockstar’s dream, “If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere” was the main train of thought whether you were a group of lads in a band or a girl with dreams of becoming a video girl or a model. Since Motley Crue’s “Girls, Girls, Girls” blasted on my grandmother’s tv with the roar of their motorbikes, Mick’s opening chord and the thump of Tommy Lee’s drums, I wanted to be a Sunset
Strip girl! At first I wanted to be a video girl after seeing Tawny Kitaen in Whitesnake’s video for “Here I Go Again”, damn that girl was so sexy! Flipping and splitting over those two jaguars with the smoke billowing around her with the luscious spill of backcombed auburn hair. Then of course there was Bobbi Brown… the Cherry Pie girl in Warrant’s video “Cherry Pie”. She was gorgeous too… I love my men but for a girl like her… dayum! Because of her (and a few of the guys) I wanted to dye my hair blonde, have a boob job and start roller skating again like I did when I was six. All those girls in the videos were tall with long legs, slim and beautiful bodies, perky boobs, long luscious hair teased to within an inch of its life with plenty of hairspray. But little old me, only five feet tall, auburn hair with awful split ends and a full fringe because I have a huge forehead and a very round face, short dinky legs, average boobs and slim(ish) body with braces to rein my tombstone hamster teeth with dorky glasses. I was nothing like the girls I idolised in the videos. I started to take drama classes at school and took Expressive Arts as a GCSE because believe it or not I can be rather dramatic when the time calls for it! But when I was told I was too ugly, I was stupid for thinking about it and not sexy enough, it really set me back mentally (even to this day) but it didn’t stop me idolising those girl’s on Grandma’s tv screen.
I remember I was sat watching Motley Crue’s infamous music video on Kerrang TV after school when Grandmother came in, exclaimed in horror and snatched the remote off me “Don’t let me ever catch you watching that smut again! It’s disgusting! It shouldn’t be allowed on tv!”. I tried to protest but I didn’t get anywhere, there’s no point when it comes to Grandma. The funny thing is that nine years later, she bought me tickets to their “Farewell” tour as a birthday present! I didn’t tell her that it was the band that she banned me from watching on her tv screen all those years ago, “Go and enjoy your rock band dear”… I shall! I was lucky enough that my gamble to stay behind after the gig paid off. I waited in the freezing cold for two hours just for a chance to see my teenage crushes (well two of quite a few). Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee did come out to see their fans and I was over joyed. Nikki Sixx was so beautiful in the flesh and very nice to cuddle even though we had metal bars between us. Tommy Lee, even though I knew he was tall, I didn’t expect him to be so tall and his voice was rather deep. He was very funny and signed my brother’s wrist, thought he was going to bust a gut. After seeing them running around on stage, my love for the genre was reignited again! The bright lights, the thumping of the drums (obviously with the Crucifly going over your head with Tommy Lee, thrashing it to death is something else), the gorgeous girls shaking their tits and arses all over the stage… damn I wanted to be like that so much!
I had for years admired the glam rock/hair metal genre behind closed doors and only my close friends knew I liked the bands of yester years but as we all got older and moved away as life generally does take you, I felt isolated not having anyone to enjoy my love of these bands. Thankfully after splitting up with my ex I went onto social media full time (I had Instagram and Twitter for years but not Facebook), I found people who had similar music interests as me and I was joyous. I found myself admiring other girls on social media (mainly Instagram) dressing just like the girls I had admired in all the music videos from that golden era and wishing that I had the balls to do that. I kept my clothing just to the basic white girls uniform of jeans, t-shirt and hoodie which even now I still rock on the down days. But then slowly I began to realise I need to be an individual, be myself and if that meant dressing the way I wanted and not what was expected of me, then so be it.
I went back to all those music videos, carefully keeping an eye on the girls, what they wore, how they did their hair and makeup and matching them up to modern influencers. Maybe I was a bit late coming to the scene with my own style but with my mother’s attitude of “why dress like everyone else”, finding like minded people who gave me the confidence to be myself, having friends who encourage me to be myself and not like everyone else, then to top it off I found a man that made me want to make an effort. Sadly we are not together any more but have remained the closest of friends. He, himself, is a very individual person who is defined not just by his voice but his hair (pretty much like CC DeVille and Taime Downe, that’s why I liked him so much) and by him being so different and standing out, not because he actually wants to, but because that is who he is, it gave me the confidence and encouragement to be more like I wanted. Who I am.
When you look back at all the documentaries, photos and videos of all the girls queuing up to get into The Roxy, The Troubadour, The Cathouse and obviously The Whiskey, I wanted to be a part of that so much. Queuing outside waiting to see your favourite band is one of the greatest feelings, filled with so much excitement and dizzying eurpjoria! Can you imagine the feeling, the buzz on The Strip?! It is said that during the day, the Sunset Strip was just a mess filled with trash and was nicknamed by some as the Confetti Street because of all the posters and flyers ripped off the walls and scattered down the boulevard. I want to know more about my dream… what was it really like in the 80s? Will the excitement ever be recaptured? Or was I born in the wrong decade and just cling to everyone’s distant memories?