A delightfully stupid, self-referencing storyline about rocker-boy meeting groupie-girl on the Reagan-era Sunset Strip is mere excuse to stage a jukebox full of 1980s hair-metal and cheese-ballad chestnuts. "Anyway You Want It?" "I Can't Fight This Feeling?" "We're Not Gonna Take It?"
"Heat of the Moment?" "I Want to Know what Love Is?" They're all here, sounding as bombastically awesome as they did back when Eddie Van Halen's big smile while he bare-chestedly played the guitar solo on "Jump" stirred strange feelings in your prepubescent, pre-gay loins. And if you were wondering if a certain Journey frontman's solo debut (that of the video that opened amid a rehearsal for some odd Elizabethan play) is here...well, suffice to say that Spanger's female lead is named Sherry.
Best of all, many of the now middle-age rockers were on hand at the opening -- the afterparty even featured mini-concerts from Journey (Steve Perry's hair still as long, straight and glossy as ever) and Night Ranger, who gave us "Sister Christian", without dispute the most beautiful piece of music ever written. With everyone's hair appreciably smaller than it was back in the days when they had to set up trauma hotlines after the TV movie The Day After aired, we went around and asked the old tonsorial titans exactly when their hair volume peaked.
Jim Peterik of Survivor, who generously gave us "The Search is Over" and "Eye of the Tiger", said, "Probably 1982, when we were on tour with REO Speedwagon -- it was a race for who
could have the longest mullet, and I think I might've won."
"I am the original hair farmer," boasted Dee Snider (above) of Twisted "We're Not Gonna Take It" Sister fame. His hair at its biggest? "Down to my waist and equally as high on top." Bandmate Jay Jay French said he hit his height of height in 1985: "It was so pouffy, there was no ozone layer over my apartment building in Manhattan. There was a huge hole, and that began the global warming phenomenon." We won't argue that...but wasn't there something just a bit, uh, gay about all that hair volume, all that make-up, all that strutting and preening? No way, said French. The hair rockers "just wanted to look like that to get laid more," he said, "because they realized that women wanted to be with men who looked like women to satisfy that bizarre sexual fantasy they had."
But surely at least their stylists were gay? "Of course," said Peterik. "They used to have hairspray bottles that were nine inches long. That was the mark of a good stylist -- how big your spray bottle was." Hm, when you put it that way. Plus, don't tell us there was nothing inherently gay about the movement that gave us a video featuring both Milton Berle in drag and an evil butler serving a trayful of rats. Or is that ratts?
-- TIM MURPHY
Previously > Gays sing big at the Big Gay Sing