The 1980s were an insane, f**ked-up time in America, one full of a lot of contradictions, illustrated best in some respects by the glam-metal scene, where often homophobic men dressed androgynously and sang about banging women. It’s not the most popular example, and it’s performed by a stand-up comedian, but the video for Sam Kinison’s “Wild Thing” — a misogynistic remake of a tame ’60s song — has, to me, always been the best representation of the contradictions of the glam-metal scene. I mean, it features all the heavyweights from the era — Crüe, Ratt, Aerosmith, C.C. Deville from Poison, Ritchie Sambora from Bon Jovi, White Lion, Billy Idol, etc. — standing around and singing with Sam Kinison about a “lying, unfaithful, untrustable tramp,” while Jessica Hahn — a former church secretary whose fame arose out of sleeping with a popular televangelist — seductively writhes around on the floor, and all the men taunt and fondle her. Kinison himself had a sort of fire-and-brimstone approach to his stand-up comedy, which he brings to the song about being f*cked over by a woman. “I hope you slide under a gas truck and taste your own blood / Why didn’t you tell me you were a Demon from Hell?”
This video is insane, but it was not an unusual music video from the 1980s (does Klosterman have a piece on that video? Because he should). Women in this corner of popular culture were not human beings. They were props. They were objects. They were meat.
Were very young women sexually abused and raped during this era? Oh, hell yes.
Look: I don’t want to diminish the horrors of R. Kelly, because the man is a monster. But I will say this: Some of what he is accused of was a typical Saturday night backstage at a glam-metal concert. I mean, hell! There was a hugely popular song about sleeping with a 17-year-old called “Seventeen.” “Daddy says she’s too young, but she’s old enough for me.” WHAT WERE THE ’80s THINKING?
All of which is to say that the story about how Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee “pretty much” raped a woman in a closet at a party comes as zero surprise to anyone who witnessed the era, nor did it come as a surprise that they basically bragged about it in the band’s memoir. Of course they did! But in the middle of the MeToo era and ahead of the Netflix movie based on their memoir, Dirt, Nikki Sixx has decided to recant that rape story for, well, obvious reasons.
Essentially, the story goes like this: Nikki Sixx was having sex with a woman in a closet at a party and he decided to go to the bathroom. While he was gone, he convinced Tommy Lee to go back to the closet and have sex with the woman in his stead (so, basically, they pulled a Revenge of the Nerds). “At first, I was relieved, because it meant I hadn’t raped her,” Sixx said in their memoir, written by Neil Strauss. “But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I pretty much had.”
Ya think? Sixx is now recanting that story. From Vulture:
Sixx now tells Rolling Stone (whose contributing editor Neil Strauss co-authored the memoir) that he doesn’t remember that story and isn’t sure why it was included in the book. “I don’t actually recall that story in the book beyond reading it,” Sixx says. “I have no clue why it’s in there other than I was outta my head and it’s possibly greatly embellished or [I] made it up. Those words were irresponsible on my part. I am sorry.” (He claims Strauss also embellished the story; Strauss tells Rolling Stone he’s contractually prevented from commenting.) Sixx says he wasn’t sober yet when he interviewed for the book, and wishes he’d waited: “There is a lot of horrible behavior in the book. What I can tell you is that we all lived to regret a lot and learned from it. We own up to all our behavior that hurt ourselves, our families, friends, and any innocents around us.”
And look: If wearing blackface in the 1980s was bad (AND IT WAS), raping a woman in the 1980s WAS ALSO VERY BAD. I’m not suggesting, exactly, that we take a MeToo machete to the ’80s glam scene — it would take years, and half those guys are dead or barely hanging on — but as Keenan Thompson said in an SNL sketch about blackface: “It does still count in the 1980s, and it was never funny or cool.”
Header Image Source: Netflix