Groupie Think

Metalling in the affairs of others

"I've never had so much fun standing in line in my life!"

My friend Bones is thrilled that we are, indeed, standing in line at Scottsdale's Martini Ranch on a recent Tuesday night, because when we get to the end of this line, we'll be meeting the members of Tesla, one of Bones' favorite rock bands.

Bones is a quintessential '80s metalhead — she spent her teens and early '20s listening to the likes of Skid Row, Cinderella, and, of course, Tesla. She wore ripped jeans, raccoon eyeliner, and teased her long, blond hair up into that giant "claw" thing everybody did with their bangs in the '80s. She also says she had a one night-stand with the makeup-wearing, microphone-humping singer of a certain cock-rock band, just weeks before the band's debut album came out in 1986 and made them the darlings of hair metal.

If Bones' story is true, it means that she has shared a man with Pamela Anderson, but, as they say, "Every Rose Has Its Thorn." And although this alleged incident predates her marriage to my friend Chazz, Bones says she's never told him about it.

Bones is in her late 30s and the mom of two teenage boys, but she could still pass for 25, and she still gets hit on when she goes out — much to the chagrin of Chazz, who's also with us tonight.

Chazz is a die-hard metalhead, too (see "Spinal Tapped," May 3, 2007), and tonight, he's our designated drinker, downing bottle after bottle of Budweiser and running around with a camera, snapping shots of everybody in the crowd.

And a good-looking crowd it is. I haven't seen this many big-boobed rocker babes in low-cut shirts and painted-on skirts since . . . well, since 1988. One woman is so intoxicated that she can't walk without stumbling, but she does it anyway, double Ds bouncing like bobblehead dolls on a dashboard. She's flanked by three other similarly stacked women, who've been lounging by the green room door all night, presumably to try and get a private audience with Tesla.

I want some alone time with the band, too — not for sex, but for science. See, Tesla takes its name from Serbian scientist and engineer Nikola Tesla, who invented the Tesla Coil, without which there would be no radio. I want to talk to the band members about the "mad scientist," who never married, had a severe germ phobia, and used to run high volts of electricity through his body in his lab, to demonstrate the safety of alternating current.

But there are more people here tonight than I'd anticipated, and getting more than 30 seconds with Tesla may be difficult. Even though I consider Tesla's 1990 album Five Man Acoustical Jamto be one of the best live albums ever recorded, it came out 17 years ago at the crest of a commercial metal movement that had its last gasp in 1991, just before Nirvana's Nevermindexploded. I didn't expect a turnout that numbered in the hundreds for the release of Tesla's latest CD, Real to Reel, especially since the album consists entirely of cover songs, albeit great songs like Deep Purple's "Space Truckin'" and Led Zeppelin's "Thank You."

So here we are, in a very long line, listening to the new Tesla CD on the loudspeakers, while '80s hair-metal bands go through mute motions in videos on the TV screen above us: A bare-chested Kip Winger swings his bass around his hips, a silent Cinderella stomps around with hairsprayed, Hindenburg-fire-hazard hair, a soundless Ratt sweats under the stage lights.

Bones is in hair-metal heaven. There's an attractive blonde in line behind us, dressed in a leopard print bustier, and she and Bones stare up at the screen with nostalgic lust.

"Oooh, Kip Winger!" Bones exclaims. "I'd stilldo him! Did you see him in Playgirl?"

The blond smiles. "Yeah. Did you see the Playgirlthat Peter Steele from Type O Negative was in? Oh, my god . . ."

Playing the buzzkill, I say, "You know, I bet they airbrushed and doctored the hell out of those photos."

But Bones is convinced the phalluses were no fallacy. "Hey, I saw the Playgirl that Bret Michaels was in, and I know for a factthat was his real penis."

I shut up for fear of hearing more details. And Chazz has just delivered some kamikaze shots, so I keep my mouth busy with those. Chazz has elected to not stand in line, but he checks back on our progress every so often.

He's missing out. Everybody in line is packed together so tightly that it's impossible to notaccidentally cop a feel. Every time I turn to say something to Bones, my hand brushes against strange buttocks. By the time we get to the front of the line, I've touched as much ass as the members of Tesla, and Chazz has enthusiastically joined us, camera in one hand and umpteenth beer in the other.

The band members are all sitting in a line behind a table, graciously posing for pictures and signing stuff while people run around waving and snapping shots like Tesla was a family of rare, Day-Glo monkeys in a zoo.

I squeeze in between drummer (and Phoenix resident) Troy Luccketta and singer Jeff Keith for a photo but end up handing my camera to a stranger to take the shot because Chazz and Bones are all up on the other members of Tesla. Chazz is raving to guitarist Frank Hannon about some solo he did at a show years ago, and Bones is fawning over new guitarist Dave Rude's long, wavy, dark hair. I do not have time to ask the band about Nikola Tesla.

As we stumble and shriek toward the exit, Chazz and Bones each simultaneously recount every moment of their time at the signing table, like auctioneers on speed. But Bones waits until we get to the parking lot to share her favorite moment of the evening, which was a good idea. Even considering Chazz's current state of elation, it wouldn't have been good for him to hear this when we were within arm's reach of Tesla.

"Do you know what the blond guitarist, Frank, said to me?" she asks. "He said, 'What are you doing later? You wanna hang out and party?'"

Chazz gives Bones a stern look. "Hey baby, relax," Bones says. "The guitarist from Tesla wanted to fuck your wife. You should be proud."

But the flush in Chazz's cheeks doesn't look like pride. As we head home, Chazz says he can't wait to read this column. And all I can think is: Watch your back, Bret Michaels.

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