Despite the title of this piece and its resemblance to what I hear is an intriguing movie about a child prodigy, this is not about chess. This is about a quest to meet an aging glam rocker.
I am a member of a secret society of twentysomethings who are lurking everywhere, afraid to show themselves for fear of being mocked publicly. I am a former metalhead.
When I was a teenager, I had a black leather purse with tassels. I had a leather jacket covered with pins of my favorite bands. I had a metal slut outfit. I called a guitar an "axe." I listened to Winger. I know all the words to Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again" and Lee Aaron's "Metal Queen." But the obsession with Poison was particularly strong.
I got turned on to Poison when I was 12 and my friend Debbie and I used to fantasize about losing our virginities to Bret Michaels and C.C. DeVille, respectively. I went to six Poison concerts. I sent Bret Michaels fan letters in envelopes decorated with his favorite colors, purple and black. The last Poison concert I attended was when I was 17 and got busted for climbing the bridge behind the Kingswood Theatre at Canada's Wonderland, scaling the fence and running across the dark lawn so I could sneak into the tour bus.
Time may heal a lot of wounds, but it doesn't heal that one. To use another cliche', old habits die hard. I continued buying Metal Edge until about a year ago. The great thing about it was that many of the people who I used to idolize now had web sites, and even better, they answered their e-mail.
Rikki Rockett, the fluffy-haired drummer of Poison, is now a web designer. He is also still the drummer of Poison. I went to his web site and sent him a long e-mail about how much his band had meant to me when I was younger, and to my surprise, he e-mailed me back. I was not above phoning Debbie and squealing. She squealed with me.
Flash forward a few months and we decided to take a trip to Los Angeles. Rikki Rockett was not the sole purpose of this trip, but I went clutching the address that he had included on the bottom of his e-mail. He's left an address! He really WASN'T famous anymore, was he?
We were equal parts fascinated, disgusted and enthused to find that in Los Angeles, the heavy metal thing is still very big. We went to a Liberators show, which featured Phil Lewis, ex lead singer of L.A. Guns, and Brent Muscat, ex guitarist of Faster Pussycat. Japanese fans were there with Camcorders. According to Jena, our friend and tour guide, Brent had a brief stint working at Starbucks. She echoed my sentiments when she deadpanned "Oh, how the mighty have fallen!" We went to The Rainbow Room. We passed The Tropicana. It was like being in a real live Motley Crue song.
The address was a road called "Topanga Canyon Boulevard," and when we looked on the map we realized that it was not really a boulevard but more like the Trans-Canada Highway. It started in Malibu, stretched all the way through some Rocky Mountains and ended in Woodland Hills, a little suburb of Los Angeles. Well, this was Rikki Rockett we were talking about. He used to be a rock star. Taking into account the stark white rock-starish houses located on scenic mountains near the coast, we started in Malibu.
For an hour and a half we went down a twisting road with hairpin curves, teetering on cliffs, that I thought only existed in movies. For an hour and a half we checked the number of every building, even the countless trailers we passed with what I could only assume had hillbillies living in them.Surprise! The address was in Woodland Hills.
The fact that we'd started at the wrong end did not deter us. But when we reached the correct address, it was a Mail Boxes International. I looked around for a dog to kick. Debbie wept openly. Then we got our pictures taken in front of the Mail Boxes International and went across the road under the guise of getting pizza. We were actually staking out the place.
The sun went down. We ate our pizza slowly. I went to the liquor store in the same plaza to buy some cheap booze to take back to Canada with me.Walking through the store, selecting my rye whisky, I could feel him. I knew he shopped there. I was getting Rikki Rockett vibes.
It was about 9 p.m. when we decided to give up. We flew back to Canada dejected, trying to tell ourselves that at least we saw where he got his mail.
We are going to see Poison in Toronto on June 28, when they are playing with - get this - Cinderella, Slaughter and Dokken. I plan to find my black leather purse with tassels. Any contributions of bail money would be appreciated.