Sunday, March 20, 2011

Unleash Your Inner Bon Jovi

Jon Bon: Loves a good blow wave
I was watching MTV on Foxtel the other night - one of those 80's flashback specials they frequently trot out - when without warning I was assaulted by visions of guys with big hair wearing tacky jackets with comically over-sized shoulder pads. I thought I'd accidentally flipped over to the Comedy Channel without realizing, but no. It was just the music video to Bon Jovi's 1986 smash hit, "Livin' On A Prayer".
I had a bit of a chuckle watching as Jon Bon Jovi hammed it up onstage in the clip - twirling mic stands and performing over-the-top acrobatics that failed to dislodge his man-scarf - when suddenly I had a horrible realization. It's now 2011 - and Hair Metal is due back.
Those who have been around long enough know that when it comes to popular music everything is cyclical. Musical styles emerge and recede and emerge again roughly every 10 to 15 years. There are heaps of examples.
"Whoa, we're half-way there". Stop! Turn back!!!
Take the Punk Rock phenomena from the mid-to-late 70's. It came back as Grunge and other derivative forms in the late 80's/early 90's: basically the same ethos & DIY attitude, but repackaged and marketed for the masses. New Wave in the late 70's/early 80's came back as the Alternative/Indie rock boom in the 90's. And now we seem to be going through the whole New Romantic phase from the early to mid-1980's again: basically guys with dyed hair in gothic make-up playing synth-driven electro-pop songs.
What makes me so sure that Hair Metal is coming back soon is the fact that it has already come back once. First there was Glam Rock in the early 70's. Bands like the New York Dolls started appearing on the scene playing standard rock, but they had big hair and wore make-up. KISS were in the same boat: more standard rock, but with bigger hair and more make-up. The clothing and stage shows of these bands had to be suitably outrageous for them to attract attention in an already over-crowed rock market. So they got flashy. They developed flair. And Glam was cool until it was displaced by Disco & Punk in the late 70's. But the seeds for the 80's Hair Metal explosion had already been sown...
The New York Dolls (1973): Dudes in lippy
 I started hearing names such as Def Leppard, Twisted Sister and Motley Crue in the mid-80's. Somewhere around that time I also first heard the words "Bon Jovi", which to me sounded like something one might accidentally tread in at a local dog beach. It wasn't until later that I discovered that Bon Jovi were just the aural equivalent of something you may tread in at your local dog beach. The re-emergence of this new wave of Glam Metal (or Hair Metal) coincided with the birth of MTV in the early 80's, so now we all got to see what these bands looked like. And (surprise, surprise) most of them looked like the New York Dolls. Big Hair was back, baby. The scene exploded again and more bands jumped on the Hair Metal bandwagon. Poison, Warrant, Guns N' Roses, Skid Row & Ratt were the big name bands which ruled the late-80's scene. Excessive make-up usage was rampant and a gratuitous display of poor fashion sense pervaded the scene. The days of taste and restraint were dead & buried. The Hair Metal bands embarked on a shameful display of ego, decadence and excess, milking it for all it was worth before it all came crashing down in the early 90's. Many of the guilty parties then disappeared into the ether or their nearest rehab clinic to dry out.
So now I feel it is my duty to do the right thing and prepare you all for the "third coming" of Hair Metal. It's time to ask yourself: "What would Jon Bon Jovi do?". Well, to assist you I have compiled the following list. Ignore it at your own peril.

The 10 Essential things you need to do to prepare for the return of Hair Metal
Axl Rose's bandana: Stanky...

1. Buy a Bandana
Any Hair-Metalhead worth his weight in coke needs to own at least one bandana. And not just any bandana: it is crucial that it is loud and tasteless. Axl Rose didn't get to where he was by wearing any plain old bandana. It needs to scream to the world "Look at me! I'm bad-ass" - and plain just doesn't cut it.
Paisley is popular. So too is the "flag bandana". Millions of Americans can't be wrong: what is more patriotic that wrapping the nation's sacred emblem around your forehead and belting out "Sweet Child O'Mine"?
One word of advice here: no matter how sweaty and stained it gets, never wash it. If you're serious about your dedication to the genre you need to keep that stank on there so you can be distinguished from the casual Hair Metal fans in a large crowd.
Jon Bon Jovi: Snow Leopard Public Enemy #1

2. Find a Man-Scarf
Before it became the essential "must have" fashion accessory for the 21st century metrosexual male, the man-scarf was a popular adornment for those exponents of Hair Metal who strove for sartorial elegance.
While the metro male prefers the neat-&-knotted look, the exact opposite applies in the world of Hair Metal. It must be long & flowing, and preferably with an African fauna inspired print. Zebra or leopard spot patterning is extremely popular. Tassles at the ends are optional - the decision to "tassle or not to tassle" is at the discretion of the wearer. Have fun trying different patterns & colour schemes. Mix & match as much as you want, but don't mess with the Golden Rule of the Hair Metal man-scarf: "Length matters" (..cough..).

Remember Winger? Didn't think so. "Spiral Perms For All"

3. Get A Perm
That's right - get a perm. Even better, get a spiral perm. Nothing screams Hair Metal authenticity better than a light ginger spiral perm. If you're not a natural redhead then get it coloured. Don't cut corners. Your integrity is at stake and everyone is watching. Don't end up like that creepy looking dude from Nickelback or Michael Bolton - there's a big difference between a curly mullet (or "crullet") and a sensational spiral perm.
"Do these pants make my hips look big?"

4. Invest in a Blow Dryer
The "bad hair day" is the only known natural enemy of Hair Metal, so it makes sense to plan ahead and mitigate potential risk. Buy a blow dryer - and don't scimp on the expense. If you're going to spend hundreds of your hard-earned dollars on a blow wave, perm or spiral perm at a salon then you also need the tools at your disposal to keep it looking fabulous 24/7. You never know when that sudden change in weather will come and wreak it's havoc on your perfectly sculpted coiffure, so plan ahead. The blow dryer should be with you at all times, and preferably in its own carry case so casual observers will know you're not messing about.

"Ye Gods! My freakin' eyes!!"
5. Procure some Spandex
Spandex, Lycra, bike pants - whatever, it's all the same thing. As long as it's stretchy and looks like it was sprayed on. Just make sure it doesn't leave absolutely zero to the imagination. Serial offender Axl Rose changed the way we felt about cyclists forever with his on-stage get-up - but he was a man committed to the cause. With no shame whatsoever.
Get in early and stock up on spandex now because prices are set to go through the roof once Hair Metal "Phase 3" hits us. When it comes to colours, the most sought after will be the old favourites such as hot-pink, leopard skin and anything remotely zebra-looking. My hot tip? Turquoise. I think turquoise will be the new hot-pink. Either way, choose your colours wisely.
Bonus tip: If you don't get in early enough and end up having to fork out a bit extra to get the pants you're really after, fear not - most spandex garments come in handy when choosing an appropriate Halloween costume, so it's win-win.

"I said acid-wash - not washed out on acid!"
6. Acid-wash your denim
Denim is very "rock & roll". Denim is also timeless. Acid-washed denim, however, is a quintessential cornerstone of Hair Metal and, if we're talking specifically about jeans, they need to be a few sizes too small so that you have to be poured into them.
If you don't have any acid wash jeans in your closet, then just do it yourself and turn your old jeans into the latest (recycled) fashion trend. Impress your friends with your initiative. Just go online and Google "How to Acid Wash" and away you go. There's heaps of tips & pointers on how to get the best results. And for those who are really daring: try the acid wash denim vest. Don't buy one, make your own. Tear the sleeves off a standard denim jacket - you need that frayed look for it to look genuine anyway. Just remember one thing: don't wear white denim. Unless of course you don't mind persistent questions about your "orientation".

Derek Smalls: "No, it's a cucumber. Your Honour."
7. Package your "smallgoods" appropriately
Ladies, please skip this section. This is some sage advice for the guys out there...
With all this talk of spandex pants and tight-fitting jeans, we need to discuss the delicate subject of how to deal with the inevitable man-bulge. There's a few schools of thought on the subject: at one extreme is the "modest approach", where a man-scarf or instrument such as a guitar can be used as a "prop" to cover the offending area during performances and photo shoots. At the other end of the extreme is the "Axl-Rose-in-bike-pants-no-holds-barred approach" - which is guaranteed to not win you many fans, regardless of whether the area in question has or hasn't been augmented by a pair of cleverly folded gym socks. Somewhere in between is the "Derek Smalls from Spinal Tap approach", where a foreign object such as a cucumber wrapped in tinfoil is always within arms reach to use whenever the situation dictates. Guys, the decision is in your hands. May you choose wisely.
One guy who didn't choose wisely and got it horribly wrong was Joe Elliott, lead singer of British band Def Leppard. My mate Benno stumbled across the music video to Def Leppard's massive 1987 hit "Pour Some Sugar On Me" on Classic MTV recently, and hasn't been the same since. Check it out: 15 seconds in and it's on for young and old. If you can make it past the first minute-and-a-half without attempting to gouge your own eyes out then brace yourself for the 1:57 to 2:03 mark. If that's not his car keys in his right pocket then I'm taking my bat and going home.


Poison: Power-dressed to impress
8. Pimp your Jacket
Everything about Hair Metal is about being "larger than life". What matters is having the biggest hair, the most make-up, the flashiest clothes - the list goes on. In the tradition of amplifying your physical characteristics, get some shoulder pads under your favourite loud jacket. The bigger the shoulders the better. Every Hair-Metalhead wants a commanding physical presence, and shoulder pads are a cheap, no-fuss, essential tool of the trade. If you're on a budget then use cardboard inserts. A few cricket boxes in the off-season can also prove invaluable. Pack them right in there and thrust your chest out. Turn your standard-issue, off-the-rack Hair Metal jacket into a customized, pimped out, cotton suit of armour.

T.Rex's Marc Bolan & Slash: Top Hat troubadours
9. Try a Top Hat
T.Rex were one of the original Glam Rock bands in the early 70's, and lead singer Marc Bolan was frequently spotted sporting a top hat over the obligatory big hairstyle. Fast-forward fifteen years and Guns N' Roses axeman Slash picked up the torch, so to speak, and in the process made his silhouette one of the most recognizable in Hair Metal history. Even today he's still rarely sighted without it. Of course the top hat won't be for everyone, but you'll never know if it's for you or not until you try it. No other accessory authenticates one as a member of the Hair Metal aristocracy more effectively than the top hat. Except maybe a monocle, but I can't see that one catching on...

Poison's Bret Michaels: Poutylicious...
10. Practice your Pout
When it comes to Hair Metal, posing comes naturally. It goes with the territory. Performers and fans alike have an in-built "poseur gene", which is often triggered by visual stimuli such as the sight of a stray jar of lip-gloss, or a sleeping leopard in the cat enclosure at the city zoo. But when you're in a group full of posers what do you do to stand out in the crowd? The answer is simple: your pout needs to be your competitive advantage.
Get those lips as big and full as you can. Learn to apply your lippy like a professional. And for the girls: same rules apply.
Too many thin-lipped wannabe's come and go in this genre. If you want to make your mark on the scene then gloss those lips up to the point that you start blinding people with reflected light. If you're lacking in natural lip fullness then it's worth either looking at surgical enhancement or praying to a deity (ie: Mick Jagger) for divine intervention.
However you choose to approach it, your pout needs to communicate the following: "I'm sensitive, yet mysterious, and deeper than a thousand oceans", as opposed to "Mum & Dad won't let me take the car out this weekend". The difference is subtle, but critical.

Poison, Open Up And Say... Ahh! (1988). Definitive.
Well, there you have it. I'm sure that we've covered the important basics here to get you ready for the impending return of Hair Metal. The list is by no means definitive, but it should at least help you on your way.
One final piece of advice: it's probably prudent to do some musical research too, and to assist I've narrowed it down to one "Essential Hair Metal album" that you need to study in preparation - Posion's 1988 masterpiece Open Up and Say .. Ahh!. It has all the elements that define the genre. Remember the rocking "Nothin' But a Good Time" and "Your Mama Don't Dance"? This is Hair Metal heaven. And it also features "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" - the biggest, most transcendent power-ballad ever written. If Hair Metalheads had their own country then this would be their National Anthem. So blow wave your hair, apply some lip-gloss, don the bandana, close your eyes, lift a lighter to heaven and sway slowly from side to side as you immerse yourself in the moment. It doesn't get any better than this.

Inside of all of us there is that inner Bon Jovi that needs to be tenderly nurtured, frequently pampered and then released upon society at large when the time is right. And that time is nearly upon us. My advice is to embrace it: holster your blow dryer after use and get out there and be the best damn walking advertisement for spandex you can be.

1 comment:

  1. Very Entertaining ! #5 , procure some spandex ! love it !! off to the shops before the prices go sky high !!