It’s the age-old pop star dilemma: the more famous you get, the younger your fans get–to the point where eventually, you may find yourself legally unable to put your penis in them. How does an unwitting rock and roll Barney deal with this awkward situation? If you’re Bret Michaels, you tell yourself that girls young enough to be your illegitimate daughter have been brought to your concerts by your “realness,” rather than the fact that you remind them of their negligent father if he wore guyliner. You stick to your guns, play the music you want to play, incorporate more western iconography into your poodle rock and almost two decades later, people watching your Vh1 reality dating show will see what a totally credible bad-ass you are. And so will the New York Times‘ Sunday Styles section.
“You walk off the stage, and you’ve got 13-, 14-, 15-year-old girls and guys running up, and it isn’t because they bought my first record,” Mr. Michaels said, his eager eyes hooded by his trademark “guyliner” eye-shadow. True, the Disney demographic hardly seems compatible with his dating show, a PG-13 universe of melon-breasted bottle blondes, attempting to win his affections in dignity-free competitions like stroller derby and mud-bowl football.
But Mr. Michaels is thrilled to see his message get out to the 14-year-old daughters of Poison’s original 14-year-old fans. It is a form of vindication. Mr. Michaels believes that it is his resistance to chasing musical trends over the years that has made him hot again.
“It’s not like every other day there is some stylist saying, ‘You have to become this,’ ” he said, a rhinestone-encrusted skull-and-bones belt buckle dangling over his crotch. He added, “I think the reason you see all these young fans is, they see the realness.”
Members of his backing band said they have started catering to Mr. Michaels’s swelling teeny-bopper fan base.
“I put a ‘Hannah Montana’ sticker on the back of my bass,” Ray Scheuring, the bass player, said. “We are Hannah Montana now.”
No, Bret was Hannah Montana then.