Pick Your Poison


Fans of Bret Michaels get their fill with a new autobiography, summer tour and hit reality show

As one of rock ’n’ roll’s leading men, Bret Michaels has enjoyed a remarkable career in his 20-plus years with metal band Poison. Never one torandt-cover rest on his laurels, Michaels has garnered enormous success by going solo and fronting his own group, the Bret Michaels Band, partaking in movie production and acting and starring in Rock of Love Bus With Bret Michaels, a reality dating show that has taken America by storm in its three seasons as the highest-rated series ever on VH1. Now the pop culture cutie can add something new to his burgeoning résumé: autobiographer. The long-awaited Roses & Thorns: The Reality of My Rock & Roll Fantasy is one of the most anticipated reads of the summer, and Michaels promises that his vivid life story will take readers on a riveting jaunt through a wild briar patch right down to the sweet stuff. Laced with sexy, humorous stories and never-before-seen photos, Roses & Thorns will help Michaels’ fans survive their Sunday-night withdrawals from the recent conclusion of season three of Rock of Love!


As summer kicks into high gear, Michaels will continue to do what he does best: entertain the masses! Along with classic rockers Def Leppard and Cheap Trick, Poison will make a stop at the New Orleans Arena on August 18. New Orleans Living recently caught up with the good-natured Michaels to ask him about his exciting new book, his latest bevy of beauties from Rock of Love and the thing he’s most passionate about: being a doting dad to two darling daughters.


Hey, Bret! New Orleans is looking forward to the Poison show this summer! How is touring with Poison now different than it was 20 years ago?


Oh, I can’t wait! We’ve been together for 23 years, and we’ve been touring the arenas every summer and having a blast. Playing in New Orleans on August 18 is going to be so insanely awesome for me because I’ve been pushing to play with Poison in New Orleans for so long now and I finally got it! Honestly, I’m having just as much if not more. I’m closer to the guys now than I was then. We go out onstage and we have a good time. I think the biggest difference is that we remember some of it now! When you are hungover and you don’t wake up until an hour before the show, weeks go by and you’re like, “Did we actually play Cincinnati?” It was great, but we were like college kids in the middle of an endless dorm party. I absolutely love where I’m at right now. And no one wants to see me in spandex anymore, especially me! [Laughs]


And your new book, Roses & Thorns will be the juiciest read of the summer!

It’s most intriguing when you write your autobiography and talk about things that are both therapeutic and bring up a lot of old scars. What’s funny about this book is I give you the rose and the thorn of every situation that I encountered. Plus, there are so many never-seen-before photos in it. My parents were sending in stuff without asking me, like my prom photo with my hair permed. I have on floods—I look like a beanpole with absolute chicken legs, and the whole powder-blue tux thing is going on! The sad part is I really thought I looked pretty good, and in hindsight it was a disaster! I wrote under that picture that I was the original Napoleon Dynamite! [Laughs]


Awesome! And everything in it is straight from the horse’s mouth …


Yes, and it’s tough, because what’s the point of writing an autobiography if you don’t tell the truth? It is raw and truthful. It was humbling because my personal life and my career are one and the same, and when they collide, the truth sometimes is painful, because I love my family, I love my kids, but I also love music. When you love both, the line becomes gray, there’s no “Hey, I’m off work this hour” and that’s what causes so many stories, because I built this whole thing brick by brick out of a basement in Pennsylvania. And people will be on the floor laughing with it; it tells everything from, ahem, the comedy of errors that was me losing my virginity, which I am sure will bring you to your knees! Let me just put it this way: It happened outside of a fish hatchery. That’s all I’m going to say! That’s the romantic that I am, okay? And it covers everything from the fires, the car wrecks and broken bones to loving being a father and the incredible experiences of the births of both of my daughters, Raine and Jorja, who are 9 and 4. Jorja’s birth was literally a Nurse Ratched situation, one of the most unbelievably funny, maddening, beautiful experiences ever. I could not make up this stuff that I wrote about!


You’re close with your daughters. How do you plan to spend Father’s Day?brett2


Straight after a show in California, I’m flying back to the house to spend Father’s Day with my daughters to swim, party and ride our quads. I’m home for one day, then that next night I fly out at 2 a.m. to Philadelphia to rehearse with Poison, and the tour kicks off in Philly on Tuesday, June 23, the same day of the book release. I land, go to Regis & Kelly in New York in the morning, and then have six shows back to back from the West Coast to the East Coast. But Father’s Day is so important to me! I was supposed to play a show in Oregon, and I asked them if I could move it because I need to be with my girls that day.


Give us some good parenting advice: What do you do to be a good dad?


I love being a dad, and I wanted to be a dad. So love and understanding are the first two things. When my daughters fight over a doll that neither one wanted in the first place, patience is an absolute virtue! Always have an activity ready in your back pocket to stall any argument. The minute I see the argument swelling over the thing that nobody wants, I do this: “Guys, I’ve got my time clock: Which one of you can beat the other one around the track on the quad?” Diversionary tactics work all the time on something that would have been a seven-hour screaming, crying match! They love to swim, go to the park and ride bikes, and it’s good to have adventures, like we get in the car and I’ll say, “How many trees can you point out between here and Joe’s ranch?” But you’ve got to love and want to be there or none of it matters.


What age is a good one to let your daughters date?


Oooh, okay, here we go! Raine already has a little guy in her class that loves her. She told me, “Look, Dad, I got an amethyst from Armand!” and I’m like, “Oh, that’s great!” I’m thinking it’s cute. Then she goes, “He wants to make sure we can hold hands and kiss at the playground,” and I’m like, “Stop! Whoa!” I’m thinking, “This girl was just in my arms as a baby!” I’m like, “No, no, no, you tell Armand to chill!” And with my generation of parenting, I sometimes have to really define the gray area between fatherhood and friendship. When I was a kid, dads and moms were your dads and moms: You do that, pick up this, shut your mouth, and be home for dinner. Sometimes I’m like, “Screw the homework, let’s get the quads out and ride!” [Laughs] I have to sometimes pull the reins back and remember I’m a dad.


Are your girls aware of the Rock of Love aspect of your career?brett1


They are not allowed to watch Rock of Love. I’ll let them see things when they’re older and can understand and mentally deal with it. Raine has a clear understanding that her mother, Kristi, and I are great friends who love each other, and the first thing I told both of them was that I was not looking to replace their mom and that this was just a fun show. They come out on the road with me and have fun, but I always remember that at their ages, there are certain things I’m going to keep them from them until it’s the right time.


Yeah, they’ll understand it down the line when you start dating their friends on Rock of Love season 20! Honestly, Bret, we all hope you’ll never find true love because we’re addicted to the show and we’re having Sunday night withdrawals already! So fess up, when is the next season of Rock of Love going to start?

[Laughs] Well, let me say this: I can’t promise you anything for sure; I’ve got to let things run their course with Taya, but I’ll never say never!


Yeah, you right! How are things going with Taya, your pick on the third season of Rock of Love Bus?


Honestly, she’s fantastic! Mindy and Taya were equal going into it. They made Taya out to be different than she really was. She was unmalicious, and I was very attracted to her physically, and I said on the reunion that it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks except me and her. In the end, I loved that everyone weighed in. Even my mom said, “You should have picked Mindy!” Mindy’s a great girl, but she never expressed her feelings until after the finale. On the island, she was sort of like, “Hey, this is cool, whatever”—everything was so “whatever.” I didn’t know she was falling in love with me; she told me after the fact. I told her, “Why didn’t you say this to me on the island, things might have been different.” Imagine you and me dating and you’re like, “Do you like me?” and I’m like “Umm, you’re okay … I don’t know.” You’d be like, “Maybe I’ll find someone else!” I don’t want mediocre love!


Honestly Bret, do you really want to be around the same woman 24/7? Do you want real love? Or is it more fun having multiple women fighting over you until you kick ’em to the curb? [Laughs]

Here’s the truth: Rock of Love definitely has the potential for me to find someone I really want to spend a long time with. I do much better in long-term relationships because I get enough of what I call “nightly attention” in different cities when I’m on the road for more than half the year! When I’m off the road, I don’t leave my ranch. I’m having a blast, and I love my boots kicking in the dirt. In a relationship, I would like to find someone long term, honestly. And by long term I mean in rock star years, which equals about two and a half weeks! [Laughs]


Ha, ha! Well, you look great Bret, so besides taking insulin to control your diabetes, what’s the best way to keep yourself healthy?

Thank you! Here’s what works for me: I am extremely active. With diabetes, life expectancy gets a little bit shorter, so to try and beat those odds, I exercise. I live on a ranch, and I’ve got a motorcycle track, a dirt bike track, a BMX bike, go-cart stuff and quads. On my bus, I’ve got a full gym set up. I’ll ride the bike, do push-ups and squats, and next thing you know we’ve gone three hours and I’ve gotten a full workout in rather than just sitting, watching TV and eating for hours. Last but not least, have fun! When you lose your hope or something to live and have fun for, and I don’t mean to go all deep here, but that’s when you start to let everything go. I ride my BMX around and I live to do these little jumps, and this is where you have to be a little mental, because you have to be a bit of a child: I get out there and race my bike when there’s no one there to race. It’s just me jumping and I set up a time clock to beat my own time. I have a lot of imaginary friends that I play basketball with! [Laughs]


Do you think diabetes was a blessing in a strange way because it saved you from partying as hard as other rockers?

Absolutely! I’d be lying to say that I don’t like to drink and have a good time. I know I can have a few, but I have to cut it off. During certain moments in my life, and you’ll read this in the book, I let go, and this happens to diabetics. I’d be like, “I’m giving myself four [insulin] shots a day, I can’t drink, I’ve gotta eat this, I gotta do that,” and I’d go through short periods where I’d just say, “Screw it, I’m gonna get drunk for a month, I don’t care,” and it didn’t take long for my body to tell me, “You’re an idiot!” I realized it’s better to be a good host of a party who has a few beers rather than the falling-down drunk with the low blood sugar whose lifespan is about to get real short. And you’re absolutely right: In some strange twist of fate, the diabetes led me down a better path and caused me to be a much better singer and front man.


So maybe we’ll read some juicy stories in your book about the rock ’n’ roll party habits of others back in the day since you were the most lucid one! [Laughs]

Oh, yeah! There are some great, true stories in there, and I may have had to change a name or two to protect the guilty, because honestly, some of those people have gone into good marriages, and there are things they might not want their kids to know. But you’re going to get more good dirt than you know what to do with in the book, trust me. When you hear my stories, you will be on the floor. And remember, the one common thread is that I’m just a kid from Pittsburgh.


Bret, I’m not sure I’m ever going to want to be in the vicinity of a fish hatchery again after reading Roses & Thorns. Or maybe I will!


[Laughs] It will never be the same! After you read the book, I’ll see if you still talk to me!