Theater Of Pain

So, in 1983 I first hear the band Motley Crue, and by 1984 they are my favorite band. Then in 1985 I see them at my first concert, cementing it for life.
In the summer of ’85 Motley Crue’s version of “Smokin’ In the Boys Room” was all over the radio. And I was impatiently awaiting the release of their third studio album Theater Of Pain from which the song was from.

I guess I should give a little back ground to this summer. As a teen I took off from home a lot. I guess you could call me a runaway. I didn’t have a bad childhood or home life. But my parents were divorced when I was in third grade. It was  hard on me, as I guess it would be for most 3rd graders. To top it off, when my mom remarried, I did not get along with my step father. When I was in 5th grade and we were going to be moving in with my step father to be. That meant leaving my grandparents in Torrance where we had been since the divorce where I had all sorts of friends and moving to South Central L.A.

I guess it didn’t help that my grandmother had given me Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn arround this time. I fantasized about running away like they did in the book. My best friend at the time, Jeremy ( I think I mentioned him before, he’s the one with the pot head parents who worked with rock bands. Jeremy was also the one who gave me my AC DC albums I mentioned in the post before this, “For Those About To rock” and “Dirty Deeds”) we came up with an idea that we would run away to his uncle’s house in Gardena.

So after school we went to his house grabbed some food and headed out. But my sister had run home and told my grandparents of our plan and he caught up with us before we were even out of the neighborhood.

A year later though, now living in L.A., the idea of running away struck me again. My step dads apartment was small, I shared a room with my 2 brothers, and I just didn’t like my step dad or his family. They treated us like we were step kids and not family, I never liked that feeling.  I was only in 6th grade, but I just wanted to just get out into the world already. Yes, 6th grade.

I went to take the trash out, but had a back pack of clothes as well and I just took off. I won’t get into all the details (a blog for another day, we need to get back to Motley Crue) but I went to a friend’s house and spent the night under a bed. It tore my mom up bad. There were flyers everywhere. My grandparents drove up from Torrance. It was pretty bad. And I was only gone for 24 hours.

My mom had come by the friend’s house I was at, at from under the bed I heard everything that was going on and how upset and sad she was. So the next day I called home to talk to her, she started crying and begging me to come home. So I went home. Funny how quickly a parents sadness turns to anger when they realize I was safe all night while everyone worried and searched for me. (I should mention it rained that night). Yea she was pissed. But really my home life wasn’t that bad and my mom was a great mom, my step dad on the other hand (again a blog for another day), so I didn’t runaway again until the following year, 7th grade. A friend and I skipped school and hung out all night in a park. My second 24 hour runaway and again, it didn’t make my mom to happy.

My mom and step dad eventually separated and we moved to Perris, California. I really came of age the Summer of  ’84, right before the move (I’ve talked a little of that summer before, it was an awesome summer), which I spent most of the time staying at my uncle’s in Torrance catching up with all my old friends. But it is nothing compared to the summer of  ’85.

When we moved to Perris I was ready for more freedom, and if my mom said I couldn’t go somewhere or would try to ground me, I’d just take off for a while. I know, what a little spoiled shit, what can I say, I had that runaway bug in me and I had tasted freedom.

It was during the summer of ’85, waiting for the new Motley Crue album to come out that I took off one Friday night and headed to Riverside. I would go to Tyler Mall and Castle Park most weekends, usually with friends, but sometimes by myself. Like this time. I’d usually see someone I knew or just scam on the chicks.

Well I had spent the day and night playing video games and hanging out, but once everything closed up I had to make a decision on what to do. I wasn’t supposed to go out that night, so I wasn’t going home, plus I didn’t feel like making that long trip (busses had stopped running at that point, and it was a good 20 mile walk). So I started to walk around Riverside when I came across a girl and her brother. I told them I was 16 though I was only 14. I also told them I was looking for a place to crash (I had slept in an apartment laundry room the last time I had done this). Of course they didn’t believe me at first, but as it turns out, she was 16 too (lol) and had a boyfriend who was 19 and she would talk to him so I could crash at his house. There’s a lot more to this story, but I really got to get to Motley Crue.

So, long story not so long (defiantly not long story short) her boyfriend did let me stay at his house. I stayed there for 2 weeks and it was a blast. The girl’s boyfriend had a brother, Chuck,  who was 17 or 18 I think,  he and his friends had just graduated so they took me in as a sort of mascot (thinking I was 16 though again, I was only 14). We went to the beach, a senior back yard beer party, time of my life!

And it was on June 21, 1985 while I was still at this house in Corona (that’s where they lived with their mom, I’m not sure what she thought of me staying there, but she was cool about it) I was eating cereal, when the girl who lived across the street came running in. She was 17 if I remember right and very cute but my attention was pulled away from her quickly to what she held in her hand:


She had the new Motley Crue album! It had just come out that day and there it was right in front of me. It was a record so it seemed so big and beautiful to me (it was much like the time I first saw the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album). It just sat there glowing like a red-hot flame. She opened it up and I remember what Chuck had said when we saw the boys on the inside:


“I think Nikki might have taken it too far this time”. That’s what he said, and I get it, but to me, it was the most awesome thing I had ever seen. This was the shit!

I went home that day, lol. Had to go get my own copy and blast it in my own room. I played that tape over and over again. I couldn’t get enough of it. Some of my friends thought it was too glam, but the music was just as hard as their other stuff. I think they didn’t realize how poppy the first 2 albums really were. I remember one friend saying Theater Of Pain sucked because it had a ballad on it (Home Sweet Home). I told him that was shit. Too Fast For Love (the first album) had 2 ballads on it, Merry-Go-Round and On With The Show and Shout At the Devil (the second album) had a ballad called Danger. The problem most people had was that Home Sweet Home was such a popular ballad. Lots of fans hate it when their band goes “mainstream”. I’ve never understood this. I get the whole “oh they sold out”, but that only applies to Metalica in my book. LOL, only kidding, sort of. it just makes sense, if a band is good, people are gonna listen to it.

Like I said, I played the fuck out of that album and I remember the first time saw this video:

Friday Night Videos, it was like 2 in the morning when they finally played it (I did not have MTV). Yes, it is very glammy. But let’s not forget, that year even Ozzy and Judas Priest sported the glitter!

Let’s skip ahead to October of 1985. A  friend of mine was having a Halloween party and I was going as Nikki Sixx. The guy giving the party was going as Mick Mars and another friend of mine (Mike, yes Mike) was going as Tommy Lee. Mike was another huge Motley Crue fan and his sister and aunt had already taken him to see the Theater Of Pain show earlier in the tour. He told me all about it and I was so jealous. I had never been to a concert, and I wanted badly to go see Motley Crue on this tour.

Well it turned out Mike’s sister (who was dressing as Vince for Halloween) and aunt had gotten 3 more tickets for when Motley Crue was playing in Long Beach on November 27th. They were going to take Mike again, but during one of my runaway weeks I had spent time at Mike’s aunts house, and they (aunt and sister) thought I should go to the show with them since Mike had already gone and since I was such a huge Crue fan they knew how much I would appreciate it!

Now I just had to get my mom to say I could go. I know that sounds funny. But even though I took off a lot, I couldn’t do it every time. I did respect my mom (believe it or not) and wanted her to let me go. Would I have still had gone if she said no? Duh, of course I would have, but luckily my mom could see how much it meant to me and my mom is one of the coolest, she said yes. Plus my birthday was coming up, you know I threw that in.

So it was set, I was going to see Motley Crue live!  And just a week before the show I saw this video:

You know I was ready!

The night started off with me walking over to Mike’s aunts house. It wasn’t really a house, it was a trailer out by the gypsy camp. yes Perris had gypsies back then… I swear!

Once I was there we got ready for the show, I had brought my Motley tapes over and we were listening to them while we got ready, a tradition I still do before every concert. Mike’s aunt had asked someone she knew to give us a ride for some gas money and he agreed. The only problem was, that this guy had a little 2 seater sports car. My friend’s sister and I had to had to lay on each other across the area where there should have been a back seat. No place for our feet, we just scrunched up together for the ride to Long Beach. I wasn’t complaining though, my friend’s sister was 17 and pretty hot, plus I was on my way to Motley Crue!

We got to the stadium and the guy said he would park and wait. I couldn’t believe he was just gonna sit in his car for 3 hours while we went to the show, but I didn’t care, I was walking around like the king of the world. There were people everywhere, many dressed in Motley Crue shirts (as was I). Remember I was 14, this was my first concert and it was a Motley Crue show. There was so many hot chicks dressed in the tightest, skimpiest outfits. (Did I just say hot chicks?) It was heaven all around me.

We got into the show, 8th row tickets, hell yes! I remember when we first got there a couple of girls were talking to a guy at the stage who looked a lot like Tommy Lee. back then when Tommy and Nikki were out of makeup they were very hard to tell apart, and as I started to say “Hey that looks like Tommy Lee”, I realized my mistake and what came out was “Hey, that’s Nikki Sixx!” I jumped from my seat and ran for the stage, I was too late, he was already heading back stage. I had missed a chance at meeting my hero. That’s OK, when I returned to school the following week, that story was changed to me meeting Nikki Sixx and it was almost like I had. And don’t come down on me about lying, I was in 9th grade and besides, I finally came clean, right.

Alright, I missed Nikki Sixx, but the night was just getting started. When Mike had seen the Crue with his aunt and sister the band Loudness had opened for them:


They were a Japanese  metal band. Really good band, and I was a little disappointed they were not playing at our show. Instead we got Autograph:


Yes, I was a little disappointed.

We did stand up for “Girls In Black Cars” and “Turn Up The Radio”:

It was the least we could do since most everyone else was out getting beers and snacks while they played.

Which reminds me, we didn’t have any money, but the girls did have some weed and they sold some to the people behind us so we could get nachos and a drink. The whole thing was just a fantastic blur to me. And when  that curtain came down and the Crue took the stage I was reborn.

Tommy’s drum set came down like a draw bridge and they blasted into Looks That Kill. Nikki looked like a God to me up on that stage. I was having sensory overload!

Use It Or Lose It was next, my favorite track off Theater Of Pain. I was up in my folding chair, fist high above me, singing every word!

Third song was Shout At The Devil and everyone in the stadium was up on their seats “devil horns” pumping into the electric air.

And it went on…

Fight For Your Rights, Ten Seconds To Love, Piece Of Your Action, Home Sweet Home, Red Hot, and then an amazing guitar solo from Mick Mars leading into Keep You Eye On The Money.

Followed by Louder Than Hell (and it did get louder than hell in there). Then I saw my first Tommy Lee drum solo. If you have never seen one, that is too bad, because they are unbelievable! That night his drum kit that had unfolded like a draw bridge was now  going up the opposite way till it was straight up and down with Tommy strapped in with seat belts. As the drums slowly raised to that 90 degree level Tommy played faster and faster till at the top he stopped, opened a beer, took a big drink, and threw it out into the audience, yelling “This Buds for you!”

Everyone went crazy, I went crazy! I really wanted to catch that beer.

The night went on as they screeched into Too Young To Fall In Love followed by the best 2 songs of the night in my opinion, Knock ’em dead Kid and Live Wire. Knock ’em Dead had special meaning for me which we’ll get to in a future post I’m sure. And Live Wire, well I would learn over the next few years and many more Crue shows, that Live Wire was always one of the best songs of the night! They finished the show with Smokin’ In The Boys Room and City Boy Blues. Well you might think that if you have never been to a concert before, because then came the encore!

They came back out and did a cover of The Beatles Helter Skelter… you know I was on the highest cloud at that point. What a fucking show! What a fucking night! All through it there were pyro explosions and sparks and fire.

Then to top it all off Vince Neil announced they were recording the next song live for their next album. And with that they closed with another cover… Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock. They rocked it and the night was complete. A couple of years later when Motley’s next album “Girls, Girls, Girls” came out, sure enough my first concert was immortalized there on the final track. But that’s later. For that night, 30 years in the past, we headed out of the stadium, my ears ringing, again people everywhere. We found the guy waiting for us in his little sports car, and I climbed into the non back seat, wrapping around my friend’s older sister because we had to but also to stay warm (that trip home was cold for some reason, don’t know if the top was down or just the windows, but I remember it was cold), with the biggest grin on my face. That grin returns now as I remember it all like it was yesterday!

8 thoughts on “Theater Of Pain

  1. It’s amazing how much music saves us and also helps us remember ourselves at certain points in our development as humans. I know there have been songs that have gotten me through the worst. I do have to say I’m glad you somehow kept safe all those times you ran away. Being a true crime buff, I know for a fact that in the 80’s young/teen boys (and girls) all over CA were at risk of being victims of crazy spree killers. There were killing teams at the point. It was, and still is, a very scary time to have a kid and live in CA. I definitely take too many precautions bc I truly live in the land of fruit and NUTS. I don’t trust any weirdo out here around kids. The world is just a very different place from what it was in the 50’s 😦 the family unit went to shit, the hippie/drug movement took over CA, and for some reason killers that like attention flock to CA – and CA has a huge population density making the likelyhood of encountering a psycho that much more likely.

    Smoking in the Boys room was defo appropriate for young men like you I’m sure hehe. I definitely understand why you connected to that music! What a wonderful outlet!

    I grew myself up a bit strange (lol I think I’ll call my future blog that). When I was a kid I gravitated towards all sorts of music, but my mother was a classical pianist so I really picked up on that. I ended up getting obsessed with piano by 5 and started learning how to play by colors bc I couldn’t even read yet. So before I learned how to really read properly I learned sheet music, but I have vertical dyslexia so that sort of fucks me up lol. I’m much more into instrument than lyric, though I love lyrics. I’m that quiet kid that played an instrument in the back (or I prefer in a studio) getting annoyed with how full of them self the vocalist was. “Can we get a new lead? This guy is in it for the tits, not the music. Thinks he’s God’s gift to the planet. Bitch bye”.

    • Totally agree about music Annie..Pink Floyd and ‘Old’ Genesis were some albums i played to Death (but there were SO many other as well)….As far as teens and danger in the 80’s, our generation also hitchhiked everywhere!! But i wouldnt change a thing, i felt so free…Thanks for sharing your life with us Zero! 🙂

  2. I think I have explained before how great the feeling is when people read something you have written, and get what you were saying. Yes I’m a bit of a narcissistic ham (luckily though I’m full of empathy, so it keeps me from the levels of others we discus here) so I like attention, I think we all would agree on that. But what really gives me joy from this blog is writing something and being understood. And with all the great readers this place has attracted, I get that far more than I would expect.
    I almost wasn’t gonna post this one, in fact as I finish up my second motley story which gets even more personal, I thought about stopping, taking down this post and skipping the rest. I have such a hard time getting personal in the blog, which is sad, because that’s what I started blogging about before I got so sarcastically jaded about the internet. Again, how different this would all be if I hadn’t found or Cristina blog. I wouldn’t think twice about writing these more personal pieces.
    As I read over this post and the next few are being worked on I figured the first thing people would get out of it was that I was obsessed with Motley Crue and nothing else at that moment matters, this really come out even more in the next post. But of course that’s just the sarcastic, satire side to the post. Playing to the Dorothy comment that I’m obsessive, which I still obsess on, lol.
    The deeper reality side of this post and the next ones to come is just as you said Annie, how music shapes us and saves us, how music is the soundtrack that we remember our lives to. When we hear a song it can give us full memory of important moments both sad and happy, as well as developmental parts that changed us forever. I’ve made it obvious that music is one of the most important thing in life to me, for many different reasons. And it’s important to all of us for the same as well as different reasons. To see the first comment hit my point on the head always surprises me here, though I don’t know why anymore, you all are quite the sharp tools. Lol.
    I obviously am a lyric person, I have been writing them since I was a kid, and I had aspirated to be one of those self absorbed lead singers. You make a great point about them Annie, Vince Neil from motley cure definitely is the type of lead singer you describe, for me though it adds to what I love about the crue. More on that in my next post.
    Also you caught the part I skipped over a lot. I lived a dangerous life as a teen, I didn’t mention, but I got around most of the time by hitch hiking. I am extremely lucky to have survived the 80s, again as I get more open here a lot more on that time of my life will make it into the blog, but to bring up my step dad again (something I was really unsure about blogging about, so again I didn’t say much), but once when I was a little older (early 20s) and we got a long better, he said something that made me stop to think, and as I write this blog I think often think about it again. It was in a discussion about drugs, as I have mentioned I did my share of them. And the talk was on what drugs can do to you, why they are so bad and I was trying to explain to my younger siblings how lucky I was, (some of you know this, most of you don’t,but at 17 I ODed and was dead for a very short moment) to still be alive. My step dad had said, that I wasn’t the person they should be talking to, I came out ok, he thought they should be looking at people like our neighbors son who was totally brain dead from a stroke he had from cocaine use. This was a good point and it stuck with me. I’ve done a lot, lived a pretty dangerous, crazy life. But I have been lucky and come out pretty Damn good if I say so myself so is my lesson the wrong one? I sometimes still worry if my life experiences are tainted in this way because I have come through. Yes even the good things I got from my step father mess me the end I agree that maybe my stories romanticize some bad things and I was lucky to live through them, and maybe a more tragic story is needed to get points on such topics made. Someone dying from a car accident while not wearing a seatbelt is much more affective then how someone was lucky to survive a crash while driving recklesly in teaching a lesson, right.
    Well I’ve thought about this quite a lot over the years, and I guess it all depends on what message you are trying to teach. And people might not know it, but with this post I have taken that step that can’t be retraced, it will only go forward, and as my more personal life experiences starts popping up here I hope people see what I mean by all that. But I guess I shouldn’t worry. You guys get it I don’t know why it keeps surprising me, but you guys get it

    • I think we are very lucky to have you around now! I defo have had my partying days – the times when I was young and would gladly pick up any substance thrown at me. I definitely should not have survived all the dumb things I put myself through. You should t have either. But for some reason we are still here. Luck of the draw or is there a purpose in our being spared when so many wonderful peeps around is have succumbed to the and demons we escaped? It’s funny to me you brought up Tom and Huck – I was reading this article about runaway stats and the first reference the author made was to Tom and Huck.

      I think music may have been one of the things that saved us. Kept us sane and focused in the middle of the whirling storm. Oh and singers like Vince Neil own it I don’t mind them
      Being all about the tits and fun! It’s when the vocalist feigns being sorts liken and deep and brooding on stage and backstage is a shallow nitwit who is rude and wants boobies. At least Vince is owning that he is a rock n roll dude who likes booze and boobs. I think he rules.

      • yep, it was the inocent reading of twain taht gave me the taste for the escape. i should also say, that my family moved around a lot, in my whole life i never went to the same school for more than 2 years, so I had that rolling stone mentality already when the books brought it out. And i love what you said about vince. LOL, very true!

      • It freaks me out sometimes, when we post the song ‘Mother” from Floyd ( re:JS)…i think i played it a million times in my life, then walked in Eminem!…Life comes full circle..

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