One of glam metal’s greatest vocalists enjoyed a resurgence in his career via reality TV when Rock of Love with Bret Michaels created on July 15, 2007.
As the leader of Poison, Michaels had already enjoyed tremendous success. Between 1986 and 1993, the band sold over 15 million albums in the United States alone, with Look what the cat was dragging (1986), Open up and say… Ahh! (1988) and Flesh & Blood (1990) all achieving multi-platinum status. However, by the mid-90s things had slowed down for the band, and although Poison The biggest hits compilation was a commercial success in 1996, change was definitely in the air. At the dawn of the millennium, Michaels was embarking on acting and solo work, and envisioning the second phase of his career.
In 2006, VH1 scored a hit with flavor of love, a reality TV dating series featuring Flavor Flav of rap group Public Enemy. The producers wanted to create something similar with a rock slant and approached Michaels to be their frontman. At first, the singer was hesitant.
“The first time [the show idea] came along, they wanted to take it back to the early days, the first look,” Michaels told Yahoo Entertainment, alluding to a concept that would have recreated part of the ’80s hair metal lifestyle. “And I said “Here is the deal. I can’t do this…I’m going to have to walk away because this has the lifespan of an episode.
Instead, Michaels came up with something more representative of his life at that time. “If you live here and now in the world that I live in and you take all the bus parties that I’ve done, the awesome backstage parties, all that stuff that’s going on, we’re gonna make it fun,” explained the rocker.
The show’s creative team agreed, and Michaels — who went on to become one of the show’s producers — signed on. The Poison frontman was adamant that the show be “organic and real.” To that end, he insisted that lines not be written for him to say on camera. “Please don’t script me because I’m gonna suck,” the singer recalled. “Just let me talk.”
The concept followed a standard reality show formula: 25 women competed for Michael’s love and affection via dares, one-on-one dates, and the usual dose of drama. The Poison frontman was also sure to infuse his personality into the show, often cracking light-hearted jokes. For example, in the early stages of the first episode, Michaels said, “Rock and roll is an insatiable goddess, but I love her. And I’m just looking for that one woman in my life to be part of that threesome.”
The central emphasis of rock of loveThe first episode of was a wild welcome party that set the tone for the show’s fun ways. “That first night was literally, I’m not making this up, it was almost three nights,” Michaels recalled. “The first night became the second night, it continued the next day.”
“These girls were stars,” attested the rocker. “Even though I had to be the guy who looked for love and animated it, the girls made this show amazing.”
rock of loveThe first episode of drew around 1.6 million viewers, a solid number in line with other reality shows on VH1 at the time. Meanwhile, critics have skewed the series, with the New York Times calling it “carnival slime: a foul-smelling paste of fried dough, cigarette ash, salt, and grain alcohol.” The fans didn’t care. Reality TV quickly became a pop culture phenomenon, even getting parodied on Saturday Night Live. At the end of the first season, rock of love attracted over 5 million viewers, becoming one of the network’s most popular shows.
rock of love not only brought Michaels into the limelight, but it introduced him to a new generation of fans who didn’t know about Poison’s early years. Looking back, the rocker admitted he had a hunch the show would be a hit after that first night of partying.
“I’m not saying we knew,” he explained, “you can never curse it by saying we knew something good was going on — but something good was going on.”
Watch the first episode of “Rock of Love With Bret Michaels”
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There is nothing culpable in these pleasures.