For most guys today, wearing a leotard, blush, and constantly being covered in glitter would get you nothing but ridicule. In the 80s however, it got you fame, fortune, and bras sent to you in the mail. Ready or not, there is evidence that the glory days of the 80s are ready to return.
Head to the beach and you'll be blinded by neon animal print bikinis and dudes in cut-off jean shorts. Step into any mall and you'll find racks of tank tops and wayfarer sunglasses available in every color known to man. Turn on the radio, and you'll hear hypnotizing synth hooks in just about each pop song.
The 80s are coming back, and there's nothing you can do about it.
What has yet to be seen is whether or not the decade's weirdest byproduct, Hair Metal, will reemerge from the depths of rock 'n' roll's netherworld. While the genre has many names - Hair Metal, Glam Metal, Teeth Metal, What-the-Hell-is-He-Wearing Metal - it was all the same ol' situation: grown men, wearing clothes and makeup from the women's department, flailing around stage to lighthearted songs about sex, cars, and strippers.
In the event that Hair Metal returns, dominates radio play, and steals the hearts of innocent women across the planet, you need to be prepared to start your own band and ride the wave of illustrious riches. Here are 11 instructional steps, as taught to us by our Hair Metal forefathers, that are guaranteed to create the greatest rock group in a nostalgic, mesh tank top-wearing world.
Jordan Hart is the author and illustrator of Steel Rainbow: The Legendary Underground Guide to Becoming an '80s Rock Star [Lyons Press, $12.95]. You can follow him on Twitter @Jordan_Hart.
The 80s rock star checklist went something like this: mirror, guitar, backup mirror (for checking one's hair and "recreational use"). Appearance was the most important part of Hair Metal; good looks always trumped mediocre musical talent. Think about it, can you name one person from the era that wasn't good looking (bass players don't count)? Probably not. If you're not the most stunning dude in the room, don't worry. 80s rockers made it acceptable for men to cake on 7 lbs. of makeup before going out in public. Note: If you're short, overweight, or have jacked up teeth, you'll have to sit this one out and wait for the 90s Grunge revival.
Your perfectly chiseled body will sell your music, not your musical talent. Fans won't even consider buying your album unless they're assured that your physique rivals that of a Greek god. But it's important that you never reveal it all by going shirtless. Once fans have seen every inch of your torso, you'll become yesterday's news, and they'll move on to the next band with a cheerful yet mysteriously tortured lead singer. Pictured are four great options - leotard, mesh tank top, sequin vest, see-through shirt - that showcase the goods with leaving just a little bit for the imagination.
Quick, stealthy, instinctual, lethal, promiscuous, streamlined, good-looking--do these traits sound familiar? African cats are the animal kingdom's version of rock stars, so celebrate that connection with nature by placing graphics of their face and skin on everything from jean jackets to amplifiers. The beauty of animal print is that it works in both its natural color and in an artificial neon hue. But don't stop with graphical representations; you need to incorporate these jungle cats into every aspect of your life. Concerts should start in complete darkness with a thunderous tiger growl through the amplifiers. Videos should feature the band racing through the jungle, riding on the backs of white cheetahs. And of course, interviews should be filmed in your back yard next to your pet lion, Henry.
No other city embraced the lifestyle of 80s rock like Los Angeles. Driving naked down Hollywood Blvd. in a Ferrari packed with women, a local mascot, and Columbian joy powder? Totally normal. Thanks to its laid back, feel good atmosphere, L.A. became the birthplace of Hair Metal. Most of the period's biggest bands like Van Halen (the godfathers of Hair Metal), Mötley Crüe, Ratt, and W.A.S.P., all started their careers on the Sunset Strip. This city will be the most accepting of a Hair Metal revival and everything associated with it. Plus, being surround by beautiful waitresses, also known as "actresses," sunshine, and Italian sports cars will give you endless inspiration for lyrical material.
There was no better accessory/piece of artistic expression in the '80s than the guitar of a rock musician. Declaring solid colors and natural wood finishing the stuff of washed up hacks, guitarists created (or paid someone to create) custom graphics on all of their axes. Anything was allowed. From the standard choice of animal print, to geometric lines and circles, most guitars from the era ended up becoming playable pop art. Pictured are four options - wet 'n' wild, midnight lightning, fenced in, heartbreaker - that reveal you're more than just a musician, you're an all-around creative artist. The more colors you use, the better. Note: Don't forget to airbrush a message on the back that you can point-to and share with the crowd during guitar breaks. Names of hometowns, sexual acts, and song titles work best.
Until the 80s, a rock musician's hair resembled that of a bum, mountain man, and prisoner of war. Hair Metal allowed the band to have better locks than everyone in their area code, even professional beauticians. While teasing your hair is a must, the height and length is completely up to you: 6-inch, 8-inch, or 12-inch. Just remember the old motto, "the bigger his hair, the bigger his...platinum album collection."
The bigger your drum set, the more talented you look. It doesn't matter if you can't physically play most of it, the sight of a monstrous kit that looks fit for Zeus himself will have fans thinking you're some kind of rhythmic god in human form. At the very least, your gear checklist should include six bass drums, four gongs, 28 tom-toms, and 57 cymbals. And don't bore the audience by hitting your gongs with a typical mallet. Get creative and use a replica of Thor's hammer, a dull axe, or even your head.
Elvis had the hip swivel. Chuck Berry had the duck walk. David Lee Roth had the split kick. Milli Vanilli had that weird run-in-place thing. Creating a signature move that transcends time will cement your place in rock 'n' roll history. Once you've decided on a move, execute it repeatedly at every concert, live performance, film session, photo shoot, and interaction with the paparazzi. Pictured are four options - the shooting star, the summer swan, the heel click, the unicorn kick - that haven't been claimed yet if you're stuck on ideas. Note: The key is to invent a move with a high success rate. You'll look like an idiot if you land on your face following a backflip off the amplifiers.
The rock hand was popularized by Metal legend Ronnie James Dio. This gesture is isn't something to be taken lightly. Commonly flashed by band members before a guitar solo, six-second pull of Jack Daniels, or physical altercation with an annoying audience member, the rock hand is reserved for hardcore musicians who want to wreak havoc in every city they visit. Basically, it gives off the opposite vibe that you're trying to achieve. If you display the symbol on stage, you'll scare most fans out of the arena. The remainder of the audience will start burning chairs and rioting until you play "Iron Man." Blowing kisses or throwing glitter suits your upbeat songs and immaculate hair, makeup, and clothing style much better.
Hair Metal guys were all about touching bodies on stage, which somehow went unquestioned back then. They shared microphones, dance moves and, most importantly, guitars repeatedly throughout every show. "The Three-Way" (also referred to as "The Tag Team") is what you would call a real crowd pleaser. It happens when the singer and guitarist play one guitar simultaneously. This trick convinces the audience that the two don't hate each other and allows each woman in the crowd to imagine that she is the guitar, receiving full attention from the two hottest guys on the planet. There are hundreds of ways to pull off "The Three-Way," but a few rules need to be followed: -The two bodies must touch at all times. -The lead singer must have a smile on his face, while the guitarist must look completely shocked. -Each guy only gets one hand on the guitar. -"The Three-Way" cannot exceed one minute in length. It just gets awkward after that.
Watch an old video or concert footage from the period and you'll notice one thing - the only person who stayed in one area for longer than three seconds was the drummer. Lead Singers were practically performing two-hour gymnastics routines every night, and guitarists were running around stage like a hyperactive kid who just washed down a pack of Sour Patch Kids with five Red Bulls. The last thing you need is to pull a groin from an ill-advised crescent kick or power slide. Fans expect to see you flailing around stage like a Chihuahua on crack. If you're unable to do the splits or jump off platforms, you'll have to cancel shows. Stretch daily to keep your loins loose and prevent injury (which directly translates to lost revenue). The most important stretch? The Sumo. It's the perfect preshow routine. Follow these simple steps below to ensure groin flexibility. Sumo stretch instructions: -Take a deep breath and fully relax body. -Slowly squat down while turning feet outward. -Lock hands, push inner thighs out with elbows, and hold for ten seconds. -Slowly stand up, and take a three-second swing of whiskey. -Scream "Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-haaaaaaaaaaa" -Repeat steps 1 through 5 three more times.