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Poison

Friday, May 31

There comes a time in a woman's life, or at least there did in mine, when you look back and think, Hey! Why didn't I ever let a rock and roll bad boy lead me onto his tour bus so he could slurp Jack Daniel's from my navel?

Former groupies, gals who fondly remember sneaking out to see the band on a school night, are older now, more mature -- and still so interested in "Nothing But a Good Time" that online gossip explores the question, "Should I buy tickets for a concert that falls a week before my due date?" (Consensus: Yes, unless the baby is in the breech position.)

Why such devotion? Probably because in its loud, goofy way, Poison makes its fans feel the love, and not just in the sense of the legendary backstage debauchery, which, after all, involved only a few thousand chicks. The four hair-band heroes are so big on shaking hands and saying howdy that, by now, Web-savvy drummer Rikki Rockett may have exchanged e-mail with everyone who bought Poison's sextuple platinum recording, Open Up and Say…Ahh!

Does Bret Michaels's bandanna now conceal a receding hairline?
Does Bret Michaels's bandanna now conceal a receding hairline?

Equally important, the band has always been campy and funny -- thanks in large part to Brooklyn guitarist and man-child C.C. DeVille. "How could we take ourselves seriously," he says, "with all that makeup?" Not to mention the kick lines they choreographed using dance moves DeVille remembered from childhood trips to Radio City Music Hall -- the perfect complement to party tunes like "Talk Dirty to Me" and "Unskinny Bop."

Though the Britney crowd is buying tickets for this tour, most members of the audience and the band are, uh, maturing gracefully. While bass player Bobby Dall has traded his cascading dark curls for a peroxided buzz cut, the rest of the band is as glam as ever. Bret Michaels is a bit thicker around the middle but still, as DeVille points out, notorious for having a great ass. The long-sober and extremely buff DeVille annoys the ladies by obscuring his no-doubt-adorable caboose with untucked shirttails because, he says, "Bret has the great-ass domain and I'm sad, I'm scared, that I'd be a little saggy in comparison."

Critics blast Poison for being girlie-boys without realizing that this is a good thing: Poison fandom has a Will & Grace vibe: plenty of raunchy, smutty jokes bubbling through harmless, platonic fun. "Poison," DeVille says, "has always been a touchy-feely band," eager to be loved, whether in a brotherly way or in methods featuring bodily fluids, by the people he cherishes as "good, down-to-earth fans."

Over the years, DeVille has taken what he calls a medical sabbatical and Dall went to AA, and many of us have had our ups and downs, but that doesn't mean we can't all get our ya-yas out at a Poison show. The set list features three songs from the new CD, Hollyweird, and 14 greatest hits. DeVille explains that the band still needs to meet fans: "It's very therapeutic for the four of us." When asked if he tires of being photographed with complete strangers, DeVille bellows, "No! It's never enough! Never enough!"

So trot on out to The Woodlands. Maybe you'll get your boobs signed, maybe you won't. Either way, in ten years you'll have the pleasant memory of being loud and rowdy for one untroubled summer evening -- and that's worth the price of admission.

 
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