Lee's been a popular personality since the early '80s, when he and bandmates Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx and Mick Mars burst onto the hard-rock scene with 1983's triple-platinum Shout at the Devil. (To date, the act has sold well over 20 million albums.) But Lee's marriage to, and divorce from, Melrose Place ultravixen Heather Locklear catapulted him to an even more exalted level of notoriety, and the ins and outs of his subsequent marriage to pneumatic former Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson have earned him a place in the Tabloid Hall of Fame. Moreover, the so-called "honeymoon video" he made with Anderson in 1995 is a true phenomenon of the Cyber Age. Pam's deep-throating technique and Tommy's infamous money shot are presently available for viewing on literally thousands of graphic web sites. When I typed their names into a computer search engine, I unwittingly opened a window onto an endless variety of sexual practices; among the addresses that popped up were ones using the keyword combinations "porn tiny girl smoking antiques china naked guy pics china guy pics free sex," "wet hot juicy teen pussy gay hardcore jerking men pics" and (my personal favorite) "cock monster cow barn farm sex monkey fuck horse rape animal dog love zoo."
Although Anderson bore Lee two children, Brandon and Dylan, their relationship went far beyond the exchange of bodily fluids. Violence was also part of the mix, and when Lee kicked Anderson in the back while she was holding one of their children, she went to the authorities. Lee had been in hot water before but had avoided serious punishment: In January 1998, he was ordered to pay a $17,500 fine and attend anger-counseling sessions for assaulting a photographer outside the Viper Room, a Los Angeles club, nearly two years earlier. After Lee was convicted of spousal abuse, however, the judge overseeing the case declined to slap his wrist, sentencing him to six months in the pokey instead. Lee was incarcerated May 20 and let go in early September, two months ahead of schedule. The early departure was a reward for what his keepers saw as good behavior.
In the time since, Lee has done his best to prove that he's a solid citizen, but that doesn't mean he's stayed out of the public eye. He participated in a "biography" that's been running on MTV for several weeks, and his name came up frequently in an article about Anderson that appeared in the November edition of Interview magazine. In the piece, Anderson claimed that Lee is in denial about their split, but the estranged couple remained a team when it came to a lawsuit filed against Internet Entertainment Group, a Seattle company run by Seth Warshavsky that has a reputation for catching celebrities with their genitalia exposed. (The firm recently turned a spotlight on the naked flesh of radio blabber Dr. Laura Schlessinger and is now marketing Sex Lives of the Stars, a video that brims with revelations by the alleged lovers of everyone from Leonardo DiCaprio to Larry King.) IEG had been the first firm to release the honeymoon tape, which Lee and Anderson say was stolen from their Malibu home while it was being remodeled two years ago, but litigation was seemingly short-circuited when they signed an agreement allowing Warshavsky to broadcast the extravaganza on his site. Then, a few months ago, lawyers representing the twosome took IEG to court, arguing that IEG had violated the pact by distributing videos and CD-ROMs of the Anderson-Lee get-together and by making it available in hotels via pay-per-view.
When I spoke to Lee in November, he declined to go into detail about the IEG matter beyond saying about Warshavsky, "I'd love to fucking strangle that motherfucker right now. That fucking son of a bitch." (Given an early December ruling by California-based Judge Dean Pregerson, who threw out Lee's lawsuit, he's probably even more unhappy now.) But the drummer was more than willing to discuss just about everything else, including his days in stir; Motley Crue's departure from its longtime label, Elektra; the players' decision to declare the independence of their imprint, Motley Records, and issue a new disc, Motley Crue's Greatest Hits; the band's reputation with fellow musicians and reviewers; and the odds of him and Pamela ever sharing a camcorder again. In conversation, he certainly didn't come across as the type of person who enjoys solving complex mathematical equations in his spare time. Rather, he seemed painfully earnest, mouthing psychological catch phrases in an effort to explain his downward spiral and what he sees as his current renaissance. And while he's upset to think that his image is ejaculating on a television or computer screen somewhere on the planet at this very moment, he doesn't seem to mind people knowing that he's not one of those rockers who has to stuff his crotch. After all, size matters.