INTERVIEW

'I slipped once. I went from saying, “This is the greatest day of my life,” to waking up going, “What happened? I'm in hell.” ’

NIKKI SIXX TALKS TO LIANNE GEORGE ABOUT HIS ALCOHOL AND DRUG ADDICTIONS, BEING A GOOD DAD, AND SCHMOOZING WITH A KENNEDY

November 5 2007
INTERVIEW

'I slipped once. I went from saying, “This is the greatest day of my life,” to waking up going, “What happened? I'm in hell.” ’

NIKKI SIXX TALKS TO LIANNE GEORGE ABOUT HIS ALCOHOL AND DRUG ADDICTIONS, BEING A GOOD DAD, AND SCHMOOZING WITH A KENNEDY

November 5 2007

'I slipped once. I went from saying, “This is the greatest day of my life,” to waking up going, “What happened? I'm in hell.” ’

INTERVIEW

NIKKI SIXX TALKS TO LIANNE GEORGE ABOUT HIS ALCOHOL AND DRUG ADDICTIONS, BEING A GOOD DAD, AND SCHMOOZING WITH A KENNEDY

Nikki Sixx, the hard-partying, lady-slaying bassist for the ’80s hair-metal phenomenon Mötley Crüe, has taken on a new role—activist and bestselling author. His book, The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star, chronicles Sixx’s brink-of-death battle with heroin, cocaine and alcohol addiction at the height of the band’s success. Last week marked its third turn on the New York Times bestsellers’ list, where it sat wedged between volumes by Bill Clinton and Mother Teresa. More recently, The Heroin Diaries caught the attention ofDemocratic congressman Patrick Kennedy, himself a recovering drug addict, who invited Sixx to Capitol Hill to brainstorm ideas for raising awareness about addiction, and to champion a new bill to demystify and facilitate treatment options for addicts.

You chose a racy title for a mainstream book.

A: Part of this is about me standing up and saying, “Read this book. I do not look pretty. This is as ugly as it gets.” The book is called The Heroin Diaries for a reason. I’m not stupid. I want to hit people over the head with a twoby-four. I want their attention.

Q: When did you realize it was working?

A: The New York Times bestseller list—that was nice because it meant that people were getting it. But it was the book signings that made me go, “Wow, this is really connecting with people.” I’m seeing everyone from teen-

agers to people 50 and older. I had a guy tell me, “I have my family because you wrote this book.” He said, “I was addicted to Vicodin for 10 years. I read the book and I quit and I’ve been clean 18 days.” That would’ve been worth my writing the book right there. But the stories keep happening. I’m hearing things on the street. I heard from a stockbroker yesterday in Manhattan. He came up to me and said, “One of my partners was on the verge of losing his job and he saw you on TV and he read the book and he quit drinking.” People have been giving me their AA chips, and lots of people are writing their stories—their version of the Diaries—describing how the book has moved them to take bigger steps.

Q: By most standards, these are gruesome and intensely private stories. Why open yourself up to scruti?ry 20 years after the fact?

A: I hadn’t read those diaries in years—since I wrote them. And when I did, it was like reading someone else’s diary. I couldn’t believe I was still alive. I mean, I knew how bad I was, but some of the entries, the psychosis, the insanity—I couldn’t believe I got out of it. I thought, you know what, somebody else could read this and it could help them.

Q: In hindsight, what strikes you the most about the person you were then?

A: I feel bad for that boy who had to carry that pain all the way to the emergency room. I don’t ever want my kids to have to carry that load. When you start diving into the book, you realize it isn’t really about heroin. It is about addiction, yes. But it’s about aban-

donment, unhealthy role models, depression, and becoming anti-social out of fear.

Q: Sikki, this alter ego of yours, used to rear his head during your lowest moments and do some pretty terrible things. Does he still exist?

A: I’m sure he does still exist. He’s part of my addiction. Sikki is a prankster, but to the point where he would burn a hotel down, not thinking that he would burn all the families in the hotel, too. When he’s out in full regalia, he’s evil. The way I look at it is, there’s a very long hallway, and it’s full of the most demonic characters, and I got out of that hallway and people have said, it must be nice to be free from that. But to be honest, I have my rearview mirror focused on that hallway at all times because I believe any addict who forgets his past is condemned to relive it.

Q: You have four kids under l6;how do you intend to talk to them about this stuff?

A: I’m not unlike any other parent. I worry about it because it’s in their family history. I could lock my children in their rooms, shackled to a wall, and if they wanted to get out and go down the same road as me, they’re going to figure out how to do it. Addicts are the most witty, clever people there are. All I can do with my kids, and I think I’m doing the same thing in the book, is say, behind door No. 1 is this. Behind door No. 2, there’s this option. It’s not my choice to pick the door for you. I just don’t want it to be a surprise.

Q: What do you think of the way rehab for celebrities is glamorized in the tabloids?

A: It’s a feeding frenzy on watching people

with addiction—whether it’s an eating disorder, a sex addiction, a betting addiction. The popular culture is becoming about that. Look what’s happening with our kids. When I grew up, we didn’t have that many TV stations. No video games. I think we might’ve had Pong. We would go outside and make stuff with strings and tree branches and you know what? We would have the greatest time! Now, I see that kids are sitting with their video games: it’s an addiction. They’re on the Internet: it’s an addiction. They’re into this instant gratification, this sensationalism.

Q: Did you read A Million Little Pieces [the Oprah-endorsed addiction memoir by James Frey that was later revealed to contain fabricated information]?

A: Yeah. I read half the book. Then I found out the same information that everybody else found out about it and I felt duped. It was heartbreaking for me.

Q: Despite being unquestionably R-rated, do you think The Heroin Diaries could ever be an Oprah book?

A: I think Oprah is a woman who has done so much giving, that when this gets on her radar, she’s gonna do it. But you know, I don’t know about this role model thing. If I came out with a really short little conservative haircut and was just all, “Let’s talk about God. I was bad then, but I’m good now,” people would be like, “Piss off! ” I’m just a guy who’s saying, “Look, this is my story.” I guess what I’m saying is if I slipped, I would go on national TV and say I slipped. I wouldn’t lie about it. God, I hope that never happens.

Q: When was the last time you slipped?

A Relapse is always a reality.

I’m 6V2 years sober. I haven’t been a junkie since 1987, as far as heroin is concerned. But when I didn’t take it seriously, I got myself in a slippery situation. I slipped once 15 years ago. I’d been sober for about 2V2 years and I went to the bar and ordered 36 shots of Jägermeister. I woke up and I had an ounce of cocaine, two hookers, and all the windows were taped up. It was a complete blackout. I went from waking up one day thinking, “This is the greatest day of my life,” to waking up the next day going, “What happened? I’m in hell.”

Q: What was the final turning point?

A: It was really getting the right treatment and the right support group, and finally, in working a program that I’m able to stay in recovery. When I was on the “Dr. Feelgood” tour, I was sober 100 per cent, but I wasn’t 100 per cent comfortable in my skin. Therapy is such an important part of this in my opinion, because a lot of people who are addicts, yes, it’s in their familiy. But a lot of this stuff

also goes back to unresolved issues that people are using the drugs and alcohol to mask.

Q : Are people ever disappointed to find that you’re no longer a wild and crazy rock god?

A: I think I stayed in a narcissistic state through my 20s and 30s. It was always about me because that’s what I was taught. Sometimes I think I need to apologize for growing up. Then I go, f-k that. I don’t want to be the guy who stands on the table and pulls my pants down and goes “woo-hoo! ” at the party anymore. I want to be at the party and talk for hours with people and wrestle with things. That’s the payoff for me in sobriety.

Q: Before meeting with congressman Kennedy, did you know how hard it was for people in the U.S. to get treatment for addiction?

A: It’s one of those things where I’m a person who hasn’t been very political, and definitely haven’t been very politically correct. But hearing this and knowing that I’ve had friends who’ve told me, “I can’t get into rehab, I can’t afford it,” it was a sort of flash in front of my eyes. I thought, this has tb get done.

Q: In your opinion, why is it that insurance companies don’t treat addiction like any other health issue?

A: I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that addiction is a moral issue. It’s a black cloud over people getting treatment and recovery. People think, why don’t you just stop? Why can’t you get it together? Why can’t you just have a few? Why? Why? Why? Well, because I have a f-king disease, that’s why. I have a disease—a deadly, deadly disease—and I need treatment. It’s just a matter of whether insurance companies want to be part of the solution, or part of the problem.

Q: What kinds of ideas did you and Kennedy come up with to raise awareness?

A: I sat in his office and he’s poking me in the arm and in-my-face passionate about it and I was like, “I like you. You’re serious.” He’s got everything to lose. I said to him, “I don’t care if we have to create Live Aid for this.” Whatever we have to do, I’m down for it because I know how to do one thing really well: play music. And I know a lot of people. The guys in Aerosmith: sober. The guys in Metallica: sober. Slash: sober. Eric Clapton, David Bowie, Elton John—okay, I think we have a concert here. In the end, I just want to give it away. I don’t want five years from now anyone to go, “Oh man, Nikki made like $400 million off that recovery tour.” I don’t want anything from this.

Q: You don’t explicitly talk about spirituality in your book, but it’s clearly a part of your recovery. How does it factor in for you?

A: I personally do not like rigid organized religion. It turned me off—people trying to shove Jesus Christ down my throat. I feel more attuned to a Buddhist spirituality. I like

Judaism because Jews, they don’t adhere to an idol. And there’s no real heaven or hell. I like the freedom to feel that my higher power, my connection to something greater than myself, is my choice. And no one’s telling me, “If you dress like that, if you talk like that, you will go to this little cave in the middle of the earth that’s burning flames.” It’s like, piss off! Who wrote the rule book, anyway?

Q: Are you concerned at all that activism might affect your rock V roll cred?

A: Not really. I mean, if I’m not cool then I guess I’m just not cool. That’s cool. I’ll tell you what, to me this is no laughing matter. I will do anything and everything, just like anyone else who has a disease, to not die from this. Because I will die from this. When I took this lightly, I relapsed. At the same time, I’m not the sobo cop. I’m not the police. I still want to raise hell. I still want to blow s-t up.

'Fm not the sobo cop. I still want to raise hell. When we tour, I want it to be the most nasty, pompous tour there is.’

And when we go do a tour, I want it to be the loudest, most outrageous, decadent, pompous, nasty rock ’n’ roll tour there is. I just would like to keep doing that. If I’ve gotta die to leave a T-shirt on Melrose Boulevard that says “Nikki Sixx” on it, and generations to come wear it and say, “This is our hero: he died in a hotel room from a heroin overdose, broke, infected with syphilis”—I don’t have any desire to do that. I want to step on a stage and have 60,000 people all singing the songs and going, “You know what? I like what this guy does.” M