Dilettante 33: Motley Crue show, 1998

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Ok hey we’re just a rock band alright? We mean yeah, we culturally appropriated punk, leatherdaddy, and ’80s women’s fashion to try to get famous during the Great American Satanic Panic – but we toned it down and became 100% straight dudes. In a rock’n’roll way of course, with more neutral makeup tones. Ironically that’s when the Dark Lord let us be on the radio.

yeah bad boys. a “crue” of them, who are not orderly but “motley.” believe me it was cooler when you wrote it on your science notebook with the umlauts intact, but became a lot less cool when they forsook devil worship to become another hair metal version of a cartoon wolf going “AOOGA”

Seriously though, “Jackass” director and producer Jeff Tremaine helmed Crue’s 2016 documentary Motley Crue: The End and then went on to direct 2019’s The Dirt, a fictional Netflix biopic about the same. So, SOMEbody who loves meat-head stunts is into Motley Crue, and the mutual bromance kind of sums it up.

For purity’s sake, you could watch Motley Crue’s 1986 documentary Uncensored  but you’d be far better served checking out Penelope Spheeris’ The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years.

Spheeris’ original 1981 Decline of Western Civilization documentary about punk rock was so explosive the LAPD chief ordered her not to screen it in Los Angeles again.

Next, she turned her gaze toward the hair metal scene, and revealed a spandexed hive of narcissists and dreamers in THE most terrible hairstyle choices imaginable. The dudes-in-makeup-ness of it all is breathtaking.

(The Decline of Western Civilization III chronicles some of LA’s gutter punks in the late ‘90s and caused Spheeris to form a bond with one of the film’s kids and sign up to foster 4 more. Awww)

Penelope Spheeris during the filming of her documentary The Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years – pictured here with members of Poison. This picture smells like Aqua-Net

Although if your question is “Where exactly did all this gender fluidity in American guitar music start to bleed over from androgynous English glam, before the hair metal scene sort of co-opted it and somehow made it macho again” then here’s All Dolled Up: A New York Dolls Story.

To sum up, by the time we rolled up to this Motley Crue show in 1998 San Francisco, we were already over it, and so were they. It’s all a re-hashing of the (mythical, past) glory days from here.


Click through to read “The Motley Scrue,” originally published in the SF Bay Guardian on 12.04.98.

This is the 33rd entry in my “twenty years ago this week” project from when I was a nightlife columnist at the Bay Guardian, once the country’s largest family-owned weekly newspaper. These “Dilettante” clips, compiled on my portfolio page, create a serial portrait of San Francisco culture at the turn of the century (1997-2001).

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and by ‘they look so pretty it’s ridiculous’ we mean ‘we were extremely into it as teens’


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