“Fear And Loathing in 1984”, Part Two
(Continued from Part One).
The Detroit Van Halen show quickly came to a close and Kurt and Tom found themselves deep in the tunnels of the dungeonesque backstage. They were quickly served lobster and filet mignon while the band took a few minutes for some post-show relaxation.
When the band returned, they spent time hanging out with the big winners. As Kurt recalled, “Valerie Bertinelli was also there. She ended up behind the backstage bar, serving drinks. So we became fast friends. She was real cool and talked to us a lot. There didn’t seem to be any tension between her and Dave, or with the band as a whole. All of the guys in the band treated her well. Eddie was the most laid back of them all.”
Then Kurt and Tom found themselves in the meet-and-greet area, where dozens of dolled-up groupies pranced around, looking for action. “It was just a huge party, we were just hanging out and drinking malt-liquor and Jack Daniel’s,” said Jefferis. “Throughout the weekend, Eddie kept telling me that if I drank too much Jack Daniel’s I would start growing giant patches of hair on my chest, like Dave.” As the night rolled on, Kurt eventually found himself being entertained by one of Detroit’s most infamous groupies – the lovely Tammy [Editor’s Note: Always be wary of women named Tammy]. Apparently the band knew her from previous visits to the “Motor city” and gave her special privileges. “She did this crazy dance for me,” Kurt fondly remembers. He wouldn’t tell us the rest of the gritty details, though. We could probably figure those out for ourselves, anyway. The rest of the night is a spotty haze of hard-core rock and roll excess. Kurt said that the women were absolutely wild and that at one point he actually ended up in a shower. Even a member of the band’s notoriously kinky road crew described the events as X-rated. High praise, indeed. The night broke down at about 4 am, as a member of the MTV staff dragged Kurt’s liquor-soaked body across the street to the hotel. “I woke up in the bathtub with the worst hangover of my entire life.”
The band kept a low-profile for most of the next day. They stayed two floors above Jefferis and Winnick. Kurt licked his wounds for the entire day, grabbing a bite to eat along the way. They got to Cobo Hall a couple of hours before the Friday night show, just in time to watch Van Halen sabotage all of their opening band’s stage equipment. “Alex was in charge of that,” said Jefferis. “He was an absolute nut! They cemented the high-hats together, poured honey all over the snare drum, then unplugged the amplifiers. It was a real madhouse.” Later in the evening, Alex explained to Kurt that he had been trying to cut down on this kind of rowdy activity because he believed in “karma,” and that certain behavior is eventually going to come around to haunt you.
For the second show, Kurt and Tom were treated to a spot in the pit between the stage and the audience. “It was a great spot,” said Kurt. “Eddie kept flipping picks at me and smiling.” After the show, they again found themselves backstage. Kurt was still in recovery from the previous night, and had some trouble getting his rusty motor started again. “Alex was real insistent that I start slamming beers,” said Kurt. “I told him that I wanted to take it easy, but he wasn’t buying. He gave me a can of Heineken and said, ‘I’m going away now, and when I get back in about one minute this beer had better be gone.’ He got this creepy roadie to guard me to make sure that I drank it. I think I poured it in a trash can. One of the band’s midgets actually saw me do it. I think he took pity on me because he didn’t tell anyone. When Alex got back, he saw the empty can and said ‘Good Job.’ Then he smashed it on his forehead and disappeared. He was really cool, though.”
Winnick, on the other hand, was raging at full speed on the second night. He hadn’t drank as much as Kurt on Friday and was really getting into the whole scene. Someone eventually found him locked in a small closet wearing a bra.
Kurt was supposed to take a “wild limo ride with David Lee Roth,” but ended up involved in a massive food fight, instead. “Dave started it, but everyone was involved – the band, Valerie, and the midget security guards. Mike and Val were dumping potato salad on each other’s heads. There was shit everywhere – broken plates and glass, it was amazing.” Kurt couldn’t get into the boozing, although in retrospect he wishes he would have drank himself out of the cellar. “I should have just gotten wasted the second night,” he said. “I didn’t think I had it in me. I also wish that I would have used the second night to get some autographs and stuff,” said Kurt. “I didn’t even think of it, cause we were just hanging out. It wasn’t like we met them for a couple of quick minutes. We spent a lot of time with them. I just figured that I would have time.” The second night also ended late. Winnick was the battered victim this time, having traded large jiggers of Ouzo with Alex during one of the wilder points in the night. Once again, they crashed hard with only a hazy memory of what transpired. “There were definitely a lot of chicks hanging around that second night,” said Jefferis. “They were part of the whole scene. Eventually, we didn’t pay that much attention to them. We just kept talking to the band.”
Saturday afternoon found Kurt and Tom on the jet back to Phoenixville, stopping at a Valley Forge Ramada Inn for a special screening of “Footloose” [Editor’s Note: We don’t understand that part]. Theywere also presented with the remainder of the contest winnings, including a TV set, a videocassette recorder and camera, a motorcycle, an ATARI video-game-system, and $1,000. Once they were back on their home turf again, Kurt did a couple of interviews and fielded calls from greedy Van Halen fans asking for guitar picks and other items. Kurt was more interested in reflecting on his crazy weekend.
“David Lee Roth was exactly how I pictured him,” said Jefferis.
“Eddie’s like a little kid, ” Winnick said, “hugging everybody. He came up and gave me a kiss! You couldn’t ask much more from those guys.”
“The calls died down after a couple of weeks, but I got quite a few,” added Kurt. “I was in recovery and shock for many days afterwards. They [Van Halen] were so friendly and entertaining, as huge as they are. Eddie even kissed me and gave me a hug. It was the best time of my life.”