“Do you want this towel?” Sixx smiled before throwing it to the fan. “It’s exactly like the towel I gave your mother in 1987.”
The comment drew laughs from the crowd, and Sixx noted that he has been told to stop making crude jokes. “You can’t fucking cancel Motley Crue,” Sixx replied dismissively, “so fuck that shit.”
Although seemingly unfair, Sixx’s statement raised an interesting point. Celebrity scandals seem to be at an all-time high, but Motley Crue have remained more or less above the outrage without sacrificing their wild, bad-boy image.
Motley Crue would be seen through a different lens if they were a new band in 2022, rather than a band emerging from the Sunset Strip music scene of the early ’80s. Their appearance endless list of arguments includes years of sex with groupies, including backstage, in the band’s van, on the road, in the studio, and even on top of a car outside a country club; with a punch Guns ‘n’ Roses; pee on Cheap trick; and a bizarre train ride in Japan where Tommy Lee and Sixx terrorized other passengers by pouring alcohol on them and declaring, “We should have killed you all in the war!”
Such actions would certainly bring public scorn if they occurred today. Instead, it was Motley Crue’s antics immortalized in a film.
None of this is intended to endorse or condone the actions of Motley Crue. Sixx himself has even stated that the hard partying group often took things too far. There is “a lot of horrible behavior” in their autobiography The DirtSixx recorded in 2019. “What I can tell you is that we all lived to regret a lot and learned from it. We own all of our behaviors that hurt ourselves, our families, friends and all the innocent around us.”
To that end, some of the elements that helped establish Motley Crue’s notoriety have since been discarded—particularly the band’s drug use. Sixx has been sober for more than 20 years now and guitarist Mick Mars for at least a decade. Meanwhile, Lee and singer Vince Neil both have been through periods of sobriety, relapse and rehab, but have generally done the work to live cleaner lives.
There is also something to be said about expectation versus reality. When a beloved, family-friendly comedian gets convicted of sexual assault, there is a sense of shock and emotional whiplash as fans struggle to understand how someone who has been considered upstanding for so many years could do something so despicable. Such things tend to cause the greatest cultural uproar because hypocrisy is superimposed on anger and disgust.
For all their warts, Motley Crue never claimed to be anything but who they are. From day one, they were a boisterous, sexualized group of party animals as likely to get wasted with their audience as they were to start a fight. Love them or hate them, the band stayed true to this image. The wild persona remained a significant aspect of Motley Crue’s popularity, so much so that a milder, reformed Motley Crue would probably have created far more of an uproar than any other antics.
Age may have mellowed Motley Crue a bit, but they’re still as controversial as ever. Read recently headline-grabbing nude photo is a perfect example. Instead of apologizing or asking for forgiveness – as many other celebrities would these days in similar situations – Lee doubled down time and time again, encourage nudity at Motley Crue’s concerts and even start one OnlyFan’s page.
Undoubtedly, there is a limit even to Motley Crue’s bad behavior. Whether the band has come close to that yet is up for debate, but they’ve seemingly avoided the wrath of cancellation culture thanks to keeping their wild side just enough. That said, no one should expect Motley Crue to tone things down anytime soon. Rock stars “should be ridiculous,” like Sixx previously argued. “We’re supposed to be outrageous, we’re supposed to push envelopes, and we’re supposed to rebel against each other. We’re supposed to be loud and rude and in your face.”
Rockers whose bands tried to erase them
Their names never made it onto album covers and the band’s official websites – or worse, they were deleted after some arguments.
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