Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star, by Nikki Sixx & Ian Gittins

(hb; 2007: memoir)

From the inside flap:

"When Mötley Crüe was at the height of its fame, there wasn't any drug that Nikki Sixx wouldn't do. He spent days -- sometimes alone, sometimes with other addicts, friends and lovers -- ina coke- and heroin-fueled daze. The highs were high, and Nikki's journal entries reveal some euphoria and joy. But the lows were lower, often ending with Nikki in the closet, surrounded by drug paraphernelia and wrapped in paranoid delusions.

"Here, Nikki shares those diary entries -- some poetic, some scatterbrained, some bizarre -- and reflects on that time. Joining him are Tommy Lee, Vince Neil, Mick Mars, Slash, Rick Nielsen, Bob Rock, and a host of ex-managers, ex-lovers, and more."


Like The Dirt, The Heroin Diaries is sordid, raw, shockingly funny and cruel. It has a more personal element as its focus is on one person -- Nikki Sixx, born Frank Ferrano, the one-time fifteen-year old kid who heard Alice Cooper's "Welcome to My Nightmare" and the Stooges' "Search and Destroy," two songs which not only inspired Ferrano/Sixx, but also "predicted" his future, as well.

The diary entries run from December 25, 1986, when Sixx had already been a junkie for a year, to December 23, 1987, when he overdosed -- was clinically dead for several minutes -- for the second time.

As a read, this is a burn-through. I read the 413-page glossy-paged book in one three-hour sitting: there are few lulls in the fractured narrative, and while Sixx, or Sikki (Nikki's self-named Hyde junkie persona), often appears excessively cruel for the sh*t he did, he's also strangely relatable in his remorse, which never comes off as bathetic. Rather, he comes off as an angry immature kid who got rich and famous too soon, and wanted, in part, to emulate one of his nihlistic musical heroes, Sid Vicious (bassist for The Sex Pistols, who died of a heroin overdose, after killing his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen).

He almost got that wish -- minus the drug skank murder -- twice.

Other voices (his bandmates, friends) are liberally sprinkled throughout the diaries -- punctuating this tawdry, often acerbic book with post-diary reality checks that Sixx clearly didn't want to acknowledge back then. They're welcome additions, balancing out Sixx's chemical and sexual manias with wisdom and recollections that only age can deliver.

The only time Sixx and Gittins stumble are when they allow Evangelist Denise Matthews (aka, Vanity, aka one-time girlfriend to Prince and divinity-obsessed crackhead) to put her two cents in. While her "recollections" don't run very long (they span less than three paragraphs, usually), they read more like denials, like "hey, I don't remember that stuff, I only know God now." Putting her in there once would've sufficed; more than that only slowed down -- albeit briefly -- the written unfolding of Sixx's 1986-7 reality.

At the end of the book, Sixx provides a timeline to, and comments about, his current life/style. It's sweet at times, but not woosy, and clearly age has done wonders for Sixx, who's still self-admittedly a f***-up, but a smarter, kinder one.

The book's design/artwork looks like it was done by the same guy who used to work with Hunter S. Thompson. It's spectacular, and crazy-bloody graphic.

Anybody who's curious about what heroin is like should read this. (This is Sixx's stated reason for publishing this -- as a warning to anybody who's thinking of trying heroin.)

Worth your time, this.

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