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Monday, July 2nd, 2001


The Dirt: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band

by Motley Crue

Those filthy boys

A review by Georgie Lewis

The Dirt is a book that is easy to dip into. Getting out is another matter. I was unable to put down this 420-page autobiography of Mötley Crüe, the "World's Most Notorious Rock Band," until I had read it cover to cover. I began by flipping it open here and there in the hope of finding a little voyeuristic titillation. But I would then become engrossed in the middle of some chapter and have to flip back and read from the beginning. The hairsprayed, drug-addled, womanizing exploits of the four inspire as much fascination as they do repugnance.

It's hard not to find Nikki, Tommy, Vince, and Mick at least a little endearing; they really want you to understand them. And you get the feeling some of them really want to understand themselves. Nikki and Tommy's time spent in therapy is painfully apparent in some of their musings. Intervals of navel-gazing self-pity appear in those quiet moments when they're not bragging about their poodle-haired excesses – and it is to Neil Strauss's credit that he lets these men hang themselves with their own words.

The Dirt is a fascinating look at the way in which fame leads to such self absorption (and that such self absorption is perhaps a necessity to fame); there are far more displays of remorse over their mammoth drug habits than there are over the horrific exploitation of groupies. Insulated from many consequences by their wealth and celebrity they have been involved in many injuries and the odd accidental death. You get a sense toward the end of the book that the men have done some growing up, some self reflection, but their impact on lives around them seems to have been rather overlooked in their search for an inner understanding.

The Dirt is dirty. You come away from it feeling grimy having spent plenty of time in the company of some pretty stupid and shallow people. Neil Strauss seems to have done a remarkable job of collating these memoirs, making their grim story compelling in a way that most rock biographies don't succeed. It's not often that we get a chance to know what goes on behind the scenes of fame and fortune and it's good to be reminded that it does have its price.

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