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Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee may have the most famous penis on the Internet, but his prodigious man-part wasn't the source of his initial fame. Lee has been a popular personality since the early Eighties, when he and bandmates Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx, and Mick Mars burst on to the hard-rock scene with 1983's triple-platinum Shout at the Devil. To date the act has sold well over 20 million albums.
But Lee's marriage to, and divorce from, Melrose Place ultravixen Heather Locklear catapulted him to an even more exalted level of notoriety, and the ins and outs of his subsequent marriage to pneumatic former Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson have earned him a place in the Tabloid Hall of Fame. The so-called "honeymoon video" he made with Anderson in 1995 is a true phenomenon of the cyberage. Pam's deep-throating technique and Tommy's infamous money shot are now available for viewing on literally thousands of graphic Web sites.
Although Anderson bore Lee two children, Brandon and Dylan, their relationship went far beyond the exchange of bodily fluids. Violence was also part of the mix, and when Lee kicked Anderson in the back while she was holding one of their children, she went to the authorities. Lee was convicted for spousal abuse and sentenced to six months in the pokey. He was incarcerated May 20 and let go in early September, two months ahead of schedule, as a reward for good behavior.
When I spoke to Lee in November he was only too happy to discuss his days in stir; Motley Crue's departure from its longtime label, Elektra; the players' decision to declare the independence of their imprint, Motley Records, and issue a new disc, Motley Crue's Greatest Hits; the band's reputation with fellow musicians and reviewers; and the odds of him and Pamela ever sharing a camcorder again.
In conversation he certainly didn't come across as the type of person who enjoys solving complex mathematical equations in his spare time. Rather, he seemed painfully earnest, mouthing psychological catch-phrases in an effort to explain his downward spiral and what he sees as his current renaissance. And while he's upset that his image is ejaculating on a television or computer screen somewhere on the planet at this very moment, he doesn't seem to mind people knowing that he's not one of those rockers who has to stuff his crotch. After all, size matters.
NT: After all that's happened to you, are you embittered about the press?
Lee: Yeah. I'm writing songs about them as we speak. And I wrote a bunch of music while I was in jail. I had four months in there in solitary confinement to do a ton of introspection and think and write lyrics. I'd call my answering machine at home and sing melodies and leave them on the machine. I did whatever it'd take to make it work. But I wrote some pretty incredible stuff in there about what the hell has happened to me in my life, and living in the fishbowl, and also the change that took place while I was sitting in there. There's this really cool tune called "Metamorphosis" that I've been working on that's about the change that happens when you're in isolation for four months.
NT: How did you end up in solitary?
Lee: Actually that's called hard time in jail. When you do something bad while you're in jail, they stick you in the hole. And that's where I spent my four months. But for me, they did it for my safety, just to keep me away from everybody. But it was very hard time to do.
NT: Did you have much interaction with other inmates, or were you kept totally separate from them?
Lee: I was separate from them, but I could talk a little bit. There were no windows or anything, just a twelve-inch-by-twelve-inch piece of glass in a steel door that I could look through, and I could talk to people and pass notes under the door and stuff. And I did talk to a bunch of inmates, people that were there for murder, armed robbery. I met some fucking crazy people in there.
NT: Did you get a sense that you were lucky to have been separated from them?
Lee: I never got any bad vibes. People were really cool to me, and everybody wanted autographs and wanted to just talk, to ask me about my life and stuff. And I was interested in their lives: I was like, Why did you kill that person? Why'd you do this, or why'd you do that? So I think we would've gotten along really well. But then again, I'm glad that I was alone, because I would have never been able to do the sort of psychotherapy on myself if I hadn't been alone. People would have been talking to me the whole time and bothering me and stuff. So I'm thankful that I was alone and got to figure out what it is that Tommy really wants to be and who I am and all that.
NT: Did you look back and feel that you'd made some mistakes?
Lee: Oh yeah, there's those. And I found things that I loved about myself, and I found things that I hated about myself.