' I slipped once. I went from saying, "This is the greatest day of my life," to waking up going, "What happened? I'm in hell." '
Nikki Sixx talks to Lianne George about his alcohol and drug addictions, being a good dad, and schmoozing with a Kennedy
LIANNE GEORGE | October 25, 2007 |
Nikki Sixx, the hard-partying, lady-slaying bassist for the '80s hair-metal phenomenon Mötley Crüe, has taken on a new role — activist and bestselling author. His book, The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star, chronicles Sixx's brink-of-death battle with heroin, cocaine and alcohol addiction at the height of the band's success. Last week marked its third turn on the New York Times bestsellers' list, where it sat wedged between volumes by Bill Clinton and Mother Teresa. More recently, The Heroin Diaries caught the attention of Democratic congressman Patrick Kennedy, himself a recovering drug addict, who invited Sixx to Capitol Hill to brainstorm ideas for raising awareness about addiction, and to champion a new bill to demystify and facilitate treatment options for addicts.
Q You chose a racy title for a mainstream book.
A: Part of this is about me standing up and saying, "Read this book. I do not look pretty. This is as ugly as it gets." The book is called The Heroin Diaries for a reason. I'm not stupid. I want to hit people over the head with a two-by-four. I want their attention.
Q: When did you realize it was working?
A: The New York Times bestseller list — that was nice because it meant that people were getting it. But it was the book signings that made me go, "Wow, this is really connecting with people." I'm seeing everyone from teenagers to people 50 and older. I had a guy tell me, "I have my family because you wrote this book." He said, "I was addicted to Vicodin for 10 years. I read the book and I quit and I've been clean 18 days." That would've been worth my writing the book right there. But the stories keep happening. I'm hearing things on the street. I heard from a stockbroker yesterday in Manhattan. He came up to me and said, "One of my partners was on the verge of losing his job and he saw you on TV and he read the book and he quit drinking." People have been giving me their AA chips, and lots of people are writing their stories — their version of the Diaries — describing how the book has moved them to take bigger steps.
Q: By most standards, these are gruesome and intensely private stories. Why open yourself up to scrutiny 20 years after the fact?
A: I hadn't read those diaries in years — since I wrote them. And when I did, it was like reading someone else's diary. I couldn't believe I was still alive. I mean, I knew how bad I was, but some of the entries, the psychosis, the insanity — I couldn't believe I got out of it. I thought, you know what, somebody else could read this and it could help them.
Q: In hindsight, what strikes you the most about the person you were then?
A: I feel bad for that boy who had to carry that pain all the way to the emergency room. I don't ever want my kids to have to carry that load. When you start diving into the book, you realize it isn't really about heroin. It is about addiction, yes. But it's about abandonment, unhealthy role models, depression, and becoming anti-social out of fear.
Q: Sikki, this alter ego of yours, used to rear his head during your lowest moments and do some pretty terrible things. Does he still exist?
A: I'm sure he does still exist. He's part of my addiction. Sikki is a prankster, but to the point where he would burn a hotel down, not thinking that he would burn all the families in the hotel, too. When he's out in full regalia, he's evil. The way I look at it is, there's a very long hallway, and it's full of the most demonic characters, and I got out of that hallway and people have said, it must be nice to be free from that. But to be honest, I have my rearview mirror focused on that hallway at all times because I believe any addict who forgets his past is condemned to relive it.
Q: You have four kids under 16; how do you intend to talk to them about this stuff?
A: I'm not unlike any other parent. I worry about it because it's in their family history. I could lock my children in their rooms, shackled to a wall, and if they wanted to get out and go down the same road as me, they're going to figure out how to do it. Addicts are the most witty, clever people there are. All I can do with my kids, and I think I'm doing the same thing in the book, is say, behind door No. 1 is this. Behind door No. 2, there's this option. It's not my choice to pick the door for you. I just don't want it to be a surprise.