By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
III. Cock ’n’ Roll
When you see sun-kissed kewpie dolls flashing their tits with trained-seal compliance on late-night Girls Gone Wild commercials, you probably don’t think about early-’80s girl-power icons the Go-Go’s. But they actually played a critical role in drunken exhibitionism’s metamorphosis from hand-held psychodrama to lucrative mass entertainment. In the midst of the band’s Top 40 heyday, connoisseurs of strange video began trading a tape featuring a flaccid Go-Go’s roadie named Dave who had the beat but not the boner: His vigorous but futile efforts to jerk himself off were accompanied by onscreen commentary from Belinda Carlisle and Kathy Valentine, among others.
“Everybody had heard about the Go-Go’s tape, and everybody wanted to make their own version of it,” says Hickey. Thus, spectacles like Hickey’s backstage deli-tray toss and whatever other scenes of groupie exploitation they could immortalize were captured on videotape. “We’d do a new one for almost every show. Sometimes, it’d just be 45 minutes of me begging some girl to show me her tits,” Hickey says. “Sometimes, there’d be more.” When Hickey first started making such tapes in the late ’80s, he didn’t see their commercial possibilities. But while casting around for a new source of income after his New Rave gig ended, Hickey started thinking about the old tapes he used to make.
“It just seemed like the next logical step after New Rave,” he says. “We put rock stars and porn stars together in photos, so why not video too?” Hickey convinced a company called Notorious Productions to give him $2,000 to produce a video, and together with a former colleague from New Rave, Toby Dammit, he created Tales From the Road: Crew Sluts. They brought a handful of porn stars to Ozzfest, and using Biohazard’s tour bus as their main location, staged dramatic re-enactments of tawdry groupie sex. “The guys in Biohazard didn’t want to be in it, though, and neither did Sepultura or Slayer,” Hickey says. Instead, he conducted interviews with a couple of roadies to give the proceedings a touch of authenticity.
Released in 1997, the tape sold poorly, and the company that bankrolled it showed no interest in a follow-up. Still, Hickey felt his concept had potential, so he pitched it to a 22-year-old porn director named Matt Zane. An aspiring musician with an interest in Morrisonesque shamanics and Satanic self-determination, Zane was considered a maverick for incorporating piercing, techno music and various other youth-culture trappings into the staid, almost fetishistically conventional world of porn videos. “I told him I could introduce him to rock stars,” says Hickey. “He was skeptical at first, but after he realized I really could hook him up with these people, he ran with it.”
Zane hired Hickey to work as Zane Entertainment’s publicist, and together they started work on a series of “cockumentaries” called Backstage Sluts. Their timing could not have been more perfect. By 1997, retrogressively male, cartoonishly rebellious, nu-metal and rap-rock was fast replacing Lilith Fair and indie-rock sensitivity with caveman-like dick swinging. What better way for its practitioners to express their hardcore bona fides than by aligning themselves with hardcore porn?
Outside half of Motley Crue, no one had ever mixed rock ’n’ roll with hardcore porn in the commercially available form that Backstage Sluts did. In between scuzzy, no-holes-barred sex scenes, Backstage Sluts featured scuzzy, no-holds-barred interviews with Insane Clown Posse, Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst and Wes Borland, the ladies of Nashville Pussy, Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath, and Korn’s Jonathan Davis, among others.
The porn industry didn’t think much of the results, but thanks to the growing popularity of the musicians featured, mainstream media outlets like Spin, Rolling Stone, MTV and even the BBC took notice. VH-1 was particularly enamored of rock-and-porn cross-pollination, devoting several specials to the trend. For a while there, Zane was showing up on the channel even more often than Lenny Kravitz.
And Jef Hickey? He was showing up on VH-1 about as often as Alan Greenspan, which is to say, never. And nowhere else in the media, either. “Basically, Matt fucked me, and I was so fucking high, I let him,” charges Hickey. Zane, however, shrugs off such indictments. “The point I always made to Jef was that if you watch the first two Backstage Sluts movies, the opening credits say: ‘Directed by Matt Zane and Jef Hickey.’ If the media wanted to interview me rather than him, could I help that?”
While the savvy Zane released his band Society 1’s first album, rented a mansion off Sunset Boulevard and hobnobbed with rock stars, even throwing a bachelor party for Jonathan Davis, Hickey felt cut off from the success of the thing that he’d largely created. Backstage Sluts was poised to become a long-running, reality-porn franchise: a raunchier, hardcore precursor to the Girls Gone Wild series. Zane was making hundreds of thousands of dollars from the tapes, but Hickey’s salary as Zane’s publicist was his only financial reward.
Eventually, he quit Zane Entertainment. “I had this crazy idea that he should buy me out for a thousand dollars, so he did,” he says. “Everyone told me, ‘You’re an idiot for selling out that cheap.’ But the truth was I wasn’t getting a percentage of the sales anyway.”