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
Further bonding took place as Burns tattooed a flaming pentagram on Hickey’s right elbow. It helped, no doubt, that Burns was a tall, sultry beauty, right out of a Tarantino movie. Tattooed on the knuckles of her right hand were the letters T, U, C and N. Tattooed on the knuckles of her left hand were the letter R, E, U and T. When she laced her fingers together, the message “TRUE CUNT” appears.
The pair moved in together in late 2000, but over time Burns began to realize how discouraged Hickey had become, how he’d lost much of the high-voltage spirit that had animated the old articles that she’d found so inspiring. “After keeping company with so many hot players for so long, I think he was really frustrated,” she says. “He wanted to make more of himself, but at the same time, it was like he had relegated himself to doing grunt work as a crew guy. He was really miserable, and I think he was really wanting to wind his life down.”
Never one for nuance, Hickey kept his works in a coffin-shaped box beneath the leopard-print loveseat in his living room. Dozens of plastic and ceramic skulls helped contribute to the room’s living-dead vibe, as did Hickey’s collection of World War II morphine kits, rare DEA task-force patches, and other drug-related memorabilia that he’d acquired via Ebay. Gold records from Pantera and Type O Negative, framed backstage passes and an autographed poster of Jenna Jameson added notes of celebrity, while black candles and the tranquilizing flicker of MTV2 provided the only illumination. “I had this white Ikea blanket that he’d wrap himself in, like a shroud,” remembers Burns. “There was blood all over it, from him spiking himself. He was really gaunt, and he’d rise up in his shroud and start screaming at me, with his eyes all red and his hair sticking to his face. It was like coming home to a corpse in a tomb.”
Between nodding out to Mudvayne videos, the corpse was also FedExing packages of methamphetamine to Washington, D.C. In the fall of 2000, following his stint with Motorhead, Hickey had been touring with the band Downset when he ran into a stripper he knew in the nation’s capital. She wanted to buy some meth, and when Hickey found out how much she was paying for it there, he told her it was much cheaper in California. “She asked me if I could introduce her to my dealer,” he remembers. “And I did what any junkie does in that situation — I gave her the hookup.”
Hickey was also hoping to get some free heroin for making the referral. What he hadn’t expected was his dealer’s insistence that he stay involved indefinitely. “His supplier didn’t want to deal directly with anybody because he thought it was too risky, so he coerced Jef into being the go-between,” says Joanne Hepworth, a Washington, D.C., attorney who would eventually serve as Hickey’s court-appointed defender.
After arresting one of the D.C. dealers, DEA agents uncovered Hickey’s involvement. “It wasn’t that hard to figure out,” says Hepworth. “He was using his real name on some of the packages.”
On October 24, 2001, nearly a dozen law enforcement officials paid him an unannounced midnight visit. “They were really nice guys,” says Hickey in retrospect. “They were asking me questions about Marilyn Manson, stuff like that. One guy was a really big fan of my ex-wife’s movies.” After rummaging through his things for an hour, looking for more evidence of his involvement in the meth ring, they handcuffed him and took him away. A few days later, at the Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City, he was outfitted with prison khakis and given the choice of shipping his street clothes home or donating them to charity. Somewhere in the Midwest a needy redneck now has his very own vintage “Reign in Blood” Slayer T-shirt.
V. Story of His Life
Upon his release from prison this week, Hickey headed toward a halfway house in El Monte. He’s planning to obtain drug counseling through a nonprofit organization called Musician’s Assistance Program, but beyond that, his future is uncertain.
“When you leave here, they give you a plane ticket and an apple. Then you have 11 hours to check into your halfway house and start over,” Hickey says. “Every time I was just about to grab the ring in the past, I kicked myself in the nuts. But I also keep coming back, so I know I’m going to do something. And I know I’m going to do something different and great. I just want to leave a stain on pop culture somehow.”
To this end, he’s currently writing a novel about two wide-eyed ingénues who move to L.A. in search of fame and adventure.
“It’s a fun story about drugs, porn, rock, sex, revenge and attempted suicide,” Hickey exclaims. “But no one dies, no one gets sick, no one really gets hurt. I think people would love to read a story like that, don’t you?”