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
Photos courtesy Tony Byner
I. The Load Out
For most of his life, Jef Hickey has taken rock ’n’ roll’s loudest, dumbest, truest and most irresistible messages to heart, perfecting the art of life as a never-ending Kiss chorus. Sure, many people pledge themselves to sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll, but few have done so with the self-destructive verve of the former Studio City resident. Three spiked rings decorate his dick like medals of valor. He’s contracted gonorrhea (six times), crabs (four times), syphilis (three times) and herpes. For more than a decade and a half, with lab-rat consistency, Hickey carpet-bombed his cortex with enough pills to stock a hypochondriac’s medicine cabinet. At 15, he established himself as Boston’s hardest-working rock serf, unloading equipment for bands like Motorhead and Twisted Sister at almost every club in town. At 17, he lived a louder, crueler, dramatically less uplifting version of Cameron Crowe’s rock ’n’ roll heartwarmer Almost Famous, joining Megadeth on tour as a roadie and discovering the thorny allure of hard drugs and anal sex with Canadian strippers.
But now he’s 35 and just paroled from a three-year stint in a Sheridan, Oregon, federal prison where he shared an 8-by-12-foot cell with another inmate and a broken-tailed cat that never purred and constantly brawled with the prison’s two other feline residents. Even if drug issues and parole restrictions weren’t clouding his future employment prospects, well, the rock ’n’ roll road life that seems like an adventure in your 20s can become a grind in your 30s. How do you grow old in rock ’n’ roll when you’re not actually a rock star? Jef Hickey hasn’t really figured out an answer for that one yet, but he’s going to find out soon enough.
Despite his advancing years, Jef Hickey continues to project a slouchy, fidgety, teenage charm. His civilian wardrobe consists of jeans and more than 700 concert T-shirts, all of them black. In prison, he cut his hair short and kept it its natural brown, but in the past it has been blue, magenta and various other neon hues. His pale skin blazes with color too: He’s got a naked female werewolf tattooed on his right arm; his ex-wife as a vampire spread-eagled across his chest; a giant vagina with hammer-like pistons coming out of it on his left forearm. His deep-set green eyes change from messianic to catatonic, depending on the chemical weather inside his brain. The changes are less pronounced now that he’s no longer doing drugs, but even completely sober, he’s still a mercurial personality, full of amped-up enthusiasms one day, crashing hard the next. He’s a disarmingly candid, funny, nonstop talker, and a fan of bold gestures. While in prison, Hickey had the word LIBERTINE emblazoned across his stomach to remind himself of his former existence: the pinballing from groupie to stripper to hooker, the chronic prowl for pills and dope, his perpetual disdain for convention.Fit for a king: Hickey marries a porn star in Vegas. Elvis bogarts the fried chicken.
That tattoo is his 17th. He got his first one, a 4-inch blue spider on his neck, in 1984, when he was 15, the same year he started working for free at a Boston rock club called the Channel. By then, he was already a regular there, where he’d camp out in the parking lot in the afternoons waiting for musicians to arrive so he could ask them for autographs. Then one day, a lazy roadie asked him if he wanted to help set up that evening’s show. “Next thing I know, I’m unloading Motorhead’s gear,” says Hickey. “And just when I think it can’t get any better, someone hands me a backstage pass so I can stay and load the truck after the show. It was like someone handed me a skeleton key to the world of rock!”
Hickey liked that world much better than his day-to-day existence. At school, he was a misfit — a good student who wore spiked belts and heavy metal T-shirts while his classmates favored suede moccasins and classic rock. In his own family, Hickey was something of an outsider too. Unlike his younger brother and sister, he was adopted, which, he says, “left me with latent abandonment issues I’ve been dealing with for the last few decades.” When he was 12, his adoptive parents divorced. Two years later, his adoptive mother remarried, and Hickey clashed with his new stepfather. “I refused to wear a tuxedo at the wedding,” he says. “Instead, I wore a Judas Priest T-shirt. Things kind of went downhill from there.”
At Boston’s rock clubs, however, Hickey felt completely at home. After that first Motorhead concert, he started taking the 45-minute train ride into the city three or four days a week to help bands set up their equipment in the afternoons and load it in their trucks again after they finished playing. Afterward, usually at 2 or 3 in the morning, he’d walk to Boston’s South Station, where the last evening train had already departed and the first morning one didn’t leave until 5 a.m. “I’d sit in this vestibule with some of Boston’s smelliest bums,” Hickey recalls. “I’d be jacked up on adrenaline from the show, and scared shitless of getting mugged or beaten up, so I never slept. Sometimes I did my homework.”
It wasn’t the easiest way to earn a little validation, but Hickey was hooked on the camaraderie he felt backstage and the feeling of being a necessary part of the thing he loved most in the world. “I must have polished a million cymbals before I realized I hated to do it, and so did the drum tech — that’s why he’d find someone like me to do it for him,” he says. “But I also knew that Lars’ [Ulrich, Metallica’s drummer] cymbals looked cool under the lights during ‘Creeping Death’ because I polished them.”
In January 1986, Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine asked the 17-year-old Hickey if he wanted to work for the band on its U.S. tour. “It was my official excuse to quit high school,” Hickey says. “I left with the clothes on my back.” Hickey washed the band’s dirty laundry between shows. At night, he slept in its Ryder equipment truck, stretched out on speaker cabinets and cradling a shotgun across his chest, guarding against thieves. In the daytime, he went out and bought drugs for everyone. “I was spending my 10 bucks per diem on food, so I couldn’t buy any for myself,” he says. “But sometimes, they’d give me some table scraps, you know? That’s how I discovered my love of speed and cocaine.”
After thousands of miles and dozens of shows, Megadeth’s tour ended in Los Angeles. Hickey’s classmates back in Massachusetts had just graduated. He was only a semester away from earning a diploma himself, but he saw no reason to pursue it. “After that tour, I knew what I wanted to do with my life,” he says. “I mean, how else was I gonna go to places like Japan and South America without shaving my head and putting on a uniform?”
II. Rock ’n’ Roll Animal
Jef Hickey has three testicles, but the third one, he says, is physiologically negligible, a non-functioning half-lump of vein and tissue, good only for winning bar bets. So there must be some other explanation for his extreme ballsiness. “When we used to run around together, it was like hanging out with a fucking monkey on crystal meth,” says Colin Malone, the pudgy raconteur behind the popular public-access scuzzfest Colin’s Sleazy Friends. “The thing about Jef is that there was absolutely no fear. He never thought, ‘If I do this, this bad thing could happen.’ He always just thought, ‘If I do this, I’ll get high. If I do this, I’ll have lots of fun.’ And he always forgot there might be a third part, too, where he’d have to pay for his actions.”
Fearless, obsessively persistent, quick on his feet and, perhaps most importantly, congenitally parched for approval and acceptance — it’s almost as if Hickey had been genetically engineered for rock ’n’ roll pit-crew work.
“You could be in Japan, Europe, wherever. Jef could go out empty-handed, and within an hour he’d come back with a handful of something,” says former Queens of the Stone Age bassist Nick Oliveri. “One time we were on a plane, and he just went up to this stewardess and asked her if she had any drugs. I was like, ‘Are you crazy?’ But the next thing you know, the stewardess was having us sign her CDs and giving us pills and things.”
Hickey pursued women with the same candor and enthusiasm, and with so many groupies in search of sticky backstage validation, there were plenty of women to choose from. Eventually, however, the algebra of excess began to undermine him. “I started doing so much cocaine, my dick was completely useless,” Hickey recalls. “So when girls would come around and say they were willing to do anything to meet the band, I just started throwing meat at them. That’s what they had to do to earn their backstage pass. I’d make them strip down and stand in the corner while we pelted them with the deli tray. After a while, it became like this daily event. “All the bands would stop sound check and gather round, just to watch me throw meat at some chick.”
Rock ’n’ roll, nudity, himself as the center of attention: Hickey liked that combination. But, content as he was with his peripheral role in the rock ’n’ roll universe, he longed to make a bigger splash somehow. And yet how to do that? “I knew early on I didn’t have much musical talent,” he admits. “Even today, I know just enough basic chords to get through sound check.” But Hickey did have a talent for writing, and in the early ’90s, he started freelancing for publications like International Tattoo Art and Sex, Tattoos & Rock ’n’ Roll. And in 1995, when Hickey discovered a fledgling porn rag called New Rave, he saw an opportunity to step up his adventures in flesh-based journalism. To get the publisher’s attention, Hickey, who was on tour with Type O Negative at the time, started sending him pieces of the hotel rooms he was staying in. “I sent him a doorknob, a drawer, towels, a toilet seat, a bad painting of a ship. That way, when I got to L.A., I’d have a place to stay.”
The publisher of New Rave started the magazine mostly because he needed a place to run ads for his extensive phone-sex operation. He had very little interest in the editorial end of New Rave, and he liked Hickey’s style. Thus, when Hickey took over the reins at New Rave, he had the freedom to do pretty much whatever he wanted. His first move as editor: hiring East Village auteur Richard Kern to shoot Type O Negative’s Peter Steele cavorting with two porn stars. His second: commissioning a treatise on vaginal odor from angry white malcontent Jim Goad.
To publicize New Rave, Hickey shipped thousands of complimentary copies to U.S. Army troops stationed in Bosnia. Closer to home, he sent free subscriptions to hundreds of churches across the country. Hickey loved his new life as grandstanding crotch Barnum. He had his own spacious office in New Rave’s Wilshire Boulevard headquarters. He was getting a regular salary for penning cover stories like “Wonder Drug GHB: Ejaculate of the Gods?” He was road-testing strippers and hookers on New Rave’s dime. He was still hanging out with rock stars, but instead of just schlepping their equipment around or scoring them drugs, he was pairing them with porn stars and persuading them to appear in his magazine. “Marilyn Manson was totally down for it,” Hickey remembers. “He wore fishnet stockings and duct tape, and posed for one picture with a silver vibrator sticking out of his ass.”
A few months into his new gig, Hickey even started dating a celebrity of sorts, Sandra Margot, former cast member of Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, America’s first all-female wrestling TV series, and, under the name Tyffany Million, star of Jailhouse Cock, Beaverly Hillbillies, Splatman, and more than a hundred other hardcore porn videos. A sharp, ambitious blond, Margot was known for her voracious sexuality and her hard, tan body. Thousands of hours at the gym plus some extensive scalpel work had given her the figure of a bionic Barbie.
She and Hickey fell for each other at a party he’d invited her to at a Hollywood bikini bar. “He asked me if I wanted a drink, and I said ‘Sure,’” she recalls. “Then, out of nowhere, he puts his hand up my dress and, not even knowing me, sticks his finger in my asshole. I didn’t even flinch, though, because I knew he was just trying to get a reaction out of me. And right there he said he knew I was his girl.”
For Margot, however, it took more convincing. That happened later that evening, when she, Hickey and Colin Malone retreated to a back room so the latter two could snort some cocaine. When Margot sat on Malone’s lap and started kissing him, Hickey responded as if he were watching a scene from one of her videos. “He just whipped out his dick and started jerking off,” says Margot. For an exhibitionistic porn star, it was more romantic than a bouquet of long-stemmed vibrators.
Together, the duo made Pam and Tommy seem as staid as a pair of plastic wedding-cake toppers. Shortly after their initial greeting they moved in together. For several months, they lived in tidy sin. “Jef liked to get really high on blow and then clean my house,” says Margot.
In 1996, they decided to go to Las Vegas and get married. The ceremony took place at the Graceland Wedding Chapel, with an obese Elvis impersonator on hand to bless their union. “Normally, he sings songs, but we just gave him a bunch of fried chicken and Pepsi and asked him to eat really loudly,” says Hickey. After exchanging vows, Margot tore off her top and the happy couple posed for their wedding photos.
Like many newlyweds, Hickey and Margot argued over money. Hickey says that his new bride no longer wanted to dance or do movies. She says that he’s the one who wanted her to stop. Whichever was the case, she didn’t think his salary was enough for both of them to live on. “That’s when I started taking kickbacks at New Rave,” says Hickey. “It cost between $6,000 to $10,000 to put a full-page ad in the magazine. I’d tell a video company to give me two grand in cash instead, and then I’d tell my boss that we needed to give them the first ad free in order to get more.”
But along with more money to spend on Margot, Hickey also had more money to spend on his other great loves — pills and cocaine. “He would mix all kinds of stuff and go up and down chemically,” says Margot. “And then he started constantly checking up on me, calling me 20 times a day from work. I’d be at the grocery store, or out having coffee somewhere, and he’d pop up out of nowhere and ask me what I was doing. If any other guys tried to talk with me, he’d get all bent out of shape, and that really started to irritate me.”
Margot struck back by telling New Rave’s publisher about Hickey’s ad-sales tricks, effectively ending his tenure there. “It was a terrible thing that I still regret,” says Margot. “But I was so angry with him, because he was making my life a living hell.” A few months later, on Valentine’s Day, she served him with divorce papers. While she says the timing was unintentional, Hickey considered it the ultimate slap in the face. He didn’t bother with a traditional pen-and-ink reply. “I stuffed the papers in a Ziploc bag and shit all over them,” he says. “Then, I FedExed them back to her lawyer.”
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.”
Hickey promptly spent the $1,000 on drugs. For many years, he had preferred pills and powder over needles, but now he was shooting up heroin on a regular basis. With money scarce and his habit growing increasingly expensive, he moved into an underground, dungeonlike storage space in the back yard of a porno-loving dentist’s house in 1998. “There weren’t any bathrooms in it, so I had to piss in a bottle because I was always too high to leave my room,” Hickey says. “After a while, I realized my addiction had taken over, and I needed to get away from Los Angeles. When I got an offer from the band Quicksand to go on tour with them, I took it.”
Quicksand’s offer was only slightly more lucrative than the $10 a day that Megadeth had paid him in 1986. “I got one month’s rent and $15 a day,” Hickey says. But that gig led to a job with Buckcherry, and then a series of other gigs as well. In early 2000, Hickey got a call from the Motorhead roadie who 15 years earlier asked him to help unload the band’s equipment at the Channel. He was recovering from surgery, and wanted to know if Hickey was interested in replacing him as Lemmy’s bass tech for the band’s upcoming tour.
“Of course I wanted to replace him,” says Hickey. “I was fucking psyched. I mean, 15 years ago, I was happy just having Lemmy sign my record. And now I’m going to be teching for him for a whole tour — it was like the coup de grâce.” In an article that had appeared in Sex, Tattoos & Rock ’n’ Rollin 1994, Hickey had fantasized that Lemmy was his real father. “In my eyes and ears, Lord Lemmy is louder than Evel Knievel, stronger than Gorilla Monsoon and smarter than Mr. Wizard,” he rhapsodized. Now, as the tour started up, he was working for him every night, keeping his bass in good repair and making sure he had a lit cigarette and a glass of Maker’s Mark and Coke waiting at the end of every show.
In Canada, however, a customs agent threatened their nightly routine, refusing Hickey entry because of a prior conviction. As everyone else in the entourage moved onward into British Columbia, Hickey had no option but to retreat to a nearby motel. Twice over the next 24 hours he tried to make it through customs, but he was thwarted both times. Finally, he decided to simply walk across the border illegally. “It was only a hundred feet away from my motel room,” he explains. “I could look out my window and see the Canadian license plates on cars that were parked across the street.”
Crossing through a playground, then over a 1-foot ditch, Hickey ventured into Canada. Unfortunately, Vancouver, the site for that night’s show, was still more than 20 miles away, and Hickey had no money left. “I just started walking,” Hickey says. “After a couple hours, I found a cab that was willing to take me the rest of the way on the promise that I’d pay when we got there.”
Impressed by Hickey’s long march in the name of rock ’n’ roll, Lord Lemmy rewarded his loyal charge with a big lump of speed. Then, he says, Motorhead’s guitarist Phil Campbell offered him a hamburger. “I was starving because I hadn’t eaten for a long time, so I said, ‘Sure,’” Hickey says. “And because my nose was so torn up from all the speed I’d just snorted, I couldn’t smell.” He could taste it, though, and high as he was, it only took him one bite to realize that Campbell hadn’t given him a hamburger at all, but rather a patty of shit stuck between a bun. “That was my appreciation for being so dedicated to the band,” Hickey says. “A shit sandwich.”
Hickey says Campbell’s prank didn’t really bother him. “I mean, that was just Phil Campbell being Phil Campbell, you know? The guy’s twisted. Really twisted. He’s English. He sticks Sharpies up his ass to sign autographs. He sells ass art at the merch booth.” Even so, Hickey’s ex-girlfriend, Rachell Burns, believes the incident hurt him much more than he’s willing to admit.
“He would have done anything for those guys, and they literally shit on him,” she says. “After all the dealing, all the pimping he’d done for them, that’s what he was worth? It broke his heart.”
IV. True Romance
Long before they’d ever met, Rachell Burns had been a fan of the articles Hickey used to write for Sex, Tattoos & Rock ’n’ Roll. “His sense of what life should be like is so distorted, and yet he makes it real,” she says. Inspired in part by his writings, Burns became a tattoo artist herself. Years later, the pair met when a friend of Hickey introduced them. “He said he knew this chick who could do some tattoo work for me for free,” says Hickey.
Burns was in town for a convention, staying in a suite at the Safari Inn in Burbank. “When I went over there I said, ‘Do you have any idea where you’re staying?’” Hickey remembers, referring to the motel’s role in Quentin Tarantino’s lovers-on-the-lam screenwriting debut, True Romance. Burns, it turns out, had chosen to stay at the Safari because True Romance was her favorite movie.
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?”