By age 22, music author/journalist Ethlie Ann Vare had slept with no less than 75 men, and she had already stopped counting. It was not the sex that meant anything to her; it was the feelings of love and desire, and of being loved and desired in return.
In the early-1980s, Vare was a writer at Billboard magazine working under rock editor Roman Kozak. She attended virtually every concert in town and met countless famous musicians.
She felt like the rock stars she covered and partied with would not be able to fill that void.
“It took me a really long time to understand that just because a man wants you doesn't mean he loves you,” she admits. “As I learned over the years, men will fuck sheep. It really isn't an emotional connection for them, especially rock stars, but it was for me.”
The other writers at Billboard thought she was extremely inappropriate for mixing work with play, and they believed she was giving the magazine a bad reputation. “One time, I turned down a review of the Babys because the staff thought I was having a fling with John Waite,” Vare recounts, laughing. “So every time I passed on a piece, everyone thought I was sleeping with someone in the band. It got really bad when I turned down an Indigo Girls concert!”
For her part, Vare loved the attention, especially since she was suffering from what she now understands was love addiction. She didn't mind the derision of her fellow journalists, either. She was far more concerned about her personal life, knowing deep down that there was little hope of a committed relationship with a musician, and she never wanted to be a groupie or the wife of an unfaithful rock star.
“I always wanted it to be very clear that I wasn't just a girl who wanted to get laid in the green room at a concert.”
Instead, what she ended up doing for most of her career was spurning the advances of the musicians she covered.
“I was the Queen of the Sunset Strip in the '80s,” she declares, “but I will gladly discuss the rock stars I have turned down. Somehow, it makes me look better.”
1. Billy Idol
During the time Vare was working at Billboard, she was also the editor of ROCK magazine which afforded her the opportunity to attend high-profile events and awards shows. One evening in 1984, Vare met Billy Idol at the ASCAP Awards, at which Idol was to receive a Most Played Song of the Year nod for “White Wedding.”
Afterward, Idol offered to give Vare a ride back to her apartment in the Mid-Wilshire district.
“He went through my record collection as soon as he got to my apartment,” says Vare. “He pulled Rebel Yell out and played it.”
Unfortunately, his self-indulgence didn't end there. He proceeded to go through her medicine cabinet and put his motorcycle boots on her white sofa.
“You know, after that, he was not invited to stay the night.”
2. David Lee Roth
Ethlie brought David Lee Roth as a date to ROCK magazine publisher Jeffrey Jolson-Colburn's Christmas party. Vare was writing a cover story on Roth, and they were attached at the hip. 1984 had just come out, and Van Halen was at the top of the charts.
“I had David call my 7-year-old son to wish him a Merry Christmas,” she recalls. “He said, 'Hi, this is David Lee Roth, and I called to wish you a Merry Christmas, you little motherfucker!'”
After the phone call, he took Vare in the bathroom and tried to seduce her. “I turned him down because we were in my publisher's bathroom, for God's sake!”
3. U2 Bassist Adam Clayton
The following year, Vare went to New York for a music seminar. She met U2, who were touring at the time, and ended up playing poker with them in their room. She was with a few friends, and they decided to leave after the game. Bassist Adam Clayton asked Vare to stay the night, but she declined the offer.
“It was obviously just for casual sex. I was flattered that he wanted me to stay, but I wasn't interested.”
4. Gene Simmons
KISS bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons would call Vare regularly after meeting her at a party at a bowling alley in Los Angeles.
“He wanted me to be on a list of women he conquered, but I was not interested in being number 2,642,” says Vare.
He often forgot that she continuously said “No,” and he would call her from another city a month later and ask again.
“I would make conversation with him just so we wouldn't talk about what he wanted to do with my body and where his body had been before,” she says. “I would think to myself, 'Don't put his thing in your mouth, you don't know where it's been!'”
5. “Weird” Al Yankovic
Yankovic also made a pass, but Vare wasn't interested in him, either. They met and conversed at the Brown Derby in Hollywood and exchanged numbers. Yankovic later took her on a date to go book shopping in the Beverly Center. He wore his trademark Hawaiian shirt and checkered Vans.
“He waited around the bookstore for people to recognize him,” recalls Vare. “Then we went to Ralphs, and he sat in the grocery cart. I pushed him up and down the aisles. He really loved the attention.”
Unfortunately for him, he was turned down with a handshake and a kiss on the cheek.
“How did the rock stars feel about being rejected?” I inquire.
“There was always another girl 10 feet away,” replies Vare.
She eventually cleaned up her partying act and went on to write several musical biographies, TV episodes, made-for-TV movies, and even a novel. It wasn't until at 40 years old did she realize the source of her problems with men was, in fact, love addiction.
Part of her healing process has been to acknowledge her condition publicly and write about it in her blog Affection Deficit Disorder. Last year, she published Love Addict: Sex, Romance and Other Dangerous Drugs, a memoir aimed at helping others who suffer similar afflictions. Admittedly, though, she still struggles with issues of the heart.
“Would you sleep with a rock star now?” I ask.
“Hm, I mean really…who would you set me up with?” she replied, perking up.