This is part of a roundtable on Fandom Confessions, in which embarrassing things we liked back when are transmuted into embarrassing blog posts. Like alchemy, but funnier.
I didn’t have to stop for a moment to think about what I should write about; it was so, so obvious. Joe Perry. God, how I loved Joe Perry. I got started on my guitar god hero worship in the late ’70s, so Joe Perry was not an embarrassing choice, in and of itself. I still contend that ’70s Joe Perry was a thing of beauty and a joy forever. The degree and depth of my adulation, though, are – awkward.
To say I admired Joe Perry is a laughable understatement, akin to saying I had some issues with George W. Bush’s policies or that I have been known to occasionally look at manporn. I spent hours listening to Aerosmith through enormous Pioneer headphones, or on the floor with my head stuck between my enormous Pioneer speakers, teasing out every nuance of the guitar parts, figuring out what was Joe and what was Brad Whitford, listening for key changes, waiting for Joe to sing on the chorus. My room was covered with pictures and posters of Joe, and when that wasn’t enough, I drew a life-sized, full-body portrait. I studied every nuance of his sneer. I learned to play guitar because of him. I tried drugs and casual sex because of him. On some level, I cursed being a girl because it kept me from identifying more completely with him.
Joe Perry was the major component of my belief system. I ran my choices through the WWJPD filter – what would Joe Perry do? What Joe Perry actually did was take a stupendous amount of drugs, crash cars, and generally not look like he was having a hell of a lot of fun with any of it. And as you might expect, WWJPD was really a very poor decision-making mechanism. No one will be surprised to learn that it led me to do a lot of stupid things.
Jean Claude, for instance. That wasn’t his real name. His real name was Joe, but I didn’t feel like he lived up to it, so I called him Jean Claude. Jean Claude was irritable and sneering, unpredictable and antisocial, all of which I liked. We were once banned from a pizza place because he pissed on the salad bar. He was annoyed after having been asked to leave because he’d carved a picture of a spread-eagle naked woman into the wall with a fork. It was pretty good, too. Jean Claude broke into cars to steal cassette tapes so he could record over them. Unfortunately, I have chosen this example at random. This is the company I kept.
Eventually I grew the fuck up, sort of, and got over it – mostly. Although I do still automatically pick up scarves I could see Joe Perry wearing. ’70s Joe Perry. I never exactly forgot, but the disappointments added up, and even I had to stop listening to Aerosmith. Joe became less of a mental presence. When his solo album came out a few years ago, I bought it for old times sake, knowing I would hate it. Which I did. Listening to it not quite once, I became curious about where Joe Perry was, now. Who he was, now that he’d gone from “Draw the Line” to the theme song from “Spiderman.”
Google is not always your friend. Sometimes a moment’s curiosity turns into years of angst. Because I was so much happier, not knowing about Joe Perry’s Rock Your World Mango Peach Tango sauce. According to the marketing copy, “Joe Perry has been creating bone rattling licks with Aerosmith for 30 + years. Now his Mango Peach Tango sauce will rattle your palette with its high voltage flavor and taste. Keep your taste buds a rockin’ & a rollin’ all night long.” (I just checked the site for the URL and, oh dear God, there’s also mac’n’cheese.) I just – don’t have words. Every time I think about Joe Perry’s Rock Your World barbecue sauce, I die a little.
I gave him a pass on the whole performing with Britney Spears at the Super Bowl thing. She was a hot mess, and what’s more Aerosmith than that? But then, the sauce. The TV appearance with Rachael Ray. Rachael fucking Ray, people. Last year, he said he was a life-long Republican and endorsed John McCain for president. I’m still reeling from that one. I mean, nobody could live up to the image I’d built up for Joe Perry, but holy shit. Mango barbecue sauce? John McCain? I could forgive him for the God-damned sauce – well, no, I couldn’t, but I could resolutely pretend I didn’t know – because, you know, he’s pushing 60, and presumably he needs to retire at some point. But a lifelong Republican?
Sigh. The anti-hero of my youth is truly gone. Good bye and good luck, Joe Perry. I hope you sell a lot of sauce.