Give Me The Mic
Article By: Jack Shit
Originally Published In The February 213 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
Hey Dee, I’m Jack Shit from Cycle Source magazine and I want to thank you for taking the time to bullshit with me for a little bit tonight while you sign these massive stacks of books here. There were several reasons that I believe that you were a perfect fit for our mag. First off would be the simple fact that you ride and have been for a long time now. Then there’s your involvement with the charity Bikers for Babies. Another reason would be that you came from nothing; even when the world H tried to knock you on your ass, you never gave up. And finally, you are brutally honest.’
J.S. – Since I mentioned Bikers for Babies, why don’t you tell me a little bit about that and how you got involved with such an amazing cause?
D.S. – Well man, two of my four kids were born prematurely and I was fortunate enough that they were both born healthy, but others are not as fortunate. I was doing morning talk radio in Conn., and in the course of discussion the topic came up. To make a long story short, I ended up doing the first run. Then I began doing the annual run which led me to going to other states to do their runs as well. I began my own run on Long Island which led me to becoming the National Spokesperson for March of Dimes’ Bikers for Babies which I’ve been for I think the last 4 years now.
J.S. – Since we are a grass roots bike magazine, let’s chop this bitch right down to the nuts and bolts of this thing now: What are ya riding these days?
D.S. – I’ve got a 2001 Indian Chief that I love. It starts every time: nice and dependable. It’s got an S&S motor. I’ve also got a custom Von Dutch that a good buddy of mine, Ronnie Starrantino had built for me. It’s forever been a work in progress since I got it about 4 years or so ago. We’ve slowly been adding to it and taking away from it but hey, that’s what it’s all about right! So I have one for showing off and one for cruising.
J.S. – Well that’s what you’ve got, but if you could have any bike on earth, what would it be?
D.S. – If I didn’t have to depend on it all the time, I think I would love to get my hands on — I’m not sure of the year — but Indian made a straight four with a drive shaft. It was a Chief. I’d love to get a hold of one of those.
J.S. – I managed to get my hands on your new book, Shut Up and Give Me the Mic, a few hours before we met here tonight. I was able to get about 120 pages into it before coming down here to see you. We are now in the age of the tell-all book and what blows me away is that these guys can remember 30 years back to the chicks they banged, where they banged them and how much dope they had done on that very day. I can’t remember my phone number some days, and haven’t lived near the lives you guys have lived. How can you do it? (Everyone in the room busts out laughing) What I’m most blown away by is the fact that you actually wrote this book not some ghost writer!
D.S. – Yes, I wrote it entirely myself with no help with the exception of editing because the book was way longer! I said that I can’t be a good judge of what’s important and what’s me blowing smoke up my own ass so I just wrote and wrote and Simon Schuster edited it down. My best friend was a heroin addict. He couldn’t find a pencil, better yet, he couldn’t find his own dick let alone a pencil, so I do marvel that so many of these drug addicts have such incredible memories and are so very well written.
J.S. – I’m Irish, I’m not on heroin, and I have a problem finding my own dick so I can’t imagine being so high and having such vivid detail in these memories. What I’ve taken away from having only read the first 100 pages or so is that while everyone else is going in completely opposite directions with their books, your book drives towards one thing: PMA. Want to explain to us just what that is?
D.S. – Yeah man, that’s something I came up with as a teenager: Positive Mental Attitude. It’s been a driving mantra for me my whole life.
J.S. – I’m finding that the book is more of an inspirational tale than a memoir.
D.S. – Wow, you just gave me a bit of a chill there! I was hoping as I wrote it that there would be a degree of inspiration and motivation in the book. Not because I am some kinda wizard or anything, but it’s just a much better attitude to have about life, ya know? As I looked at the book and stepped back from it I thought, holy shit! I’ve had a lot of unfortunate breaks, but they never seemed like that to me because my attitude was always just in the right place. I never focused on how bad things were, ya know what I mean? I always kept that PMA, and stepping back from it I could see where other people might have gotten discouraged, but I never did, you just can’t allow yourself. If you go back even in my music, I was always sending that message in my songs: I Wanna Rock, I Am Me, You Can’t Stop Rock-n-Roll; there was a lot of affirmation stuff in there, telling people to believe in themselves and not f**king give up. The message was always in the story and more than just the story of my life, but the story of my attitude about living.
J.S. – At a time in our nation where things have been so bad, second only to the Great Depression and friends, parents, even people’s grandparents are losing everything, people are giving up, and many soldiers are killing themselves in record numbers. People are looking for something to motivate them, to give them hope that things will be okay, and are looking for answers of how to turn things around. All you get these days are bullshit, lies and fantasies. What really hit me with this book, as well as your radio shows, is the brutal honesty.
D.S. – Yeah man! I thought that I wanted to share my troubles, not like my misery or sadness because I always had my kids and stuff to fall back on. I just wanted to say, ‘Look, it happens to the best of us. It happened to me, and maybe you’re not a rock star but it makes no difference who you are.’ There is a great quote from Rocky Balboa: “It’s not how many times you get knocked down, but that you keep getting back up!” That is the message within the message that I tried to get across. Like my friend just said after reading the book: “Man, I had no idea that you even went through that and I’m really going through shit like that now. Just hearing that inspired me to pick myself up and keep going.” I heard that and I was like f**k yeah, that’s the message; that’s what I want people to get out of it. it!
J.S. – In the opening of the book, and I don’t want to ruin anything, but to say that I was blown away would be an understatement. A testament to your longevity is that as you read it, you can actually hear your voice like you are reading it to us. You talk about having to put out flyers on car windshields in parking lots for your wife’s hair and make-up business just to try and survive. The brutal honesty of it all rings so true. Talk about humbling; who else would put that in a book and tell the world how bad it was?
D.S. – Well man, more people should. Going back all the way to the initial success with Twisted Sister and We’re Not Gonna Take It, that was a personal story of what was going on in my life with my father and what I found out was that I wasn’t the only one. It didn’t matter if you were down the street, in the next state or across the ocean, so many people were going through the same thing and they could identify. I didn’t know then that I wasn’t the only one, and it’s the same message with the book: You are not the only one either! Again, this shit happens to the best of us and you can rise above it and come out on top.
J.S. – They say behind every great man is an Italian woman holding a knife to his back; I know this all too well. Diane, this lovely angel standing next to you, and I just celebrated our 26th year together. I understand it’s 36 for you and Suzette?
D.S. – Well if you got a good one, don’t screw it up!
J.S. – This is something I get reminded of each and every day. I met my wife by stealing her car and then begging for forgiveness. You met and stalked your girl until she just couldn’t shake you. My little Sicilian has been my rock, so I appreciated how much you wrote about your relationship and how you wore her down until she couldn’t get away. Just the same as Suzette couldn’t stand you, Diane hated me just as much.
D.S. – There was a Groucho Marx saying, “I don’t want to be a member of any club that is willing to have me,” so I didn’t want to date a girl that wanted to go out with me. When I met this girl who wanted nothing to do with me, I said, ‘Here’s my girl right here.’ We talked about the flyers on cars and shit, and here’s a girl who said I can do hair and make-up to help us get by. She was going to complete strangers’ homes to do it and that’s humbling enough, not that there is any shame in it, but the least I could do was put some f**king flyers on some damn cars! So when you got a woman like that who is there for you, it bolsters you. I don’t know that I would have ever had the success that I’ve had or coming through and surviving it all had it not been for her.
J.S. – I get hit all the time with: How the hell do you do it; how do you make it work with the same chick for more than a quarter century? You live it. How have you managed to pull it off?
D.S. – We’ve had our ups and downs and nearly broken up. Relationships are always a work in progress. A lot of shit happens every day. Over a period of a few years, Suzette lost 3 family members who were very close to her from sickness, murder and bike accidents. It threw her into a tailspin and put a massive strain on us. You know for better or for worse; well that was the “for worse” part! You don’t walk away, you tough it out. We were in therapy once. The doctor told us that the only difference between couples that get divorced and the couples that stay together is not the problems that they have, we all have the same problems, it’s the people who don’t accept divorce as an option. They just say we’re staying together and that’s it. You just say were gonna work this the f**k out because we are not getting divorced! It’s the parents’ responsibility to be the heroes to our kids; divorce just cuts your kids adrift and they are lost. There are not a lot of heroes in this world. We are the heroes to our kids, and if we f**k them over, if we disappoint them, then they’ve got nothing!
J.S. – Then you know as well as I do, when you marry an Italian girl, you sleep on your belly and you don’t divorce. If you do, you may leave with the car, but you ain’t leaving with your dick!
D.S. – You’re damn right! No truer words have been spoken!
J.S. – You’ve done so much, but looking back now, what’s the big regret? What’s the one thing you wish like hell you could change?
D.S. – I list them in the book. There were a couple of events that happened with my wife, not the kind of things you’d think, loyalty things and you know, where I’ve disappointed her and it haunts me. She is the most loyal person in the world and it means a great deal to her. For me to do something that is disloyal, I’m not talking about cheating, that bothers me. Those things where I hurt her bother me. You’ll read them; there are not a lot of them, but they stick with me. To hurt her, hurts me. It’s a terrible thing to live with, so you try not to.
J.S. – So, lead singer, rock star, traveled the world, Broadway star, TV star, movie star, over 20 years on the radio, now author, what’s left to achieve for Dee Snider? You’ve changed the world; you’ve made it okay for rockers to sing Sweeny Todd. Now where do you go from here? Here, Dee ran down a list of what his kids were doing with their lives and all that he is doing to support them. I could only wish that these were my kids. Then he turned with a sly look and said:
D.S. – Of course there is talk of Strangeland 2, but we’ve been talking about that for years. Ronnie says he’s going to make it happen, and you know what, I believe him.
J.S. – So on one final topic, the PMRC (Parents Music Resource Center), wives of the Washington elite, had you testify before congress because of your music, and because you were such a disgusting, disgraceful human being. They said you were an unacceptable role model for the youth of America and you were ruining lives. What do you have to say to Tipper Gore and those other douchebags now some 20 years later?
D.S. – How’s your life going? How are your kids? I’ve outlasted them and will continue to do so. Washington is always a do as I say, not as I do sort of place anyway. Screw them!
On that final note, make sure you go out and pick up a copy of Shut Up and Give Me the Mic. The book is well written, brutally honest and an amazing read. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. I could go on and on with this interview because it just seemed to never stop. I witnessed a two hour book signing take nearly four hours on this night. Dee spoke to and took pics with every single person who came up to him; he signed anything and everything they brought with them. I got to witness one of the classiest people I’ve ever seen do what he does best and that is chill out with and relate to the people who love him. I’m not gonna lie, I dug out my original Twisted Sister albums and brought them with me. There was no way he was getting away without signing my shit too! Thank you to Ronnie Starrantino for setting this up for me and making it happen; you rock brother! See ya on the road!