Dee Snider: my guide to life
Dee Snider is a man of many talents. The former Twisted Sister frontman may have made a name for himself as a cross-dresser, PRMC bait, heavy metal thunderbolt just, but over the years his repertoire has expanded to include everything from accommodation of hair house radio show to writing a Christmas musical.
He appeared on Nightmares in the kitchen with Gordon Ramsey, in a comedy sketch with Donald Trump, as Dennis in rock of ages, and provided the voice of the Tooth Fairy in an animated television series Secret Mountain Fort Awesome. He even made music.
These days, you’ll also find him busy on Twitter, mostly fighting with people who are clearly not as smart as him. He is a man to learn from.
Son don’t believe your own hype
Twisted Sister was known in the area long before we became world famous: without having released a record, we drew 23,000 people to a local park for a free concert. So we were prepared for glory. But the lesson I learned the hard way is not to believe your own hype.
I became megalomaniac, thinking I was floating in the air, and alienated my band, my family, my wife…all because I believed everyone was telling me how amazing I was. Eventually, I fell to earth and lost everything, and that was a great lesson in humility. It made me a much better man.
Leave your cool at the door
The slogan in our house was “Leave your temper at the door”. You’re not a rock star at home, you’re a husband and father, not a celebrity. What you do outside the family home is great, but you can’t be that person inside the home.
My wife and I once did a reality show Celebrity Wife Swap with Public Enemy’s Flavor Flav, and my wife had to teach Flav about it. She was like, ‘Put the clock around your neck, take off those sunglasses and be a person.’
Money can make you lose your mind
I made a shitload of money and lost every penny. Not because I was stoned – because I didn’t drink or do drugs – and not because I was ripped off by managers or lawyers: I had no one to blame but myself. The ego that tricks you into believing you can be a star, against all odds, is the same ego that, when you do, refuses to recognize the warning signs when things are going to go wrong.
I was so broke at one point that in 1992 the only job I could get was answering the phone in an office for $200 a week. People would come in and say, ‘Aren’t you…?’ And I would lie, and say, No, I just look like him.
(You gotta) fight for your right (to party)
When Twisted Sister started, we argued every night. And, proudly, I’ve never had my ass kicked. I’m not the toughest guy in the world, but I’m crazy. Look, if I’m crazy enough to wear women’s lingerie on stage in a biker bar, do you honestly think I won’t go out in the audience and find you when you’re yelling “Faggot!” to me?
I knew how we looked would offend people, and I also know that for it to work, we couldn’t give an inch. This was true even after we became famous. After I beat up a guy who threw a bottle at me at a show in an arena, my manager and my lawyer insisted that I get a bodyguard, to protect people from me!
One time our limo stopped at a red light and these drunken guys yelled, “Holy shit! My bodyguard jumped up, pulled a guy out of the car, beat him up, dropped him on the street and we drove off. He said, ‘How was that boss?’ I said, it was kind of like watching someone else fuck your old lady: it looked really good, but it wasn’t the same.
Rock’n’roll is not for everyone
I saw play as if I was a hitman: I would come to town under cover of darkness, hang out alone in my room and get ready, then go out and kill the audience and disappear. I would be completely drained every night, exhausted, mentally and physically, and then I would go out and start over.
Acting wasn’t fun for me, because I took it too seriously. Filming was not a fun existence, it was often a miserable and painful existence. People say, ‘Then why did you do that?’ and I can’t explain it, I was driven to do it. For me, it wasn’t about whether I was having fun, it was about them, not me.
Life is a marathon, not a sprint
I never wanted to join the ’27 Club’, I didn’t want to join Jim Morrison or Jimi Hendrix as a cool dead star, I wanted to be a survivor, not a statistic. The very first time I drank, when I was 14, I got so drunk and vowed to quit the evil booze after that.
I have an obsessive personality and have recognized that I cannot be trusted with alcohol or drugs. Thank goodness I didn’t go that route. I haven’t had some of the great experiences that other out of control rockers have, but I’m still here to tell my own stories.
When I meet young musicians who have had success, I grab them by the collar, I shake them and I say Parlay man, parlay! They’re like, ‘What do you mean, do you want to talk?’ And I say, no, I say, turn what you’re doing now into other things. Maybe one percent of successful musicians have long careers – Elton John, Ozzy, Eric Clapton – but most of us only have a moment and then you have to take that energy and invest it. in other things.
Music is now the least of my artistic activities: I do radio and television, I have just sold an animated children’s series to Netflix, I do comedy, I produce films. I learned the hard way that music doesn’t last forever.
Dreams can come true
My parents were very opposed to me having a career in rock’n’roll. They were babies of the depression, they came from a time when, it is well known, people were told that dreams do not come true. They believed that the only way to achieve anything in life was with blood, sweat and tears.
That’s all true, but also dreams box come true, and I have proven it. When I performed on Broadway and Celine Dion recorded a Christmas song that I wrote for my wife, they finally understood that my life was legitimate.