From Steven Blush -- author of the considerably gritter American Hardcore -- comes this photo-heavy celebration of every spandex-clad pretty-boy band ever to inarticulately slur through an interview on Headbanger's Ball. (Fuck, I used to worship that show. I loved Poison circa Look What the Cat Dragged In, which was circa sixth grade for me -- way before I understood what irony was, or even what some of their raunchier lyrics meant.) The book is stuffed with quotes lifted from the pages of Circus and other esteemed publications, including Motley Crue Magazine. The fact that the entire musical genre was as ephemeral (and about as substantial) as a cloud of Aqua Net is hilariously illustrated by tough-talking statements from scenesters like Winger's feathered godhead Kip Winger, who insisted back in 1988, "I can see us over a long period of time being like Queen, Jethro Tull, or Yes."
The luridly full-color images (photographers are William Hames, Eddie Malluk, and Frank White) remind me of the massive collage that decorated my BJF (Bon Jovi friend -- we totally camped out for tickets to the New Jersey tour! Thanks Mom! "Bad Medicine" 4-ever!) Heather's bedroom wall. In fact, I'm certain some of those actual pictures are seen here, pouts and tight pants intact. After chapters positioning the hair bands in the music scene of the mid- to late-1980, with quite a bit of discussion around groupies, booze, and drugs, Blush helpfully includes a field guide of sorts, breaking down the bigger players (Bon Jovi, Cinderella, Dokken, Ratt, the Crue, Stryper -- Stryper!! -- etc.) I could have used a few more pages of excerpted fan mail and -- oh, for the love of pen-and-ink drawings of Nikki Sixx -- fan art. Seriously, I'd read a whole encyclopedia set of that stuff alone. Still, you need this book. The guffaws you'll get out of the outfits alone are worth the 23 bucks.
American Hair Metal is available direct from Feral House -- pick up a copy of Blush's American Hardcore while you're there. I also recommend Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground by Michael Moynihan and Didrik Søderlind -- spooky stuff and quite excellent reading to boot.