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Exclusive Interview: Dee Snider from "Growing Up Twisted"
Dee, what I love about “Growing Up Twisted” is it proves that you really are the tame one of the whole bunch!
(laughs) People seem completely surprised by that! The fact is, when you’re a nut for a living the last thing you want to do is go home and be a nut!
It’s obvious that you’re a great influence on your kids – from their personalities to their career choices. Were those things you encouraged them to go after or did they find them out on their own?
We’re not stage parents. All we want from our kids is for them to do something they’re passionate about and to do something that makes them happy. If they want to be an accountant, God bless ‘em. Entertainment is a rough industry. Our only guidelines for getting into entertainment, and they can learn by my career crash and burn in the nineties, is not to put all your eggs in one basket. In Jesse’s case, it’s rock ‘n roll. It’s something to achieve but more than likely you’re going to have to do something else at some point in your life.
Nobody in your family seems to be lacking personality. I’m sure that’s part of their bloodline.
Yeah and they get a lot of it from their mom. She grew up twisted as well. She and I have been together since she was 15 years old. She was arguing with her mom once and her mom told her, “If you don’t like the way you were raised, talk to your husband!” We’ve been together a looooong time.
You guys have been together 34 years. That’s legendary status in the world of rock ‘n roll marriages and relationships! What did you two do differently?
You know, there are a few things that are different but one thing I want to say is this: I was interviewing Kevin Bacon, because I sit in the other chair on the radio. We were discussing this and he’s been with Kyra Sedgwick 15 years now. He said percentage-wise there are no more or less successful entertainment couples than there are non-entertainment couples. I think the success rate is about the same but you just hear more about the failures. Those really get sensationalized.
As far as our success goes, I met somebody before I was anything. Anything. She wanted nothing to do with me, might I add! (laughs) No interest in me, whatsoever! I knew I was gonna make it, but anybody I met after the fact I always had that little doubt in my mind like, “Is she with me because of who I am?” Where will she be if things go bad, ala Jani Lane and Bobbie Brown. I met Suzette before everything happened. She was there when my career crashed and burned. She was in the trenches with me and now things are going great again. That was a real important factor for me and a lot of people don’t have that.
You said you first met when she was 15. How did her family deal with a 21 year-old Dee Snider at the time?
I was not famous, but I looked just as big and weird! It was probably even weirder without the fame. The fame tends to tone things down. Her family is mob connected. They threatened to kill me on the first date! They sat me down and told me – their exact words were, “If you lay one hand on our daughter our family will hunt you down to the four corners of the Earth and put you in the bottom of a lake.” I could tell they meant business! I said, “Yes sir, I understand what you’re saying.”
You know there is a huge slobber-infested group of men of all ages who thinks Suzette is the hottest reality show wife of them all…
People say that hesitantly to me. (laughs) She did a lap dance on last week’s episode and there is actually a webisode of her taking lap dancing lessons that’s pretty hot. You know what? She’s an amazing woman. Thirty-four years, mother of four and grandmother of one. To still be able to exude that kind of sexuality to men young and old… I’ve had people say they were Twisted Sister fans but they’re tuning in next week just to see Suzette! The funny thing is, she was the most reluctant participant. She’s a stylist and clothing designer. She’s always shied away from the camera. She came on camera because the show was with her kids and that’s her comfort zone. She’s completely unabashed and ungoverned and she’s the star of the show.
I’ve gotta talk about the “Baptized By Snider” episode from last week. I’m getting a ton of people searching for the song Jesse sang to his daughter in that episode.
It’s called “Go With Me” and it’s fucking amazing. It is available at Itunes. It’s a beautiful song. He wrote it for his daughter but you could really connect it to any relationship you’ve got. With a little lyrical change it could even be Christian rock.
When he sings about the “sins of the father” in that episode you can tell it hits a sensitive spot with you. You talk about it a little bit and then kinda laugh it off. Is that something that’s been brought up before?
Actually, no. I knew that being away as much as I was during his youth might take it’s toll. In all honesty, I think he was taking a little artistic license. I was talking to the guys in Twisted and they all had kids after the fact. I had Jesse during our heyday. They were like, “How did you do it? I can’t imagine leaving my kids. It must have been brutal.” Jesse’s at that point where he’s looking at his daughter and saying “I can’t imagine leaving.” When it comes to the reality of providing for your family and achieving your goals, you have to. That’s what a man does. It was sad to hear those words but I think it’s just more observational. As a matter of fact, it’s become a running joke in the family! (laughs) He went out to L.A. for some meetings and the producers asked to see Logan. They said, “We want to say hi to Logan. She goes with you everywhere, right? Where is she? Is she with her mom in the waiting room?” (laughs) The family is going on a safari in September and Jesse and his wife are joining us. We know the baby can’t go on the safari so we’re all going to break in to “Go With Me” just to bust his chops! That’s what we do!
It’s human nature that people will automatically compare your show to “Gene Simmons Family Jewels” or “The Osbournes.” What do you think when you hear or see those comparisons? The Simmons household almost seems relaxed compared to the Snider home!
Thanks for noticing that! Gene is great, the show is great and his family is great. Shannon is lovely and she sent me a little Tweet to wish me luck. That was classy. I think his kids are really cool. Man, it’s so nice over there! It’s so nice and calm! I’m the relaxed one at my house as all hell’s breaking loose. I want to go stay with the Simmons’! But, that’s a question we asked. Why us? They pursued us, we didn’t pursue this. With Ozzy, and Gene and the Kardashians, it’s been done. They asked, “Why do you think there’s “the Cosby Show,” “All in the Family,” and “Everybody Loves Raymond”? They’re all dealing with the same situations but it’s about how that cast deals with them. How will this group of personalities deal with a particular situation? That’s why people tune in. The situations don’t change – life is the same for everybody. Now you get to see the Snider’s on Long Island, which is very different. Once my peers got big they pretty much picked up and moved to the West Coast. People love the idea that we’re from Long Island and we live in the suburbs. We try to promote a certain degree of stability in our family by not getting sucked into the whole L.A. thing. That’s another thing about successful entertainment couples. Stay the fuck out of L.A.! Stay away from the West fuckin’ Coast! That place will kill ya!
You talked about families dealing with certain situations. Where else can you see a mother and daughter put on boxing gloves and duke it out when they’ve had a disagreement?
Oooh. That’s the next episode. That’s Snider family justice! My daughter is getting bigger now and she was testing my wife. She was saying stuff like, “You’re not so tough, old lady. Old lady. Old lady!” My wife is ripped. And my son Cody is the instigator. In two seconds he had them in boxing gear around back goin’ at it. How fast did that fuckin’ erupt? It was good-natured family roughhousing. The school found out and reported us to Child Protective Services. We were investigated and at first we weren’t sure if we should show that on the air. Fuck that! Society has gotten so overprotective, so PC – this is so stupid that a family clowning around is getting reported and investigated. Bring it. We were cleared and they had to talk to everybody and it actually caused a problem in the next episode, “Empty Nest,” because we look at possibly adopting. Because we had that charge against us we weren’t able to adopt. It was really bullshit.
So what do you have in store for the rest of the year?
As far as the rest of the year goes, I’ve actually been asked to join the cast of “Rock Of Ages” on Broadway. “Strangeland: Disciple” is moving forward. Twisted’s got some shows overseas and in South America. I don’t know about Christmas shows yet. There are other things brewing I can’t even talk about right now. Never boring, always interesting. Jesse, I’m sure the next thing that comes out we’ll be talking again!
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