RANDOM THOUGHTS ON VH1?s ?BANDS REUNITED? VIXEN EPISODE
It’s me, bastard boy floyd, and here I am with a random collection of disjointed thoughts about a show I watched on VH1 called "Bands Reunited." It featured that chick band from back in the day called Vixen, and I used to listen to their stuff, so I thought I’d check it out. I know I don’t usually do ‘random thoughts’ types of posts, but no other Metal Sludge staff members offered to recap Vixen’s recent TV appearance, so here I am stuck doing it. Be a good sport and deal with it.
To be honest, I?ve always been kind of a closet Vixen fan, so I was planning on watching the show anyway. Also, after their guitarist and founding member Jan Kuehnemund did 20 Questions the other day, I was compelled to break out all my old Vixen cassettes, and I?ve been driving around all week listening to them in my ice cream truck. So by the time I saw the VH1 show, I was all psyched to write down all my random thoughts about the show. So here we go!
That Aamer Haleem guy who hosts the show begins by telling the story about Vixen forming, breaking up, some kind of lawsuit, and them not talking for a long time. Now he says VH1?s going to bring them back together.
They start out by finding Jan Kuehnemund. It says she?s a production coordinator now somewhere in LA. Aamer and an entire camera crew just walk in to Jan’s workplace and find her office. Jan still has great hair, and looks as if she?s gained just a little weight, but not too bad and she wears it well. Some chicks look all ripped up when they get older, but Jan seems to have held up pretty good. Looks like they caught her a little off guard at the office, but I guess that’s what the ‘ambush thing’ is all about. Aamer asks her, and she agrees to a reunion pretty much right away. I guess, on this show, they carry around an old vinyl album and find the old band members that played on it. They have them autograph the back cover and that pretty much seals the deal that they’ll do the one-night-only reunion concert. She signs the back of the Vixen LP and shakes hands with Aamer.
They proceed to do an impromptu interview with Jan, which I assume is set up somewhere right there in her office complex. She?s wearing the same clothes as she was when they ambushed her. She and Aamer rap about the early days of Vixen and how Jan formed the band with friends somewhere in Minnesota. She then moved to LA and eventually put together the ?classic? Vixen lineup. They show some old interview clips back when Vixen was all glammed out. A far cry from Jan?s ?casual Friday? office attire. They talk about how hard it was to make it in a ?mans world? as an all girl band. Jan looks like she?s been asked that question one too many times, but she plays along. They show a clip of the Milton Keynes gig they did with Skid Row and Bon Jovi where they played in front of 60,000 people.
Aamer asks if the band broke up or if it was just a hiatus. Jan says it was a breakup, and occurred ?painfully.? She said their 2nd album didn?t measure the sales of the first, but what really tore them up was when they wanted another guitarist and Jan took offense to that. I always thought Jan had some good chops but maybe she could?ve used some help live? Who knows. She talks about the Tangerine album in 1998 and how she wasn?t invited and sued Roxy and Janet for copyright infringement. She says the last show they played together was 1991. Aamer says that was a little over 10 years ago. Uh, it?s more than 14, actually, but who?s counting? She tells Aamer how to find Share, who?s playing in her band Bubble, also based in Los Angeles.
Commercial break. I think I see some sort of insect scurry across the floor, so I take off my shoe and throw it at the bug, but I completely miss and end up knocking over a stack of unsigned band CDs that I?ve never listened to. They go all over the floor, but hopefully one of them fell on that roach or centipede or whatever the fuck that was.
Commercials are over. Aamer is back and says he?s on the lookout for Share Ross, and they track her down at her knitting class she does every Thursday. How rock and roll is that? It?s at some kind of craft store with aisles and aisles of yarn. Share looks like she?s not quite ready to be ambushed by a camera crew. She does look pretty good though. She?s got the pigtails thing going on, so I can appreciate that. They ask her to do the reunion thing and she seems really hesitant at first, but her entire knitting class is cheering her on to do it, so she sort of reluctantly agrees and signs the LP.
They show a little video collage of Share then and now, and mention that she?s currently in her band Bubble and how they won some award. They show some clip of Share singing in her new band. Wonder if Share realizes that?s probably the only time a Bubble video is ever going to get shown on VH1.
I just want to point out that, back in the day, everyone had their favorite Vixen chick, and Share was mine! I had the first two Vixen albums on cassette and also the Contraband album she did with Tracii Guns, Blotzer, Michael Schenker, and some other guy. I was pretty obsessed with her, but not stalkerish or anything. You know, kind of like how everyone has their favorite Spice Girl nowadays? It was like that. You can relate to having a favorite Spice Girl, right? Hello? Anyone?
Back to my recap. They give Share time to put on some makeup before they turn the cameras back on. She says they talk about vibrators and drugs at the Yarn Caf? place she knits at. Sounds like my kind of place! Aamer asks about how she joined Vixen. She says she met Jan at a club where Jan saw Share play. Jan gave her her number and Share threw it in her purse and forgot about it. 6 months later, she was cleaning out her purse, found the number, called Jan, and they hooked up to jam. It worked out and Share joined Vixen.
That Aamer guy again asks about how tough it is to make it in a man?s world. Share also looks sick of that fucking question. She recounts when Vixen played live on the Arsenio Hall show and that was when they ?proved themselves,? because they played so good live that the audience and crew thought it was canned, but it wasn?t. Share goes on about how she didn?t like working with outside songwriters and thought Vixen should?ve done their own thing.
Next, Aamer tells Share that she hung out more with Janet, and Roxy and Jan were more buddies. Gee, that?s nice of Aamer to point out to the world. But Share agrees that they sort of split as songwriters. Share was asked about them wanting to throw out Jan or get a 2nd guitarist, and she kind of turns the question around, blaming all that on the songwriting split and then wanting to work with outside songwriters. Nice spin, Share!
Aamer says Jan seemed like she was too nice to be a true band leader. Share said Jan should?ve put her foot down and insisted they not be forced to write with external writers. Share said the era was over (in ?91 or so) and it was time to call a day. She seems to like being a singer and guitarist in her own band now. But she agreed to the reunion anyway.
Aamer says they?re tracking down drummer Roxy Petrucci next.
Commercial Break. There?s something about Green Day on, but I?m too distracted by a moth flying around a lamp in the corner of my trailer, and I decide to look at that instead of the Green Day commercial. Come to think of it, a moth flying around my lamp is more interesting than anything Green Day has done in about a decade, so that?s what I looked at.
They?re back. Aamer and his camera-carrying entourage fly to Wisconsin where Roxy lives. She?s actually selling her house and one of the Vh1 crew poses as an interested potential homeowner. Roxy seems to have enlisted Remax as her realtor. While getting the tour, Aamer and the whole crew ambush her, running through her house and into her back yard. Geez, I hoped they wiped their feet first!
Roxy knows who they are as soon as she sees Aamer. She says ?Yes! I will do a Vixen reunion? before Aamer can even ask her about it. He says that?s the first time anyone?s ever done that. Wonder who clued Roxy in? Aamer says his friend Julio was posing as the buyer. Aamer says to Roxy, ?let?s go inside.? Hey, who?s fucking house is this? The nerve of that guy! But Roxy seems too overwhelmed by the camera crew to take offense.
They give Roxy a few minutes to fix her hair, put on jeans and some makeup. For some reason, she reminds me a little of Cheri Oteri from Saturday Night Live. They talk about her previous band Madam X with her sister Maxine way back in the day. Too bad they didn?t get a comment from Sebastian Bach, but you can?t have it all.
Aamer asks how hard it was for Vixen to get signed. Roxy says they had to showcase a lot and not a lot of A&R people would take Vixen seriously. Then they skip over to the Rev It Up album and about the split in direction. She admits they kind of wanted Jan out of the band to get a better guitar player. Poor Jan. Roxy says they did consider getting a 2nd guitarist, and said she got all weepy when they sat Jan down to tell her. Roxy says the last time all 4 of them were together in the same room was in 1992, and it will be interesting to get together again.
Next, the VH1 crew flies to Westport, Connecticut to find Janet Gardner. Roxy helped them out by setting up a fake lunch meeting with Janet at some ritzy inn, but instead of Roxy showing up to meet her, Janet gets ambused by Aamer and a film crew. Janet?s wearing sunglasses and looks nice, but clearly isn?t ready to be on TV. Right off the bat, she tells Aamer she hates him. Aamer tries to sell her on the reunion thing and how everyone else is in if Janet is. She seems like she can?t believe that anyone else agreed to it, especially Share. She seems resistant but eventually signs the album which confirms that she?ll do it. She says she?s going to kill Roxy for setting her up.
They give her time to put on some makeup and to put her hair up. She looks a bit older, of course, but still quite pretty. Fuck, now that I think about it, all these Vixen chicks are actually some serious MILF! At least in my opinion. Anyway, Janet says she has a 1-year old son and she?s also studying to be a dental hygienist. I have no idea what that is, as I haven?t been to the dentist in years. Anyhow, she says her life now is way different. She loves being a mom, but says she misses singing sometimes, especially the creative part of being a performer.
Aamer asks her about how hard it was being a hard rock band in a ?man?s world.? Fuck, even I?m sick of that question by now! And I?m sure it?s not like Janet hasn?t been asked that over and over again for the last decade and a half. I wish someone would punch Aamer, not for asking that question, but just because it would be entertaining to watch him get punched in the face.
Janet states that when she joined Vixen, they were more like the GoGo?s but she took them more in a Pat Benetar or Heart direction. Aamer says Vixen had the same manager as Richard Marx and he wrote Edge of a Broken Heart for them. Aamer asks about them sitting down to tell Jan they wanted another guitar player and Janet gets a little weepy and says she tried to block that out all these years. That notion didn?t sit well with Jan (d?uh!) and they kind of didn?t play together after that.
Aamer asks about the Tangerine album and how that came about. Janet says Roxy called her and was working with a new guitarist, and that Share wasn?t interested at the time. They invited Jan but she didn?t want to share guitar responsibilities with someone else. They recorded an album anyway, which ended up being ?Tangerine,? and then they talk about Jan suing Roxy and Janet for copyright infringement. They cut to Jan and Roxy talking about their feelings about it. There?s some accusations going back and forth, Janet saying that Jan didn?t want to participate so they thought that was their green light to go on without her, but Jan didn?t like that idea and sued them anyway.
Aamer asks Janet if she?s excited about the reunion. She says ?I don?t know, it could be a train wreck!? And then she wonders aloud if she can even sing those songs anymore.
So, excited or not, everyone?s on board and they foreshadow the big get-together at a rehearsal studio in LA.
Did I just say ?foreshadow?? Damn, our editorial staff is on crack today. Anyway, time for a commercial break. It?s an ad for Nickelodean and they show a clip of a new episode of ?Unfabulous,? which is one of my favorite shows and I watch it whenever I can. Yeah, I know it?s geared towards middle school kids. So? Fuck off.
Back to the show. The Vixen ladies all start arriving at the rehearsal / confrontation room.
Jan Kuehnemund is first to show up. She?s wearing like a black shirt with see-thru sleeves, jeans, and is carrying a guitar case. She looks happy to be on TV and has kind of a glow about her. Of course, that might be due to my shitty TV that?s sitting on top of another TV that doesn?t work. Such is life in my trailer.
Next to arrive is Janet. She got her hair done! It?s lighter and looks really good. She says she?d like the day to be more than just an excuse to ?make nice nice for the cameras? and wants to walk away feeling really good. She shows up and Jan and Janet hug. They both say they?re weirded out, then the camera shows them standing around not having anything to say to each other. Awkward.
Roxy is next to show up. She did say she works out a lot and damn, it shows. Her body looks really good. Way to go Roxy. She?s wearing black jeans and a black half shirt. She looks less like Cheri Oteri and more like the Roxy from the Vixen days. They all hug when she arrives and compliment each other?s hair.
Share arrives last. She?s got big boots and big pink streaks in her hair. Share looks even better now than she did back in the day. Seriously! She?s hot. She says she views being in a band like being married, and she?s married to Bubble now, and it?s like she?s going back and ?shagging an old boyfriend.? When did Share become British? She?s starting to sound like Bam Ross or something.
They all sit down with Aamer and he asks that FUCKING QUESTION AGAIN. They say it was tough to make an impression with record execs and hard to get taken seriously, and the execs didn?t know if people were ready for an all-girl hard rock band. Once they got their deal though, they say it was both cool and also weird, especially having so many people involved. Share says they had 4 producers, and that in itself was weird.
They were talking about how they sort of split between Janet/Share and Roxy/Jan as songwriters, and going in different musical directions. They all seem serious and Roxy does her best to add a bit of comedic relief.
Then they all talk about the time they were in a restaurant and told Jan they wanted to add another guitar player. Jan says she was very hurt and didn?t take it well. It seems uncomfortable for everyone to talk about it. Again, Roxy comes in with the comedy and says that Jan should?ve reached across the table and punched someone out, because that would?ve been ?rock ?n roll? and would probably have solved everything.
Jan says she felt sad and hurt for years about the 2nd guitar player thing. That one event pretty much ended it for Vixen, and they leave it at that.
They cut away to comments by both Janet and Roxy, both stating that nothing really got resolved and they have a lot of issues to still deal with. Jan says it felt good to get it out in the open.
Then they start to rehearse ?Rev it Up? while they cut away to a few more comments. Share has one of the best lines of the whole ?Bands Reunited? series when she asks ?Is there any good way to break up a band? I?ve never heard of one.? Well, that?s pretty close to what she said, but my stomach was growling so loud that it drowned out the sound of the television, so I may have heard it wrong.
I still think she looks great, though.
Commercial break. I take a minute to nuke some mac and cheese that was in the fridge for I don?t know how long, but it?s all dried up and tastes like shit, so I end up throwing it out and open a can of corned beef hash instead. Corned beef hash looks a lot like dog food when it first comes out of the can, kind of a meat and potato mold that retains the shape of the can. I get grossed out, so I put it back in the can and hide it in the back of my cabinet.
Back to the show. The crowd is lining up for the live performance. I think I saw a Metal Sludge shirt in the crowd, but I?m not sure!
Share says she hopes it?s a great way for Vixen to go out on a high note ?cause she feels they never ended up getting the credit they deserved.
They talk to a few people in the crowd. Some guys from the Peppermint Creeps, a band who did 10 Questions with us last year, are there in full makeup and are trying their best to be attention whores. Is it me, or does that one Peppermint Creep guy sound like Kermit the Frog when he talks?
The band comes on and they look good. Janet can still sing! They start playing ?Edge of a Broken Heart.? They show side by side clips of the Vixen chicks back in the day as well as the current live performance. The band sounds like they?ve kept their chops up. D?uh! Roxy, Share and Jan have kept playing for years. Janet sounds just a tad off key in one or two spots, but no one would probably notice unless they knew the Vixen songs like the back of their hand. Shit! I guess I?m a bigger Vixen fan that I thought if I could point that out.
The crowd loves the live performance. I think I saw September 2004 Sludgeaholic of the Month Angry Jewboy out in the audience! But there?s a lot of people that look like him in every corner of the globe, so I could be way off there.
Vixen starts playing ?Rev It Up? from their second album.
There?s a few comments from the band interspersed with the live performance. Janet and Roxy seem to indicate that it was fun and they?re glad they did it, and it provided a nice closure on that chapter of their lives. Jan seems the most impressed, saying that they did ?have it out? and got some issues out there on the table, and that they all are walking away better friends for having done this. Share?s comments make it seem like she could give a fuck either way.
At the end, some words are on the screen that say a record exec from EMI was there at the Bands Reunited show, and was so impressed that he convinced EMI to re-release the first two Vixen albums. Funny how that works out. Cha-ching!
All in all, it was cool of Vixen to get together one last time for the cameras. It always makes me happy when we see members of our ?extended family Sludge? on television. Roxy Petrucci, Share Ross and Jan Kuehnemund have all done 20 Questions interviews with us over the past several months. Now if only Janet Gardner would do one with us, we can get over our Vixen obsession and move on.
Props to VH1 for keeping hair metal alive on television, even if it makes some of us feel old.
If you want to check out the Vixen "Bands Reunited" page at VH1’s Web site, click on over to www.vh1.com/shows/dyn/bands_reunited/81583/episode.jhtml. You can watch a video clip of "How Much Love," a song they did which didn’t make it onto the TV show, and there’s also a photo gallery, which is where we stole the new pictures of Jan, Roxy, Janet and Share. Thanks Aamer! Or whoever’s responsible for those at VH1.
That?s it for this edition of Bands Reunited, and also for my recap of it. Thanks for playing at home.
I?m out like any hope of a Vixen reunion tour,
bastard boy floyd