Meeting Bret Michaels
July 13, 2009
by Jen Bakken

The 1980s – a decade I remember fondly with a hint of embarrassment. The frosty blue eye shadow, big bangs, and hair bands.

Yes, I was one of those teenage girls caught up in the craze of bands like Motley Crue, Ratt, and Poison.

Much to my mother’s dismay, posters covered my walls and music blared from my room with screaming voices along with screeching guitar solos.

Many times my father voiced his dislike of my infatuation with men who wore more make-up and had better hair than I did.

Though I was never allowed to go to a concert, it didn’t really matter, I didn’t want to be a groupie – I just liked the music.

As funny as it sounds, I carried a big boom box with me on the school bus. It made the long ride seem to go faster while we sang along from the back of the bus.

I also used to ride our 3-wheeler all over the gravel roads with the boom box in my lap. Just Poison, me, and not a care in the world. (I wish we would have had MP3 players back then.)

Over the years, my taste in music has changed some, but there will always be a soft spot for that ‘80s metal.

In the past three years working for the Delano Herald Journal, I’ve become friends with News Editor Ryan Gueningsman, and Sports Editor Matt Kane.

Even though they prefer to have country music on the office radio, every once in awhile they will humor me with some rock.

Once at an office Christmas party, they sang a Poison song to me during karaoke. The fact that I know every word to most of these songs has become somewhat of an office joke.

When the Taste of Minnesota announced that Bret Michaels of Poison would be performing there and they were hosting a contest to meet him – my coworkers said I had to enter.

At first I laughed it off, but then I thought, “Hey, why not?!”

He’s had a long career in music and, though I’m not a huge fan of his “Rock of Love” TV show, or the concept behind it, it was entertaining and I must admit I watched it.

Seeing him in concert and meeting him would be like having my 16-year-old big hair dream come true.

For the contest, fans had to submit a 30-second video convincing the judges why they should be picked to meet Bret Michaels.

The winner would receive reserved seats close to the stage, VIP passes, and a meet-and-greet with Michaels.

Another co-worker, Alex Bechtold, helped me come up with an idea for the video, and I asked the kids about it.

They were all for helping. My oldest served as director and editor, the younger two were actors, and it turned out pretty cute.

I actually won the contest and it was a lot of fun. A friend of mine came along and we both thought the VIP part of the deal was awesome.

Hanging out in a private area, off to the side of the stage, with free drinks and music was great. And having a real bathroom vs. a satellite was a huge bonus.

We met the three new owners of the Taste of Minnesota, who were very friendly.

The opening act was Adler’s Appetite, the drummer from Guns N’ Roses’ band. They were really good and, of course, Bret and his band were too.

When it came time to meet him after the show, things were a bit crazy backstage. There were fans, mostly girls, of course, waiting around chanting his name.

It felt like we waited forever before we were allowed on the bus. The meet-and-greet was short but he was very nice.

When I came home, my kids couldn’t believe I didn’t get an autograph for them.

I showed them a picture of a quick hug I got from Bret Michaels, and my son said, “Geez, Mom, that’s gross. You don’t even know him.”

I’m not sure what I’ve taught my son, or haven’t taught him, to cause him to think a hug is gross.

Maybe it’s just because I’m Mom and nothing I ever do will be cool in his book.