Friday, October 9, 2009

10 things Ray Bradbury and Nikki Sixx have in common: #1 – Fascination with fire

#1. Both SF&F author Ray Bradbury and Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx have a fascination with fire.

Ray Bradbury is the author of the gloomy 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451, the quintessential work of fiction about censorship, the destruction of knowledge, and the burning of books. Here are the opening lines of Bradbury’s fiery magnum opus:
It was a pleasure to burn.

It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed. With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great phython spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history. With his symbolic helmet numbered 451 on his stolid head, and his eyes all orange flame with the thought of what cam next, he flicked the igniter and the house jumped up in a gorging fire that burned the evening sky red and yellow and black. He strode in a swarm of fireflies. He wanted above all, like the old joke, to shove a marshmallow on a stick in the furnace, while the flapping pigeon-winged books died on the porch and lawn of the house. While the books went up in sparkling whirls and blew away on a wind turned dark with burning.
In a 1993 interview published in the San Jose Mercury News, Bradbury remarked: “Yes, but I was writing about book-burning three or four years before Fahrenheit 451. It’s a theme in my stories as far back as ‘Pillar of Fire’ and ‘The Exiles’.” (1948, 1949)

Other Bradbury works that reveal his fascination with fire include “There Will Come Soft Rains” (1950) and “The Fire Balloons” (1951).

Then there is this interesting quote from a 1999 Allentown, Pennsylvania, newspaper article:
You know, there was a project I did for Monsanto that was never built for Disney World. It was a history of communications going back two or three thousand years, and I traced the element of fire through the generations of mankind. You have Christ, who’s also a sun god in a way because he was born in the turning of the year, when the sun comes back to the earth. And then you come up to someone like Benjamin Franklin, with his experiments in electricity. And then we have you going to the moon; you blast off with the type of fire we can get from the sun. And then you X-ray the human body, and you see these little thermal engines we use to burn food, to ignite and drive our day.

I got 90 wonderful watercolors out of it. And the Disney people brought the Monsanto people in. And I was asked to do the song-and-dance. And then the Monsanto people said: “Well…no.”

Our hot-air balloons all sank to earth. The Monsanto people said: “We don’t like the word ‘fire.’”

“But that’s what you are,” I said. “Well, we believe in energy.”

“Well, I can’t very well have a caveman come out to the mouth of a cave and say ‘Energy! Energy!’”

Oh well, that project died. At least I still have all these wonderful watercolors in my basement.

Nikki Sixx also has a fascination with fire. In the early 1980s, as part of its stage show, Mötley Crüe would slick Nikki Sixx’s boots with pyro gel and set him ablaze, as depicted in this 1981 video for their song “Live Wire” (YouTube, 3:19 minutes). In, Dirt: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band (2002), bandmate Tommy Lee described the Crüe’s apartment on Sunset Strip back in the early days: “Outside the bathroom, a hallway led to two bedrooms. The hall carpet was spotted with charred footprints because we’d rehearse for our live shows by setting Nikki on fire, and the lighter fluid always ended up running down his legs.” Sixx's recollection about his days as a fireman: “I didn’t give a shit about the pain. I would have swallowed tacks or fucked a broken bottle if it would have brought more people to our shows.”

At the end of his foreword to Scott Stanton's The Tombstone Tourist: Musicians (2nd ed., 2003), Nikki Sixx wrote:
P.S. To the young bands out there, here’s my advice:

Don’t be afraid of the fire, run right through it!
Some of you will die,
Some of you will get burned,
And some of you just might make it.

See you in Hell

Nikki Sixx
In 2005 and 2006, during Mötley Crüe concert performances, Nikki Sixx did a five-minute solo act in which he dressed as a mad scientist and blew himself up on stage (YouTube, 1:54 minutes). As he stated in this interview clip (YouTube, 34 seconds), “I caught on fire a couple times. It’s pretty fun.”

In 2007, around Halloween, Nikki Sixx told that he is afraid of snakes: “I really don't like snakes. Don't fucking like 'em. They're creepy. I was talking to Slash about this because I got this idea on the Carnival Of Sins Tour for Motley. I wanted to have these girls coming out naked with snakes on them and blowing fire and Slash goes ‘well, you gotta spend time with the snakes’. I go ‘well, fuck that’, and he goes ‘yeah, you gotta hold em, give ‘em attention.’ I'm like, ‘Fuck. Forget it’. So we just settled on the naked girls blowing fire.”

Previous entries on the Ray Bradbury-Nikki Sixx 10 list:

#2. Both are strongly opposed to censorship

#3. Both hate the Internet

#4. Both are stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

#5. Both have had their lives impacted by a horrible car accident

#6. Both have exploded on stage

#7. Both created an illustrated man

#8. Both are intimately familiar with Playboy magazine

#9. Neither attended college

#10. Both are Angelenos who once palled around with a motley crew doing crazy things

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