Lies Of The Not-So-Beautiful People

by Bill Brenner on March 31, 2011

I’ve been hooked this week on the new Sixx A.M. song “Lies of the Beautiful People.” The video includes a lot of the photography that inspired the upcoming album and book, “This is Gonna Hurt.”

Note: The videos below, when you click on them, will direct you to watch on YouTube. Please do, since you have to see it to get the point of this post.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxMHtjQW6ZQ&fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0]

In interviews, Nikki Sixx describes his passion for photography and how he was drawn to subjects that most “normal” people would find freakish. He photographed people with a variety of deformities and other features most people would find grotesque or even humorous.

This week he released the first two parts of a documentary on the project. In part one, he describes how the projects he embarked on brought him back to things in his childhood that affect him to this day:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJsJhTTczNk&fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0]

Part 2 focuses on a person named St. Goddess Bunny, who describes the rough life he has lived, including a lot of physical abuse.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLNyvPqKHOo&fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0]

Reviewing this material takes me back to my own past. I was never one of the beautiful people the new song describes. But my perceptions and reactions to people who were different could be just as grotesque as the song describes.

The “Lies of the Beautiful People” are also the lies of the plain, average, ugly, fat and poor people. In my case, and that of others I’ve known, it becomes about knowing you’re ugly and mis-shaped and tormenting other, similar people just so you can feel better about yourself.

It’s a subject I’ve covered before, particularly in the posts “The Bridge Rats,” “Stiffy” and “Welcome to the Outcast Club.”

I was quite a prick to a kid named Stevie Hemeon. I used to punch him in the Theodore Roosevelt School yard because he was one of the few kids I was strong enough to hit. He never deserved it. Yet he still hung with me, kind of how high school chum Aaron Lewis did later on. I did it because he seemed weaker and weirder than me.

Stiffy had a monotone voice and was freakishly thin. People were terrible to him. Including me. The name allegedly comes from him getting an erection in the shower of the boy’s locker room, but I wasn’t there and tend to doubt it.

I haven’t seen or heard from him since the day we graduated nearly 22 years ago. I often wonder where he is, what he’s doing and if he’s ok.

He was the kid everyone made fun of — brutally. And I was probably one of the biggest offenders for the first two and a half years of high school.

On the surface he took our taunts with an expressionless face. How he reacted out of view I can only imagine.

There were a lot of bullies at Northeast Regional Metro Tech (it used to be “Vocational School” and we all called it the Voke) and I was made fun of a lot. I was picked on for being fat, for my lack of skill in sports and other things real or imagined.

So what did I do after being picked on? I turned around, found the kids who were more “pathetic” than me and attacked them verbally and physically. Mostly verbal, but I remember throwing punches at some point. Some of it was the reaction to getting picked on. Most of it was from the growing chip on my shoulder over my brother’s death and other unpleasantness at 22 Lynnway in Revere.

By junior year, I had lost a lot of weight and grown my hair long. I was deeply into metal music by then and I started to make friends among some of the so-called metalheads. He had also latched onto metal as a refuge from his pain (he was also pretty religious), and we started to relate over music.

Junior and senior year I made a big effort to be nicer to him, and in the mornings before classes began I would hang out with him. Or, I should say, I let him follow me around. I was still a jerk but was trying to be nice because I was under the influence of another brother, Sean Marley.

These and other memories remind me that we have to be better — much better — to the people around us. It’s what’s inside that counts.

I’m glad Sixx is tackling this issue. He’s inspiring me yet again.

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