Bret Michaels has a long, long relationship with Wichita, and I should know. I was there during many of his band Poison's frequent stops at the Kansas Coliseum during the height of their late 1980's dirty talking, cat dragging fame. (I'm still trying to forgive him for a 1988 fan meet-n-greet at the Kansas Coliseum that I attended but he did not. Riki Rocket was no Bret Michaels.)
I was there a decade later, when hair bands including Poison set out on the comeback tour circuit, traveling on multi-band bills and swinging by state fairs. (I even got to interview him over the phone in 2001 when he and the band were headed to Wichita for the Glam Slam tour, which also featured Warrant, Quiet Riot and Enuff Z'Nuff.)
And I was the reporter on duty last year when Michaels, who'd transformed himself into an unlikely reality television star, had to cancel a scheduled Wichita River Festival concert at the last minute because of a brain hemorrhage that put him in the hospital.
But Michaels — the blonde haired, bandanna-wearing rocker who's found solo fame 25 years after he and his lipsticked Poison cohorts made it big — is rescheduling his missed date with Wichita — sort of.
Hartman Arena has booked him for a concert on March 31, giving local fans a first look at the star since his headline-making illness last year.
Earlier this week, Michaels' publicist offered an interview with the star, who is known of late for his VH-1 dating show "Rock of Love" and for winning last year's "Celebrity Apprentice."
She later clarified that the interview would need to be conducted via e-mail because Michaels was on vacation celebrating his 48th birthday. (EEEP! When did THAT happen???) but I thought the answers were pretty interesting.
I only wish I'd remembered to ask "WHERE THE HECK WERE YOU DURING THAT FAN MEET-N-GREET In 1988?"
Oh well. I'm sure he'll be back.
Q: How is your health?
A: I'm in a good place right now. I've been through a lot in the last year — that's no secret. But I have always done my best to live a healthy life and it seems to have paid off. Despite a few setbacks here and there, my recoveries have all gone well and I'm doing great given the kinds of procedures I've had. I'm just about back to where I want to be and I can't wait to get back out there.
Q: How have people received you since you've resumed performing?
A: The energy from the crowds and the fans has just been phenomenal. I'm so lucky to have the fans that I do — I know that, so I always bring my 'A game' when I'm on stage. The amount of support I've received and just the level of excitement has been incredible.
After all the craziness of the past year, I know for sure that I have the best fans in the world and I'm excited to be back out on the road doing what I love.
Q: What are your memories of Wichita? Were you disappointed to have missed your River Festival gig?
A: Wichita has always treated me well and I'm excited to be heading back there at the end of this month. The crowds in Kansas always bring a great vibe so I was definitely disappointed to have missed my River Festival gig. Hopefully we'll make up for it at the Park City show!
Q: What's next for you in your career?
A: It's definitely going to be another whirlwind year for me. As soon as that tour is over I go straight back out with the solo band, and we will go right on through 2012. I always have multiple projects going on at once: I recently partnered with Dean Guitars to create my own line of signature guitars. I always use Dean guitars on tour so I'm really excited to be working with them to create my own line.
I have my autobiography, 'Roses & Thorns,' slated for release and I'm also looking forward to the Bret Michaels Super Cruise this November. It'll go from Miami down to Cozumel, Mexico, and it's just going to be a wild time. It'll be a great chance for me to kick back, rock out, and relax with all of my fans.
I'm also putting together a vocal warmer CD for all the aspiring rock stars out there; it's awesome because it'll be all of the exact same exercises I do before and after each show.
I'm just gonna keep on doing what I do best — being Bret Michaels.
On a game-show roll
A few weeks ago, I wrote about Jamey Blubaugh, a local real estate agent who was to appear on "The Price Is Right." His episode aired last week, and in case you missed it, he won big, taking home a prize package that included a sailboat and a trip, valued at $26,365.
Now, another Wichitan will appear on a game show. Local disc jockey Mark Good, who does the 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift on 104.5 FM The Fox, will appear on Friday's episode of "Let's Make a Deal," hosted by Wayne Brady. The show airs at 2 p.m. on CBS and KWCH, Ch. 12.
Good can't say how he did, but he hinted that after the show airs, I'll want to talk to him again.