Jon brings the stadium down
Bon Jovi- Where it's playing
Take one. Meanwhile, back at the ranch...
Lil' Jesse James is pulling on his daddy's shorts and shooting Bruce Willis with
a cocked hand in a private movie theatre. Billy The Kid, alias Emilio Estevez,
jest moseyed into town y'all and walked straight into a custard pie. Friends
star Matt 'Joey' Le Blanc discovers supermodel Claudia Schiffer in a bordello,
writhing around her boudoir in a state of high sexual excitement. He doesn't
throw her out of bed. And, hey, isn't that the Terminator, alias Big Arnie,
gunning his Harley into the corral before he dishes out some extreme prejudice?
Bon Jovi: "I think it's real historical that we play out the final days of Wembley"
Take two. Actually, it's a beautiful Saturday morning in upstate New Jersey, chez Jon Bon Jovi. Jesse James is Jon's little boy, apple of his eye. He's getting antsy because the old man has promised him they'll watch Brucie's flick The Kid - 'in a minute darling, daddy's busy' -
but some English guy is jerking his chain. The others are Jon's showbiz pals, cavorting Blazing Saddles-style for Bon Jovi's latest video, 'Say It Isn't So', shot on a vacant Western lot at Universal Studios.
The man christened Jon Bongiovi, from the humble burgh of Perth Amboy, NJ, ambles across his swanky sun-dappled grounds and grins. 'Arnold's an old buddy. Known him 12 years. He's never done anything like that before. He went down to his warehouse, where he keeps his Terminator costume and the bike, and he says (adopting perfect imitation), "I will be there at 8 o'clock in the morning, Jon. Don't you be late." And he was early! Phe-f***in'-nominal.'
Jon's the good-humour man today. He's living up to his nickname - Captain Kid - and simply 'hanging out' in what he calls 'my nice spread', looking every inch the denim-clad lord of the manor. He is taking in the view and committing it to memory because, for one weekend only, JBJ gets him some QHT, before he resumes a gruelling trek across the globe to promote Crush, the Jovials's latest mega-platinum smash disceroo.
This weekend you may well see Jon Boy and his posse playing the last ever Wembley Stadium shows, before they level the Twin Towers and tear the guts out of Britain's most famous sporting monument. Jon, 'not really a soccer fan', appreciates the enormity of this event. 'I think it's real historic that we play out the final days at Wembley. The place that brought you Live Aid and, er, all those big soccer matches. It's one of the premier sports stadiums in the world, man. Like the Yankee Stadium. We're being given the keys to the place before they rip it down. I'm gonna take a chair or two home, gonna get me some souvenirs.'
These filched items (and Jon is serious) will sit nicely in his faux-English pub, built in the caretaker's lodge at the entrance to JBJ's baronial hall. The Jersey homeboy points out a swinging olde worlde pub sign - The Shoe Inn - which depicts a braying donkey with a horseshoe
rammed up where the sun don't shine. 'See here, above the bar? That's my motto. There's a saying about me - I've been so lucky that if I ever go through the metal detector and it don't go off, it's because the horse shoe fell outta my butt.' Jon yaks loudly. 'Man, we have wilder
nights in here than you could ever imagine. Saturday nights. Tonight's the night. Yeah! The gang's comin' over and we're going to watch a movie in my theatre and then sink a few. I am the mixologist.'
Does this mean he plays banging techno while shaking a mean Cosmopolitan? 'Huh? I have a PhD in bartending. When we have a celebrity evening and Demi and Bruce are over I mix 'em good. More'n one night some famous person slipped flat on their ass in here. Ha, ha.'
Back to business. The Crush tour is the NJ cowboys first bout of rock rape and pillage since 1995. We thought Bon Jovi were all over. 'Nope. We're not,' Jon smiles. 'We've just done Japan, home for a minute, and then "Hello Finland!" I'm in at the deep end with both feet but I gotta ramp up to it slow. Getting ready for touring takes time, then it becomes all-encompassing. It goes: how long? Where do we start? Who's the support? Blah di blah. Suddenly you're on TV doing a talk show, then you're playing ten minutes in a club, finally it's BOOM! Two hours on stage in To-kee-yo. No turning back.'
Can an old pro like Jon get tired of this routine? 'Hmm. I wasn't looking forward to it exactly, but now I'm almost up to speed, so I'm ready to get in the mood. I'm on that stage enjoying every f***in' minute. It'd be a sin not to take it in. I remember being at Wembley for three
nights in '95 and looking at that crowd and just takin' my sweet arse time. Enjoy that moment, boy!'
Life is evidently good for this amiable 38-year old rock sex god with a Superman tattoo on his left bicep. He has good teeth, lovely hair, a flat stomach, a wife (childhood sweetheart Dorothea) who stood by her man when he went walkabout, plus gorgeous daughter Stephanie Rose and the aforementioned Jesse James, who will cry when their daddy packs his leather Louis Vuitton and splits for Yoo-rup. England he lurves. 'I recorded my solo album, Destination Anywhere, in London and I made my film The Leading Man there. I lived in rented property on Wandsworth Common. My wife said, "I hate this place, I wanna go home." And guess what? Four months later we're packing boxes midst tears and misery.'
Both his rock'n'roll and celluloid careers have served Jon well. Thanks to massive band sales - 100 million and rising - he's got multo greenbacks in the Chase Manhattan Bank (handy for the art he stashes in the NYC apartment and the Malibu Beach property), while his film roles, which started slow in small-budget features like Moonlight And Valentino and The Leading Man, have grown legs. Bon Jovi's current movie, the submarine thriller U-571, also starring Harvey Keitel and Matthew McConaughey, finds sailor boy in high seas, saving the world from the Nazis. His 11th movie, Pay It Forward, with Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt, is about to hit the screens. 'Yeah but don't blink or you'll miss me in that one,' he guffaws.
'Music and films - which wins? I couldn't make that choice so I juggle the two. I had a heartbreak recently because I had to turn down a part in The Heist, starring Gene Hackman, written and directed by David Mamet. Imagine my annoyance. I would learn some serious lessons
from those guys.'
Despite all this pesky glamour and glitz, the full-on 24/7 frontman finds his family and personal sanity in decent working order. There are no kiss-and-tell tabloid disasters, and even when Jon 's slipped off the rails, which he has, he's been canny enough to cover his tracks. True, there have been some colourful quotes - like the time he told a Loaded girly how he'd only exchange bodily fluids with Madonna's chest and facial region. 'Yeah, that's when I said I wouldn't wan to f*** her because she'd throw you down and f*** you instead. Hey, my wife could care less about that shit.'
Is he sure? 'Sure I'm sure. She's a judo black belt. She could keep me in order very easily. It's all about being grown-up and realising that ten girls in the front row with their tits out aren't worth the one at home. Believe me, I'm no saint. I've done things I'm not proud of,
that stuff is easily done, and I've had my shot called more than once. But would I lose everything? No, I'd be f***in' stupid'
Warming to this sentimental theme Jon looks me in the eye and gives it to me in manly fashion, one-on-one. 'I've never told stories out of school. I don't brag about how loaded I got last night because it's a rotten, stupid cliche. Course I'd read it about myself. Everyone wants
to see the car crash, like everyone wants to see whether Axl Rose comes back from the dead again. Meanwhile he's sitting at home watching TV, and he had all the talent in the world. F*** that, man.'
It's getting lunchtime-ish and Jon feels a Muff Dive coming on. 'Vodka, peach juice, cranberry. I guess you'll want a pint of warm lager,' he joshes 'Being English. Tell your readers that if they're coming to Wembley they will be royally entertained. OK, so we're more of a turn-the-crank rather than push-the-button type of band, and we ain't the critics' darlings, but we still do honest, blue-collar, brown-paper-bag rock, and we do it Pretty Damn Good.'
Consider it told.