The Very Private Life of Jon Bon Jovi
Behind closed doors, he is smitten with his high school sweetheart and claims his biggest craving is for... you'll see. Ready to meet the real guy behind the rock star?
"Trying to seduce an audience is the basis of rock 'n' roll. And if I may say so, I'm pretty good at it," Jon Bon Jovi once said during an interview. Call this statement cute or conceited, but few would disagree with it. Since the eighties, millions of women have swooned over- and more than a few have thrown themselves at- this rock legend. But sorry, girls: The only woman he worships is his wife, Dorothea, and no after- hours party compares to one of their three (soon to be four) kid's birthday bashes.
While Bon Jovi's a devoted family man, that's not to say his career hasn't caused a tough moment or two in his marriage. Once, Dorothea nearly snapped when her husband arrived home from filming Ally McBeal in L.A. (during which time his wife had given birth to their third child) and said he needed to work on his music rather than take a family vacation. "I usually never have a meltdown," Dorothea admitted to the press. "But that was one of the only times I put my foot down and said, " I'm telling you now,
"I'm going to be mad..." Since then, Bon Jovi's become a pro at jugging his domestic duties and his work, whether he's acting, screenwriting, or recording his latest album, This Left Feels Right. How does he do it all? We sat down with America's hottest heartthrob to find out.
On fame, fans, and fatherhood
You're a rock star and a dad, is that a hard combination to handle?
Not really. Many rock musicians have families and long- standing marriages. Sure, there are times when I'll miss birthdays and bal games because I'm on the road. But they're sacrifices I make for my profession. The fact that I love what I do is a good way to go to work in the morning. It's not so much the adulation; I couldn't care less about that.
So how do you keep fans at bay? Do you ever wear a disguise?
Once when I was in Australia, there were thousands of screaming fans in front of my hotel. I snuck out in a laundry van and went to a costume shop, where I bought a moustache and a hat with a wig connected to it. When I returned to the hotel, I was literally able to walk through the crowd and point up at my hotel room like everyone else. It was a very good disguise. But usually when I go out, I just wear a baseball cap and sunglasses. My kids tell me, "Daddy, you need a new disguise, because everybody knows you wear baseball hats and sunglasses." But I'd wear sunglasses to bed if I could.
What's the craziest thing a female fan has ever done?
This was pretty outlandish: A movie director came to see me and brought his nanny. In the dressing room, she pulled her pants down and showed me a picture of my face, which was tattooed on her rear end!
Do you have any tattoos?
I have three: a Superman logo on my left arm, a cow's head on my right arm, and a small dragon on my left ankle. The Superman logo symbolizes my Slippery When Wet era: I was 25, on top of the world, and feeling bulletproof. The steer's head was from a night out with heavy- metal band Skid row. I took guitarist Dave "Snake" Sabo to the tattoo parlor and had to show him that getting one didn't hurt. I guess that tattoo symbolizes the feelings I had on the New Jersey album of being a cowboy. We'd ride into town, take the money and the women, drink their booze, and be gone before morning. Ah, the innocence of youth, Finally the dragon on the ankle: By 1991, I was "draggin"- and that was the end of my tattoo era. Tattoos are like old clothes in that I wish you could change them with the styles. But they were a part of my life at that juncture.
Any regrets from your past?
I really don't have any regrets. The greatest thing that I have embedded in me is, "Don't live in fear." So if there was anything I wanted to try, I might not like it at the end of the day, but at least I could say I tried it.
The woman she worships
You're married to your high school sweetheart. How does she deal with your adoring fans?
She just laughs. She's not the jealous type. She knows that's what I do. Fortunately we were together before I was a big success, when I was singing in bars. So she's seen every aspect of this for 20 years and she gets it. This isn't one of those bulls...t, made-for-the-tabloids Hollywood relationships.
But you did have your wild days.
It was all part of the growing pains of stardom. Sure, we ran around. But all the honeys in Hollywood weren't worth it.
OK, but when you guest-starred on Ally McBeal as Ally's boyfriend, didn't Dorothea ever fume- just a little- over those love scenes?
I don't think it's an issue, to be honest. On the set, there are 50 people around you with bright lights. those aren't intimate moments.
How often do you and Dorothea call each other when you're on the road?
Once a day- that's about it. She's never been one of those possessive types: We talk once a day, and sometimes I'm distracted or she is, but we take the time to make sure that we know what's going on with each other.
Are you romantic?
I think I am, although not in the roses- every- Friday- night kind of way; I buy great presents. For Dorothea's most recent birthday, I bought her a camera and a printer. A girl can never have too much jewelry, but the camera was something we could use that will be better than any diamonds: it'll make memories.
What's the best marriage lesson you've ever learned?
Probably the same thing that I learned from acting: Be a good listener, I also tell her that I love her every day and I do out of my way to hug and kiss her. That's much more important than another Cartier. The real gifts in life are the things we've done together that have nothing to do with my work. It's about being together and having three healthy, happy kids. They're our greatest assets.
Tell us more about your day-to-day domestic life. Who uses more hair products, you or Dorothea? And who has more closet spare?
It's probably a tie for both questions. But let's ask who pays for more of those clothes.
No, no. Low blow. She's home with the kids...
I was kidding! You don't have to defend her to me.
The kids are all right
We hear you're having another baby. Congratulations!
Yeah, well, not me, my wife. But, yes, we are. It's due in March.
So, are you hoping for a boy or a girl?
I don't care, as long as it's healthy.
Have you thought about names?
after three kids, you start running out. the fourth one is not easy.
Is this the last one?
It's the last one we're planning. Dorothea and I always talked about the idea of four kids, probably since we both come from big families. There were three of us in my family and four kids in Dorothea's. Now Stephanie is 10, Jessie is 8, and Jake is 1. We like the idea of having two and two together, because the younger ones don't really grow up with the older ones.
When you were shooting ally and Dorothea was expecting Jake, what was that like? was it tough?
I missed most of the pregnancy. I was out in L.A. for six months. I got home once in a while, and they came out, but I had to spend the bulk of the six months on the West Coast. It was a very, very easy pregnancy for me. (Laugh)
Do you have a lot of help with your kids?
You bet, sweetie. My help has help.
Who's the disciplinarian, you or Dorothea?
I am. She's home all day and she's the good one, so we know how to utilize the...
Good- cop/bad-cop thing.
How do you find time for your family?
There are compromises that I have to deal with, but it's not that dissimilar from being a traveling salesman. There are lots of times that I'm away, but there are also periods that I'm home for a year straight. I could be at school functions and baseball games every day.
Do you record in your house?
Yes, we do the records there.
So it's not like when you're recording, you're out till four a.m. somewhere else. You're out until four at home?
What do your kids think about the fact that their dad is famous?
When they are little, they had no clue what their daddy did for a living. There isn't platinum record hanging anywhere in my house. For them it was, "He was here" or "He wasn't here, because he had things to do." Once they started going to school, things changed. Kids would say, "Your daddy is Jon Bon Jovi." that's when they started to differentiate me from other dads. But they don't sat around the house listening to my records all day.
Do your kids listen to your music at all?
They're more familiar with the last couple of records.
What kind of music do they like?
They never listened to boy- bands or Britney Spears., they went right from baby stuff to Simmon and Garfunkel, tom Waits and the Beatles. They understand what songs and lyrics are. I remember one time Jessie heard the song "Patches," by Jimmy Eat World and started crying because the lyrics were so sad. that was great. My kids will find their own music.
Would you let your kids become rock stars?
I'm not going to push them that way. But if they find it and they love it, sure.
Are the paparazzi all over them?
I happen to be blessed in my relationship with the paparazzi. So if I'm somewhere with my wife and three kids, 999 times out of 1000 they leave us alone. Dorothea and I will pose for all the pictures they want, but leave the kids out of it. I don't want them to think they're any different. they didn't choose to be celebrities; I did.
His latest "wild night"
We hear you recently co-wrote a movie called One wild Night. What's it about?
Four couples in their late 30s and early 40s who feel their wild years are gone. One night when they're together, they say. "Our hair is falling out, our boobs are sagging..." Then they play the Key Game: Everyone throws their keys in a bowl and you took one and go home with that person.
It's not a movie about sex, but the effects of what would happen to you if. In the end, some people's bonds become stronger, some become weaker, and some don't change.
How does this "wild night" affect your character in the script?
It strengthens his marriage.
In the future, do you see yourself acting or recording or...
Everything, like Frank Sinatra: He made 60 movies, toured until he was 80, and got a president elected. He's the guy I want to emulate.
Any downsides to your career?
The travel. there are a lot of beautiful places out there, but New Jersey is my home. When I come back to Jersey and see the skyline, my heart literally skips: I tried to have a house in Malibu, but I couldn't. My roots are in New Jersey and I imagine I'll be buried there some day.
Ever think about slowing down?
No. I couldn't stop, because I love to be creative. Plus, there are hundreds of people who depend on me: the band, the crew, the record company, all their families. We put food on the table.
What are the biggest perks of fame?
A thousand things. I'm allowed entry into other worlds. Why should some working- class kid from New Jersey sit in the Oval Office with President Clinton? Every day I pinch myself.
How did you manage to meet the former president?
I flat-out told the White House, "I need to come in tomorrow with my kids." They said, "OK. Come in, Jon." It's things like that and flying on Air Force Two with Vice President Al Gore and meeting Prince Charles that have been wonderful.
How do you think your life would be different if you didn't become a rock star?
I'm not one of those musicians who says, "I'm my music and without that I'm lost." I think that's so shallow and miserable. all I need are some great memories; that would be enough for me.
I see you're a man of simple pleasures. What's the ultimate indulgence for you?
Cookies. I could eat them all day, every day.