Backstage Adventures

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The Adventures of Zoë

Steven Tyler and Zoe

Chapter 5 -

In which Steven Tyler manages to embarrass Zoë

Zoë & Steven Tyler
backstage at the Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, CA, 1/30/88

photo © Ray Olsen

It's the year that Aerosmith makes their big comeback (thanks to Rick Rubin's brilliant marriage of hard rock and Run-DMC's rap on the smash video, "Walk This Way") and Zoë's watching them on MTV—indeed, it's the only TV she ever watches, which even Michael Shore, Managing Editor of MTV News, tells her is really weird. But Zoë considers it research—being in the biz, she does have to keep up with what's happening, right?

So, here she is, doing "research," and on comes Aerosmith. It's the first time Zoë's ever seen the band—except in that clip with Run-DMC—their earlier incarnation having been so long before now that she's never thought much about them. But now, as she watches Steven Tyler vamping his way through their current release, Zoë decides: "Ooh, I want to interview him!"

Usually, she only had to make a phone call or two and arrangements are made for an interview or backstage passes and a photo pass for a photographer. But this time she runs into a brick wall. "Nope," said the record company publicist, "management is being really restrictive; you can't have an interview, or backstage passes or a photo pass. Only concert tickets."

They won't even give Zoë Aerosmith's management's phone number so that she can plead her case personally. Then fate intervenes: It's Jay Janini, one of the photographers she works with: "Hey, Zoë, remember Dave from the Keystone Palo Alto?  Well, he works for Aerosmith's management now!  Here's the phone number...."

"Yeah, cool. But that was six years ago. How likely is he to remember me now?  Oh, well, what do I have to lose?" Zoë thinks, as she dials the number in Massachusetts.

"Dave? Uh, remember me...?" she begins, not believing for a minute that he really will; after all, that was when she'd just started in this business, working for a local rag.

"Of course I do," he replies, "you caused so many arguments, how could anyone forget?"

"Oops, right, the girlfriend of the sound man who'd befriended me and helped me out would get jealous, and since she was on the front counter when I came in, she was always trying to tell me I I wasn't on the guest list.  And of course I'd fight back...." Zoë remembers, thinking, "Well, that'll probably screw my chances now."

But Dave is laughing! "Sure," he says, "we're coming into the Oakland Coliseum and though only radio people are supposed to have backstage access, tell the publicist at the record company I said you're OK."

Which proves to be a little more difficult than it should be, as:

First, the publicist doesn't want to believe it. She has to check with Dave....  And back and forth the phone calls go. But, finally, it's all arranged: concert tickets from the record company and backstage passes and a photo pass from management.

On the day of the concert at the Oakland Coliseum Zoë goes to pick up her tickets and passes. "Um, well," Colleen says, "here's your backstage pass, but there are no tickets."

Aerosmith & Joy Williams c Ray Olsen

(l-r) Brad Whitford, Joey Kramer, Joe Perry (back)
Zoe & Steven Tyler, Tom Hamilton
backstage at the Oakland Coliseum
Oakland, CA, 1/30/88

photo © Ray Olsen/Artist Publications

Zoë sighs resignedly, but figures that, surely, the guards will let her through the front door when she has a backstage pass.... But now, after trudging up the small hill to the front entrance, the guards refuse entry. "No tickets, no show. Get lost," they growl in their usual "friendly" manner.

So, down the hill and around the perimeter of the huge, 15,000-seat stadium Zoë trudges in her spike heels, looking for the backstage entrance and a guard who will listen and cooperate and send a note in to Dave from management.

At last, Dave arrives. "Can't get you in the front door," he says (this is a very weird business), "but come with me and I'll take you directly backstage."

Down long halls under the audience they trot.... "Stay in here for a while," Dave says at last, depositing her in an empty room, "everyone will come in here soon." And he leaves.

Moments later, another guard arrives: "Hey, what're you doing in here? No one's supposed to be in here now, get out!"

"But the tour manager put me in here," Zoë tries to explain.

"I don't care. No one's allowed in here yet. Go!"

So, off Zoë wanders, down this hall and up another, praying she'll find Dave before another guard stops her and tries to throw her out of the venue completely...

And then she sees him: Steven Tyler is standing in front of the band's dressing room, talking to a thirty-something couple.

He looks over at Zoë, smiles and says, "Say, you look lost...."

"Oh, um, I'm looking for Dave..."

"Ah, well, just stay with me and he'll show up eventually."

The couple turn out to be old friends of Steven's, and they're talking about getting clean and staying clean. "You just have to stay totally away from it," Steven says, and this is indeed the band's professed stance these days: no drugs or alcohol are allowed backstage at all. None.

Zoë and Steven chat for a bit, then, all too soon, here comes Dave. He takes Zoë by the arm and walks her back to... the same room from which she was ejected not so long ago. But this time, there are other people there for the formal meet-and-greet and autograph-signing session.  Zoë gets in line:

To Joe Perry she says, "My, you seem so much more cheerful than when I first met you back in '83."

"Well," he says, "I'm not drinking anymore.  Changes your whole outlook on life. What do you want me to sign?"

Autographs by all Aerosmith band members, Oakland, CA 1988

Um, how about my pass?" Which the whole band thinks is a pretty cool idea, as it's placed on her dress at about hip level.

Then it's time for the photographer to take some band photos. And Zoë asks Dave: "Can I get a photo with the band, please, just for me?"

Dave nods and turns to the band, no longer formally posing: "Hey, guys, OK if this lady has her photo taken with you, just for her personal collection?"

"Sure," they say, and Zoë walks toward them.

And Steven walks up to her, puts both arms around her waist, draws her in. Before she knows it, she's standing there, body-to-body, practically nose-to-nose: "Smile," he whispers, "or you're in big trouble."

Zoë smiles, thinking smugly: "What a cool picture this will make!"

But nothing is happening. "What's taking the photographer so long?" she wonders, and draws back from Steven a little, to see everyone—including the photographer—just standing there, mouths hanging open. (Like, don't these people know Steven Tyler's reputation?)

Amazingly, Zoë feels herself beginning to blush, just as the photographer finally remembers what he's supposed to be doing. As he lifts his camera, Zoë feels the heat rising up her neck, up her face... "Does a blush will show in a photo?" she wonders.

Turns out, it most certainly does!

Interview with Aerosmith next


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