If I were to nominate a single image to summarize the excesses of the hair metal genre, this one would certainly be up for consideration.
I found this clipping in the back pages of one of my Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics issues. In comic books from the late-80s and early-90s, I’m more accustomed to seeing advertisements for video games like Bonk’s Adventure or junk food like those fold-in Barq’s Root Beer ones with the rub-on tattoo promotion. As this one came out of a music-themed comic book, I shouldn’t have been surprised, yet I was. If I gave it a little more thought, I really shouldn’t have been.
For young people who only know of the 90s through Simpsons references, you now know where the Corey Hotline idea came from. Not from Warrant specifically, but hotlines were a big promotional tool for a range of things, from fans getting ‘access’ to favourite celebrities (like the Coreys) to sports gambling tips (also parodied on The Simpsons). Who in my age-group can’t remember at least one late-night spent on the couch, half-drunk, barely-awake, watching one of those late-night “Call Me!” infomercials featuring voluptuous beauties who want to talk to, out of all people, YOU!!!
I can’t really comment much on Warrant as a band. Their peak in popularity was a few years prior to my interest in music truly started to develop. My main memory of them comes through their song ‘Cherry Pie’, which would get quite a bit of replay on various VH1 Classics programs. Aside from that, I do remember my dad handing my brother and I a copy of their Dog Eat Dog album when we were in high school. I can’t recall how much of the CD we sampled, or if it was even in working condition seeing as it was a used copy he somehow obtained (it definitely wasn’t from his own collection). I’ve heard a few other Warrant songs since, and while I can enjoy some music in the glam/hair metal genre, they aren’t for me.
I thought hair metal bands were the fun ones who were actually encouraged to smile and laugh in press photos. In this image, it’s like they couldn’t come to a consensus on what was the best way to pose. The two on the left look as if they saw Dracula rise from his grave, Jani Lane is Dracula rising from his grave, while Erik Turner rocks the eternally-cringey finger-gun stance. Steven Sweet seems to be doing the most typical rock star thing, going with a come-hither scowl that surely lured somebody to call, with the hope that Steven whispers sweet nothings into their ear.
I wonder if you’d see this sort of thing a few years down the line, say, in 1993, when the grunge craze was virtually inescapable. If so, Alice In Chains could have attempted to cash in on this twice. For those not aware, let’s just say there was a pretty good reason why they named their debut album Facelift. However, out of all bands lumped into the grunge scene, I can picture the Melvins going forth with something like this. They have never been a group that takes themselves too seriously, and they may not be the most photogenic guys out there, but if I’m going to pay some crazy rates for a phone call, I might as well get a truly unique experience out of it.
On that note, this seems tome to have been a completely unnecessary expense made by Warrant, or at least an expense that their management made on their behalf. Would they have even hit a break-even state on this venture? I’ve never set up a 1-900 number, but I can’t imagine it to be all that cheap to maintain. If I was a Warrant fan, I would have opted to send them a letter in the mail. As ugly as some of the bickering can get on Twitter or in YouTube comment sections, at least those outlets and ones like them are much more cost-effective ways for fans to reach out to celebrities. It’s not as if paying for the phone service was a guarantee that the band would actually listen to the recorded messages. Did they have a method of communicating back to the callers?
After quickly attempting a reverse phone number lookup, I can’t say if 1-900-234-5100 is an active number at this point. I was hoping that even though Warrant gave up the number that I could confirm that it was still in good hands. Nonetheless, I can sleep a bit easier tonight because Whitepages.com lists it as a low-risk spam number. That’s good enough for me!