Q&A With Steven Tyler

By Gavin Edwards

Were you ever a Boy Scout?
No, but I didn't need to be -- I spent summers in the woods near a resort my family owned in New Hampshire, with nine or ten cabins on 360 acres. I'd catch muskrats and shoot woodchucks with my slingshot and my BB gun and my 12-gauge. And then when my family moved from the Bronx to Yonkers, there were deer and raccoons in my backyard. If I was stranded in the woods today with just a pocketknife, I'd be fine. I'd make some snares and sharpen every stick I saw.

Do you curse in front of your mother?
Yes, but never in front of my father. My dad was a classical pianist, so I grew up under the piano two or three hours a day. I learned my emotions through my father's music, but I learned my life skills through my mother. My dad was very strict, but smoking pot in front of my mom was okay.

What was your nickname at school?
Nigger Lips. One kid actually had these posters printed: Beware of Steven Lipuanian Tallarico! Don't touch him or you'll get the dreaded Lipuanian Disease! I'd come home crying, and my mom would say, "If they make fun of your lips, tell the girls 'All the better to kiss the girls with.'" And I did, and I got slapped.

Who was the first woman you were sexually attracted to?
Connie Stevens, in a Jerry Lewis movie. My first wet dream was over Jane Fonda.

What was your first car?
A black '65 Volkswagen Bug. The band would stuff into the car -- three in the back, two in the front, with the guitars sticking out through the sunroof.

What posters did you have on your wall growing up?
Janis Joplin, Duane Eddy, Sandy Nelson, the Beatles, the Walker Brothers. There were also phosphorescent dots all over the ceiling and my headboard, so my room glowed like the deck of the Enterprise. I would buy a five-ounce sinker and dip it in this phosphorescent paint and tie it to a chain of ten rubber bands. So I would smoke pot in my room and watch this glowing sinker go boinnnggg-boinnnggg from one end of the room to the other.

Who are your heroes?
When you're a kid, you've got the comic-book heroes like the Tooth Fairy and Superman. Then later, you find your human heroes. But eventually you find out that real-life heroes are fallible: The guy who kicked the football through the goalposts of life was arrested for beating his wife, and he's on cocaine. So I've gone back to Santa Claus.

Have you ever been arrested?
Well, in high school there was a narcotics officer in my ceramics class. He turned everyone on to pot and then turned around and busted us. But enough about drugs. I'm tired of being the poster boy for heroin. Let's say I've never been arrested, but I should have been for signing a portion of all my past publishing in perpetuity over to a certain unnamed manager.

What would you never do again?
"Never" is a hard word for me, but I don't want to waste any time hating people who have done me wrong. Forgiveness is like giving your soul a blow job.

When did you realize that you'd grown up?
What, are you kidding?