Poison frontman Bret Michaels says he’s logged over 3 million miles in a host of rolling homes — from the cozy Winnebagos of his Butler, Pa., youth to the most luxurious Prevost tour buses when he grew up to be a rock star. In fact, the open-road lifestyle is so much a part of Michaels’ DNA that if you hope to get an offstage glimpse at him when he tours your town, don’t look in the lobbies of luxury inns.
“When all my other bandmates stay at hotels on our days off, I actually stay [on the bus] at the big amphitheaters or arenas, or I go out to the state parks or other places and have an absolutely great time — and then I come in for the shows,” laughs Michaels, who called in after a satisfying day’s work on his new Travel Channel series Rock My RV With Bret Michaels.
The 16-episode series features a hands-on Michaels and his crack team of vehicle rehabbers transforming run-down RVs for a variety of owners who consider them an equally vital — and frequently poignant — part of their lives.
From the 2006 Fleetwood that serves as a traveling merch and marketing wagon for the MMA retailer TapouT to a 1992 Coachman that a heartbroken family plans to use in tribute to their late son — and a bunch of other classic campers and compelling tales in between — Michaels is determined to deliver mobile mansions when he reunites the RVs with their families. “The reveal we do is like no other,” he says. “It’s explosive. There’s pyro. We do this big Kabuki drop, and their faces when they see it is pretty awesome.”
Michaels says that he and his cohorts, hot rod customizer Bodie Stroud and design ace Jake Scott, looked to international vehicles as inspiration for some their more dazzling upgrades. “Some of the builds that we have are so over-the-top insane for the amount of room that we had that it is groundbreaking,” he says. “Here in the United States, they’ve never been done before. And it’s still legal. We found a way to make it work and make it safe.”
Making it work is the mantra for the self-proclaimed “drealist” — that’s part dreamer, part realist — who is adamant and proud that the products and projects to which he applies himself and his name are accessible to everyone. “I am a ‘sweat the details’ guy, but my dream was to be creative and turn it into something,” Michaels says. “In my life, there is blood on every dollar. But the harder I work, the luckier I get!”
Channel Guide Magazine: I grew up RVing with my grandparents, too, so you’re a man after my own heart with this show, Bret.
Bret Michaels: My family was bonded both on my mother’s side and my dad’s side when we camped. And I also learned not only about the lifestyle and what it takes to travel. When you do it from childhood on, there’s a certain freedom and a certain bond that comes with that outdoor, open road, Wild West lifestyle. When I’m home I’ll take the Provost and my daughters and we’ll go have fun on the road!
CGM: Do you think people will be surprised to discover that you’re not just hosting this show, but you really are involved in the rehab process from start to finish?
BM: I wanted [the producers] to understand that in hosting this show, I have so much more of what and who I am to add to this show.
And I wanted to make sure that the people understood, you have to trust me and be able to tell me your dream and I’m going to do the best I can to improvise and make that happen and really make them happy.
CGM: Sounds like you’re attempting some pretty epic overhauls, but I’m guessing functionality is always the ultimate goal? Because you really want the owners to use these bad boys, yes?
BM: There’s a lot of tricks involved in making something custom and comfortable, but the most important thing is making it functional. A lot of people forget that. When you grow up doing it, you learn it.
You can say, “I want a bar in there!” but I’m like, “All of them glasses are going to come flying out!” And stuff like do you have enough room when the slides come in or the pop-outs come in to still walk around. Because when you’re traveling down the road, it can get real tight in there. You have to be able to maneuver. And you have to make sure the frame can hold it.
CGM: Should fans of your music worry that you might leave the stage for the set — or the open road — on a permanent basis?
BM: Music is my first love — but of all the shows that I’ve done, this is one that really hits close to home to me. It’s really been a big, great, fun show.
Rock My RV with Bret Michaels airs Sunday nights at 9/8CT beginning May 26 on Travel Channel.
Images/video: Travel Channel