Pop Life: Love, Poison-Style

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Look what the cat dragged in: Bret Michaels, twenty lacquered groupies, one big party house and an apparently bottomless supply of jug-size Malibu-and-Crystal Light low-carb coladas. It's another season of VH1's blockbuster celebrity dating show Rock of Love, and it's just like the first time around except better, because with one season's worth of groupie roadkill already under his wheels, Bret still dares to believe in true romance. Jes from Season One rejected him in the reunion episode — harsh! But love is cheap and screen time is precious, so this year's contenders are camera hogs who make last year's Laceys and Rodeos look like the shy type. There isn't a biodegradable breast in sight, just fine ladies like Ambre and Roxy and Destiney, slapping each other down for a shot at the rock stud of their dreams. They all take us on a stroll through the thorny rose garden of love, like the fallen angels Poison used to sing about, rolling the dice of their lives. It's inspirational.

I can't explain what makes this show so much better than the other celebrity dating shows. I think it must be Bret's wig. The one-piece all-purpose mullet/bandanna/cowboy hat is a bold statement that tells the world, "I have no time to wrap things around my head meticulously, layer by layer. I am a rock star on the go, a man of the world, a motorpsycho outlaw who lives on the edge. Touch my hair, knave, and you take your very life in your hands." I'm also partial to Bret's wig/bandanna/pushed-up-shades look, but the more objects he piles on his head, the more Bret he becomes, a Carmen Miranda of rock & roll awesome-ology.

I love how Bret keeps looking into the girls' eyes and saying his signature metal-Zen proverbs, like when he tells Kristy Joe, "Sometimes it's the right place at the right time, but you know, maybe inevitably it's the wrong place at the wrong time." Okaaay! I love how he says affectionate things like "Ah, Inna, my Ukrainian love tank. She sucks as a burlesque dancer, but she is a sexy, spicy meatball." And I love Angelique, the "batte shitte" French stripper who's already had two boob jobs yet whose boobs are still more plausible than her accent. She has a winning way with bons mots like "Ooh la la, I am going to fuck him sooo gooood!" Fake Eurotrash accents are definitely the wave of the future in celebrity dating shows, as pioneered by Domenico from Tila Tequila. I'm not so crazy about Jessica, but that may just be because she looks so much like Poison guitarist C.C. DeVille. Catherine is a dead ringer for Eighties TV star Morgan Brittany, who played Pam Ewing's homicidal sister on Dallas. Destiney really looks like a girl named Destiney.

If the Rock of Love groupies were genuinely hot or glamorous, the show wouldn't work at all â€" the reason it does is that the hunters and the hunted have the same underdog appeal. Bret was always a lot more likeable than the standard metal guy, because he never seemed to be nursing any bitter psychosexual grudges against the world. Bret was always just glad to be here. He sang about girls because he liked them, and he enjoyed himself with an absurdly overenthusiastic innocence. So he's the perfect man for this gig. If he has any disappointments about the pot of gold at the end of the rock & roll rainbow, he doesn't take it out on us. There is much we all can learn from Bret Michaels.

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