David Lee Roth Fondles Himself at the Hard Rock Casino

by Mike Walsh (written in 2001)

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We were in Vegas, and someone handed us tickets to see David Lee Roth at the Hard Rock Casino. The concert was evidently produced in conjunction with the porn web site managers conference in town that week. We aren’t fans of Mr. Roth’s music, but we’re always game for a bizarre spectacle, especially when it’s free. (How else to explain our attendance at a Wayne Newton concert in Atlantic City a month earlier?)

We entered the casino behind a half-dozen beautiful young Asian women all dolled up in tight dresses, high heels, and red lipstick. We wandered about the rock memorabilia exhibits in the casino and within a few minutes noticed that the Asian women had attached themselves to the arms of several geeky guys. The men were older and fatter and balding and wearing poorly fitting clothing. Your basic ugly Americans. The women were all over these guys, all kissy-face and giggly, acting as if they were in love.

But we knew better. We had seen this phenomena before. They were working girls, and they were earning their money. I imagined that these guys were the creators of lucrative porn web sites, and that the girls were gifts from the convention operators. They all wore smiles that would’ve made Liberace proud. (Note to self: Get started on that porn web site ASAP.)

So we wasted an otherwise perfectly good 20 minutes looking at rock memorabilia. There’s a certain malaise that comes over me whenever I look at rock memorabilia. I mean, who cares what shirt Clapton wore in a 1986 concert? When rock music is co-opted by corporate weenies for decorations in a restaurant chain—well, folks, let’s just say that the apocalypse is long overdue.

As a side note, a friend of mine once ran into Bo Diddley in a Florida airport. Mr. Diddley was there to ship one of his oddly-shaped guitars to a Hard Rock restaurant. After speaking with him for a little while, my friend learned that Mr. Diddley spends much of his time constructing the guitars, signing them, and shipping them to such restaurants. This, it turns out, is a very lucrative side business for him. These are guitars he never actually plays, mind you. So the next time you see a Bo Diddley guitar on the wall of one of these joints, just snicker thinking about the easy money he is hauling in from those schmuck collectors. Lord knows, he deserves it.

Eventually, we wandered into the auditorium to see David Lee Roth. It didn’t take much longer than 30 seconds for me to clench up with regret. It was one of those quandaries I find myself in all too often, when I can’t tell whether I’m laughing or crying. Usually I just end up drinking heavily. (A striking similarity to the my experience at the Wayne Newton fiasco. Déjà vu out the wazoo, man.)

To start with, the band was just dreadful. A bad Van Halen copy. They played the hits, but without the reckless and joyful abandon of a good rock band. Let’s face it, the real Van Halen is hardly tolerable, but at least they don’t let the music drag. There’s not much in this world more soul-sapping than 80s-style arena rock played lifelessly by people old enough to know better. But money rules the day, as it does every day in Vegas, and apparently the rubes in Roth’s band get paid enough to ignore that trivial thing called self-respect.

Mr. Roth, who must be in his mid-40s (if his hairline is any indication), does not, by any standard, have a good voice. He shouts and bellows and occasionally does that high-pitched yelp of his.

From Mr. Roth’s videos you might expect stage antics approaching acrobatics, but what we got was the occasional bored strut from one side of the stage to the other and endless preening in a skintight silver spandex one-piece while the guitar player took insufferably long solos. Every five minutes or so, Mr. Roth would remember that people expect him to kick, so he would, getting his foot to eye level, but that was about it in terms of movement.

His preening was caught on camera, and close-ups were projected on huge screens on either side of the stage. So it was impossible to ignore Roth’s abundant self-infatuation. The air was so thick with narcissism, I almost gagged.

To his credit, Mr. Roth seemed aware of his shortcomings. He knows that the only way he can make money performing this utter horseshit and keep the audience from hurling beer bottles at his cranium is to provide a distraction. Which is exactly what he did. Incredibly, the distraction—his dick—became the focus of the entire show. (It's sad, really, when it gets to that point.)

Basically, Mr. Roth spent more time with his right hand down the front of his trousers playing with himself than singing. He even pulled his hand from his pants and raised it to his nose occasionally—I’m not making this up—for a sniff. That, ladies and gentlemen, is entertainment!

A woman from the audience threw a silk scarf at him, which he shoved down his Spandex drawers, rubbed against genitalia, sniffed, and threw back to the lucky gal. Now there’s a valuable piece of rock memorabilia, one that will undoubtedly provide years of misty-eyed memories. The woman seemed to revel in the sentiment of this too-close encounter, and we instantly concluded that she was insane.

(In retrospect, I wonder if she was smarter than we thought. Maybe she sold the damp, smelly artifact to the Hard Rock Casino for a keno lounge decoration. Why didn’t I think of that? Could’ve bankrolled the entire vacation with one crotch-rubbed garment. Of course, all I had to throw on-stage was a dirty sweatshirt, but I firmly believe that Mr. Roth would’ve rubbed it on his balls anyway.)

Mr. Roth also consumed prodigious amounts of Southern Comfort, for which I couldn’t blame him. That’s the only way I could’ve gotten through such self-debasement. Just drink it all away. You probably have fonder memories that way. (Actually, I kept willing him to drink so much that he would pass out, the concert would be canceled, and we would be refunded the ticket price, which we would’ve spent on a fancy $14.99 buffet, but my psychic powers weren’t up to the task.)

At one point, the proud Mr. Roth took the whiskey bottle, placed the base on his crotch, and humped against it, spewing the contents onto the twenty or so people crowding the stage. This made me suspect that the whiskey wasn’t real. True drinkers have too much respect for good whiskey to waste it like that. Tea is the same color, and it’s real cheap.

He did utter a couple of amusing lines. To an attractive young woman near the stage, he said, “Oh, you look like trouble. Why don’t you come up to my hotel room for a few days and completely fuck up my life.” He also spoke to God while dedicating a song to “that waitress I spent some quality time with in Wichita. You know, God, the one who was shouting your name over and over last night.” These were obviously well-rehearsed lines, but the crowd seemed to enjoy them. At least they delayed the restarting of the music for a merciful minute or so.

At a certain point I was able to sit back and relax, marveling at the astonishing ineptitude of it all. Don’t we all find a deep and satisfying joy watching other people make asses of themselves?

But here’s the part that didn’t make sense. Every song Mr. Roth sings, as you probably know, is about fucking women as often and as frequently as possible. His entire stage persona is based on the premise that he is an untamable heterosexual beast. That’s fair enough. There’s a long tradition in rock music for that.

However, Mr. Roth was wearing an outfit so tight that you could see the shape of his package. And the size wasn’t what I would call awe-inspiring. Shriveled and shrunken are the adjectives that come to mind. In my opinion, it wasn’t impressive enough for public display. Now I truly have no interest whatsoever in writing about the size of David Lee Roth’s dick, but since his entire career is based on appearing uncontrollably horny, wouldn’t it make sense that he be aroused when performing, in the sense that his member appear discernibly turgid?

But that deflated member put the kibosh on that particular Rothian myth. Completely spoiled the mood. The horniness is just a put-on. He’s an aging rocker who probably can’t get it up without the assistance of an entire Vegas escort service. The least he can do for his fans is shove a sizeable dildo down his tights, so the audience can wonder and marvel and laugh at it. As any theater person can tell you, a well-placed prop can make all the difference. Who cares if it’s real? In Vegas, as in rock music, it’s all just pretend anyway. Reality is for squares. David Lee Roth should’ve figured that out by now.


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