Back in the summer of 1990, I was pretty smart, according to the standardized tests and their attendant honors-track placements. But I was also 14, so at the time I wasn’t smart enough to not feel that the simple act of preferring hard rock—the long-haired, dick-swinging kind that most often manifested itself in power-ballad form on top-40 radio—to “softer” music differentiated myself from my peers. In eighth grade, deciding to buy a cassette of Appetite For Destruction instead of Hangin’ Tough was like throwing down a gauntlet, and it was one I happily ran with all the way out of middle school and into the first year of high school.
“Unskinny Bop” was the first single from Poison’s third album, Flesh and Blood. Its video, in which Bret Michaels cavorted with women who had been crudely animated with what looked like lasers, was a staple of Dial MTV, and I first saw it there; I was not much of a Poison fan up until that point, preferring the slightly rougher music of L.A. Guns and Mötley Crüe, but I enjoyed C.C. DeVille’s saucy guitar lick and the song’s jaunty bridge, even though I didn’t get probably 75% of the sexual references.
The day it came out on cassingle, a few days before Flesh & Blood was relased, I went record-shopping with a friend; she was the bigger Poison fan. [...]