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(July 08, 2007)
Originally Published: July 08, 2007
Author: Nui Te Koha
When Alice Cooper checked into a treatment center for alcoholism, it had no revolving door for celebrities.
"It wasn't classy. It wasn't 'in'," Cooper said.
"Rehab doesn't mean what it used to. To most people, it means I'm going somewhere to cool out for two weeks. It doesn't mean I'm going to stop my addiction."
Clean and sober for more than 24 years, Cooper sought treatment in 1977 and 1983. At his boozy peak, he drank a bottle of whisky a day.
"In all honesty, it wasn't a heroic move. It was stop or die," he said.
His first few days of treatment were about sugar withdrawal.
"They keep barrels of cola, ginger ale and very high-sugar fructose because your body will react to not having that," he said.
But Cooper said today's rehab centres were like country clubs.
"The place Britney (Spears) was in, you could check yourself in and out daily," he said.
Cooper, 59, born Vincent Furnier, has always taken responsibility for his actions - even when he wasn't to blame.
"When Alice Cooper came out I was blamed for the Vietnam War. It was a witchhunt, but I expected that. That was the idea," he said.
But Cooper said he never let his shock rock cross the line.
"I never allowed bad language. I never allowed nudity. I never allowed anything out of bounds," he said.
"To me, that was the challenge: do a great show, shock the audience and keep it in theplaying field. That means you have to be clever.
"I couldn't go around dropping the 'f' bomb. If you did that you weren't thinking."
Cooper has discussed this with shock-rock peer Marilyn Manson.
"It's the one thing we agree on: you can't shock today's audience," he said.
What do Cooper and Manson not agree on?
"Theology and politics." Cooper said.
"Things that really don't belong in rock and roll. I have never been into the satanic thing. I have always been very anti-that.
"I grew up in a Christian background and the one thing I never did was challenge that.
"But Manson looked at that and said: 'That's where I'm going to go shock the audience'."
Cooper said rock innocence ended after the 1970s.
"In the early days, an audience didn't have reference points," he said.
"In the 1970s, when I would hang myself, bring a snake out and wear make-up, it was a much more innocent society."
Cooper said crowds and critics twigged after realising the theatrics were powered by a barrage of hits.
The so-called chicken incident also gave Cooper a notorious rock legend that still haunts him.
It was Toronto in 1969. A punter threw a live chicken on stag, Cooper threw it back, to a frenzied attack.
The following day, headlines wrongly said Cooper was the chicken killer.
"To this day, I go into any town and there's the RSPCA saying, 'You can't kill any animals on stage tonight,' " he said with a groan.
"And I go, "OK, that'll be an easy one, since I've never done it, anyway'."
Cooper's latest tour is a greatest hits show with full-scale productions, new effects and props.
Alice Cooper, Palais Theatre, Tuesday.