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Originally Published: April 28, 2009
Author: Gina Carbone
Alyssa Herries is an 8-year-old girl with three dreams:
1. To meet legendary shock rocker Alice Cooper.
2. To go to Alice Cooperstown, his restaurant in Phoenix.
3. To sit in the front row at an Alice Cooper concert.
Yes, it's safe to call this Dover second-grader an Alice Cooper fan. Her No. 1 wish got checked off Saturday night in Boston. If she gets her way, the other two will follow soon.
"When you go to an Alice show you see some hardcore and some casual fans," said her father, Tony Herries. "She puts casual fans to shame."
Alyssa sings every word to every song. She speaks in Alice Cooper lyrics. She has more than 40 Alice Cooper T-shirts, lunchboxes, candles, posters, cars, comic books and even jack in the boxes. The family car's license plate is "ALICE18."
"There's an Alice Cooper toilet seat she's been dying for," Tony said. "Let's just say that 75 percent of her Barbies have a very 'distinct' look. The other 25 percent doesn't want to play with them."
Alyssa has saved $900 of her own money — through allowance and Christmas presents — in the hopes that Alice offers a "meet and greet" package on his next tour. When asked by her family if she wanted to go to Disney World she said she'd rather go to Alice Cooperstown.
She's never asked to have her name changed to Alice but she did once ask to change it to Calico, the name of Alice's daughter.
Her favorite songs are "Zombie Dance" and "Run Down the Devil." She scoffs at anyone who says they love "School's Out" since it's so mainstream. When she grows up she wants to be in a tribute band, "Big Apple Dreamin.'"
She's already been to two Alice concerts — both last October, the second on her eighth birthday, which is also Halloween. At both concerts she dressed in full Alice Cooper regalia and was considered a celebrity. People kept wanting a photo with The Alice Cooper Kid.
"She lives Alice Cooper from the moment she wakes up to the time she goes to bed," Tony said.
Which begs the question: How did a sweet, somewhat shy, very polite 8-year-old girl who also likes the Jonas Brothers end up a rabid fan of a heavy metal god whose career peaked in the 1970s?
As you might imagine, Mom and Dad were an influence. Tony and his wife Kelly are big Alice Cooper fans. "I'm a fanatic," Tony said. He has been listening to Alice records since junior high school in 1983.
As Alyssa remembers it, "We were going to a concert and (Dad) told me to give Alice Cooper a try. And I gave it a try and I kept liking him more and more."
Tony said he and Kelly didn't push her to be a fan and never expected her to take it so seriously.
"I really thought it was a cutesy thing at first, until I heard her playing the 'Brutal Planet' CD and singing along to every song."
So what does she like about him?
"What's not to like?" Alyssa said. "He's fun, he's horror, he's theater."
He was also in Boston on Sunday, April 26 as part of Right Turn's second annual Rock & Roll Supergroup Benefit Concert. The concert was a benefit for Right Turn, a non-profit organization based in Arlington, Mass., which aims to provide innovative and creative treatment to those struggling with addiction.
Alyssa and her family connected with Right Turn and they set her up with an early meeting with Alice Cooper on Saturday night. Earlier in the week she said she was planning to wear her "Elected" outfit of a tuxedo and hat. Her plan was to tell Alice about her three dreams and hope that he could help out with the front row seats — then return to Boston Sunday for the concert at the Berklee Performance Center.
The fact that 8-year-olds don't normally listen to this kind of music is not lost on Tony — or Alyssa's friends.
"My wife and I talk about it," Tony said. "If we were in the '70s we'd be lynched. Nowadays he's PG-13."
Later in his career Alice Cooper became a born-again Christian and Tony said that change is reflected in his lyrics. His earlier songs, however, are very sexually suggestive. Tony said Alyssa is still at an age where they can spin that.
While his daughter takes photos with fellow fans at concerts and searches eBay for Alice memorabilia, Tony said they draw the line at chatting on fansites and other online interaction. "That's one thing we're very protective about."
Alyssa only wears Alice T-shirts to Woodman Park Elementary School on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so her teachers can see that beyond being an Alice fan she's just a regular girl.
"We're doing something right because she's one of the top kids in her class," Tony said.
On the day of her interview, Alyssa arrived in a black Alice T-shirt covered by a pink hoodie. She does like the Jonas Brothers and said "I can tolerate Hannah Montana." She doesn't like "Twilight" but does like "American Idol" and is an Adam Lambert fan.
But her friends don't understand her love for artists like Alice Cooper (and, to a lesser extent, KISS and Meatloaf).
"They make fun of me," Alyssa said. "I tell them 'I like what I like and you like what you like.'"