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Bret Michaels talks Poison, the pandemic and near-death experiences

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Every thorn has its rose.

Poison singer Bret Michaels is as bummed about the coronavirus pandemic lockdown as anyone. But the endlessly optimistic rocker, who writes about a couple of near-death experiences in his photo-driven memoir, “Auto-Scrap-Ography: Volume 1,” says this, too, shall pass.

“We will be back out rocking,” the 57-year-old said. “It’ll be a new normal, but we’ll be grateful for it. There is not a part of me that thinks this is the end.”

In his book, out now, Michaels talks about a day on a Venezuela beach nearly 30 years ago he thought would be the end of him.

It was 1993 and Poison was on its “Native Tongue” tour. Michaels recalls fans on a Caracas beach daring him to try and swim to a stone break 50 yards out to sea. He accepted the challenge, dug down deep and successfully reached his destination. Getting back to the beach was another matter entirely.

“I was drowning, there was no question I was in serious trouble,” he writes in a chapter fittingly called “Drowning in Venezuela.”

According to Michaels, a riptide helped carry him out to sea. He now had to swim against that current to get back, and he nearly didn’t make it. Fans cheered him on, laughed and snapped photos as he used every ounce of muscle to move forward at a snail’s pace. For Michaels, it was no laughing matter.

“They had no idea I was inches away from being lost in the waters off Venezuela,” he wrote.

A photo attached to the story shows Michaels face-down on the shore, exhausted, spitting out water and trying to process what had just happened. The friends and fans standing around him laughing had no idea the danger he was in. He said 20 minutes passed before he could muster enough strength to stand.

Michaels also talks about an incident when he was 16 years old in Pennsylvania, drinking beers with pals and debating how Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd measure up when two irate adults with rifles approached them, convinced that the long-haired teens had just robbed the men’s homes. Michaels says he bought time with a little fast talk, then escaped in his car.

“I sped out of there like ‘The Dukes of Hazzard,’” he told The News.

Much to his chagrin, Michaels safely canceled a rock and roll cruise celebrating his March 15 birthday and St. Patrick’s Day, which he calls one of his favorite holidays.

“I had to give up both of those,” he dispiritedly said.

Poison’s plans to tour with Def Leppard, Joan Jett and Motley Crue this summer have also been complicated by the spread of coronavirus. Just as upsetting to the Butler, Pa., native raised in Mechanicsburg is that his beloved Pittsburgh Pirates have seen their season postponed.

As much as he misses shaking hands and giving hugs, Michaels looks forward to seeing packed stadiums for sports and music when it’s safe again.

“None of us have seen a pandemic like this,” Michaels said, but he urges optimism, understanding and open-mindedness in finding solutions. “We don’t know what the enemy is.”

Michaels is happy to talk about his success with Poison, appearing on TV shows like “Celebrity Apprentice” and “Rock of Love,” and working with people he admired like Stevie Nicks and Sammy Hagar, but says he’s all about living in the now.

“I’m not a ‘glory days’ guy,” he said. “But I’m grateful.”


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