Nikki Sixx remains a live wire when onstage with LA dirtbags Mötley Crüe. But when the arena lights go up these days, he reaches for a camera and pen instead of Jack and cocaine. Sober for 10 years, Sixx has recalibrated his wild side to exploring his inner self: first through The Heroin Diaries, a gaping-wound literary snapshot from his most drugged-out phase in the mid-’80s, and now This Is Gonna Hurt: Music, Photography, and Life Through the Distorted Lens of Nikki Sixx (William Morrow). Images of drug addicts, the grotesquely obese, and the homeless — often theatrically staged — are interspersed with journal entries. Both books have been released with accompanying soundtracks provided by his collective, Sixx: A.M.
OVER THE PAST COUPLE OF YEARS, YOU'VE REALLY EXPANDED YOURSELF BEYOND MUSIC. HOW MUCH OF THAT HAS TO DO WITH YOUR SOBRIETY? I’ll be honest with you: none of it would happen without sobriety. I think that the creative mind is still creative while it’s under the influence, but I think like anybody who is entrepreneurial: it’s not the idea, it’s finishing the idea. That’s the biggest problem with being a creative person.
If you’re a drug addict and you recover from drug addiction and you share what drug addiction is truly like you would think in a guarded society that that would be something people would use against you. But instead it inspires people. So when I read something like that I go, “God, that makes me feel so good about being who I am.” I’ve aspired to be an honest man as I’ve grown up. I’ve always believed in rock and roll, and I’ve always believed in saying it like you see it. It doesn’t always make you a lot of friends, but when you see someone post something that shows that what you are doing is really affecting people, it’s nice.
AND THAT MAKES THE TRANSITION TO EXPOSING YOURSELF THAT MUCH EASIER? It’s not a reality show, it’s not a bullshit scam, it’s not a rip-off, it’s the fuckin’ truth. When I did book signings for This Is Gonna Hurt, so many people said, “Thank you, I don’t feel alone,” or, “Thank you, I see things differently now. I always wanted to say what was on my mind but I always thought people would make fun of me — I feel okay now.” Those types of things, it’s not a charitable foundation, but it is an honest foundation. It’s one I looked back on as my life evolved and I looked back to Shout at the Devil and I go, “We were being honest.” We were not lying. We did not fabricate this as a business model. We were not put together by a record company. It was not held together because of ticket sales. It was real. When you read The Dirt, it’s real. And parts of it are really sad — but it’s real, so if you learn from it, it’s a good thing.
A unique situation: I spoke to a few artists during the writing of The Heroin Diaries who said, “I would love to be in your book, and yes I did drugs with you, but I don’t want people to know, because it would ruin my image.” And I thought, “How sad. So you live a lie.”