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TiVo alert: 'Rock Wives: The E! True Hollywood Story'

January 15, 2009 |  6:22 pm

"Rock Wives: The E! True Hollywood Story" is, first and foremost, designed to make folding laundry go by that much quicker but it also raises juicy issues about women, the state of modern marriage and what the hell Sevendust's Morgan Rose is talking about when he says, "The minute that the ding-dong got near the cookie... it just hid." Actually, the meaning of that last bit is glaringly clear, isn't it -- and therein lies the trashy charm of "Rock Wives."

What's supposed to be a romp through the cheese-metal glamor of rock wifedom ends up secretly exposing, through a little effort of its own but mostly by dint of topic, the back- and soul-straining business of keeping a marriage together, and if you're a woman playing second fiddle to your husband's extroverted career, your own identity. Who knew such documentation could emerge from all that E! razzle-dazzle?

SPOILER ALERT: If you don't want to know anything more about the show, please don't read on. "Rock Wives: The E! True Hollywood Story" premieres Friday, Jan. 16 at 8 p.m. on E! OK, the rest of you can continue...

In 90 commercial-larded minutes, "Rock Wives" interviews a slew of raccoon-eyed women about the rocker beefcake in her life. Teri Rose, nee Harrison, a formerly platinum blond Playmate and "The Price Is Right" beauty who now sports a sleek brunette bob, is married to Morgan. His devotion does seem genuine yet one can't help but wonder about the inner machinations of Teri's transformation from centerfold to well-coiffed Mommy in Atlanta, Ga. She delivers the show's most porno-ready line but when it comes to talking specifically about her choice to let her career take a back seat, the show strangely lets her drummer-husband do most of the talking. Morgan seems slightly incredulous that she agreed to live in a city far from her friends and family, while her husband is gone 200 days out of the year.

Indeed, Jeff Pilson, former bassist for Dokken, and currently with Foreigner since 2004, can't quite get his mind around the sacrifices either. His wife Ravinder, a realtor with an MBA in business, complains that she's always the one to clean the house because he's gone most of the time. He tensely agrees and then later confesses, with a nervous guffaw, that he's not quite sure what she gets out of being married to him. Their small child, Olivia, meanwhile, refers to Daddy's time on the road as "Head Games," also the title of a monster Foreigner hit. Hmm, baby might just have a point there!

All of the Rock Wives chime in to say that dealing with absentee husbands is a necessary evil, part and parcel of a lifestyle that, on the flip side, can offer world travel, beautiful houses and Vivienne Westwood-designed bling. Some of the relationships seem more at peace with that give and take than others, especially when they share a passion for performing. Velvet Revolver drummer Matt Sorum and his wife, dancer Ace Harper, have not only partied together, he offers guidance to her metal version of the Pussycat Dolls, the Darling Stilettos. Anthrax's Scott Ian (you know, the guy with the beard) and Meatloaf's daughter Pearl Aday rock out together on her debut album. Poison's Rikki Rockett adds drum mania to the band fronted by his apple-cheeked wife Melanie Martel -- they also collaborated on their wedding song.

Many of these wives are convinced that they're not doing things by the book. Carrie Borzillo-Vrenna, author of rocker-chick guide "Cherry Bomb" and the wife of Nine Inch Nails/Marilyn Manson drummer Chris Vrenna, details how they eschewed cake and wrote their own vows (including clauses about gold record deals and broken contracts, instead of for richer or poorer) for their goth wedding. But at this point, wearing black at your hitching can be found at any number of Vegas casinos and so can personalized vows.

All of this isn't to undercut their bond but it's striking how often these rocker partnerships end up reinforcing traditional gender roles, some disheartening, others with downright biblical significance. Perhaps one of the most heart-wrenching examples is Rita Haney's story of caring for her soul mate Dimebag Darrell's body after he was murdered in a shooting spree in an Ohio club in 2004. Grooming his beard and preparing his body for the funeral, Haney is wife, disciple, witness -- a Mary Magdalene for her husband that she still says is "100% of my life."

--Margaret Wappler

"Rock Wives: The E! True Hollywood Story" premieres Friday, Jan. 16 at 8 p.m. on E!

Photo of Ace Harper and Matt Sorum showing off skull rings courtesy of E!