Rocker Dee Snider Is Normal 1 In `Twisted’ Show

As the lead singer of Twisted Sister, the costumed makeup-wearing heavy metal band, Dee Snider has spent most of his 34 years as a rock star all fired up.

Whether it’s the excitement of the stage or a fit of pique over the refusal of a fan in the last row to stand up and rock out along with everyone else, Snider’s public persona has been a raging maniac who would live in silence if he didn’t have obscenities to toss around.

Photo: Owen Sweeney
M3 Rock Fest, Columbia, Maryland

He once got an entire sports arena to point and shout vulgarities at a section of fans who were sitting down during a concert, only to find out after the show that he had unwittingly targeted the handicapped section. And he told Tipper Gore she had a dirty mind during a U.S. Senate hearing in 1985 in which the Gores were pushing for warning labels on rock records due to their lyrical content.

So it comes as more than a little surprise that Snider is the normal cast member on “Growing Up Twisted,” the latest in a long string of rock star reality shows.

The show, which debuted this week on A&E, follows the day-to-day lives of Snider, his wife Suzette, and their four children: Jesse, 27, an aspiring rock musician; Shane, 22, a standup comic; Cody, 20, a filmmaker and general wise-aleck; and Cheyenne, 13, who is making the tough transition to teenager.

Snider swears his calm demeanor isn’t an act.

“For me, it works great because when, for a living, you’re nuts, you don’t want to come home and do what you do on the radio or onstage or on TV,” he said in an interview.

“The typical return from a tour was me curled up in the fetal position under the pool table and Suzette saying, `Come on out and join us!’ For me, I just want to shut … up. I shut up and my family entertains me. It’s awesome!”

It’s also jarring, coming from the man who wrote “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and until recently performed in a corset, thigh-high boots, and pink and blue makeup.

“I’m the quiet one of the house and I’m like the voice of reason, and everybody’s kind of bouncing off the walls here,” he said.

The debut episode dealt with the couple’s 34th wedding anniversary and Suzette’s special gift for her husband: She dyed her pubic hair pink and trimmed it into a heart-shape. (No, not on camera.)

Dee and Suzette’s marriage is a central axis of the show, starting from the day in April 1976 when she sneaked into a small club on New York’s Long Island with her cousin’s ID to see Twisted Sister. She was one of seven people in the audience that night, so it wasn’t hard to catch the attention of Snider, who was wearing hot pants, stockings and a T shirt that read, “I’m Dee,” then suggested a particular sexual favor.

“She walked up to the front of the stage and made the mistake of smiling at me, which, of course, is the international sign to any male that you want him,” Snider said. “I saw her and I was instantly smitten.”

One problem: He was 21, she was 15. After the show, Suzette acknowledged she really wasn’t 18, as her cousin’s ID said. Dee asked her how old she thought he was.

“Maybe late 20s, early 30s?” she replied, to his horror.

Love blossomed from there, although it had to detour around stern admonitions – OK, threats – from Suzette’s family.

“Suzette and my courtship and eventual marriage is really just a series of horrible mistakes on her part, but proof positive that there’s some kind of divine force out there guiding things,” he said. “Eventually, she just got used to me. And 34 years later, she’s still smiling at me across the room. And she loves me!”

The show borrows stylistically from another hit of the genre, “Gene Simmons Family Jewels,” also on A&E, starring the KISS bassist and his family.

“I look at those shows and I look at Gene and I go, `Oh my God, it’s so nice and PEACEFUL over there! Everybody’s calm and relaxed.'”

Future episodes of “Growing Up Twisted” include child welfare authorities investigating the family when Cheyenne’s nose is bloodied in a boxing match with her mother, a store clerk making inappropriate comments about Suzette’s chest, Suzette pushing Dee to get his vasectomy reversed so they can have another baby, and Jesse and Cheyenne joining their dad and Lita Ford onstage at an Atlantic City casino for a family jam session.

The real scene-stealer in many episodes is Cody, who is so irreverent, funny and in-your face that his father says his name should be spelled “Co-Dee” – because he’s so much like his old man.

Snider describes his parenting style as “a cross between Herman Munster and Cliff Huxtable.”

“I’m weird but wise,” he said. “I just hope the show says to people that being married and having kids is not the end of life as you know it.”

Sounds like he’s gonna take it, after all.