My Bon Jovi Summer
The year 2003 had lots of acts on the come up, from The Postal Service to 50 Cent. But the only band who mattered to me and my friends was one who had long ago peaked: Bon Jovi.
Laura Willems My friends and I were Bon Jovi obsessives
We grew up in a relatively small town outside of Green Bay, Wisconsin. Classic rock was a staple at parties and school dances. Bon Jovi's greatest hits album, Crossroads, was on the jukebox in the cafeteria of our high school. "You Give Love a Bad Name" was a lunchtime favorite. But that alone doesn't explain how our love for the group went on to grow as big Jon Bon Jovi's hair circa 1987.
In college at the University of Wisconsin, our Bon Jovi appreciation became obsessive. In 2003 the group was coming to nearby Milwaukee, and we were on the phone with Ticketmaster the morning the show went on sale. Despite the fact that we were unemployed college students, we paid for good seats.
Perhaps this was nostalgia, since we'd spent our high school summers hitting county fairs all over northeast Wisconsin to see bands including Journey (Outagamie County), Def Leppard (Kewaunee County) and REO Speedwagon (Fond du Lac County). For us, though, Bon Jovi was the big daddy of '80s and early '90s arena rockers -- they had loads of hits, were still making acceptable new music (see: "It's My Life") and filling big venues. We were there.
Katie Bain The invitation stands
Then there was Jon Bon Jovi himself. Though old enough to be our father, he was our number one crush -- a symbol of masculine virility and sexuality. (A particular favorite was the nearly naked ad campaign he did for Versace in 1997). There was nothing dangerous about him. None of us knew all that much about sex at the time, but we emailed JBJ photos back and forth and played the band's steamy music video for "Please Come Home for Christmas" all year round.
The concert, in February of 2003, was nearly a disaster. We almost got in a bad car accident while en route to Milwaukee and were fairly shaken up when we arrived. But, once inside the Bradley Center, we were close enough to the stage that we could see JBJ in the flesh with our own hungry eyes. He was wearing some sort of brown leather outfit. His highlights were frosty. We screamed until our throats were raw and left the show with arm fulls of merch. We were probably the only chicks in our respective dorms with Bon Jovi posters on the walls. In art class that semester, I made these weird little collages with Jon Bon at the center. I'm sure my professor thought I was a creep.