Features — 27 November 2019
Bret Michael’s Winterfest of parties, good deeds

By Eric Barton

City & Shore Magazine

It’s entirely possible a simple mention of the song Every Rose Has Its Thorn will have it in your head from here until approximately the end of time.

It was Poison’s top hit, and while it remains the band’s only No. 1 single, their songs hit top 10 a whopping six times.

And if that’s basically where your knowledge of Poison lead singer Bret Michaels ends, it’s time to catch up. Since those 1980s hair band days, Michaels has reinvented himself in several TV shows, including winning the third season of Celebrity Apprentice, serving as a host on the Travel Channel and starring in the VH1 reality TV show Rock of Love with Bret Michaels.

He’ll serve as the Grand Marshal on Dec. 14 for the Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade. It’s a role the 56-year-old Michaels tells us that he plans to rock just as hard as he has everything else in his life. His weekend in South Florida also includes a show at Hard Rock Live the night before.

And in a recent conversation excerpted here, he says it will also include a relief trip he’s organizing on his plane to the Bahamas – starting with a good deed before the party begins.

How did you end up as grand marshal of Winterfest?

This has been mentioned for at least the last few years talking about it. One time I was in South America, and I could just not get there. Last year we started talking about this year. I said, ‘Look, I want to make this thing great.’ I love just hanging with all the friends and fans, and I want to do a big rock show the night before and then lead it right into the boat show on Saturday.

You’ve been many things: rock star, reality TV star, businessman. Ever been a grand marshal?

I have been a grand marshal many times for Mardi Gras on the big float for [Krewe of] Orpheus. It was amazing. Harry Connick Jr. and myself had a really good time. They did a big vote, and I came back a year or two later and then again. It has been incredible.

Anything special you’re planning for Winterfest?

Yeah, well here’s the one thing for sure. On Friday before the show, I’m going to take the day off, and I’m going to take the plane and we’re going to land in the Bahamas and bring a ton of great stuff for the people there. We’re also, for the Boat Parade, going to do it for the children’s hospitals and Toys for Tots. We get to play, we get to party.

Any special memories from performing in Broward County?

Many. Many. One of the times down there I celebrated my birthday on March 15 at the arena, and it was an incredible. When you think of what a birthday party would be as an adult, and it was, heh, a really great time. And I spend a lot of my personal time in Florida in general. It’s absolutely one of my favorite states, and I love it.

Can you talk about the Life Rocks Foundation?

At six years old, I was diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic, and since the very beginning of my career, to talking with you today, the Life Rocks Foundation has worked with so many different organizations in every city we play in. It’s a boutique organization, with no administration fee – dollar in, dollar out. And we just take care of local things. If there are kids going to diabetic camps, or veterans, St. Jude, various causes. But I think this time of year with you, Toys for Tots and the children’s hospitals will be what I focus on.

Your company, Michaels Entertainment Group, is a multi-million-dollar operation. How’d you transition from rock star to businessman?

I learned very early on in my life that the harder I work, the luckier I got. And you learn really quickly in the entertainment business that you’re either on top of your game or it crushes you. Your popularity is going to ebb and flow. It doesn’t matter who you are. I love being creative, but my true gift is getting it done. In other words, the more adversity I face, the tougher I get. I just stay diligent at it, that’s all.

The Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood just completed a $1.5 billion expansion and added a guitar-shaped hotel. How do you play a venue that’s such a spectacle itself?

Because I’ve worked for the Hard Rock and played with them for so many years, I can say what they do is incredible. It’s really, truly an amazing brand. When we go there, the one thing for me that will always stay the same, I am a person who’s very grateful, and I bring an unbelievable amount of energy and good-time party, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do for the Boat Parade and for the show on the 13th.

Your daughter Raine has received a lot of attention after Sports Illustrated named her a finalist for swimsuit model. What has that been like?

My two daughters, Raine Elizabeth and Jorja Bleu, I love them. I love being a dad. I’m always supportive and extremely protective. So, Raine goes to school, to university for journalism for sports broadcast. That’s what she loves, and she tried out to be a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. It’s an extremely classy magazine, and she ended up being one of their model finalists. As a dad you want to be both supportive and protective and hope that you gave them the tools that when they’re out there on their own, they know how to use their gut to know when something doesn’t feel right. But I said, you also have to enjoy this time in your life.

You’re currently on the Unbroken World Tour. How’d that come about?

Unbroken is the single I wrote with my daughter, Jorja Bleu, who’s an incredible musician. She comes from a school for music and the arts, and we wrote a song together about being stronger than your adversity. I just ask people to check out the video, and I can’t wait to see everybody to make Winterfest a really great party. It’s going to be awesome.

IF YOU GO

Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade, sponsored by City & Shore magazine, among others, winterfestparade.com

Dubbed the “Greatest Show on H20,” the boat parade has blossomed into a season of events, starting with the Winterfest White Party in November. The Black Tie Ball arrives Dec. 7, and then a week later the 48th-annual parade steams down the New River and up the Intracoastal on Dec. 14. Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is home to the event’s grandstand seating, and the VIP viewing party drops at the Riverside Hotel.

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