By Molly McGonigle
Bret Michaels: "American Idol" judge candidate, "Rock of Love" star, Poison frontman, and "Celebrity Apprentice" winner. In the past few years, Bret Michaels has rocked reality television circuits and made a new name for himself. After suffering from a series of medical problems a few months ago, Bret Michaels is back and bigger than ever, while still maintaining his health. Michaels talks with Parade about his brain hemorrhage, campaigning to be an "American Idol" judge, and what the future holds.
On moving forward after his illness:
"I'm feeling pretty good. Each day I feel a little bit better. As the chemical meningitis from the bleed starts to dissipate, it gets a little bit better. The bottom line is, I got really sick and it all had a domino effect for me, from the appendicitis to the brain hemorrhage. And then I had a warning stroke, and now they found out I got a hole in my heart, which I'm going to go get an operation for that in the late fall, early winter. But I just said to myself, you know what? Whatever it is, I live my life passionately. And music is a powerful healer for me. I've learned a lot of it is mind over matter. Once I knew that I had a chance to survive the brain hemorrhage, I was taking life and grabbing it for everything I could."
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On where he finds his strength:
"Honestly, it comes from 41 years of having diabetes and finding the strength to go through and live life to the fullest. I had great parents that allowed me to do all the things I wanted to do, but told me, 'You gotta buck up and you're going to have to work harder to achieve things.' And recently, it has been my family. The night I had my brain hemorrhage, my two daughters and Kristi truthfully saved my life. That's the God's honest truth. When it all hit the fan, when it came to that moment that I needed to react, my family rallied behind me, and as a father, I didn't want them to wake up in the morning and see me collapsed on the floor."
On how his two young daughters handle it all:
"We talk about it a lot, and truthfully, it's very tough. The moment we say goodbye, if they're not coming out on the road with me, is tough. It shouldn't be easy, because if it were easy, then we probably wouldn't love each other so much. So what makes it real is that it is tough. I sit down and I explain that I'm going away and that I'll be back. We look at the schedule and plan it out. And then they ask me how many gifts I'm going to bring them. That's always important! Daughters are good -- they key it up right on cue and I'm a sucker and I give them whatever gifts necessary."
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On putting family life front and center with his upcoming VH1 reality series, "Life as I Know It":
"Fans have asked for years to get a glimpse into my life, of what I do outside the craziness of "Rock of Love" or just being on the road. And I think they're really going to enjoy it because the show is all about my daily existence of finding balance in my life. I absolutely love my family. I'm a very hands-on father. I'm close with my kids and we have fun together. Kristi and I love and respect each other. But in the same sentence, I also love what I do. I love being on the road and I'm passionate and I don't' think there's anything wrong with that. The trouble is finding the balance of making both work."
On why he should be "American Idol'"s next judge:
"I'm not built exactly like Simon Cowell, but, at the same time, I respect what he did. But I would have to bring my own personality. I think if they have someone in there to try to imitate Simon, it would be a mistake; he's an original. Bring Bret Michaels in to be original to who and what I am. Bring someone who can bring a little grit, true grit back to the show."
On whether he would have tried out for "American Idol" when he was a fledgling rocker:
"Hell yeah. The great thing about today, with the Internet and "American Idol," is that you get instant exposure to millions of people. Here's the downside: it's also easily disposable if you don't let people find out more about your personality and who and what you are. In other words, you can get easily exposed and then easily disposed if you're not careful. And I'm going to try to build new talent that will be around like Poison, Aerosmith, Stevie Nicks and Lynyrd Skynyrd. You can say what you want about us classic bands, but we're still out here selling out arenas. That's what I hope to bring to "American Idol" -- some of those years and years of experience and true grit to the show."
On his legacy:
"I hope that my legacy is this: I'm a fighter, a survivor and I rocked the world. That would be it."