Bret Michaels talks camping, rust and ‘Rock My RV with Bret Michaels’

Do you remember when Bret Michaels was simply the badass singer of Poison? How about when he was a little older, and perhaps not as much bad as overwhelmed by crazy chicks on the VH1 series “Rock of Love”? Or how about when he showed he’s actually a badass business man by winning “Celebrity Apprentice”? Well, now Michaels is 50 and, though he’s still got a rock ‘n’ roll heart, he isn’t afraid to revel in suburban passions we normally associate with grumpy middle-aged dads on sitcoms who say things like, “One more word and I’m turning this thing around!” 

And so, we get “Rock My RV with Bret Michaels,” a new show debuting Sun. May 26 at 9:00 p.m. with back-to-back episodes on the Travel Channel. In a recent conference call, Michaels talked at length about his lifelong passion for family vacations in RVs. This will hopefully make taking a family vacation in an RV slightly cooler to grumpy teenagers, who usually associate such voyages as only slightly better than waterboarding. 

“I’m going to make  joke here,” he told the journalists on the call. “When you RV and take a road trip, whether a car or an RV, you’re either gonna bond for life or have great memories, or never speak together again. My best advice, I try to give people space. You want as much space as you can get [on the road]. There is an ebb and flow to traveling down the road. I advise people heavily don’t be in an over-rush to get fom point A to point B.” Michaels recommended parking at a truck stop and taking a hike to enjoy the natural scenery. After all, what’s more rock ‘n’ roll than hiking?

Still, Michaels doesn’t really care if he makes RVing cool. “I didn’t do the show to change a stigma. It’s what I’ve been doing since I was a kid. I hope it shows the open road is for any generation.”

Michaels, who calls himself a “sweat-the-details guy,” admitted that his passion “is my blessing and my curse.” On the show, which follows Michaels sharing his RV expertise with other owners and, in each episode, remaking an existing RV into a showstopper, gives Michaels a chance to interact with people who share his interest but forces him to give their wildest dreams a real-life downsizing. “I have to take a breath and deliver their dream, and I want to make them to get the absolute best thing they can. [But] rust is a big challenge. The amount of room they want, the suspension can’t handle it. Everyone wants four slide-outs and more room and a bigger bed.”

That means taking a good, hard look at the clunker RV in question. “The first thing I have to do with most of these is look at the structure and the rust and what we can and can’t do, and the most important thing is weight… I want their experience when they leave to be enjoyable. A lot of these shows build things in a garage and make things that can never go down the road. I want these to be fun and functional.” 

Though much of the show focuses on turning RVs into fantasy homes on wheels, Michaels hopes that those who choose the open road will get more out of it than spiral staircases and slide-outs.  “It forces the character of who you are. I learned a lot of responsibility fom going camping… there was a lot of stuff involved with it, but more than anything it bonded me with my family because it forced us into situations where we had to work together.”

But if you’re more into getting a cool RV, the good news is that the show is complemented with an online contest, “Rock My RV with Bret Michaels: Epic RV Giveaway Contest.” One lucky viewer will win their very own custom-built RV designed by Michaels. And really, who needs family bonding if the bus is big enough to avoid one another? 

Watch this clip from “Rock My RV with Bret Michaels.”