It has been a rough year for Bret Michaels, but he couldn't be happier. Despite enduring an emergency appendectomy, a brain hemorrhage and a "warning" stroke brought on by a heart condition, the Poison singer and "Celebrity Apprentice" winner has been able to spend the bulk of his time in the two places he loves most: on the road playing music and at home spending time with his family.
That's where he'll be -- together with his on-again, off-again girlfriend of nearly 17 years, Kristi Gibson, and their two daughters, Raine and Jorja -- on a new reality series, "Bret Michaels: Life as I Know It," which premieres Monday, Oct. 18, on VH1.
Q: The obvious question is, how have you been feeling?
A: I've been feeling pretty good, certainly not 100 percent yet, but the well-wishes and prayers from the fans have certainly proven to work because I could have and maybe should have been in a lot worse shape right now. I go in January to get my heart operated on. After that I'll be 100 percent and ready to come back and rock again. I get up onstage every night and say, "I'm happy to be alive," and I mean that. Everyone wanted me to lay low and have this long recovery time, but to be honest with you, I had to get back out here because that's what's good for my soul. That's the energy that healed me -- that and the love and respect of my daughters and Kristi.
Q: How has your life changed as a result of your health scare?
A: You know, being a juvenile diabetic since age 6, I have always been very health-conscious. Keeping my body in check has been a day-to-day situation for a long time. Knowing my body has helped me overcome all this; however, the idea of your brain doing what mine did -- it's just flat-out scary. So you start loving the ones you love a little more, and you start holding the moments you have a little longer. But to let life stop is to let it beat you. I will always go out and give over 100 percent to my fans, my family and the people I care for. So if anything, I've stepped it up instead of stepping back. More so than ever, I realize life can be taken away in the blink of an eye, so you better go live it.
Q: Your new show for VH1 is a complete 180-degree turn from "Rock of Love." Does it feel good to be going in this direction?
A: It does feel good. It's not really 180 degrees as much as it's a natural progression. My life is still a roller coaster and will always be driven by my passion for rock 'n' roll, and you will see all of that on this show just like you did on "Rock of Love." But now you will see another side of me that has always been there: the dad and the guy at home. My daughters are the most important things in my life, and me and Kristi have always remained close even with the ups and downs. It's only natural that we try to make it work. I believe it's just the natural progression in my life.
Q: People magazine quoted you as saying there's a 50/50 chance that you and Kristi will get married. Which of you has yet to make up your mind?
A: Let's put it this way: Marriage should be taken a lot more seriously than most people take it, I believe. To me, the ring has never meant as much as the heart and the commitment two people agree to have with themselves. With that being said, the idea has certainly been in the forefront of my thoughts lately, and me and Kristi will do what's right for all of us.
Q: Will you be filmed without your signature bandanna on "Life as I Know It"?
A: You know, I don't think about it as much as I think everyone else does. It's always been a part of my image, and that's it. Even in the movies I made with my head completely shaved, I wore the bandanna. Part of being me is that I do what I want and wear what I want.