There is an unwritten code of conduct, even in the bravura, super- macho world of heavy-metal music.
And according to record company executive Bryn Bridenthal Housman, that code was broken last month by two members of the band Poison who doused her with beer and ice water at a post-concert party at the Forum in Inglewood.
What some might have written off as just another skirmish in the world of heavy-metal, will not be forgiven easily by Housman.
The head of media relations for Geffen Records, Housman has pressed criminal charges and filed a $1.1-million lawsuit against Poison members Bret Michaels and Bobby Dall.
Battery charges will be leveled against both as soon as Housman, 42, signs a formal complaint, a spokeswoman in the Inglewood city attorney's office said this week.
Lead singer Michaels and guitarist Dall, both in their early 20s, have declined to comment about the incident, but their publicist said the liquid lashing was intended merely as "a sign of friendship."
Housman is not laughing.
"I'd like to pull down their pants at high noon on Main Street," she said of the unrepentant rockers. "They're thinking this is all cute and adorable. They think they can just go around assaulting women and get away with it.
"I hope to show Poison that they made a gross error in judgment and to help them to be remorseful."
The confrontation has its roots in the highly competitive heavy-metal field, where fine distinctions between bands are viewed with great import by largely teen-age fans. Poison is known as much for its highly coifed hairdos and thick makeup as it is for its relatively soft musical sound. To fans, it is worlds apart from a band like Guns N' Roses--with its frazzled leather look and hard-driving music.
In the December issue of Hit Parader magazine, a member of Guns N' Roses said Poison was made up of "posers," who represent "everything bad about rock 'n' roll."
Housman, a publicist for Guns N' Roses, said the article was apparently enough to make her a target when she ran into Poison band members at a party Oct. 6 that followed a concert by Motley Crue and Whitesnake.
The publicist said she was ready to leave the party about midnight when Dall confronted her and began "ranting" about the article. Dall then threw a cup of beer into her face, she told police. After she dried off in a restroom, Housman said, she was grabbed by Dall and Michaels and doused with a second beer and with ice water from what she believes was a champagne bucket. Housman said she then was escorted outside by Forum security officers.
The dispute did not end at the Forum. According to the lawsuit, Poison manager Tom Mohler "continues to threaten to 'ruin' Housman at Geffen Records, and within the music industry, if she speaks to the press about the unprovoked attack on her by Dall and Michaels. . . ."
Mohler did not return phone calls from The Times.
Housman has suffered physical and emotional trauma, according to the lawsuit, including a twitching right eye, frequent outbursts of crying and loss of sleep. The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, demands $1.1 million in damages and a restraining order to prevent Poison members and their manager from approaching Housman. No hearing has been set.
The veteran publicist rejects the idea that the conflict will be good for record sales. "There are some people who think this will be great for both bands, but I don't buy that," Housman said. "There is a code of behavior in every stratum of society, and I don't think, even in metal, that includes assaulting a 42-year-old female who is practically a stranger."