"I suppose what they're responding to is the rebelliousness, the free-form creativity, and, well, yeah, the lifestyle," says the man whose eponymous autobiography reads like a rock star decadence how-to manual. "But not everyone really wants to live our lives. They just want a chance to touch it."
Slash's appearance at November's Las Vegas rock camp was his first. He enjoyed convening with people whose passion for rock reminded him of his own once-innocent love of the genre. And he also appreciated the chance "to kill the myth of the inaccessible, idiosyncratic rock star."
If you're wondering who was there benefiting from Slash's Les Paul tutelage, consider that those seeking out the rock 'n' roll fantasy can't really be pigeonholed.
There was 15-year-old Michelle Blanchard, guitarist in a recently disbanded Las Vegas band called Restore the Innocence. Her parents enrolled her "to see if she has what it really takes, and for her to see if she wants to work as hard as it takes to make it," says Blanchard's rock-loving mother, Rhonda, 49.
Says Michelle: "I'd like to make rock music my career, because it's something I love. It's better than taking a job that's crap."
At the other end of the age spectrum is Ed Oates, 60, who didn't exactly have a cruddy career. He was a co-founder of a little software company called Oracle. But he still has wistful memories of a youth filled with rock revelry.
"So many guys my age grew up with rock, grew up even playing rock, but wound up taking different avenues in life, always wondering 'What would it have been like?' " says Oates, who has convened a group of college-era friends into a garage band called Choc'd.
Oates says the camps provide those with a rock jones with both an adrenaline rush and a targeted mission: form a band with fellow campers. If you think that sounds like a corporate retreat, so does Oates: He has invested in the camp company with an aim toward pushing it into that market.
If Hyon-Joo Park gets wind of that news, she is likely to deem it a major bummer.
Sure, Park came to Vegas to blow her lungs out on rock anthems, which her YouTube-posted performance reveals she did admirably.
But what she really wanted was for her hero, Slash, that wicked cross between Cousin Itt and the Mad Hatter, to be, well, Slash.
"He was so down-to-earth. So nice. So ordinary," Park says.
"I was, like, 'Stop it already, dude. Break a bottle or something.' "