"Dude (Looks Like a Lady)" Is About Steven Tyler Hitting on Vince Neil
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We know what you're thinking -- what's insulting about this song? It's Steven Tyler's tender ode to a cross-dressing paramour. Good for him for being so open about it in the notoriously close-minded and forbidding mid-'80s, when such things were still taboo even though every damn dude on MTV looked like a woman.
And that's exactly how the confusion started.
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Tyler was actually the third manliest musician on TV during the '80s.
The story goes that Steven Tyler and Joe Perry were hitting the bars in their pre-sobriety days, so let the meaning of that "Cruising to a bar on the shore" line be a mystery no longer. During their night out, Tyler spotted a beautiful woman and, even though she was facing away from him, fell instantly in love. He was getting all set to lay his swollen-rodent charm on her when she turned around and ... she wasn't a she at all, but famously pretty Motley Crue lead singer Vince Neil.
Hanging out with the band after the incident and listening to their limited vocabulary gave Tyler the inspiration he needed to put words to the hook that had been knocking around in his head, which became the familiar "That, that, dude looks like a lady!"
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OK, yeah. We get it.
Neil was so embarrassed about it that he denied the story for years, claiming it was about a night with Tyler at a drag bar, because that's way less embarrassing. He eventually came clean, though, admitting in his autobiography that, yeah, Steven Tyler wanted that ass.