Cleveland's best bets for rock star apparel.

Devil in the Duds 

Cleveland's best bets for rock star apparel.

It takes more than talent to be a rock star. It takes pants. Cool pants.

Cool pants make careers. Who could forget Robert Plant's crotch-smothering jeans, which practically introduced the singer's manhood as the unofficial fifth member of Led Zeppelin? Or how about George Michael's butt-defining leather duds, which made Michael's ass such a key component of his stardom, it could have sued for royalties. Then there were Hammer's tent-sized trousers. You may not remember any of his songs, but you'll never erase the memory of Hammer shimmying about in britches large enough to cover Fenway's infield. Trust us. We've tried.

That's the power of pants. And the best thing about this power is that it can be enjoyed by all. There's nothing stopping you from donning a pair of fly hip-huggers and becoming the next Britney -- except maybe a little insight into where the coolest gear is to be had. In an effort to help you chase down all your rock and roll fantasies, we've scoured the city to find the best places to score primo rockwear, be it pants, pumps, or panties.

There's definitely lots of the latter at the Mission (14625 Madison Avenue, Lakewood). Sort of a Frederick's of Hell, the Mission is tailor-made for oversexed goths. The boutique is filled with titillating apparel designed primarily for the bedroom -- or the stage, if you're a member of the Genitorturers. There's painful-looking cinchers, fluffy pink garters, and enough bondage paraphernalia to make you think Rob Halford's closet exploded.

All heavy breathing aside, the Mission also boasts an impressive array of slick leather and vinyl garb, perhaps the coolest collection of ladies' footwear in town, a broad selection of hair dyes and lip balms, and our favorite: a see-through dress made of beer bottle caps.

Just up the street from the Mission is Madison Trash (13703 Madison Avenue), a haven for old-school rock tees in the thriving Madison Village district (ground zero for cool rock threads, with must-visit stores like Seamonkeys, Chain Link Addiction, and the 501 Exchange). Here you can score vintage concert tees from the likes of Twisted Sister, Iron Maiden, and one of the most deceivingly named acts of all time: Extreme. There's also a decent selection of secondhand jackets and jeans and hard-to-find items on great bands like punk legends the Vibrators and stoner-rock granddaddies Blue Cheer. If those dudes aren't hard enough for you, there's always the Jesse Ventura "Man of Action" posable figurine up for grabs, as well as authentic wrestling masks.

There won't be any need to hide your face after visiting Hot Topic (Parmatown Mall and Great Northern Mall), as this store will most surely improve the look of any rocker -- from punk to metalhead to club-hopper. Hot Topic's location may scare away fashion elitists who refuse to mall-crawl, but where else are you going to get your rave-friendly Spongebob Squarepants merch? There's also scary-looking pirate garb, underpants emblazoned with a skull and crossbones, and the perfect T-shirt for the better half of any metal dude. It reads: "I Love Tattooed Dumb Guys."

No doubt those guys, in turn, love Sunshine Head-Quarters Too (1788 Coventry, Cleveland Heights). It's a rocker's dream, if a conservationist's nightmare, as Sunshine is like Apocalypse Now for soft, furry woodland creatures. Thumper beware. There's canary-yellow rabbit-hide coats, bright purple beaver-pelt jackets, and one special number that looks like a baboon's backside. The store also boasts one of the most dazzling collections of leather garb in town, including pants and coats of every hue -- pea green, baby blue, Sunkist orange -- not to mention a gnarly beige jumpsuit that would certainly meet the approval of Iceberg Slim. In addition to high fashion, the store is a gateway to plenty of high times, with an impressive array of bongs -- er, water pipes -- shaped like the Grim Reaper and a giant middle finger.

If you feel like flipping the bird to the prospect of driving all across town to get your new wardrobe, you can always log onto Hellbomb.com instead. A rapidly growing Cleveland-based merchandise company, Hellbomb! has outfitted such notable rockers as Marilyn Manson, Mike Patton, the Melvins, and Bauhaus. Their latest catalog features everything from manbeaters and thongs to baby-doll tees, hoodies, and yes, pants. Get into theirs, and who knows -- maybe some pretty young things will want to get into yours.

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