OFFSTAGE: Kellie Pickler Talks Tattoos, Tents and Marilyn Manson in Maxim

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

Kellie Pickler has done so much work for the USO, it’s no wonder she’s featured on the cover of Maxim magazine in this month’s military-themed issue. Describing some of her favorite USO memories, she said, “This past trip, we were at Camp Spann in Afghanistan, and there’s a little chapel there. It’s nothing fancy, but it has a lot of love, and my whole band and I stayed up one night until 3 a.m., picking with the soldiers who played guitar. We had a picking party.” But she also talks about how much her late grandmother hated tattoos. She would say, “Tattoos are the devil!” But judgment aside, Pickler has her grandmother’s name and a couple of USO stars inked on her skin. She also talks about loving Marilyn Manson’s music, why she brings dates who are not her husband to awards shows and all the bullets she shot while she was overseas. But the part I love the most is when she talks about her dumpy accommodations in the Middle East. “When we went to Iraq, we stayed in one of Saddam’s palaces. It was kind of creepy. If those walls could talk, there’s no telling what stories they’d tell,” she said. “It’s nicer than a tent, but in some ways a tent might be better, you know?” What I think she needs when she’s over there is an RV like the one in “Little House on the Highway” — one of the best songs on her latest album, 100 Proof.