PHOENIX - For all the envelope-pushing Alice Cooper did as a shock rocker, he also knows the good of boundaries, especially for kids.
"Kids love boundaries. We used to fight against them. But in all reality, what we really did want was to know where we could go. Of course, you always step over the line just a little bit to see what's going to happen," said the 58-year-old musician.
Cooper plans to help draw the line for local youth, namely around his own teen recreation center. The musician's Christian nonprofit, Solid Rock Foundation, has begun fundraising efforts for a 20,000-square-foot facility that will include a recording studio, indoor basketball courts, a rock climbing wall, coffee house, game room and a concert hall.
To be christened The Rock, the building is set to open in early 2007 at Grand Canyon University in west Phoenix.
"People don't lay in the sun in southwest Phoenix. There's lots of shootings going, there's lots of meth going on, there's lots of gangs," Cooper said. "In the middle of all that is a bunch of 12, 13, 14-year-old kids that can go one way or the other."
Children with time on their hands start inventing ways to get in trouble. Even the good ones, Cooper said. The Rock would provide a physical and spiritual base for young, impressionable minds.
"We're not going to beat them over the head with a Bible," Cooper said. "But we're certainly going to be available to tell them that that's available to them."
A free-of-charge haven for at-risk kids was a goal of Cooper's when he and a pastor at his church started the foundation 11 years ago. It wasn't until last year that the charity decided to begin channeling future donations toward the project, which is estimated to cost $3 million.
Officials for Grand Canyon University, a private college with a Christian focus where Cooper has given scholarships for more than five years, came to the rock star with the offer to build on the campus.
"If I could do this without using my name, I would do it," Cooper said. "But the use of the name does draw people in and does get people interested."
In fact, he already has celebrity pals in mind to either perform or guest-lecture - artists like Ted Nugent, Cheap Trick and Weird Al Yankovic.
Ensuring that Solid Rock doesn't go down as "some little whim" is one of several jobs Cooper juggles. Few rock stars can match his routine of touring, working in the studio, running a restaurant - Alice Cooper's Town in downtown Phoenix - and still find time for a round of golf.
Cooper made his name as one of the first true shock rockers, with his ghoulish makeup and outlandish lyrics, like those in 1973's hit "Billion Dollar Babies" and 1975's "Welcome to My Nightmare."
For Cooper, balancing Alice the stage performer and Alice the philanthropist is all part of being a modern rock star. He knows when to put the rock-star persona away and get down to other business.
"As soon as I walk off that stage, I'm going back to Phoenix, play golf, work on Solid Rock, go shopping and do everything that a father and a husband's supposed to do," said Cooper, who spends seven months of the year at home in suburban Paradise Valley.
Youth counselor at the center is another role Cooper may want to consider. As a survivor of the '60s and '70s rock scene, he could certainly relay the dangers of living a risky lifestyle.
"I watched all of my best friends - Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Keith Moon - every one of them, die trying to live their image," he said.
"The one thing that my generation learned was be a rock star when it's time to be a rock star."