“You wrote in your book she had to choose between us - and that Tareq won. Guess you’ll have to rewrite that now - because I won!” - Neal Schon to The Daily Beast, regarding a recent book on Michaele Salahi
White House party crasher / reality star Michaele Salahi has stirred up quite a lot of gossip and controversy lately, and her husband, Tareq Salahi, has already spoken out about her running off with the Journey guitarist.
Now she's telling her side of it. Short story: It's all true, and she's happy.
The cheaters spoke to The Daily Beast exclusively in a series of interviews, via telephone and text, as Schon’s band continues on its cross-country tour.
“It’s like a fairy tale. It is, it really is,” Schon said from Tampa. “I’m very happy, very happy after waiting for her for 15 years. Now I want to get beyond all this media hype that Tareq has put out there. It’s quite embarrassing.”
Michaele actually dated both Neal and Tareq in the late '90s (Neal first) and there came a time she had to make a life decision - to marry Tareq.“I chose Tareq over Neal because I thought life would be less stressful living on a vineyard in Virginia. Life on the road with a rock band … well, I thought I might not have been able to keep up,” said Michaele, who suffers from MS.
Yet Michaele made it clear she still had deep feelings for Neal.
Fast forward to this summer. Just 10 days after they saw each other backstage at a Journey concert in Bristow, Va., she had run off with him for good.
The couple now admits they had been communicating via text “for a while” over a device that a friend had sneaked to Michaele so the controlling Tareq wouldn’t find out she had a pipeline to the outside world.
“Neal was like, ‘Are we going to do this forever?’ I said, ‘No, we’re not,’” Michaele said of the moment she realized it was time for another life decision.
That was when she knew she would leave her husband for good: “I began to see he really loved me. I had to begin to feel it completely - in my soul.”
Neal sent tickets and backstage passes to the Salahis to come to Journey's Labor Day concert being held just 20 miles east of their home in Linden, Va.
In what can only be described as painful irony now, the ever-sociable Tareq showed up backstage with a video camera, Michaele, and her friend Irina.
He urged the women to surround Neal and kiss him, “Ahhh. There you go! Hugs and kisses for Neal!!! Rock on, Journey!” Tareq says in the background.
Tareq would later supply that video to TMZ in an effort to humiliate his wife, along with an alleged pic of Neal's penis he says that the rocker emailed.
Tareq had no way of knowing the precise details of Michaele's affair with Neal Schon, or exactly what happened just moments ago in his dressing room.
But if he did any idea, he didn't show it.
“What happened was … she takes off her wedding ring, OK, right in front of Tareq - takes it off,” Neal told The Daily Beast, sounding astonished.
“And then she proceeds to come into my dressing room where I’m sitting down. I have tennis shoes on and she’s, like, nine feet tall over me.”
Neal’s voice took on a joyful tone: “And she looks down at me like she’s standing on stilts and says, “I love YOU. And, that’s never gonna change."
"When that happened I said, ‘Get over here! This has taken 15 years!’”
The night of the concert, September 4, Neal urged Michaele to just get on the tour bus with him. “I was pretty close to doing it,” Michaele said. “But then I thought, No, that’s not who I am. That would be public humiliation for Tareq.”
And so, she went home with her husband that night.
Nine days later, Michaele realized she couldn’t stay.
“I didn’t want to hurt anyone, but I realized I was hurting myself,” she said.
“I was absolutely going crazy. Because when you want to be with someone that bad, you start to go crazy. He sent someone to come get me."
"I got on a plane by myself and I just went. I just walked away.”
The rest, as they say, is history. And kidnapping reports, and outrage, and a lot of head-scratching, and a ton of Journey-themed puns.