Category Archives: meet and greets

This Is How We Get Connected

Sometimes, the strangest, least expected things can relate to fandom. This week, I was reminded of that in a big way. Anyone besides me follow politics? Interestingly enough, politics and fandom aren’t really that different. In the case of politics, a candidate wants to win over voters and keep the ones they already have. Bands like Duran want to do something similar. They want news fans and keep the ones who have been around for while. The question, then, becomes how to do that.

Up until recently, I, personally, went with the standard assumptions about how to get voters/fans. In the case of politics, I assume that candidates have to fundraise. After all, I had my candidate fund raise. I know that a lot of people cringe when it comes to fund raising. It seems icky and it really isn’t very fun. But money is needed. It just is. Candidates need money for everything from paying staff, to advertising, to printing materials, to creating literature, to buying office supplies, etc and so forth. Interestingly enough, bands need money, too. For example, creating an album doesn’t come for free. Studios cost money as do producers, additional musicians, artists for artwork, etc and so forth. This is why I never fault Duran for playing private gigs. That money helps with production and touring costs, right?

This week, though, I wondered if the typical way to raise funds and get supporters is the only way. Two events led me to question this. First, early in the week, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s campaign came out with their second quarter fundraising totals. (Campaigns have to declare all of their earnings to follow campaign finance laws.) Her campaign raised $19 million. That is a serious chunk of change. What is most interesting about this amount is that she did not do it in the usual way. She did not seek out donors at big money fundraisers like most in politics do. Instead she got the money from more than 384,000 separate donors with an average of $28. That is a lot of different people. When I heard that, I was impressed and intrigued. Then, I saw a tweet that really made me think. The tweet indicated that Warren made that money by taking selfies with countless number of people. Hmmm….Interesting.

Then, last night, I decided to see the candidate in action myself. (In full disclosure, I have seen her before but when she was campaigning for others rather than herself.) On top of paying attention to her message and how she delivers it, I also watch for how the campaign is being organized. (I would have a hard time supporting a candidate, if their campaign was unorganized.) At the end of the question and answer session, her Midwest director indicated that Senator Warren would stay for everyone who wanted a selfie to get one and that if you were interested to form a line on the right side of the gym. (It was in a high school gym.) Now, I had heard that she was doing this but…I wasn’t certain that she would really stay for each and every person in this incredibly long line. We are talking hundreds of people and this was after a town hall and a convention appearance before that! How much energy could one person have? I decided to line up and find out for myself.

The line for selfies was long and stretched out of the gym and almost out of the high school. My friend and I were towards the back and it took over an hour for us just to make it back *into* the gym. We started questioning if the wait would be worth it. As we got closer to the stage where the Senator stood, I watched closely to see how these selfies were being done. First, her staff was taking people’s belongings so that they would not have anything in their hands to worry about once they got on the stage. They would then hand the stuff back as people exited. Nice. That’s organized and helpful. Then, there were multiple people on the stage taking the pictures. Clearly, there was one photographer connected to the campaign and another person who would take people’s phones to take the pictures. Super cool.

What about Senator Warren herself? She greeted each and every person with a handshake and exchanged a sentence or two. While it went fast, I doubt any person in the line felt it was impersonal or assembly line like. It was a genuine interaction. In my case, she immediately commented on my shirt (one of hers with a positive pro-woman message). Then, I mentioned that I was also a teacher. She was completely impressed by that, too. (She was a teacher as well!) Then, when I look at my phone to check out the picture, I noticed that the photographer didn’t just take the posed photo but photos of the entire interaction from the handshake through the exchange of words to the posed moment. Wow. I think about the previous photos I have gotten with important people and how I wished I had the entire events captured like that. I cannot help but to share the photos here to show you what I mean.

So, how am I feeling about Senator Warren now? I am feeling super pumped, that’s how. Was it just the selfie that did it? No but the personal touch matters. It makes me feel wanted. Her campaign has already reached out to me since then. That matters, too. Everyone wants to feel wanted and appreciated. So, to bring this back to fandom. If Warren is getting supporters and donors simply through quality messaging and personal touches, could a band do the same? What would it do for your fandom if Duran held selfie lines like this? Would it make you more determined to support them? Buy their products? Food for thought.


Try to Understand: Fan Comparison

This is a blog post that I have been thinking about for a long time.  I have debated about whether or not to write it and whether or not to post it.  I figured that it was time.  It needed to be said.  I needed to say it no matter what kind of feedback I get as I’m fully prepared for people to say that we don’t really “work” or that I’m whining or whatever.

We have been writing this blog for almost 6 years.  Yes, at times, we have taken breaks from full on blogs, but we do try to post something each and every day.  What we do here keeps people thinking about Duran Duran on a daily basis, or so I believe.  Over the course of the blog, we have written about the band, the fans, fandom, and much more.  We hope that we have made people think, cheer, laugh and feel.  If that wasn’t enough, we have chosen to do more.  We have planned pre-show meet-ups, online parties and a weekend long convention.  On top of that, we have written a book describing our journey as Duran Duran fans.  This fandom has been essential to our identities and a significant part of who we are.
Many people, including other fans recognize our commitment, our work.  At times, this leads people to assume that the band and/or DDHQ has acknowledged us, too, by giving us tickets or inviting us for meet and greets.  We then have to shake our heads and explain that no.  We pay for our own tickets and have never had an official, formal meet and greet.  That isn’t to say that there is no support as we do appreciate having a link on the official website and that Duran Duran follows us on Twitter.  When we explain this to well-meaning fans/supporters/friends, they are often shocked as many know other people who *have* received tickets or meet and greets without doing all that we have done.  For those people, when they explain how surprised they are, I absolutely recognize their support and appreciate that they feel we would deserve those rewards.  Still, I’m never sure what to say.  How do I respond to these statements?  How should I respond?
While it is hard enough to know how to respond to these well-meaning friends and supporters, I’m even more flustered by those people who don’t read the blog, don’t attend our events but seem to seek us out to rub it in our faces that so and so got front row tickets to all the shows or that someone got her 5th back stage pass or got another meet and greet.  In those situations, I really struggle with how to respond.  Do I minimize our work and say that we aren’t really that deserving?  Do I pretend that I wouldn’t want those things?  Do I state how I feel that some of these comments are meant to minimize us or to put us in our place as “just fans”?  Do I point out that these statements aren’t helpful and actually hurt?
At the end of the day, declarations like “I can’t believe that you guys HAVEN’T had a meet and greet YET” always make me feel the same way, no matter the intention.  I always end up feeling like a fool.  We didn’t start this blog, write a book or plan fan events to meet the band or to get tickets or special favors.  Yet, I’m human.  It hurts when people tell us about so-and-so getting whatever in such a way that feels that they are telling us that just to rub our uncoolness or poor social status in our faces.  Whenever these statements happen, I just try to blow them off and remind myself that this has never been about gaining status or getting closer to the band.  Again, though, I recognize that I’m human and part of me is a fan who wants a little recognition, a little moment in the sun, a little acknowledgement for my work and my passion.  When I tell others that, people will say, “You just have to ask.”  Who am I asking?  How do I ask?  This leads me to feel even worse like it is our problem for not being assertive, or not being assertive enough.  Not only are we uncool but we are also scared and timid or whatever negative connotation that creates.
The purpose of this blog post isn’t to have people tell me how wonderful we are or how much we do deserve recognition or whatever.  If I had to give a reason for this post, I actually have two.  First, I’m hoping that by writing this I am purging these emotions from my system.  Controlling them rather than them controlling me.  Second, my real wish (outside of the obvious which is getting that recognition from the band) is that people who continuously compare us to others, by pointing out what they get and we don’t, would stop.  I don’t want to hear it.  I don’t want to know if someone gets tickets or meet and greets if I’m being told that SOLELY to put us down.  Obviously, I want to hear about meet and greets if someone wants to personally share his/her experience.  I like hearing those stories and like being happy for people.
I’m hoping then that our last leg, which includes Paso Robles, Vegas, Irvine and Chula Vista is free from this comparison.  I don’t want to compare what we do to others.  It serves no purpose to compare what we have gotten to others.  I just want to have fun at our shows because they are probably the last that we will have for a very long time.  (Dreams are still free, so if the band wants to give us a meet and greet at one of those shows, we will take it.  Ha!  As if, they actually read this blog!)  All that said, I’m ready to put these feelings behind me and be ready for nothing but a fantastic time.

I Can Share

Did you read the blog yesterday?  Our blog statistics showed that there were a number of you who clicked the link and read it, which I appreciate tremendously.  We also received a number of comments on Twitter, which we were grateful for.  On Facebook, it appeared to be a pretty popular post as it reached over 900 people, had over 20 people like it and over 20 comments.  Some of these comments had to do with the premise of the blog, which was that as much as any fan thinks s/he knows the personality of the band members, s/he does not.  It takes a lot more than reading/watching interviews, a ten minute meet and greet experience or even a few lengthy conversations.  I explained by giving an example from my own life and how my colleagues don’t really know all of me despite working side-by-side in an intense job for a year and a half together.  Other comments, though, focused on the first line of the blog, “How long have you been a fan?”  Those responses included either the year that they became fans or how many years since they first became Duranies.  Others wanted to share their meet and greet stories to explain how the band member(s) in question were or were not like what they thought they would be.

I have to be honest here.  I was disheartened that it seemed so many only read the first sentence as opposed to clicking on the link on reading the entire 800 words.  While it is true that Rhonda and I write for ourselves, it is also true that we have hopes that others will read what we write.  I welcome the dialogue, the discussion in hopes of getting a greater understanding of myself, others, fandom, etc.  Yet, that dialogue can only happen when people read it.  Writing the blog is a commitment that I take seriously.  I ensure that it is included in my list of things to do.  My schedule is pretty full (which is probably an understatement since teaching requires about 60-70 hours of work a week and Rhonda and I are starting on a new book project.)  It means that I will sacrifice working on those tasks as well as some of the basic necessities of life like relaxing and/or sleep.  Thus, it hurt a little when people chose not to read the entire blog yesterday.  Yet, as with so many other things, I learned from the experience.

First, I learned a little bit about writing yesterday.  While the first sentence was definitely a hook that got people’s attention, it was always too good of a hook.  I didn’t provide enough of an enticement to keep reading, I guess.  People didn’t have a reason to go beyond what they saw in the little blurb.  Thus, I learned a little about how to write better for my specific task of this blog.  It is funny because I always teach my students that it is important to take my audience into consideration when writing.  For example, my students just finished an assignment in which they were activists trying to convince the American public to do something for a specific cause during the Progressive Era (women’s suffrage, civil rights for African-Americans, working conditions, etc.)  That writing is different than the essay they will write later in the month on U.S. Imperialism in the 1890s.  Therefore, their writing must be different based on the task.  I need to always remember that, too.

The second thing I learned has to do with our fandom.  It was clear by the number of responses just how many fans REALLY want to talk about their fandom story and their stories of when they met the band.  All they needed was a very simple question to just start talking.  This leads me to wonder what Rhonda and I could do to allow more of this needed conversation to happen.  Right now, we have the following means:

  • Guest blogs in which people could share their stories of when and why they became fans
  • Guest blogs in which people could share their meet and greet stories
  • Our message board which could include discussion on both fan histories and meet and greet stories

What else should or could we do?  I just wonder if people had the opportunity to talk about their own experiences, perhaps, they would be more willing to look at what Rhonda and I are saying with our blogs.  Of course, it is possible that people still would not want to go beyond the opening snippets of our blogs for whatever reason.  Perhaps, it is the teacher in me that wonders if there isn’t a better way to reach fans.  What do you think?


Even More Than I Did Before

What is the purpose of a concert?  Why do performers play concerts and go on tour?  Is it simply to sell albums?  To create fans?  How many people go to concerts to see a band or an artist that they are not fans of?  I suspect that most people don’t.  Perhaps, a few might go see a band they aren’t fans of if the band is playing at a bar or club that a person just happens to be at.  That said, I doubt there are many people are willing to pay $30, $50, $100 or more for someone they aren’t fans of.  So, if most people go to concerts to see bands or artists they already like, what is the point?  The audience gets to hear songs performed live, which is almost always a better way to hear music.  Is that enough?  For me, I like to go to concerts because I do like to hear music in its pure form but I also like to see whether or not my interest in a given artist grows, stays the same or lessens.

This leads me to last Sunday.  I drove to the nearby city of Milwaukee to see Brandon Flowers perform.  The Killers is one of my favorite bands and, in fact, my like for that band increased each and every time I have seen them in concert.  Yet, I wasn’t sure what I would think of Brandon solo.  I have his albums, but the first one didn’t grab me at all for a long time whereas the second one caught more of my attention.  Would seeing him live make me appreciate his solo work better?  In this case, it absolutely did despite the physical discomfort I had from being hot (the venue did not have air conditioning!) and having no space from the general admission set-up.  From the very first song, Brandon was 110% the entire time.  Right away, Brandon was all smiles as he sang his heart out.  It was clear that he was loving each and every minute and hoping to connect with his audience.  He used all of the space on the stage to move around and to try to make eye contact with his fans.  The fans were encouraged to join in frequently by singing parts of songs for and with him.  I really appreciated the introductions to various songs.  Sometimes, he told stories of how he came up with songs and other times asked the crowd questions.  Of course, one thing that really enhanced the show was the rest of the band there supporting him.  He had a horn player, a sax player, two backing vocalists, a drummer and multiple guitarists.  Each and every one of them worked their asses off while still allowing Brandon the spotlight.  So, did the show make me a bigger fan of Brandon’s music?  Very much so!

After the show, my friend and I decided to see if we could see Brandon come out the stage door.  Not only did I think it would be cool to see Brandon (Duh!) but as a student of fandom, I always like to observe fans in action!  How would the fans be with Brandon?  How would Brandon be with the fans?  Overall, from what I witnessed, it was the calmest, coolest unofficial meet and greet I have ever witnessed.

After the show, about 30-40 people stood or sat near the stage door of the Rave in Milwaukee waiting to catch a glimpse of Brandon, to get a precious autograph or a coveted photograph.  Everyone seemed really calm and chill.  Finally, after about a half hour, there was movement by the stage door and by the tour bus.  Everyone, who had been waiting, got up and moved towards the bus.  No one rushed to the area.  No one ran or screamed.  Brandon opted to stand in-between  the bus and the wall of the walkway up to the venue.  While some might question this move, as he seemed to be stuck in a small place, it also meant that the fans waiting for an interaction had to form a line of sorts.  He could not easily be surrounded this way.  Smart.  At that moment, one of the guys with Brandon explained how this was going to work.  He said that everyone would get their turn but that as soon as one was finished, s/he should exit behind the bus to keep the line moving.  Directions like this always help, in my opinion. Fans then know what will happen and also knew that everyone was going to get a chance.  There was NO need to push, shove or get in the front.  It was not like when a celebrity shows up and only does two or three autographs or two or three pictures.  When the “meet and greet” is so limited, then fans will fight for their chance, their opportunity.  It creates more of a frenzied atmosphere.  Competition grows between the fans standing there to such a high level that bad, mean, selfish behavior shows up.  Anyway, I was so glad that we all knew the score while we waited for our turn.  In fairness, another thing that helped is that the fans who had waited were so calm.  Brandon and his people knew that they could get the directions out and would be heard and followed.  Thus, the fans were well-behaved and the directions were clear ensuring that the good behavior would remain the entire time.  I believe that both fans and artist should be applauded for this!

How was my interaction with Brandon?  Fabulous!  The guy in front of me took a long time.  He tried to talk to Brandon first for a few minutes before asking for an autograph.  Then, it was clear that Brandon thought he was done after the autograph as he started to look at me.  Then, the guy passed his phone to me asking if I would take a picture for him.  I did but I also commented that Brandon was demonstrating the patience of a saint.  (For the record, in those kind of situations, I will never ask for a photo AND an autograph.  I would only ask for one.  I want to be respectful of the celebrity’s time and also be respectful of the other fans.)  Finally, the guy in front of me moved on and Brandon reached his hand out to shake my hand.  Well then!  That move was unexpected but not unappreciated as he has a very nice handshake.  My friend was ready with my cell phone to take the picture so I tried to quickly get in position for the photo.  Brandon put his arm around me and I him in return.  The picture turned out pretty well, I think!

Brandon and Amanda

The entire night from the show to the meet and greet was fabulous!  More than that, it did make me a bigger fan of Brandon and his music.  Did the concert do what it was supposed to do?  I absolutely think so.  He has a show in Chicago on September 11th.  Now, I really, really want to go!!  Anyone want to join me?


(Fans) Waiting for a look, the invitation…

Every now and then I read something from a fellow fan on Twitter that cracks me up.

The other day I was on Twitter, and a dear, kind-hearted fan posted that he/she was on a serious campaign to get the band to do a fan-cruise. Yes, you did read that correctly.  He/she wanted to know my thoughts, and then they kindly asked if I’d be willing to start using a hashtag for a DD cruise to get the idea trending.

Now I’m sure there are many fans out there who believe, in their kind little Duranie hearts, that the band would love for nothing more than to spend an extended weekend with an entire cruise ship filled with Duranies. I mean, we are fun people, right?!?  But then again, those who have been around for any length of time know what it can be like when the band is around. (What I wouldn’t GIVE for a good photo of two girls ripping each others hair out to get new John Taylor right now… Ok, here’s what we’re going to do: envision Sing Blue Silver and the rush that takes place when they open the doors to the arena.  Don’t remember? Go get your DVD and watch it!)

The fact is, and I really hate using this word to describe my fandom – but we’re just a little on the overwhelming side. Yes, I’m aware we’re all adults now. Yes, I know that we should have outgrown this fascination and fantasy that we could end up with one of them as our forever mate. Yes, I know they’re all either married or involved.  The question is – has any of that really stopped us?

I think we all know the answer to that.  There’s really no need to embarrass ourselves by posting the answer. *winks*

However, even with all of that aside.  Would the band really consider a cruise?  I have trouble even asking that question without laughing.  As someone reminded me – the band IS known for yachts and champagne.  Yes, yes, I am well-aware.  A yacht and a cruise ship are very, very different things.  Somehow, I just don’t see Nick boarding a neon-glitzed cruise ship, ready for several days of chatting it up with fans, a few rounds of bingo and maybe hitting the buffet. Call me crazy.  I can’t imagine Simon putting up with ANY of us for very long without being under the influence of copious amounts of alcohol (perhaps that’s the point?).  Never mind poor John – I don’t think he’d ever leave his stateroom or balcony for fear of actually running into a screaming crowd of us in one of the narrow ship hallways.  Roger – well, Roger might be found tanning on an upper deck, but he’d always have to be on the lookout for John hiding behind a planter, ready to take Instagram photos at any given moment.  Funny, I could see Dom going along with the idea, but only because he has no idea what he’d be in for. (I almost feel sorry for him. Almost.)

As much as Duran Duran is known for being the jet-setting, champagne-consuming, supermodels and sunshine type of band the media and their branding has made them out to be over the years – the difference is that they don’t typically do these things with fans. Those that have seen those inner-workings are among the prized few. And, I would argue  there is something about the fact that they’ve always been a little elitist and a bit removed from us common folk, that we secretly like.  Maybe it’s a love/hate sort of relationship.  We hate that they spent so much time portraying themselves as being above us when we were younger, to a lesser extent I think they still try for that image now, but in some respects, we love it.  We love the chase. We romanticize the idea that if they’re really the elite and they’re noticing us…well…that’s gotta mean something, right?  Self-esteem boost, here we come!!

Otherwise, what’re we all still doing here?? Is it really just about the music?  Maybe for some, but for everyone? Give me a break. I SEE the Facebook groups we’ve been invited to join, guys. It’s not just the music between us.  Sometimes it’s a little girl panic, too.

So, while I might be willing to board a cruise ship with my friends for a weekend of girl fun, I’m not expecting to run into Nick at the buffet, Simon at the art auction, Roger on deck, or John pretty much anywhere on the ship.  (Yes, I know I’m leaving out Dom. Truth be told – I think he’d go even AFTER my warnings. Silly man.)


You Understand I Been Waiting Forever

I have never participated in a “meet and greet”. Over the weekend, Amanda posed the question of why meet and greets would be beneficial to the band – and she received answers, mostly ranging from how wonderful of an experience it was for the fan participants to suggestions that the band would miss out on hearing how much their music has affected others. I had difficulty answering the question myself, because I really don’t know what a meet and greet is really like as a fan, much less what it might do for the band.

What I can say as an interested bystander is this: the quality of the experience is entirely dependent upon the situation. I’ve heard of the dank, dark, super fast “hi and a quick photo” hallway meets…I’m not even sure we properly add the word “greet” in there. I’ve read of the times where only a couple of the band members could make to the meet and greet in the hallway, and truth be told: I have difficulty seeing how any of that could possibly be beneficial to anyone, least of all the band.

In all fairness to the band, when you are forced to come out of hiding night after night, put on a smile in the most unnatural of situations, say hello and then (on many occasions) be felt-up by overenthusiastic fans that have forgotten their manners while having their 30 seconds in front of the band they’ve loved since their teen years – I can’t say that would be beneficial. In my opinion, it’d have the opposite effect. I’d want barriers put up around fans, and while I’d love for them to buy my album and come to my show – I’d also like them to be kept a good 25 feet from me at all times.

On the other hand, when you finally win that chance at a meet and greet, and you sit at home thinking about all of the things you want to say after all of these years – when the time finally comes for you to be in front of any one of them, much less all five of them, and you’re led down a dimly like back hallway and told, “We don’t have time for anything but a photo and it has to be a group one, please don’t try to talk to the band – they don’t have time”, that’s hardly worth the effort to buy the damn tickets to begin with, and those same fans have absolutely no trouble going online and sharing that delightful episode with everyone who’ll read/listen/reply. I can’t really blame them, either.

I have had real trouble underlining benefits to the band myself – because when I consider what the meet and greets have consisted of in the past, I see almost no benefit. From the lack of response we received (truly – for all of the people who have ever done an M&G, very VERY few were able or willing to say much about it), I suspect similar feelings hold true for others. However, if I were to pose the same question to those who attended the VIP party prior to the MoMA screening – I would bet that more than a few could give solid reasons why those types of events work – and not just work for fans, but for the band as well.

Perhaps that alone is food for thought.


You Know You’re Something Special–Perfect Meet and Greets!

It seems like since this blog has started (way back in 2010), one topic has come up time and time again, which is meet and greets.  Our most recent blog about this was done earlier this week by our friend who did a guest blog about the event on Monday night in New York City.  Before that, we have covered meet and greets from official ones at shows as well as other activities that are similar in nature like cd signings and book signings.  We have also covered ones that are not directly Duran related but with other famous people.  I believe that if we were to go back and look at every single post, and there are many, we could pick out elements that make for the most successful meet and greet experiences for both celebrity and fan alike.  This is where the blog has been an extremely good learning tool for myself.  Before the blog and all of the posts related,  I wouldn’t have been able to articulate what really makes a good meet and greet.  Now, I feel like I could despite never having a meet and greet with Duran outside of signings.  This post, then, will spell out these elements to make it clear what works, at least as far as I see it.  In order to create this list of essential meet and greet parts, I will be referring back to 5 specific posts.  They are as follows:

*Guest blog about Monday’s MoMa experience:  Perfect Day

*Post about my John Taylor book signing:  ‘Cause You’re Getting Me Out of It

*Comic Con experience and meeting of Zachary Quinto:  I Won’t Turn You Out…

*Meet and greet with President Obama:  Meet el Presidente

*Guest blog about travel packages the band did in 2003:  Finest Hour

I chose these posts for a few reasons.  First, the guest blogs seem to capture really big deals in the history of the Duran Duran fandom.  Those “meet and greets” were beyond the normal.  They were special and they were significant for those who participated.  The middle three were ones that I could speak to, personally, since they are my experiences and ones that I learned a lot from.  I’m sure that there were other posts that I could have included.  Plus, these all had some or all of the elements I’m going to be emphasizing here.

Elements that make up perfect meet and greets:

1.  Rules help.

In all of the posts I mentioned often, they all stated that rules were clearly explained.  It was clear about when to show up and where.  The fans knew what to expect in terms of interactions with the celebrities, including if the fans would approach them or vice versa.  The same was true for any sort of physical contact.  Fans knew where they needed to go and where the celebrities would be within the specified location.  Things like photographs were spelled out, including who could take pictures, who couldn’t, when you could, the role of the professional photographer, etc.  

2.  Other employees connected to the celebrities should be present.

These employees help probably both famous and fan know that the rules mentioned above will be followed.  On top of that, they create a sense that this is a big deal to fans, which makes it feel more special.  Plus, fans often like to know or talk to those people as well!  I know that I do!  🙂

3.  The setting and extras make a difference.

Meet and greets in gross hallways feel icky.  On the other hand, meet and greets in nice settings like restaurants, banquet halls, bars, etc. make it feel more special.  Those kind of places show that the meet and greet wasn’t an after thought but something planned out, something important.  It reinforces the goal of the meet and greet as the fans feel like they matter and their experience matters.  Food is another nice touch, if and only if, the food is quality.  If it isn’t quality, then, the message to the fans shift from you matter to you being an afterthought.  Likewise, drinks are always a plus!

4.  Time and space are essential.

Fans need to know that they are NOT rushed.  They need the time to actually exchange words with the celebrity of choice.  If fans feel rushed or feel like they only have 30 seconds, the experience won’t be as positive and could even feel negative.  Fans could feel like they don’t matter again and that the celebrity(s) is just doing this because they have to rather than because they want to.  Likewise, fans need to have some space to just be with the celebrity.  I don’t know of any fan who wants to share her/his moment with the celebrity of choice with 50 other people breathing down one’s neck.  Also, meet and greets should just happen for those who are assertive, socially.  If you are there, it should happen with no pressure on how to be.

Results of the perfect meet and greets:

For the Fan:

First, all the fans feel like they have had their moment, their special and real moment with an idol(s).  On a personal level, that really matters!!!  Every fan I know wants this.  Second, for the community, there is a decline in that competition between fans.  If everyone at a meet and greet has her/his chance, moment, etc., there is no need to fight for time or attention from the celebrity.  Everyone can just be happy for each other.  Then, there is more joy and harmony within the fan community.  Lastly, people’s fandom is reinforced.  They love the celebrity MORE after a perfect meet and greet.

For the Celebrity:

First, these kind of meet and greets enhance people’s fandom.  They are more likely to stay fans, which is super important for celebrities who take breaks or have long stretches outside of the spotlight (*coughDuranDurancough*).  Likewise, they are also more likely to support the celebrities’ projects.  That support could come in the form of talking about the celebrity(s) in one’s real life interactions but also on social media.  It could also come in the form of buying more products (cds, concert tickets, merchandise, etc.).  Second, a happier fan community also works to keep fans in the community.  If the competition gets too much or leads to negative interactions between fans, those fans could decide to leave.  That is a loss of money and attention to the celebrity.  Lastly, if the fans have these well-structure chances to interact with the celebrity(s), then there might not be as many fans bothering them at off-work times or, in ways, that are less than comfortable for the celebrity.  Truly, these kind of meet and greets are a win-win for all involved.

This list is probably not complete, but this is how I see it.  Am I the only one?  What do you think?  What does the perfect meet and greet contain?  As a Duranie, I could only hope that the band looks at Monday’s event and things like those previous travel packages in order to determine their meet and greets in the future.  I think it would benefit all of us.


I Won’t Turn You Out if You’ve Got Someone Else

How was everyone’s Duran Duran Appreciation Day?  It looks to me that there were lots of celebrations taking place, if the online presence was any indication.  There were many pictures, videos, and statements of everlasting love posted from fans from all over the world.  The love towards that little band was loud and strong!  Of course, the band acknowledged the day as well.  John Taylor posted a little statement of appreciation on, which you can read for yourself here.  If you are familiar with Mr. Taylor and his writing, it definitely didn’t disappoint and peaked my interest regarding the next album with the idea that the music will make our hair stand up at the same time that we will want to dance and will wonder what the heck.  Sounds beautiful to me!  Roger also posted a statement on his facebook page.  I like how he put this day in some perspective with mentioning Duran’s history and how the current album they are working on will capture this moment in time.  I recommend you checking it out here.

How did I celebrate yesterday’s holiday after I posted the blog appreciating the music?  I guess you could say that I cheated.  I cheated on Duran.  I suppose this is a bit of a confession.  So, what did I do?  I attended the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con.  I wanted to attend for a couple reasons.  First, as a student of fandom, I wanted to see, to witness, to experience one of these comic cons for myself.  While I have never really been a part of any of those fandoms (comic books, sci-fi, superheroes, etc.), I have been around them enough in my life that I feel pretty comfortable.  My brother is a huge comic book fan (He even wrote a few books on the topic!).  If you have been reading this blog for long, you are aware that I grew up with Star Trek in my life and do consider myself a fan.  I have been a fan of a number of other sci-fi shows, too.  While Duran is always my fandom, my central fandom, I do like other things.  It’s okay.  It’s good.  Anyway, I figured that I would be comfortable enough in the environment of the convention to be able to not only learn something about fandom but also have fun.  Second, I won’t lie.  I read that Zachary Quinto was going to be there.  For those of you not in the know.  He plays Mr. Spock in the Star Trek rebooted movie series.  Of course, he has been in other things, most notably, like Heroes and American Horror Story.  I have appreciated his work for sometime and consider myself a fan.  So, attending seemed like a win-win for me.

Once I decided to attend, I had to learn a little bit about how it worked.  I could buy a one day pass or a pass for the entire four days.  This would get me into the convention where I could attend panels of all sorts from celebrity question and answer sessions to writing a sci-fi screenplay to discussion about specific movie projects.  I could also shop at the 80 billion vendors (not an exact number but there were a lot) that were there selling everything from comic books to action figures to sci-fi jewelry.  What this ticket did not get me was any autograph or any picture with any of the celebrities there.  Those opportunities were there for most of the celebrities but did cost extra.  Since I wanted the entire experience and did kind of like that Quinto guy, I figured I would pay for the autograph and picture.  Why not, right?!  You live once and will probably only have the chance once.  Plus, I have to say that I appreciate how clean this is.  You pay and get some access.  There is no waiting back stage after a show.  There is no trying to find someone at a hotel or a bar.  There is no having to hope for that chance encounter on the streets somewhere, all the while, in all of those settings, hoping that it is the right time, right mood to ask.  No, in this circumstance, there is no need to have to ask.  No worry about stepping over someone else.  No worry about upsetting the celebrity of choice.  It is all clean and clear.

Did it go as smoothly as I had hoped?  It absolutely did.  While there was a long line for both, everyone got their chance.  The rules were easy to understand and follow.  Everyone, fan AND celebrity, knew what was going to happen.  I did the picture first as there was more of a set time for that whereas there was more time to get the autograph.  For the picture, there was a line if you were VIP and a line if you were general.  Oh yes, there were VIP tickets for some celebrities.  They cost more (obviously) and included the picture, the four day pass, the autograph, guaranteed prime seating at the question/answer panel, and first in line spots for the pictures.  Then, once everyone was ready, at the set time, the VIP people went first followed by the line of general attendees.  There was a table to put personal belongings on and were told that we couldn’t take any personal pictures and there was to be no hugging or kissing, which made total sense to me.  We were told that it would go fast and that autographs wouldn’t take place then.  The picture could be for just you or a group, if so desired.  If there were more than 2 people per picture, then there was an additional cost.  So what was my experience like?  It did go fast but not as fast as I thought it would.  I wasn’t prepared to say anything because I assumed it would go so fast that words would not be exchanged.  When I walked in, Zach actually directed me to a particular side.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe, he was switching back and forth each time.  Maybe, it was due to height.  Maybe, it was something the photographer requested.  Anyway, he put his arm around me, I did the same to him.  The picture was taken.  Then, he thanked me for coming and wished me a good day.  I muttered a thanks back and moved along.  I noticed that no one tried to stay longer than was necessary to get the picture done.

After that, I walked around for awhile before heading back to the photo opps area to pick up my picture.  I was pleased and walked over to the autograph area to get it signed.  This again was a smooth process.  There was a convention volunteer there either handing out a headshot picture to get signed, if people didn’t have anything, and to write people’s names on a post it note.  The post it note was used at John’s book signing and I can imagine how helpful it is for the signer.  The autograph can be personalized but no worries about spelling someone’s name.  The whole interaction is more than the celebrity asking and spelling your name.  After that, my picture with the post it was passed to another guy, who I assume is either Zach’s manager or someone else who works for him.  We briefly discussed how tiring days like this must be with the nonstop activity and being “on” for so long.  It was a nice conversation that was allowed to happen since Zach was taking his time with the person in front of me.  When it was my turn, he greeted me by name.  I thanked him for volunteering for the Obama campaign, which lead us to discuss my work for the campaign, the results of the election, and the alternative.  It was a nice interaction.  I thanked him and he thanked me.  He shook my hand, wished me a good day and I, him.  It didn’t feel rushed at all.  Yes, there were people behind me but no one was pushing.  After looking at my picture, I put it in my purse and walked around to watch other autograph stations as I wanted to see if Zach was unique in his warm, welcoming nature and the time he took as well as to see how other fans responded to other celebrities.

Here is what I found.  Every celebrity seemed to take their time with the autographs.  Every single one. Some, obviously, had longer lines than others but no one seemed to be rushed.  In front of every station, there was a sign to indicate what times the celebrity would be there to sign.  Some also had signs telling people if they could take pictures or not.  I didn’t see or hear anyone complain about this or violate this rule with those celebrities.  I was curious to see how it would be when the celebrities were done and were leaving.  Would people let them leave?  Would there be a rush of fans asking for autographs or pictures or simply a moment of time?  Nope.  It was calm.  While there were convention volunteers around, the celebrities all seem to leave on their own with the people that they came with.  They left without any fanfare and I watched most of the big names to see.  What does this tell me, show me?  It reminds me of some of the lessons I learned when I met President Obama last October.  First, rules are helpful.  Fans need to know what is allowed, what isn’t allowed and what it is going to be like.  It also helps the celebrities to know that those rules will be followed and that they are safe.  Second, access helps.  If everyone has a chance for a picture or an autograph, if s/he has money, then there is no fighting over the celebrities.  It probably also helps that there were many celebrities there and much to do.  People couldn’t wait around and didn’t want to because they didn’t want to miss something else.  How could this help celebrities like Duran?  I would start with really clear expectations and rules about the meet and greets.  Also, they might benefit to open up meet and greets to more fans.  I realize, though, that this is very difficult on show nights.  Then, I go back to the rules and expectations.  If everyone was on the same page, that can’t hurt.

Overall, yesterday was a very positive experience for me.  I learned a lot about fandom from watching and talking to other fans.  I saw examples of great meet and greets.  I also feel like my appreciation for Zachary Quinto has increased from this.  He was so nice that I can’t help but to want to support him and his projects more.  I can imagine that people who have had positive interactions with any celebrity feels that way.  Something for all celebrities to think about.  On that note, here’s my picture.

I think it turned out pretty great.  I’m hoping that my field trip outside of my fandom won’t be frowned upon too much from the Duran universe as I think it was definitely worth it on many levels.


Guest Blog: Is twenty-seven years a long time to wait for disappointment?

Is twenty-seven years a long time to wait for disappointment?
By Karen Booth 

My Duran Duran love started in 1983. Not that this is a contest, I hate that idea, but I’ve put in my time with the band. Yes, my fandom has waxed and waned over the years, but we all know how life (and the occasional album that doesn’t quite resonate with us) gets in the way. Regardless, like all fans, I love and adore them, always look forward to new music from them, love to see them live, and had dreamt of meeting them since I was a teenager.

Of course, I was excited when the band released AYNIN and announced the first tour dates in 2011. I live in Chapel Hill, NC, and the closest they were coming to me in the early part of the tour was Washington, DC. I called my BFF Sara. We squealed, we planned, we plotted, we jockeyed for the best tickets. All systems go.

Backing up the truck a decade or so, I once worked in the music industry. One could make a correlation between my teenage love of DD and my general obsession with music, which eventually turned into a career and often inspires the books I write. Through a friend still working in the industry, I was able to finagle passes for the meet-and-greet in Washington, DC. I won’t lie. I’ve been backstage many times, sometimes for very famous acts, and it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. It can be dull. Stilted. Artificial feeling, especially when it’s an orchestrated meet-and-greet. Still, will full knowledge of what it would probably be like, I was screaming at the top of my lungs in my office at the thought of getting to go backstage for Duran Duran. It was finally going to happen.

Sara and I made the five-hour drive to Washington, DC on a beautiful, sunny fall day. We sang Duran songs at the top of our lungs, not just out of fun and musical enjoyment—I needed an outlet for my overabundance of nervous anticipation. I couldn’t think about meeting the band after twenty-seven years without some sort of squeaking noise leaving my mouth. 

Sara and I checked into our hotel, which was fabulous. We discussed wardrobe options and got dolled up. We had an incredible meal at a restaurant I’d researched online. A few cocktails later, we strolled down to historic Constitution Hall and got our wristbands and a set of explicit directions about where we were to be and at what time we were to be there.

Sara and I got in line to go backstage. At this point, my heart was beating a million miles a second. I kept talking, but it was entirely out of nervousness. I was yammering. Nothing intelligent came out of my mouth. The security guy poked his head out from behind a curtain and said they’d be taking us back in a minute or two. Resume panic mode.

That’s when everything went wrong. Sara told me she was thirsty and needed to get a bottle of water. My immediate reaction was, “Are you kidding?” No, she wasn’t kidding. I told her to hurry. She took off down the hall. The security guy pulled back the curtain and told us it was time. I sent Sara several texts, as fast my thumbs could go.

“Hurry up!” 
“It’s time!” 


My phone rang. The caller ID said it was Sara, but when I answered and started babbling about how she needed to move her cute little butt, there was a woman yelling at me to stop talking. Then I heard my name behind me and a security guy said that I needed to come with him. 

“Your friend passed out,” he said.

“Oh. She does that.” (Sara had, in fact, passed out on me at a funeral mere weeks earlier. It happens when she gets stressed.)

By the time they got me to Sara, she was awake and paramedics were tending to her. Sara wasn’t calm or dazed though, she was yelling at anyone she could yell at.

“Don’t worry about me. I’m fine. Take my friend backstage. She’s been waiting twenty-seven years for this.”

Security guy said, “Don’t you worry about that. I’m in charge of backstage. Everything will be fine.”

“Reggie,” said Sara, who had apparently read his nametag, “I think you’re full of shit. I don’t think you’re in charge of anything.” (Keep in mind, Sara is 5’ tall and 100 pounds soaking wet. Reggie could have easily been starting defensive tackle for any NFL team.)

Reggie laughed while Sara’s eyes practically shot laser beams through his forehead.

While the paramedics took Sara’s blood, looked in her eyes with a light, took her blood pressure and a whole bunch of other stuff, Sara was still yelling. “Reggie, so help me God, if you don’t get my friend backstage right now, I’m going to freak out.”

“Your friend needs to be here for you.”

“Stop arguing with me. I’m fine. Take her now.”

The paramedics had a bunch of forms for me to fill out, even though they had determined that Sara was fine. The clock was ticking, I knew that much, but I was still so dumbfounded by everything happening around me that I didn’t do anything other than what I was told to do.

Reggie’s walkie-talkie buzzed. “The band is done. We gotta go now,” he tells me. Reggie and I run down the hall and he nearly pushed me through the door. I stumble into the room where the band was waiting.

Oh. Crap.

What happened next transpired in slow motion, even though it took mere seconds. I dropped my purse on the floor. I handed a guy my phone. 
“It’s not in camera mode.” 
“Sorry, my friend just passed out,” I said, realizing how dumb it sounded the instant it left my mouth. What am I? Twelve? 

I looked around. I had no idea where to stand. I had no idea what to do. Saying I was disoriented would be an understatement. I was the proverbial deer caught in the headlights. No one said a word to me. 

I stepped closer to them. Oh my God, I’m in the same room with John Taylor. Nick is shorter than I thought he would be. The only thing I could think to say was, “Hi.” I know. Poetic. 

I turned and had my picture taken. While standing directly in front of Simon. 

Simon asked, “Are we done?” Photo guy said, “Yes.” And then they walked away.

Nobody said, “Bye” or “Thanks” or “Nice to meet you”. That was it. 

After that, I left and we went to our seats. Sara was feeling much better. I showed her the photos, still in a daze and holding back a peculiar mix of emotions. The women behind me, who were very nosy, grabbed my phone. 
“Oh my God. She met the band.”
“Simon looks like he photo-bombed her.” 
They squealed. They were jealous. Irrationally jealous. I feel like crying and they’re jealous? 

They passed my phone around our immediate section and people were pointing at me at gasping and grabbing the phone from each other. When I got my phone back, I posted the photo on Facebook and my best friend from high school posted the comment, “I can’t believe you met them and I wasn’t there!” 

I then realized that disappointed or not, I’d still had the honor of standing in the same room with Simon, John, Roger, and Nick. Twenty-seven years of waiting, but I still got to be there. 99% of the people in that theater would have gladly traded places with me, no matter how much it hadn’t felt like a moment worth years of build-up.

Most importantly, Sara was okay and not about to assault a 300-lb. security guy. 

The show was amazing, so much fun, the band firing on all cylinders. Our seats were great and we danced our butts off, slinking back to our hotel in exhausted bliss. 

If you’re looking for a moral to this story, the only thing I can say is that we all need to remember that the reality rarely lives up to the fantasy, no matter the situation or people involved. You have to prepare yourself for that possibility. I’m still glad I went backstage that night, even when it meant that the dreams of the fifteen-year-old me were squashed along the way.

I comfort myself with the idea that lots of people have been fortunate enough to meet the band, but not everyone stood in front of Simon when they did it. 

Epilogue: I saw the band again in August of 2012 and was able to have a do-over on the meet-and-greet. Sara wasn’t able to go, which was too bad because I know she wanted to prove that she could do it without passing out. It was very calm and devoid of paramedics. I was able to introduce myself to them all, shake hands and say hello, have them sign my ADITM CD, and have a lovely photo taken. Much more like the scenario my fifteen-year-old self had imagined.

Author Karen Booth is a Midwestern girl transplanted in the South, raised on 80s music, Judy Blume, and the films of John Hughes. Her most recent novel, Bring Me Back, tells the tale of a music writer who meets and falls in love with the 80s British rock star she was obsessed with in high school and is peppered with Duran references.

Public Figure, What a Pain!

One of the reasons that I love to write is that I love how it organizes my thinking.  I feel like I have a ton of ideas, thoughts just rolling around in my head until I sit down to organize them in such a way as to be understood by others.  This blog is going to be one of those.  Lately, I have been thinking about celebrities, public figures, idols, stars or whatever you want to call them.  This isn’t surprising since I have been studying and thinking about fandom for long time.  Yet, my focus has always been fans rather than the famous person/people.  Our book, for example, doesn’t examine the band.  Yes, we obviously mention them but we don’t spend a lot of time talking specifically about them.  Yet, lately, my thinking has shifted.  I’m thinking less from the fan perspective and more about what the celebrity(s) might feel.

All of us know what it is like to be the fan.  We know what it is like to admire someone’s creative work–whether that work is a song, an album, a video, a live performance, an acting performance, a piece of art, a piece of fashion, etc.  I also definitely get how it feels to be around someone you admire.  Let’s face it.  There is something odd, when you think about it, about how someone’s JOB is such that lots of people know it and like him/her because of it.  We all have jobs, careers but it isn’t like the media pays any attention to people who deliver packages or people who fix plumbing.  It just doesn’t happen. Careers in the creative arts, on the other hand, can get people’s attention beyond those immediately around them.  We could discuss why that is but that isn’t the focus of the blog.  I have to acknowledge that it is weird, in a logical sense, that people would become well-known or famous for their CAREERS.  Obviously, in some way, we (collectively, as a society) place people in the world of fame because we must think that who they are or what they do is extraordinary, special, better than the rest of us.  This is why we follow them or why we want to meet them, right?  I do get that, but I also wonder what it is like to be them.  I know what it is like to be a fan, to be someone who wants to meet someone famous, but what is it like to be someone who people want to meet or more?

On one hand, I can imagine that it must be completely amazing to be someone who people want to meet, be around, and more.  It must be a non-stop ego stroke, right?  All of these people want to meet you, take your picture, get your autograph, etc. because they feel you are special, someone extraordinary.  This must make you feel very special and I could see where you could and would believe that you are exactly that, something, perhaps, better than others, better than everyday people.  I could see where you would just think you are so cool and that you can do no wrong.  It might even lead to you believing that you deserve all of the attention and maybe you do.  It sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?  Clearly, a lot of people try really hard to get to this spot of fame and many once they get there want to stay.  It must be very addicting.  I get this.  We all like praise and to be told that we do something well.  We all do.  I know, for example, I always do when it comes to this blog, my political work or even my job.  Then, I imagine that fame is like this times like a million.  Yet, is there a dark side to all of this attention?  We all realize that there can be a dark side to media attention, lack of privacy, etc.  What about with the fans, though?

The fan interactions I’m thinking of can be everything from official events like a CD signing or meet and greet to unofficial events like seeing someone in the streets or at an airport.  There is also the online interactions through the use of twitter and Facebook.  Whenever we have asked questions about fan interactions with the band, whether in person or on line, we frequently get a comment about how they are grown men and can handle themselves, which I have no doubt of.  That really isn’t my question.  Then, we hear, If they don’t like what a fan is doing, they could say something.  That’s true, but I also realize that there is a danger to doing that.  They wouldn’t want to alienate any fans, would they?  After all, that is how they sell albums and concert tickets.  They must also realize that fans talk among themselves so making one or two fans angry could lead to a lot more being angry.  Another frequent comment we hear when it comes to fan interactions with celebrities is that dealing with fans is part of their job or that fans put them where they are so they owe the fans to interact with them.  I struggle more with this one.  Is fan interaction part of the job?  Is it?  In the case of Duran, I’m sure that they would describe themselves as musicians.  This means that write and perform songs.  Fan interaction, I suppose, comes in with success.  To be a successful musician, one must sell a lot of albums and concert tickets.  Then, fan interaction becomes a part, right?  I guess.  Do some people become rock stars or actors or whatever for the fame?  I’m sure.  Do all?  What if they are uncomfortable interacting with strangers?  (I would be.)  Does that hurt their career?  Should it?  As for stars owing fans, I’m even more uncomfortable with this.  Isn’t their jobs to make music, to act, to write, to whatever and the audience’s job is to buy those products?  We buy the music.  We buy the movie ticket or watch the TV show.  We buy the book.  We aren’t buying the actual person(s), person’s time or attention, right?  I will also frequently hear a comment that goes something like this, “I treat them how I treat everyone.” Do we really?  If I treated the members of Duran Duran the way I do everyone else, I wouldn’t save pictures of them, for example, unless I was in them.  I wouldn’t try to find out everything about what they are working on or worked on.  Sure, yes, I find out quite a bit about what my close friends and family are up to but not to the same degree.  Let me give you an example.  My sister-in-law is a historian.  She worked on some project about kitchens in the 1950s.  Did I buy the book connected to this project?  I didn’t.  Kitchens and food preparation isn’t something I’m interested in.  I offered her support and congrats but that’s it.  I didn’t buy it immediately as I did with John’s autobiography.  My point here isn’t to criticize anyone, including myself.  I just think the nature of celebrities and fame doesn’t allow us to truly treat them as we would anyone else.  I think we can always strive for that, but we are humans and, for whatever reason, these particular people, these particular stars caught our attention.  They cause us to get excited.  These people cause us to react more emotionally.  If they didn’t, we wouldn’t be fans.  To be a fan means to have a passion for someone or something.  Emotion must be a part of it.

The real question then becomes how do we respond, knowing all this?  We know that people we are a fan of will cause us to feel a lot.  We will get excited over the idea of meeting them or interacting with them.  Yet, we also know, logically, that they are just people.  They are just people who made a career in the creative arts or something else that could get a vast amount of media and public attention.  What is right and fair for them and what is right and fair for us?  Do we try to overrule our emotion and desire to meet and interact with them?  Do we acknowledge the truly strange aspect to the fan/famous person interaction?  Do we change how we approach them?  These are questions I am no where ready to answer.