I would sit back and read the Ask Katy questions and answers, and even try to submit a few of my own at times. None of mine were ever used that I recall, and mostly it’s because I think my questions were probably pretty stupid. Yes, I can say that now without cringing much. One time I even asked her about the single box set – you probably remember – it’s a black box set of their singles? Well, I think I’d read about the second set of those boxes and couldn’t find it in a store near me, so I asked her when it might be available. Stupid me – it was already out, and I’m sure she thoroughly enjoyed answering that one. Not quite as bad as asking what song “Encore” is, but pretty close, in my opinion. I still wince a bit when I think about getting that reply email. I know I answered her back trying to laugh it off and blame it on Mommy brain (which may have been true, but even so – I actually replied back to her?? Oh gosh…) At the time, I know I thought she answered pretty abruptly and I felt horribly inept, and I probably even said so on the message board I was participating on at the time, but to be fair – Katy had probably been asked that question more than once, and as I said – it was pretty stupid. It wasn’t her fault that I asked a dumb question. The trouble is, after that, I was almost afraid of Katy. It’s one thing to not know an answer to something and do the work to find out on your own, but it’s another to just ask the question to the Fan Liaison and get a reply back that you should have already known. I just didn’t want to ever look silly in front of her again, so I avoided the whole thing and let other people ask the good questions.
A year or so…maybe even a couple of years later, I found myself in a similar position to Katy. Sort of. I started answering the fan mail for a now defunct band called Clear Static. Maybe you’ve heard of them, because they opened for Duran Duran during part of their 2005 tour for Astronaut. I wanted to be a good Fan Liaison person because I knew what it was like to be a fan and not be able to get anywhere near the band. Clear Static was made up of a bunch of kids, really – I think their oldest member at the time was just barely 21, and I had high hopes for them. I knew that their fan base would grow, and that great things lay ahead, and that I was very proud to be on their team. What I didn’t count on (because I was bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and completely naive), was just how many crazy people were out there. I didn’t count on how many “I want to have your baby” (and in FAR greater detail) emails they would get. Trust me, I had no idea that so many women (and men) would become so unhinged at the very first sights of them in concert and would be driven to write them emails asking questions that I wouldn’t even dream of ever asking even my closest friends, much less a band member I’d never met. As time wore on and the questions got slightly more insane, I found myself thinking about Katy. I couldn’t imagine what kinds of things she’d read over the years, but I did know one thing for sure: after a while, it’s very easy and natural to become pretty cynical about the whole thing. You stop reading the “I love you’s” and just want to know what you need to do in order to make this fan stop writing. (Yes, we had a few writers that were fairly prolific!) You stop remembering what it was like to actually be a fan and start wondering why these people don’t have lives that keep them busier. At one point during all of this, I wrote Katy to ask her how many Ask Katy emails she was getting, and I took the opportunity to tell her what I was doing for Clear Static and that I finally understood a tiny bit of what went into her job. Katy did answer me back (I can’t honestly remember what she said), and I have to admit that I had renewed respect for her after that. Maybe it took my being in a similar spot to finally get it.
Of course, I’m not mentioning how it was to work with a band. I’ll just say that it was almost the exact opposite of how I thought it would be. I don’t know what it’s like for Katy, but I have to believe that she is treated with some decorum of respect and intelligence because she’s still working with them, many years later. As you can see, I’m now writing a blog…and would be even if the band were still around. Get my point?
Over the years though, I’ve seen some things. I’m not sure that I would really want to have Katy’s job at this point, and not because she has to work with the band. Although I am pretty sure that part isn’t even quite as rosy and beautiful as it might seem to one of us as fans. I mean, who wants to be the one to cajole John Taylor into doing his Katy Kafé? (put your hands down right now and think about dealing with a very moody John Taylor!!) Who wants to be the one to remind Simon that they still have to answer a question or two for something?? Who really wants Nick to tell them in the middle of nowheresville that he’d like a nice pasta lunch and that he’s sure it can be “sorted out”? Katy has what seems to be a great relationship with all of them, but it’s taken many years to get to that point. Truth be told, I’m not sure I’m the person for that job – even WITH all my mom training. I know how it felt to be yelled at, cursed at, and even called names – all because I couldn’t give a fan the answers she/he wanted in the timeframe they felt was acceptable. I know what it is like to have to lie to a fan because the band doesn’t want to be nice and take a picture with them. I remember all too well how hard I worked to get fans at a specific show (a showcase for a label) in Los Angeles, only to be stuck outside because the band didn’t bother to put me on their guest list. (at the time they were being managed by someone was a friend of theirs from high school. Gee, I wonder why they didn’t stay together long after that….) I remember what it was like when fans were writing every day, begging to know when the band was going on tour again, only to know that the band was never touring again. They’d broken up months before, but yet I couldn’t say anything because an announcement hadn’t been made yet. There are definite downsides to the job, many of which I’m not even mentioning here, and keep in mind – this was my experience working for a band that hadn’t even had a single hit.
So when I say that fans are tough to work with, it’s true – they are. We expect a lot. We also hold management accountable for all that goes wrong, and almost never for what goes right. I had someone suggest that I’m one of Katy’s “favorites” yesterday. I think the reference was due to my blog post, and if that’s how fellow fans see me, then they should probably grab a clue. I don’t even know what being a favorite means because I’ve never once had a question answered (well, an Ask Katy question – I did have a question answered for TV Mania), If we want an interview (and I chuckle at that idea, as if they’d ever consider allowing us to interview the band…even with our super stellar interview with Dom, we are well-aware of our limits!), we would have to go through normal channels like anyone else, and we are almost NEVER retweeted, unlike some other blogs that I can mention off of the top of my head out there. So no, I don’t accept the idea of being a favorite. However, I DO accept that I am respectful towards Katy and anyone and everyone else, because I am. I don’t always agree with what we might believe to be management decisions, but the fact is – none of us ever know the full story, even when we think we do. I struggle sometimes to keep my mouth shut and fingers quiet when I want to explode to remind fans that they really don’t know half of what they think they do, and I count myself in that crowd. I don’t know what goes on. None of us really know, and that’s part of the fascination. We all want to see behind that proverbial curtain, and yet if we actually got a peek – I think a lot of us would be extremely disappointed. It’s tough to remain a fan once you’ve seen the other side. This, I know for certain.