Then your soul goes up in smoke

Once upon a time, I thought that Katy had the best job in the entire world. I highly doubt that I was alone. I thought that it must be so cool to actually speak to the band, to have an actual working friendship with them, to ask them questions, to answer all of the Ask Katy questions…and I know many fans over the years have also wanted that job, because one of the listed FAQs (at least at one point) was whether she needed help. Naturally she did not.  I suppose that even at one point or another, I might have been truly envious or jealous of her. Again, I doubt I’m alone even if no one ever admits it here on this blog.

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.

-R

  

What do you say when people come and try to pin you down?

I just got back from a long weekend of camping, sitting and reading. One of the topics that I’ve been reading is the history of the concept of celebrity in America, which kind of ties into over-admiration and even stalking concepts I’ve also been researching.

The preoccupation with celebrity here in America is pretty staggering and has been going on since the days of silent movies.  Names such as Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Lillian Gish and Rudolf Valentino may very well be unknowns to my generation (really?!) but at one time, they were akin to names like Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Johnny Depp, Drew Barrymore and Julia Roberts. Public adoration grew as the medium (movies) grew in popularity – first with silent film, and slowly, with “talkies”.  As public adoration grew, so did the demand for perfection. As the status of celebrity grew to dizzying heights, the requirement to be absolutely perfect, with no sign of outward or inward blemish also grew.

That is probably not such a mindblowing surprise. After all, we’ve seen many a celebrity fail to meet expectations of the public, and fall down a rabbit hole of self-loathing, punishment, drug use and even in some cases, suicidal action. Our requirements are (apparently) not easy to maintain.

Now that we’re in the moment of near-constant access, there are almost no curtains for a celebrity to hide behind, no shadows in which to linger quietly, and no mistakes that can be made without someone, anyone, pointing fingers, finding fault and creating a potential uproar.  A simple error in fact is not just called upon by one person or another, but by many – as is the case with twitter. So while you and I might tweet our favorite celebrity to make them aware of a mistake, so are potentially thousands of others – you and I might never realize just how many tweets they receive from one small error.

Our expectations as fans are incredibly high. We insist on correct information, we want immediate access, and we expect personal attention. We want twitter accounts run by celebrities themselves, and if a staff member dare run an account (even by their own admission), they had better not make a single error, or they can expect to hear of their incompetence…many, many times over. It’s not enough for the error to be acknowledged, apologies must be made, often times well-beyond what we would demand from even our most personal friends.

At what point does it all become too much? Is there a point where our demands for constant perfection cross the line?

This isn’t about being American or British, or being Scottish and expecting certain Wimbledon winners to be noted as such, so don’t bring those arguments to this blog. Debates over ignorance and whether PR staff should be American or British for this band are not what I’m getting at – you all seem to be discussing that just fine on Facebook, Twitter and what seems to be hundreds of Duran Duran Facebook groups today. This post is purely about what we expect as fans. Yes, we expect to be treated with kindness, patience and respect among many other things. I’m just finding myself wondering when we should properly (and rightfully so) return the favor, to celebrity and staff alike.

-R

Out of Desperation

It has taken me awhile to get back on track with all of the online happenings in Duranland after my little vacation and being sick.  Nonetheless, I couldn’t help but notice a certain youtube video being shared and discussed at the end of the week.  The title of this video?  Duran Duran Demo 2013.  It didn’t take long, though, for the truth of this clip to become known.  The music matched the music heard in this clip with Roger Taylor for Roland’s Electronic Drums, which can be seen here.  Thus, the music wasn’t a new Duran demo at all.  Then, at the end of the week, we were rewarded with a new photo, which can be seen here.  Likewise, this was shared far and wide within the community.  What do these incidents tell me?  First, it reminds me about our purpose here and what we do and don’t do.  Second, it shows that the fan community is starting to get itchy.

How come we didn’t immediately come on here or our facebook or our twitter when the video about the “demo” showed up?  This is simple, really.  When I saw it, like everyone else, I wanted to believe that it was actually new Duran music.  Who wouldn’t?!  Yet, it wasn’t verified to be that at all.  That is not what we do.  We don’t post rumors or something that just could be, might be news.  We aren’t trying to be the news source for Duran happenings.  Nope.  That isn’t us.  We do post or discuss the news and/or rumors but not to be the source of Duran news.  When we do post information, we do it to discuss what happens in the fan community or to talk about how WE feel about it.  This blog is about what it is like to be a Duran fan.  Information is shared in order to discuss the fandom, the fan community.  Yet, when information is shared even within this context, it must be verified for us to be comfortable.  We certainly don’t want to be the sources of misinformation.  How would that help anyone?  As a fan, I know how frustrating it is to read something or hear something and think it is something new and exciting only to find out that it isn’t or that it isn’t even true.  Talk about popping a balloon of excitement.  Once I saw that this video wasn’t really a demo, I put it out of my mind and didn’t think much of it.  Then, the new official picture popped up and was shared with the same level of enthusiasm as the “not demo” video.  I got it then.  The point isn’t that someone would post a video with music that isn’t a Duran demo.  It is about how the fanbase is starting to get desperate.

Let’s face it.  It has been really pretty dang quiet in the Duran-universe.  Yes, we get tweets from Simon.  Yes, we have heard some great Katy Kafes.  Yes, we have heard or seen member(s) going to events or planning to go to events.  Yet, this isn’t the same as hearing new snippets of music or a new song.  It isn’t the same as talking about going to shows or what shows were like.  This is that Duran downtime that we are all very familiar with.  We are pretty used it.  Most of us even get it, logically.  We know that it takes time to create.  Heck, we also know and understand that NO ONE should have to work all day, everyday.  Breaks and vacations are needed and necessary.  We get it and do not fault or criticize the band for this.  Yet, we also get the pattern that the fan community falls into.  We start to get itchy.  We start to get twitchy.  We start to get a little desperate for any tiny piece of information, any small piece of news.  This feeling is such that we react, emotionally.  There is no stopping to think:  Is this real?  Is this true?  At least, not initially…  (This is a general pattern, people.  I do realize that not every fan would react this way but the fan community as a whole reacts this way, I think.)  This is why we were SO excited to hear something labeled as a new demo!  We just reacted.  It was a reflex (ha!).  Unfortunately, our excitement was short lived.  Now, thankfully, we had an official photo that followed quickly.

This photo was shared just as much, if not more so than the “not demo”.  People, I think, felt good about having something official.  They knew that this was real and their excitement, their reaction could just be felt and shared with others.  There wasn’t much of a need to think, to ponder, to wonder.  This shows me that we don’t need much to keep us going, to minimize those anxious feelings–just a picture, a few tweets, etc.  While we get that we shouldn’t expect something every day, a little something every once in awhile is definitely appreciated.  It is even more appreciated when we know that it is from official sources.

-A

Songs I Want to See Performed Live!

Today, I’m posting a third part to a little series I have been doing.  The first part of the series involved songs that Duran performs on a regular basis that I really want them to keep in their set lists.  If you missed that post you can find it here.  For the second part, I shared songs that I have heard live but ones that I haven’t heard much or for a very long time.  That post is here.  This third part then is going to focus on songs that I have never been lucky enough to be at a show where they have been performed live.  In most cases with these songs, they have been played live at some point.  As always, these songs are in no particular order.

Late Bar-
I’m sure this one is an obvious choice since Rhonda and I have mentioned wanting it included in the set list a number of times.  I will never forget how they played it during the summer of 2009 shows.  I was so excited going into our shows, thinking that we, finally, might be able to witness Late Bar live for ourselves only to be disappointed.  I will always be hopeful.
Too Bad You’re So Beautiful-
This is one of my very favorite tracks off of All You Need Is Now and yet, it has not gotten the attention I think it deserves.  Like Late Bar, I saw that this song was played during those special rehearsal shows after Simon recovered his voice.  I was hopeful, then, that they might continue to play this song as they resumed regular touring.  No luck.  
Vertigo-
This is a song that I always liked but recently found myself turning to more and more.  It is definitely one of my personal favorites off of the Notorious album, which is an album that I don’t find myself listening to that often.  I think this track truly could be great live and might be a good way to reintroduce that album to all of us.
Edge of America-
This is a song that both Rhonda and I have mentioned recently.  It featured strongly in a blog post I did a few weeks ago about my current job situation.  For this personal reason, I would love to hear it live.  That said, I think it would totally knock everyone’s socks off if it was played live now because it is such a good one!
Shadows on Your Side-
When I was a kid, I loved the singles off of Seven and the Ragged Tiger.  As I have gotten older, I have learned to appreciate some of album tracks.  This song is one of those more appreciated tracks.  In fact, at this point, it is definitely one of my favorites off this album.  Another song that was played at those rehearsal shows in September 2011.
Anyone Out There-
This song is like many of the others on this list.  It is an album track that I truly did not appreciate as a kid but now, I really do.  It is also one of those songs that I know that they have played live but I missed those tours.  Sadly.
One of Those Days-
The reason I want to hear this one is simple.  It is one of two songs off of Astronaut that I have not seen performed live.  The other song I haven’t seen live is Point of No Return.  I like the idea of seeing all of the songs off an album performed live.  I am lucky that I can say that I have seen all of Rio performed live.  I have also seen all of Red Carpet Massacre live.  Astronaut is the closest to being completed.  I chose this song over Point of No Return for a simple reason.  I like this one better.  Did they ever play this one live?  It seems to me that they haven’t.  
Of Crime and Passion-
This is another one of those album tracks off of Seven and the Ragged Tiger that could be truly cool to hear live.  It is a song that seems to get lost on the album.  Hearing it live would bring it under a spotlight for all of us to appreciate more.
Nightboat-
How cool would it be to hear this one live?  The atmosphere of this song would be all consuming live, I would imagine.  I’m sure that there are many of you out there ready to point out that they played this one during the reunion days.  I’m aware of that.  Unfortunately, I was suffering through graduate school and had to get my research project done to finish the masters degree.  Yes, I regret not allowing myself a break to see a show or three.
Networker Nation-
This one would be fascinating to see performed live.  Why?  Simple.  As a person who studies fandom–our fandom, in particular, I would love to see how the fans who do interact on a daily basis online would react to this song.  Would there be a feeling of being able to relate or not?
Tel Aviv-
I know that most people wouldn’t choose, basically, an instrumental to hear but this is a song that I do adore.  It would provide Simon a break and allow the instrumentation of the band to shine.  I remember hearing about this song being played with an orchestra in 2005 and I was so envious of those who were there.  How cool would that have been!
So, what are the top 10 songs you haven’t been lucky enough to see performed live but would love to see!  As you might have figured out by now, I am slowing pulling together a list of songs that the band might want to consider for the next tour.  After these 3 parts, I have given them 30 songs to choose from!  I have one more part then my list of solid choices will be complete.  🙂
-A

In Whispering Darkness

I am back from a bit of a vacation!  I didn’t really go anywhere.  Although, I did spend a couple of days in Chicago, but that doesn’t feel like somewhere special since I live so close.  The vacation, though, surrounded visits from family including my sister and her family and my brother and his wife.  This vacation was pretty unique for me since it is the first time I really took time away from the blog since we started.  I also took time away from all of my online activities, for the most part.  This felt very good, but it also feels good to be getting back on track.  After all, I enjoy writing the blog and have many things to do for that convention, which is quickly approaching!  That said, I already miss my fabulous nieces who are 10 and 14.  While we didn’t get to spend as much time together as I had hoped due to illnesses on their parts, I did manage to give them a little playlist of songs.  After all, it is important to ensure that they receive a solid musical education.  🙂  Interestingly enough, as I worked on this playlist, I really struggled with which Duran songs to put on it.  I wanted to give them a good representation of what Duran is capable of…but I wanted it to be appropriate for both the 14 year old AND the 10 year old.  This was a bit of a challenge as Duran really isn’t all hearts and flowers and isn’t bubblegum like too many people assume.  Instead, Duran often takes on some dark topics, both with their music, but more specifically with their lyrics.

It seems to me that there are very few “light” Duran songs.  Even those songs that are super popular often deal with issues that are less than fun.  For example, Girls on Film might be about models but, more specifically, it is about exploitation of models.  What about songs like the Reflex or A View to a Kill?  We already know that the Reflex could have multiple meanings and some of those meanings might be a bit more adult, right?  A View to a Kill’s lyrics aren’t happy and bright with a chorus of “Dance into the fire”.  Yes, obviously, there are a few of the singles that are positive.  Rio seems to be very carefree, if it really is about a woman or about something else like America.  A more recent song like All You Need Is Now also is very positive.  I, of course, included my favorite, Planet Earth, which doesn’t seem either positive or negative.  What happens after you run out of the positive, not dark, not adult themed songs?  You find that a lot of Duran songs are dark or adult themed.

What are some of the topics that Duran songs have focused on that are really dark and/or adult?

*Save a Prayer–a lot of Duranies love this song and believe it to be “beautiful” but it is about a one night stand.  Not exactly kid friendly.

*Wild Boys–“there’s bloodstain for your pain” with references of gunshots.  Not happy.

*Notorious–about media exploitation.  Pretty adult.

*Skin Trade–this one doesn’t need explanation about being adult in nature, does it?

*Violence of Summer–lyrics like “It starts with desire.  Ends up under cover” seems pretty adult to me.

*Too Much Information–the control of the media.

*Lady Xanax–the title obviously references a prescription drug usually taken for depression and/or anxiety and the lady in the song definitely fits that description

*Astronaut–Alien sex.  Enough said.

*Bedroom Toys–Obviously adult!

*Dirty Great Monster–Assumption that many people have is that the song is about sexual abuse.  If so, that’s pretty dark and adult.

Still, there are others that might not be as dark or as adult but still feel less bright and happy.  Some of those songs to me are:

*Friends of Mine–it feels to me to be about betrayal and a loss of trust

*I Don’t Want Your Love–this song feels like a straight up love song until you really pay attention to the lyrics.  Then, it is clear that this “relationship” might involve some cheating since the person would be “keeping someone else behind”.

*Ordinary World–grief and loss are not happy topics.

*Falling Down–this song isn’t very happy either as it describes a person needing help as the person is “falling down” literally or figuratively.

*Being Followed–Being watched and followed isn’t very happy or bright

I could, obviously, go on and on with these lists.  The songs I included were the first ones that came to my mind.  My points here are pretty simple.  First, it is difficult to pull out those happy, positive, all age appropriate songs.  It isn’t impossible but not as easy as one would have thought.  Second, it amazes me that anyone would or could assume that Duran shouldn’t be taken seriously.  Clearly, they have dealt with a lot of real life issues, tough issues.  They haven’t been afraid to look at all sides of life from the positive to the negative, the good with the bad.

-A

Happy Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July!

For Americans, this is a special day – our Independence Day. It’s actually my most favorite holiday of the year, and as you are reading this, I am likely waking up in my trailer – because I have gone camping for the weekend with the family. We are at a place called Vail Lake in Southern California, and with any luck – it will not be ninety degrees today. As far as I’m aware, my day will consist of time on the lake, some swimming, relaxing, and maybe even listening to a band that is not Duran Duran play…and of course fireworks. My favorite part!

So, as I bid you adieu for the weekend (Amanda is back blogging tomorrow), I thought I would leave you with a couple of videos that remind me somewhat of fireworks and Fourth of July.

-R

Can’t get enough of New Moon on Monday
Wild Boys…John Taylor on a car. Is there really anything else we need to know??
What Happens Tomorrow – Corny? Yes, maybe…

One song I wish they’d play again…Edge of America!

We present: The Hardworking Committee Behind Durandemonium 2013!

With Durandemonium nearly on the horizon now – just about 4 and a half months away now, we thought it might be time to introduce you to the rest of the hard working committee.

Our committee is comprised of five hard working Duranies, in addition to Amanda and myself.  All of the committee members have jobs outside of planning the convention, and so they are giving some of their little precious free time to the convention, which Amanda and I wholeheartedly appreciate.  Planning a full-blown convention is a lot of work, and we know that none of us are getting paid for this gig…so thank you!!

Julie Malloy:  Julie is from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and she is 42 years old.  Julie has seen 41 live shows, and is looking to get more so that she’s consistently caught up with her age to show ratio!

Julie is an apparent “collector” and has several things in her attic (that she is brazen enough to share with readers here on the blog) that make her friends afraid of her.  A partial list:  Water bottle from JT’s solo show in Philadelphia that is lovingly kept in a plastic Ziploc bag, Andy’s cigarette butt from a show in Portland Oregon, the set list from a New York City show in support of RCM, another set list from the show in Durham North Carolina in 2012 (Rhonda is slightly jealous over that one!!), and multiple sweaty towels from shows that she has attended over the years.

Like nearly every fan, Julie has some favorite songs, and this list includes: Anyone Out There, Too Bad You’re So Beautiful, Last Man Standing, and Late Bar.

So why on earth did Julie agree to this craziness of convention planning??  So that she could meet new Duranie friends and have a fabulous weekend for herself (a “me” weekend!) to recharge her batteries.  We think she’ll be in great company!

Laura Duker:  Laura lives in Gurnee, Illinois with her amazing husband and two challenging but very lovable boys, ages 9 and 12.

Like many of us, she has been a fan since the summer of 1982 when she turned on MTV for the first time and saw Simon’s bare chest striding through the jungle in “Hungry Like the Wolf”.  She used to say that Simon was her favorite band member, but after meeting all original five in 2003, there was no way to pick a favorite any longer. Each of the bring their own dynamic to the overall whole and she adores them all (and now Dom too!) for their unique qualities.

Laura hasn’t traveled much to see the band, mostly due having young children to juggle, but she has been from coast to coast: NYC to see the Red Carpet Massacre shows and to Seattle to see Durandy’s amazing warehouse collection.

One of the things Laura loves most about this band is how much of a family we’ve all become because of them. Yes, we fans have the competitive and argumentative nature that flows throughout our ranks from time to time, but when push comes to shove, no one will ever “get us” like we do!  She has met so many wonderful people over the years of going to shows and being on boards, and every time we all get together in a crowded concert hall, it is like home.  That is why she’s chosen to help with this convention, to be with her “family”. To laugh over the one-liners we all know so well, share stories of our “firsts”, and of COURSE, enjoy the fantastic music that moves us all and has written the soundtrack to our lives. She hopes to see you in Chicago this October!

Kimberley Lowrey: Kim is originally from (and still lives) in Chattanooga Tennessee. In addition to Duran Duran, Kim loves college football. (Go Vols!) She has been a DD fan for as long as she can remember…once again, that Hungry Like the Wolf video knocked her off her feet and she was hooked (apparently this video did AMAZING things for the DD fanbase in America!!)

Kim is currently engaged and will be married this year. Her fiancé is not a DD fan, but she’s hoping this will change, but even if he’s not a fan himself, he is very supportive of Kim’s addiction…and as a true enabler he bought Kim her tickets to the Atlanta show and was freaking out that no one would go with Kim and he’d be stuck attending with her. Funny story: while he was worrying that no one would go with Kim to the show, he told her that if he had to go, he was going to stand there with double “bird fingers” for Simon to see because he had it coming for making high school so tough for him.  Apparently all the girls liked Simon and not him. Kim is pretty thankful that didn’t happen, because she’d be single now otherwise. She also has a basset hound named Rikki Dee that she adores.

Kim wanted to get involved with the convention because she wanted to help out. She went to the Atlanta and Durham meet ups last year and had a fabulous time. She loved meeting so many people and felt like she was part of something. Kim wants to share that feeling with other people and repay the favor that Amanda and Rhonda did for her. (Rhonda adds that we really did nothing except provide the opportunity for people to meet, it’s people like Kimberley that make being a fan worthwhile!)

Kim is going to be working in the registration area, and she’s going to be helping out where ever we need her because she has an infectious smile, wonderful personality and is the type of person that is going to make everyone feel welcome! She is really looking forward to the banquet on Saturday night because she feels this is the time when everyone will know each other a little and will have some fun. The relationships she has made so far through the band have been wonderful, and it really is the music between us.

Kim’s favorite songs are Seventh Stranger and Pretty Ones, but her moods change and she finds herself being pulled toward different songs based on her mood. She also feels that Simon’s lyrics have multiple meanings for her personally (which we believe to be part of his genius!) Kim is also a John girl and always has been. She knows the exact moment she fell for him – at the beginning of Rio when he is bouncing the ball. She used to hit pause on her VCR and just stare at him (we wonder how many of us will admit to that?!?) She always thought she would grow up and marry John. (he would have had many, many wives….) She’s quick to say that of course that didn’t happen, but that she’s sure he’s still looking for her.

Kimberley is new to the shows, going to three so far on this past tour: Atlanta, Atlanta again, and then Durham.  We will help to increase that number on the next tour!! Durham is the farthest she’s traveled for the band so far, but that will be changing! She’s always been a little shy about going to concerts, and now that she has Duranie friends that she can meet up with – there’s no reason to go to shows alone!

Kimberley is one of those people we talk about all the time on the blog: meeting friends has really made being a fan so much more fun for her. She says that she feels like she’s made a million Duranie friends. She has made some really good friendships in the past couple of years, even though she doesn’t see them often – they have made plans to meet up soon, both before and after the convention. Kim is also involved on DDM and has made friends from there, as well as many friends she met at the meetups they attended. One common interest has the strength to create really strong friendships… and the examples she gives explain why we’re committed to making Durandemonium 2013 happen.

Lori Hamill: Lori’s story begins in Santa Maria, California. For those of you who are unfamiliar, it’s located between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo on the central coast. That is where Lori was born, raised and is currently living. Since graduating from college, she has only worked in the wine industry – it’s a really rough job, right?? Parties, beautiful scenery, lots of fun. She works at a job she loves, with lots of perks (drinks at work.  Wait…drinks at work? Rhonda and Amanda need that job!!). Lori is single and has four nieces that she tirelessly spoils. She loves flea markets, going to 80s concerts and eating out. She has been an DD fan since 1983 – typical obsessed fan stuff with a lot of Teen Beat magazines, posters all over her walls, concerts, screaming at the TV when the band would appear, etc. General mayhem, she says. Lori is extremely lucky because she met her best friend through the band back in high school. Their lockers were next to one another and were covered with DD stuff.  To this day, she is still Lori’s partner in crime at all of the shows.

Lori’s favorite member has always been Simon – she is constantly amazed by his skilled dance moves (as are we, Lori…as are we.) Her favorite song is New Religion, although like most fans, that tends to fluctuate. She feels very fortunate that she has been able to travel over the years to see the band play in such places as Birmingham, London, New York City (many, many times she says), Virginia, Connecticut, New Jersey, Las Vegas and up and down all of California. It’s her fun and keeps her sane (though that is up for debate – and those are HER words, not ours!) This past summer was the first time she ventured out on her own for some shows back east. She met some amazing people she is still in contact with, and is the main reason she decided to help with the convention. It is a unique opportunity to hang out with her “people” for the weekend and have some fun. Her main job at the convention will be planning and helping out with the banquet dinner festivities on Saturday night, and she can’t wait for October!

Kevin Groenewald: Kevin became a Duran Duran fan in 1982 after he heard Hungry Like the Wolf on the radio (Ok, Rhonda thinks they put crack in that song and somehow it was dispersed when the video was viewed or the song was heard on the radio….) Kevin lives in the Midwest with his wife, son and daughter. In his spare time he enjoys mountain biking and watching sports.

But, back to Duran Duran…Kevin’s very first DD concert was in Chicago, in 1993.  Apparently Kevin was lucky enough to see them before they canceled their tour that year! His very favorite song is Ordinary World, and Amanda tries to be understanding about that. Thankfully there is room for all of us on this committee!  His favorite B-side though is Faster than Light, and Kevin even has a favorite DD demo: Salt in the Rainbow (we have to ask – WHY didn’t the band include this gem somewhere??)

The reason Kevin wanted to help with the convention is because he wanted to give back to the band for all of the enjoyment they’ve given him since 1982. He is very excited and can’t wait to meet and make new friends at Durandemonium. We are very thankful to have a male “voice of reason” on this committee…Kevin has been excellent at reminding us (and believe me, sometimes we need reminding!) about what is most important, and while he is truly a man of few words, we truly appreciate his input!

For those who have not kept up to date, we are considering the possibility of offering a one-event only pass for the banquet on Saturday night. Those of you who felt that the cost of the convention was simply too high might want to consider this as an option, especially if you already live in the area. (and we know plenty of you that do!) Details, such as the big question of price, are currently being worked out, so keep checking our Durandemonium website (http://durandemonium2013.webs.com) or the Durandemonium 2013 page on Facebook for information!
Keep on the lookout for more Durandemonium updates as the summer progresses!
-R

Highlights from July’s Katy Kafé with Simon!

It is always a good day when I wake up and see that my blog topic has been chosen for me!  Decision made – excellent!!  Today, I bring you some of the happenings in the July Katy Kafé with Simon.  Naturally, I will remind everyone that the Kafé is one of the exclusive offerings that come with your paid DDM membership, and that while I am giving you some of the highlights, nothing really compares to hearing the whole thing for yourself. I can’t be nearly as funny as Simon or Katy!

To begin with, Simon got himself a cappuccino. I have a sneaky suspicion that Simon merely makes the appropriate steamed milk sounds…but it’s all in good spirits, and I had my coffee in front of me, so I’m happy to play along. (On a side note, I’m feeling as though I need a direct IV of coffee today…and a supply of Advil or Ibuprofen to go along with it. If you’re following me – @L8BarMom – on Twitter, you’ll know I just started month two of the Insanity workout program yesterday. I have two thoughts: pain and “Oh my God I have to do that AGAIN today?!?” If you don’t know what Insanity is – search for it on Youtube!)  Enough about me and my aching body…

Simon called in directly from the studio on this day, which was kind of interesting to think about. The format for this kafé differs from most because Katy asked for questions from fans, and then asked them to Simon.  I’m sorry but I missed some of the names of people who asked questions…so I’ll just address the topics themselves and give a synopsis.

Most all of the questions were, obviously, about #DD14.  Who really needs a working title when the entire fan community already has a hashtag for it?  I say no…as did Simon at the end of the Kafé.  He was asked if they had a secret or working title and Simon came up with some ridiculous name – I’m hoping I got it at least half right: “Little Red Painted Toenails on the Dancing Iguana.  Nice try, Simon.  Let’s just stick with #DD14, shall we?

A lot of fans wanted to know about Simon’s approach to the album…and what they are really going for on this one.  Simon summed up the album in three words: Nude. Duran. and Funk.  I get the Duran, I get the Funk…but the nude part…as always…we will see.  I can’t even begin to guess.  He also talked about moving on from All You Need is Now, saying that since they already went back to their roots and really tried to recapture that spirit, they felt that they’d accomplished that, and so they couldn’t very well do it again on this album.  So they are moving on from that point.  He was quick to add that they need to maintain that connection with their fans and stay true to the musical values they’ve established during this past thirty years…so they are developing the sound from that point on All You Need is Now.  This makes sense. I like that he’s making sure to explain that this new album isn’t about reinventing themselves, it’s just about continuing to develop and grow from there.  Mark Ronson is still involved at least partially on this album, but he is not writing – only producing, and he may not be producing the entire album.  He’s busy these days.  Simon’s own approach on the album, or any album for that matter – begins the same.  He goes into the project with an open head, and then as things develop, he adapts as necessary.

They spoke a bit about collaborations with other people…it seems to be one of the favorite topics that fans ask about.  Simon didn’t really mention who they were thinking about for #DD14, but he did say that the “dream” collaboration for him would be John Lennon.  (I’d give my eye teeth for that to happen…maybe in another life…which is why it’s a dream collaboration!)  Simon also said that he gets a lot of lyrics sent to him, which for whatever reason surprised me.  I didn’t realize people actually sent him things for him to consider using!  He said that writing is personal, and that he does not like sentimental writing. I totally and completely agree. He likes it as hard as nails, which is one reason I like Simon’s writing so much. Once in a while I can get gushy here, but more often than not, I don’t do sentiment like that. It’s even tough to use when it’s a guest blogger sending it to us, because while I know it’s the writing of someone else – their innermost feelings – I think that’s why it makes me so uncomfortable.  Simon likes humor, so keep that in mind if you’re going to send him lyrics.  I’ll just stick to blogging thanks, and leave the lyric writing to you experts out there.  Others asked him about where he gets his ideas from.  After thirty years, isn’t it tough to still come up with new things to write about??  Simon said that he keeps himself open to new things.  Things he hears…”noise that humanity makes”.  Sometimes phrases pop into his head from nowhere.  Again, I can identify with what he’s saying here because we write this blog every single day and there are some mornings when I get up that I’ve just got nothing.  I can’t even think about Duran Duran. Then there are other days when I know exactly what to write – the creativity ebbs and flows, and you’ve got to write when you get a chance.  Simon also mentioned that when he is writing, he can’t really be reading or doing other things – that the writing happens when he’s bored.  Personally I find that when I’ve got a lot of things going on in my head, nothing really worthwhile comes back out through the fingers onto the keyboard.  That’s why I have to do the reading and research first, and then somehow I let it stew…and eventually it flows back out.  The more I’ve got going on personally, the less writing that gets done around here.  It’s good to know I’m not particularly unusual in that regard.  

Speaking of collaborations, someone asked about whether the band would want to work with Nile Rodgers again.  Simon said that he would love to work with Nile, going on to say how fantastic of a guitar player Nile is, and that he’s a lovely person as well.  I think the fans would love to hear of the band working with Nile again – I can’t imagine anyone not welcoming that, and to be honest – if they want funk – I’d love to see this happen.  One of the more wonderful things to come out of Twitter is being able to read how Nile is doing these days.  He has taken the time to tweet with DD fans, and seems like such a genuine person, it’s fantastic to see Nile doing so well. (and yeah, even *I* like that Daft Punk song!)

Simon spoke a bit about the preferred atmosphere in the studio.  For Simon, he says it comes down to the music, but he also mentioned that they have a lot less big equipment than they once did – but that they write more IN the studio these days as opposed to before. Nick likes the studio to be as dark as possible (I have to wonder how he sees his keyboard…and I’m finding that I have to oppress this desire to mention the whole lack of daylight thing plays right into the tongue-in-cheek comments some have made of Nick being a vampire…), but others like it brighter, so they’re finding a balance there.  Katy said it sounds like a nightclub.  I can see that.

For those who are curious about instrumentation – it sounds like Nick is using his analog keyboards (Jupiter 8 among them) for this album.  Now, Simon did qualify that by saying it all comes down to the mix – you can record anything you want, many many layers, but the mix is what decides what really ends up on the album.  So, we’ll wait and see.  Nick does like the analog because there’s more artistry there than with the digital keyboards, but I think this gives a teensy bit into the vision of where they’re going.

Snippets anyone??  I know a lot of people chomp at the bit, waiting in hopes that something, ANYTHING, will be released to give us a taste of what’s going on in there.  Simon said that there’s always a chance. There is a real downside to releasing anything though, because if it’s not finished – if it’s substandard – people make up their minds very, very quickly that they aren’t liking it.  This is very true.  They also believe that anything they release beforehand detracts from the official release.  This, I don’t agree with, but maybe that’s because I’m a fan and do not work in the business office.  From my point of view – a 20 or 30 second snippet that is still fairly rough doesn’t give enough of an idea of what is to come for it to really detract.  In fact, one example I can cite from AYNIN is when a snippet of Runway Runaway was released.  All that I got from it was Nick’s keyboards – that sounded very much like any other DD song – and that gave me some comfort that AYNIN was not going to be like RCM in any way.  I loved that when the album was finally released, I was able to see where the snippet came from and how it was incorporated.  I don’t know how that really detracted from anything.  That said, I can understand that if they leaked full songs – well then, that likely would detract, and I can cite Astronaut as an example there.  By the time the album was released, I’d already heard every song off of the album and knew that they’d changed What Happens Tomorrow to the point where I didn’t care for the song much. I also know that many others owned the full CD months before the album was released, and so when Astronaut came out, in a lot of ways it kind of felt like an afterthought.  If it weren’t for the in-store signings, and the fact that it was the original five on the album, I think there would have been even less excitement.  So live and learn.

Anyone remember that fabled album Reportage? It’s the album that everyone wants released, that I hear almost everyone has gotten hold of…that I personally have never heard. (I’d like to know who leaked that one.)  The band is still talking about releasing that on it’s own – meaning the band wouldn’t try to release some of the songs from that album on #DD14 or anything they are working on now because from a business standpoint, it’s very hard to mix things they are working on now with things they’ve worked on with Andy.  Makes sense…and maybe someday I’ll actually hear the album.  I think Reportage has gotten to the point where it’s been built up in our fantasies to be this huge, big thing because it’s an album we thought was coming but was never released.  So I wonder if it would be a letdown to hear it now.  So many people tell me “it’s out there, you just have to find it.”…I’ve never found it, but I would love to hear it someday.

That’s what I was able to glean from Katy Kafé this month, and I’ve put off my Insanity workout long enough, so I must go. Happy Tuesday, everyone!

-R

Paranoia, the only valid point of view

I haven’t mentioned it here, but lately I’ve been doing some reading on stalking, and most specifically – celebrity stalking. I don’t really know what got me started on the subject – and maybe it really wasn’t any one specific thing. I think that at least partially, I’m tired of the same things the rest of you have grown tired: telling people I travel to see the band or that I still follow them (musically speaking), and immediately they start in with the whole “Are you a stalker?” questioning. Talk about extremes!  First of all, if I was a stalker, I am pretty sure I wouldn’t go around mentioning it as though it were my choice of profession. Secondly, would I really even know if indeed I were? Admittedly, I’m curious about what goes on in the mind of a stalker. I want to know what makes someone go over the proverbial edge, and in some cases, what makes someone who at least seemed to be a normal fan at one point, change? I suppose that at least for me, if I fully understand the subject, I’m better able to argue why that label doesn’t apply to 99% of fans. I’m also considering the subject for some future writing projects, which means I have a lot of reading ahead!

I have to say, given what I’ve read so far – it is a sheer miracle that the band (or any celebrity for that matter), doesn’t completely hide away from the world. I know one really cannot live their entire life in fear, but even so – I have much renewed respect for the band with regard to this subject. It would be nice if as a community we were able to come to some sort of agreement as to what is or is not acceptable behavior, but as I’ve seen in recent years – the answer to that question lie far and wide.

I think all of us can agree that attempting to get in the home of a band member is probably crossing a very thick line – but what if you’re invited in? I think we can all agree that attempting to stow away on the plane of a band member is probably case for law enforcement – but what if you’re offered a ride in their car?  The difference in either case is that the “pursuit”, so to speak, is invited. What if you knew what airline the band was traveling on and went to meet the plane?  What about staying at the same hotel as the band?  What about using sources close to the band to find out said information?  Is any of that really stalking? One example from a book I’m reading (noted below) describes some sort of a play here in Los Angeles that a few of the cast members from Star Trek were going to see as a group (because another cast member was in the play). Star Trek fans were present for the play and waited outside the stage door for the cast to leave the theater (sound at all familiar??)  As the cast was leaving, a small group of fans overheard one cast member yell out the location that they were headed for dinner. It was in fact a public restaurant, and the fans decided to also use that information to head there themselves. The fans ate in the restaurant, and did not approach the cast members, also dining – but they simply drank in the experience. Let’s be honest, there are very, very few fans that wouldn’t at least consider using similar information in a similar way if it were Duran Duran in this story, this blogger included. You can bet that I would definitely try to justify using the information because I don’t think I’m a stalker and I don’t want other people thinking that way of me. I don’t think any of us really does. So, where is the line?? What you might also be interested to know is that in this same tale of the Star Trek fans – one of the fans was approached by a cast member, who accused her of following them. The fan replied that they only used the directions that the cast members had yelled out. The book indicates that in replying that way, the fan was trying to frame the directions as though they were freely given (as opposed to being covertly taken) – which is also an attempt to redefine the encounter as mutual. The fan, according to the book, therefore was attempting to distance the behavior from stalking. I’m curious to see how other fans might see this example – so write in.

Fans are able to recognize how and when their actions may be seen as at least obsessive, if not downright threatening. Let’s face it, many of us have taken our turns waiting outside of hotels, studios, venues, gone to a bar wondering if the band would show up afterward, and so forth. We are all quick to explain ourselves, but we all know (or should know) that celebrities might be uncomfortable with some behavior. None of us want to seem threatening. Many of us have used the words “Don’t be afraid of me!”…not really thinking that those are exactly the same words a stalker might use, as well. None of us want the band to look at us with dread filling their eyes, but it does happen. Often.

I’ll even go this far: there are many, many times when Amanda and I discuss the fact that it would seem (to us) that some really bad behavior ends up being rewarded. Constantly. It’s frustrating at times because the interpretations of what is acceptable fan behavior vary so much. Some end up with nothing, while others, who do a lot of things that maybe you and I might never think about doing, have a lot of encounters. Of course, at the time I’m expressing my frustration, I’m not thinking that a lot of times, the band probably does whatever they need to do in order to move the person (and themselves) swiftly along – if they give ’em what they want, it only takes a second, the fan leaves happy and the band is relatively safe and can move right along. If they fight the situation or openly/loudly express their own frustration or dismay, it’s very possible that someone would end up angry. Anger is never a good thing, especially if you can’t really discern whether or not a situation is a safe one. I’m not suggesting that fans are unsafe, but the problem is – for the band, it’s usually impossible for them to know for sure. We “know” them 1000 times better than they will ever know us. The “relationship” is completely asymmetrical.

So I ask again, what is the difference between the seemingly innocuous fan behavior that nearly all of us have exhibited at one time or another, and the more dangerous behavior? It’s all open to interpretation, isn’t it? Let me offer a personal example here: How is Dom Brown to know that when I send him a tweet or I post something on his FB page that I’m not really some psycho fangirl that thinks because he played his guitar once right in front of me that it really “meant” something. (Well, probably because I’m saying it didn’t right here on this blog, but seriously…how does he know?)  He doesn’t. He has to make certain assumptions about me, or anyone else, and hope he’s right. That’s scary! How does anyone in the band know that even though they might be followed from the airport, to an appearance, to dinner, to the studio, and so forth that they aren’t being “stalked”? They don’t. I know fans who seem to know every move the band makes – regardless of the country. Naturally these are fans that wouldn’t hurt the band, but it’s truly a crap shoot…it’s like playing roulette, because you never know when that ball is going to land on the one “danger” space. No one can live their life in constant fear, but it is certainly enough to make one think.

I’ve written about stalking here on the blog before, and that blog was met with a chorus of crickets. I think there are a few reasons, not least of which is that none of us want to believe that there’s even the remotest possibility that we are stalkers.  No one is really anxious to look into the mirror and say, “Oh wow. I see myself in there.” Yet, we’re ready and willing to use that term however we wish when it comes to others. I’ll see it mentioned casually, tossed around as though it is somehow similar to saying someone is a really intense fan. I’ve heard stories about other fans, and even when the term “stalker” is not applied specifically, the innuendo is indeed the elephant in the room. I think everyone has their own idea of where that proverbial boundary in the sand is located. The line where fandom becomes pursuit, and interest becomes obsession…and truthfully, that line is not concrete or made of brick, or even that visible. Even the definition of stalking varies, but there are three main elements: a pattern of unwanted pursuit, a credible threat, and the induction of fear. I don’t know many fans that meet that description. In fact, I am not sure I know any. That said, I do know fans that “lack the ability to discriminate between their own private fantasies and the figure’s public behavior”. (pg 3 Meloy, Sheridan, Hoffman) The question remains whether or not a risk of violence is ever really present – and thankfully, it is not my job to assess risk. It really isn’t even my job to decide where those appropriate boundaries lie.  Make no mistake, this post is not my attempt to decide proper moral boundaries – it’s about having a discussion on the topic in general. It is not my job to decide if any of us cross a line – but I am definitely interested in what fellow fans think.

A funny story to end a somewhat serious discussion: I was in the bath on Saturday night, reading a book on stalking. I was at a pretty intense section and I look up to see a shadow on the other side of the bathtub door. I jumped and threw the book, only to hit my husband as he opened the door.  😀  I think he learned not to stalk me as I take a hot bath. Good times.

-R

Edited to add the two books that I cite from:

Stalking, Threatening and Attacking Public Figures: A Psychological and Behavioral Analysis, by J. Reid Meloy, Lorraine Sheridan and Jens Hoffman.  Oxford Press, New York, 2008.

Stargazing: Celebrity, Fame and Social Interaction. By Kerry O. Ferris and Scott R. Harris. Routledge Publishing, New York, 2011.

The Way You Look, The Way You Move: Adventures of Cutout Madame Part 3

By Madame Duran

The concert date for Toronto was scheduled for April 25th at the Phoenix. The first half of the AYNIN tour had Duran Duran playing in smaller venues which meant ticket availability was extremely limited (The Phoenix Concert Theatre’s capacity was listed as 1,300). Larger arenas with 20,000+ seating have had shows sold out in a matter of minutes so I already surmised that there was NO FREAKING WAY I’d make it to see them. Absolutely NONE. Forget about it…case closed.

I was working on the day of the public ticket sale when I received a call on my cell phone.  It was from my friend, Patricia (aka, “LoveVoodoo”/”80s Queen”).

“Guess what! I got 2 tickets to the Phoenix! WE’RE GOING TO SEE DURAN DURAN!!”

What the…?

“I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!! I WAS JUST SITTING AT THE COMPUTER AT 10AM, WAITING IN QUEUE TO BUY TICKETS. I ENTERED THE INFORMATION THEN–BOOM!–A PAIR OF TICKETS CAME THROUGH! I WAS SO SHOCKED! I KEPT STARTING AT THE SCREEN…HAD TO LOOK AT IT TWICE TO MAKE SURE IT WAS WHAT I THOUGHT IT WAS ‘COS I WASN’T EXPECTING IT TO HAPPEN. I WAS SO STUNNED, THE TWO MINUTE TIME LIMIT TO MAKE THE PURCHASE ALMOST RAN OUT! ANYWAY, WE GOT THE TICKETS!! WE’RE GOING!! WE’RE GOING!! WHOO HOOO!!”

Well, whatever reservation or weariness I had before quickly dissipated in that instant. Ohhh yeah…CUTOUT MADAME’S MISSION WAS BACK ON TRACK!!!

=================

Late in 2010, I had discovered that Simon Le Bon and John Taylor obtained their own Twitter accounts in a bid to increase DD’s online presence. For months, I held off from jumping on the Twitter bandwagon simply because I didn’t see the point of it (my life wasn’t that interesting to necessitate daily/hourly updates). I changed my tune once I observed how Simon and John were conversing directly with fans. The mental lightbulb switched on.  “THAT’S IT!!!!!!! I’LL TWEET A MESSAGE TO SIMON ABOUT THE CUTOUT!!!!”  Straightaway, my inner child (forever 12 years old) thought the idea was sheer brilliance and thus guaranteed to work. I became so excited and pleased with myself that I didn’t have time to reflect on how flakey the plan actually sounded.

But what was the best way to get Simon’s attention? I knew I didn’t want to send him a plain message that could easily get lost among the cyberspace clutter. I had to do something different, something original…something leaning towards the artistic. The solution? A poem.  Yessss, perfect! After signing up on Twitter, I spent the next three days composing a poem that concisely summarized the story of cutout madame and ended with an open request to Simon. It read as follows:

One cardboard cutout, sent on a quest
To collect signatures at madame’s behest
Five different names from five Duran men
Each permanently scrawled with a Sharpie pen

The first to sign was keyboardist Nick
Which person came next? Boy, it happened so quick!
Wes Wehmiller, Joe Travers, fans of LK
Even Warren Cuccurullo joined the fray

The job’s not done; three Taylors to go
All were to meet down at KROQ radio
Andy, Roger and John — they complied
To etch their names on cutout’s laminate hide

Autographs in hand except for one
That of lead singer Mr. Simon Le Bon
For ten long years, he elusively escaped
Despite some close calls, madame was made to wait

Not the type to be kept down at bay
Cutout has travelled from England to L.A.
Now there’s word of an upcoming show
Duran Duran is coming to Toronto!

April 25th…could this be it?
Will Simon grant me his precious script?
Will this quest remain as an incomplete task?
It’s hard to predict so I must boldly ask

Dear Simon…

I plead, I beg, I humbly beseech
Don’t deny my dream that’s within reach
When cutout madame appears that night
This is your chance to make things go right!


On April 7th, I forwarded the poem to both Simon and JT (a few of my Twitter followers re-tweeted it as well). I anxiously waited for either one to reply but none of them answered. I remained undeterred. Four days prior to the concert, I sent the poem again but this time by email to Katy Krassner, asking that she would gently remind Simon to be on the lookout for cutout madame in Toronto. Katy’s response was quick. “I can try!” was all she said.

April 25 2011
Patricia and I arrived at the Phoenix around 7:30 pm. Cutout madame was packed inside a knapsack along with a mini-photo album showcasing pictures of past DD concerts and band encounters. As we waited in line, we chatted with a few other fans standing next to us (I couldn’t resist to regale them with tales of the cutout’s adventures!!). My plan for the evening was….well, there was no concrete plan other than to enjoy a Duran Duran show. I still had no idea of how I was going to accomplish my objective of getting that signature. Believe it or not, I wasn’t bothered by that. My mind was totally stoked over seeing Duran Duran again (up close, no less) that I didn’t give it much thought. I simply trusted that everything was going to work out fine.

The doors opened at 8. Both Patricia and I managed to plant ourselves roughly six rows from centre stage–an ideal spot right within Simon’s view. I didn’t dare budge from there and patiently stood for what turned out to be 1.5 hrs of waiting before Duran Duran appeared (I passed the time chatting and watching music videos created by DD fans who had won a contest sponsored by Genero.tv). Despite the late start, the band didn’t disappoint. From the opening strains of “Planet Earth” to the celebratory finale of “Rio”, they gave a powerful performance that had everyone screaming for more. Simon, in particular, was literally drenched in sweat; his entire dress shirt glistening with moisture and pasted on to his skin.  He was smiling, though, elated by the crowd’s response. I raised the cutout several times during the show for him to see it then tried to move closer to the front during the last song but nobody was shifting to let me through. Damn you, wretched people! The show is almost over!  Gimme a break! I tried to explain to a few of them of what I was trying to do but they refused to move. I could feel my frustration level increasing as the music edged towards its final note. At the conclusion of “Rio”, the audience burst into the usual loud cheering and applause, the band members came forward to take their collective bow, then they left the platform. My heart sank. I had failed.

By concert’s end, I was despairing. I didn’t want to leave the venue without Simon’s signature but most people were already clearing out and the road crew were packing up the stage gear to head off to Montreal. What should I do now? Do I follow the band to their hotel? Heck…I didn’t have the slightest clue as to where they were even staying!! I just stood there, lost in thought, clutching the cutout. Patricia didn’t hold out any hope: “I guess that’s it. Cutout madame is cursed!”. I mentally retorted her with a stern “Hush, you unbeliever!” because discouragement was NOT what I wanted to hear that day. I was too close to completing my goal to turn back now.

I quickly scanned the room and spotted their security guy. I had recognized him from previous appearances with Duran Duran at various shows and interviews. Despite his big, tall frame, he had a reputation of being fan-friendly and good humored (not the typical image of a security person). Just go and ask him if he could help, my inner voice urged. Boy, if only it were that easy. My mind was agitated as I considered my approach, vacillating between feelings of bold confidence and crippling insecurity.

My gawd…what do I say? I feel so stupid and desperate!
It’s now or never.  
That poem…ugh…so embarrassing! What the hell were you thinking??!?? Did you REALLY think it would work???
You’ll never know unless you try!
 
I feel sick…this indecision is too much. I wanna go home.
How badly do you want that signature?
Why am I getting so emotional over this???
C’mon, girl. Don’t let yourself down. Take the initiative…JUST DO IT!!!  

I finally relented.

He was talking with a couple of ladies when I walked up to him. Not wanting to rudely interrupt, I waited my turn. He shifted his head in my direction then said, “She looks like she’s 18!” (Huh? Umm, no I’m not…far from it…but thanks for the compliment!). That conversation–whatever it was–quickly wrapped up and I now had his full attention.

“Hi. How can I help you?”

Right at that moment, I started to cry (“whimper” would be more precise).

“Sorry, I can’t hear ya”.  He leaned forward.

“…uhh…I have this cutout that I’d like to get signed by Simon. I…I…I got all the band member signatures except his. He’s the last one and it’s really important I get it. It’s a sentimental thing with a lot of history. I’ve been waiting for 10 years and I wrote a poem…”

My self-conscious side was cringing, rolling its eyes. Had to mention that poem, didn’t you? And you’re blubbering like an idiot. Awww, geez…so pathetic! Someone bury me, please!

“It’s only one signature, right?”

“(sniff) Ah, yeah. Simon’s.”

“OK, just wait over there”. He gestured to a nearby exit then hurried off elsewhere.

In what seemed like an eternity, I waited with Patricia for about 10-15 minutes. He re-emerged then took us to another spot closer to the venue’s main entrance where a group of VIP members of the Duran Duran fan club gathered. At one point, a VIP member asked me if I had a pink VIP pass. Obviously, I didn’t possess one which prompted a few raised eyebrows but I later quipped, “I’m here by special request” . He came back again to direct the VIP members into another room, leaving me, Patricia and two other fans alone to wait (they were also seeking autographs). Another 20 minutes elapsed. My restlessness was growing. Had Dave forgotten about me? I had my back turned to the inside doors when I felt a strong hand grab mine and say, “Let’s go!”. He had returned to retrieve me and in the startled rush, I left my backpack and purse in the lobby but not cutout madame! I called out to Patricia to follow close behind (she, the unbelieving one with the decent camera). We were ushered into a tiny side room next to the stage where a couple of VIPs were standing around. Oh no…not another holding spot! I was on the cusp of letting out a loud, open rant on being (what I assumed) part of the “shafted shuffle” when a tall, casually dressed man suddenly turned around from a huddle in a corner of the room—IT WAS SIMON LE BON!! He had changed out of his concert outfit and his hair was slicked back like he had just showered.

He didn’t seem to recognize me from the previous times we met BUT his eyes lit up when he saw the cutout (I don’t think he recognized the cutout either but he seemed genuinely impressed/amused/surprised by its uniqueness). Knowing that I was allowed only a BRIEF time with him, I cut to the chase: I’ve been hounding him for 10 years to get his signature, could he please sign cutout madame. He already had a black marker in hand and was about to write on the back of the cutout but soon realized there was no available space left as it was completely covered with autographs. I, however, was prepared for this. I presented my own silver Sharpie for him to inscribe his name against the dark-coloured front. Just before signing, he paused as if he was deliberating the best location to affix his sig.  Earlier that evening, my concert buddies (Patricia and Wendy Lancashire) were speculating where Simon would place his signature. We unanimously agreed it was going to be on the cutout’s boob. Can you guess where his signature eventually landed? Yup, right around the breast area (that man…so predictable when it comes to women)! I was so overcome by emotion that I gave him a big, fat kiss on his bearded cheek. Having obtained my prize, I happily headed towards the exit until Patricia reined me back in to take a picture of me with Simon. DUH!!!  How could I forget to document such a monumental occasion??  Good thing she was there. We both had our photos taken with Le Bon, said our “thank yous” then left the club, overjoyed. 





It was dark and drizzling cool rain outside but I couldn’t be bothered with wearing a coat.  I felt lighter than air, brighter than a halogen lamp. Nothing would dampen my spirit that evening. At long last…MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!
Afterthoughts/Addenum
There are reasons why I love re-telling this story so much. The whole experience has been a source of immeasurable uplift for me. It’s exciting, it’s inspiring and it’s laugh-out-loud funny. It affirms, it energizes and it redirected my thoughts to focus more on the positive. I’ve also drawn valuable lessons out of it such as the importance of community, the power of persistance and utilizing dreams as a personal motivator. Best of all, it made people smile whether their reaction ranged from “That’s awesome!!” to “You are certifiably crazy!!”. The story of cutout madame ultimately is NOT about Duran Duran (despite their prominent role and the obvious pleasure I get from discussing them at every opportune occasion). Rather, it’s a reminder of all the GOOD that can and does exist in everyday life–the kind of stuff that’s meant to be shared, celebrated and fill us with gratitude. If by my sharing someone realizes at least some of that goodness in a tangible way, then relating this story will have achieved everything I intended.
Much thanks to everyone who assisted or participated in cutout’s journey. It’s a beautiful testament of fans coming together for each other and creating lasting memories to enjoy.  I couldn’t have done it without you. The ride definitely would not have been as interesting.
As for the cutout itself, its adventures may not be entirely over. A plot is underway to acquire signatures from Dominic Brown (guitarist), Anna Ross (backup vocalist) and maybe Mark Ronson (music producer/DJ) as they were connected to the recent album/tour’s success. I had bought a ticket for the AYNIN tour stop in Orillia, ON (Casino Rama) with this challenge in mind but plans were dashed when Nick Rhodes unexpectedly fell ill and the final five shows were cancelled. An unfortunate setback for sure but cutout madame is willing to wait

The 3-dimensional version of Cutout Madame leads a relatively quiet life in Toronto, Canada. When she’s not preoccupied with all things Duran, she likes to draw, read, collect vinyl records (45s mainly) and blissfully listen to a steady stream of 80s music (especially U2, Eurythmics and  The Police).


An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!