Yesterday’s winner: Picture N
This past week has brought some really nice memories to mind. It was 10 years ago today that the US leg of the Astronaut tour began in Florida. TEN YEARS AGO?!?
I feel like I just blinked and went from getting mysterious, static-filled cell phone calls from friends in various cities who wanted to share parts of their show with me to…well…this moment right here as I’m looking back on fond memories and typing away. Ten years flew right on by.
Does anyone remember how much fun we had? We were all excited and happy to be once again (or still!) obsessed with Duran Duran. Many, many people had planned to be in attendance at many of the shows on that tour. Still more of us had never had the chance to see the original five live on stage before, so this was our chance to make that happen. None of us realized until later just how special this tour really was, or could have been had Andy finished all of the dates. We didn’t know that Andy Taylor would eventually leave the band. We liked the new album (we certainly LOVED the idea that the original five were back together).
For me, 2005 was the chance to do it the way I would have wanted back in the 80s. I wanted to see all five of them live. I wanted to go to more than one show on a tour, and I wanted to go with my friends….who just happened to live at least halfway across the country from me. Only a slight geographical issue to deal with, along with a husband who couldn’t quite figure out what semi-truck (with Tiger Tiger blaring in the background, of course) had just ran him over. So badly, I wanted to seize the moment, and just go.
Funny thing about life though… sometimes even when you’re given a second chance, you can’t just up and leave responsibilities lying in the wake. I had two small children here at home, and the aforementioned husband. I had friends making plans to do week after week of traveling and shows, and I knew there was absolutely no way such things would go over well here. I would be lucky to go to ONE show, much less travel, and so I really did live vicariously through friends who threw caution and responsibility to the wind in order to travel. I wished I could have been like them. I did wish that I was more “unattached”. I loved my kids and husband, but this felt like such a once-in-a-lifetime moment. I didn’t want to miss out, yet I knew that there was no way I’d be able to do half of what I wanted. No, I was not nearly as brave as those friends who left real life behind for a while in favor of fun and a little DD-styled mayhem.
I can remember having “the conversation” with my husband just as presales began. I had a tentative plan of attack: my friends wanted to meet in Chicago. I agreed to the plan for VIP tickets and a weekend trip. There was quite a large group of us that would be there that weekend. Since I already knew I would not be able to attend the LA date due to being on vacation, my plan was to beg and plead for a chance to go to Chicago instead, along with possibly going to the show in Las Vegas, where still more friends would be in attendance.
My husband was incredulous at my asking to not only go to a show without him, but one that was also across the country. Additionally, he couldn’t understand for the life of him why I needed to go to Vegas as well. “You only go to ONE show on a tour, Rhonda. There’s no point in going to two. Absolutely not. I WORK. You stay home and take care of the kids. It is what we’ve always done, and there’s no need for you to be running around like you’re a teenager. Is this how you want to spend our money? ” I was furious at the idea of his resistance, but determined to at least see the show in Chicago. Oh…and YES dear, this was exactly how I wanted to spend our money. OUR money. I had earned the right to go and have some fun after years of what felt like servitude, staying at home, cooking, doing endless loads of laundry and cleaning up after two children under the age of 10 along with a slightly messier husband. Eventually, he agreed, but not without a lot of arguing and flat-out sulking up until the day I left. He had made sure to tell me, several times in fact, that going to this single show was fine, but that after I came home, that was it. No more traveling. (keep in mind that I’d just been to New Orleans for a fan convention a month or so prior, as well as taking our oldest out of school to go to an album signing event earlier in that month. This after many years of never even mentioning Duran Duran….so for him this was indeed a big change.) I agreed to his terms, all the way up until someone mentioned the Milwaukee show, which happened to be the same weekend I was going to already be IN Chicago.
The question was asked, “Couldn’t we just buy regular, non-VIP tickets for this show in Milwaukee and go?” No one would need to stay longer before traveling home. Milwaukee was only about an hour and a half from Chicago or so, and no one really had to know. Yes, yes …I thought. I could see this plan working. So, the slightly more devious side of me agreed to have one of my friends buy my ticket and I’d send them money to pay them back. Yes my friends, this is when my Duran Duran “life of crime” began. I bought that ticket and never said a thing to my husband…
…until of course my husband found out on his own. He’s a smart one, that guy. So… you all can just imagine for yourselves how that conversation went….I have tried to block it all from memory at this point.
Yes, I’ve been to “a few” shows since that stolen Milwaukee show (which was FABULOUS, by the way!), and of course there’s this blog, among other things. It’s been a wild ten years, hasn’t it?
A couple of weeks ago, my friend, Kitty, posted, on Facebook, the youtube to link to the full 1970 documentary on Groupies. I didn’t have time to watch it at the time, but did save it to watch later. After all, our book does discuss groupies, to some extent. I will go so far as to say that this is one term that fans, especially female fans, get labeled. There are a lot of definitions of the term out there and, for most people, fans and non-fans alike, the term is not necessarily one that is positive. Often, when non-fans say it to fans it is said as judgement, as criticism, as insult. Of course, I have also heard it said or written about fans from other fans. Now, of course, there is a long history behind the term and one that has been written about in a variety of sources from magazines to books to personal memoirs. So, what does this documentary show? Is there judgment given? Who is telling the story, so to speak? Is it accurate from other research I have completed? Here is the youtube clip, if you, too, want to watch it for yourself.
It seems very clear to me that the makers of this documentary did not want to have anyone except for the people directly involved to tell the story. Instead, they wanted to film, often in a real time scenarios, and just see what happened. There was no storyline or agenda. It seemed to be a let’s film and see what life was like for the groupies and the men around the groupies. Now, before I go any further, let me be clear. These groupies fit the definition of people who have sex with male musicians/rock stars. They do mention that there are male groupies, especially in San Francisco, but they are not filmed. So, how did it work to have the camera just on without a script or plan? On one hand, there was no judgement given by this method. They simply showed and allowed the people involved to see and do what they would, normally, or so we, as viewers, can assume. I like that there wasn’t an agenda to either prove that they are terribly immoral people or to prove that they are cool beyond belief. The viewers could decide that for themselves. Yet, at the same time, I wonder if there was enough information given for the random viewer. I know quite a bit as I have done plenty of research so I was able to put what I saw in context and it gave life to many of things I read about. Would others be able to follow as easily? For example, the documentary mentions the “Plaster Casters” but truly doesn’t give enough information until the end about what that was. (It was a group of women who made plaster casts out of the anatomy of male rock stars.)
Despite not having an organized flow, there were certain aspects of the groupie lifestyle that the viewer could conclude. First, it showed that “groupies” often hung out with other “groupies”. It seemed common for them to live together and spend the majority of their time together. Second, it showed that the lifestyle had both its ups and downs, its positives and negatives. On one hand, groupies might get with rock stars who have a lot of money and then can stay with them for weeks in super nice hotels and party all the time. There was a sense of superiority in women in those situations. They viewed it as a challenge to get the best rock stars and if they made it, then it felt very glamorous. It was like they were the top of a very exclusive club. On the other hand, they might also find themselves in tough spots. They might be in gross hotel rooms or apartments. It is possible for the men to abuse them or just use them. This seemed particularly problematic for underage girls, especially under the influence of drugs. There was plenty of alcohol and drug use shown as well. Underage girls also faced difficulties with parents who described them as “immoral” and “embarrassments”.
Did the documentary give enough information for the viewer to determine why someone would want to be a groupie? I’m not sure. Yes, it presented the competition aspect and even the social scene aspect. It presented the idea that they wanted to be around their heroes, their idols and they wanted to be surrounded by music. Yet, what it didn’t explain is why the sexual aspect. Certainly, there are a lot of fans who want to be around their idols and want to be around music but don’t perform any sort of sexual act. Why did they? Is that superior feeling of being in an “exclusive” situation really all that? Is the social scene and belonging that significant? I found myself asking more questions after having viewed the documentary. Perhaps, if there was more of an organized format, I would have had my questions answered.
Earlier this week, my writing partner dared to say, “Durantime sucks”. She explained that she is impatient and gave reasons why she might be more impatient this time around than previous times. Fair enough. The blog post, which if you didn’t read, you can find here focused on how her fan experience and Durantime. Yet, this post is going to focus not on how Durantime hurts me (and it does) but how it hurts Duran Duran. It seems to me that fans just aren’t talking or thinking about Duran Duran much despite many efforts, including ours to keep the conversation going on a daily basis. It feels to me that apathy is growing. I’ll give you an example from my personal life. Recently, Duran Duran posted a couple pictures of John in front of a computer screen with captions to increase our interest. Now, I don’t think it is any secret that my Duran fandom is a big part of my life. I’m half of a blog that writes EVERY SINGLE DAY. We have written a book on fandom with Duran Duran as the case study. We have planned a convention and meet ups and working on a future convention. Yet, when those pictures were posted, I found myself (ME!!!!) saying, “Yeah, whatever.” Honestly, it didn’t catch my attention or make me excited. Then, what was the result? That John did a video about his perfect album? That’s fine–no criticism there, but it just didn’t excite me or interest me, when in the past, it would have. This led me to start looking around at Duranland. If I’m finding myself apathetic, what is the rest of the fan community like?
In general, it seems to me that people just aren’t that interested right now. Conversations about Duran have dwindled. Just look at our stats. They have gone down and every time we bring up the question of why–we get the same response. “There is no news right now.” Twitter seems much, much quieter on the Duran front than it did a year ago. Of course, two years ago during the height of All You Need Is Now, twitter was filled with constant activity. I felt like I couldn’t keep up at all. Now, I don’t even feel like I need to check in much to know what is happening. What about Facebook? Well, there are always groups posting pictures and things and some people participate but it seems like a small dedicated group rather than a vast population of fans. Now, of course, you might be saying something like, “As soon as the album comes out, fans will be back.” Will they? Have they always?
Ask anyone who has been around Duranland for a long time about momentum. Long time fans will point out that Duran often doesn’t capitalize on momentum. The examples are many…from doing side projects in 1985 rather than continuing as a five piece, not touring after Liberty was released, doing an album of covers right after a comeback album, etc. The time in between albums has always been a problem since the mid 1980s. I am willing to bet that each and every time Duran has taken a long time between albums or chosen a path that doesn’t capitalize on success, they have lost fans or lost potential fans.
When I look around at the Duran fan community now, in 2014, I’m struck by the fact that the majority of us are adults with some significant responsibilities. Many of us have families that we need to worry about. Careers are screaming for our attention. We have a lot of real life worries to focus on. This makes it even easier for any or all of us to walk away. We have other things that need our time and energy.
Now, of course, people are going to point out to me that they are still on Twitter and still talking about Duran. Yes, I know that there are some. I would point out that many of us who are still around have made CONNECTIONS with other fans. Many of those connections have been made on tour or online, sure, but many of them have been made through attending meet ups and conventions. Having time to meet face-to-face solidifies any connection made online. I know that there are people I feel closer to after having met them in person. For example, there are many people I now call friends after having met during the summer of 2012 during one of our meet ups and having the chance to get to know better at the convention last year. These connections are keeping people in the community during this downtime. I would go so far as to say that they might be keeping many of us…fans. Certainly, we know that excitement is infectious. Thus, if you are around other people who are thrilled about something, it is likely that you will become that way, too. This means that those with significant connections will feed off each other once there is news and something to really be excited about. Those without connections might not even care when news happens. The band have completely slipped from those people’s minds.
Connections matter. They, especially matter, in a fandom in which the idols take a long time between projects and don’t always capitalize immediately on success.
Next week is Valentine’s Day. Normally, that is day that I dread and not for the reason you think. As a middle school teacher, Valentine’s Day is a day filled with heightened emotions and drama. Yet, this year, I have something to look forward to! I get the final results for our fun Duranie homework! That’s right, kids, you have one more week to get your list to me with your Top 25 Duran Duran songs!!!! If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can get all of the details and directions on how to participate here. Basically, we will be compiling everyone’s favorite songs into a solid list of 25 based on the position of the songs in people’s lists. We have gotten many, many lists so far but I would love to get lists from every single Duranie! After all, the more lists we get, the more accurate the compiled list will be, statistically speaking!!!!
I have to say that I have found the results so incredibly fascinating. As someone who studies things like groups of people and patterns of behavior, I can’t help but be interested in the patterns I have seen or the lack of patterns. I had some predictions in my mind based on discussions we have had here or observations I have made throughout my tenure in the Duran fan community. Some of my predictions have been proven true and others…not so much! So, with a week to go, I figured it might be fun for all of you to make some predictions yourself about the results. Then, you, too, can compare your ideas with the results and with what is shared about the results.
*How many different songs do you think made it on people’s lists? (Obviously, not everyone is going to have the same songs as favorites, right? So how many different songs were named by, at least, someone?)
*Are all the albums represented?
*Which albums are represented the most? The least?
*Are the majority of songs on people’s lists hits? Were they the singles?
*How many of the songs had videos to go with them? Do the fact that they do or don’t seem to make a difference in people’s preferences?
*Are ballads more popular or are songs you can rock out to more popular?
*How many are cover songs?
*How many are b-sides?
*How many are demos that clearly should have made the album?
*How many were from the height of their popularity? Their 1990s comeback? Post reunion?
*Which songs do you assume with make the final 25? (Which songs do you think are most popular in Duranland?)
*Which songs are played live all the time?
*Which songs should be played live from the list?
Perhaps, these questions don’t interest you. What are you looking forward to finding out the most? What didn’t I think of to analyze? Ponder? Seriously, if you have predictions for any of the questions above, I would love for you to comment here so that we can all compare later. If you are anything like me, you will probably get some right and some…not so right. Either way, it is okay as this is all in fun! I can’t wait for the final results and for the predictions!!! Each time we do something like this, I learn so much about our fan community! I love it!
Speaking of learning about our fan community, if you haven’t already figured out by now, we have moved our “daily” question/poll/vote over here now. There are a number of reasons for this. First, I don’t have to count both on Facebook and twitter anymore and hope that I’m accurate in my counting. Second, it eliminates the possibility of people trying to vote “both” or first one answer and then the other. People have to choose as was intended. Lastly, people can see the current results right after they vote! I will always try to remember people on Facebook and Twitter when a new question/poll is up, but you can always look for it at the top of our home page as it will always be a “featured” blog! No worries, we will still be asking a new question each and every day. Now, if you have been following this series of questions (pictures of the band members!!!), you know that we have just completed Simon and have moved on to Roger. Lots of people sent in Roger pictures so it will take awhile to get through him. Then, we will move on to the rest. If you are interested in the order, you can read the original blog post about it here. Just like the top 25, I hope everyone keeps voting daily as the more people who vote, the more accurate the results!
Now, fellow fans, make sure you are sending us your list of your Top 25 Duran Duran songs (b-sides, covers and demos are okay but no side or solo project songs) numbered in order by next Friday, February 14th!!! You can send them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through a private message on Facebook! It may not be the easiest of assignments but it is fun!!!