Tag Archives: groupies

Still Screaming “Like a Girl”, Thirty-two Years Later

Without knowing it at the time yesterday, my blog was timely!  In 2010, So Red the Rose was remastered and released, and on today’s date in 1985, Some Like it Hot peaked at #14 in the UK.  I wrote about both Arcadia and Power Station, describing how for me – I like both.

Since Arcadia never toured, I didn’t have the opportunity to ever see them live. On the other hand, Power Station was my very first concert. I was fourteen and went with my cousins, who were much older.  We sat in loge seats on what would now be called “John’s side” at Irvine Meadows. (My first and last shows at Irvine Meadows —which has been torn down since Duran appeared just this past August—had John Taylor on stage, which I realize no one else cares about, but I think it’s cute – particularly since I didn’t even think about it at the time!) I sat in my chair (yes, sat. My cousins were too cool to stand I guess?) and wondered what it would be like in the front.

I wondered about the front for a long, long time…apparently!

Anyway, I’d love to tell tales about how fantastic the show was or how I was so bowled over. I don’t remember much. I do remember the band coming on stage and being annoyed that Robert Palmer wasn’t with them.  I also remember screaming at John Taylor until my oldest male cousin told us to stop “screaming like girls”…whatever that meant. We were girls. We screamed. And??

I also remember walking the ridiculously long way back to our car that night and seeing limos pull out away from the venue with girls chasing them.  I don’t even know if that was really the band in there. Back in that day, I think they were still using decoy limos at times. I can remember wondering about that as we walked. Again, that same older male cousin telling me that “…only groupies follow the band, Rhonda.”  I didn’t even know what that meant at the time, only that being called a ‘groupie’ must be a bad thing, and to my cousin, most girls were groupies.

Live and learn, I guess.

Regardless of my poor memory, 1985 does not seem so long ago…until I start really thinking about it, and then I realize I don’t remember a lot from that time. Only then do I recognize it was thirty-two years ago, and that seems painful.

Am I really that old?

Nope!!!  I just came back from seeing Duran Duran last week and screamed “like a girl” for my favorite.  Not only am I young, I’m pretty damn proud to say I’m still screaming, whether for Power Station or Duran Duran.

-R

 

 

Perfect Parody or Stereotypical Review?

Life makes me laugh sometimes. Yesterday I had commented that this tour had given me very little to write about.

Today is a new day!  This morning I had Mike Bell’s review from the Calgary Herald waiting in my inbox.  Without noticing the byline, I assumed it would be another glowing, beautiful review of a well-staged production.  I clicked on the link, preparing to scan the article and move on.

“Someone recently asked about the enduring appeal of Duran Duran, why they still mattered or if they, in fact, actually still did.

Musically, that’s an easy question to answer: No. No they don’t.”

One line—the one above, mind you—and I realized I would need to read far more carefully.  After reading the entire article, I had to go back and re-read, hoping to wade through the insults to find the meat of the review.

Here’s a particularly good zinger:

“Duran Duran opened the show with the flaccid title track from the new album, taking the stage to those trappings of earlier days, when it seemed cool to have thunder, fog machines and images of trees and birds, for some reason, displayed behind them.

It wasn’t cool. It was sad. Laughable. Almost perfect parody in an arena that they no longer belong in.”

Ouch. So he didn’t much care for “Paper Gods” as the opener then.  OK.  I think that song is a particularly tough sell for people who haven’t followed the band over the years, and in my opinion, I do find it a bit weak as an opener compared to “Before The Rain” (but there were plenty who hated that one too).  But then, I follow the band. Guilty as charged.

I did chuckle openly over his comments about “Hungry Like the Wolf.”  Simon is no closer to Will Ferrell than I am to say, Kiesza or anyone who has ever shared the stage with Duran Duran…but that whole “Is anybody hungry?” thing has got to go.  I think though, even Simon knows it’s corny, and plays it up for all it’s worth.  So good on him.

He goes on to compare their “Space Oddity” to a turd (his words, not mine), calls the set “muddled karaoke”, and characterizes the work from the latest album as “landlocked, cruise-ship fodder.”

WOW.

Then there’s the lights and visuals (oh no, not even the production team was spared…my thoughts and prayers to all of you who might be reading….and yes, that’s sarcasm you’re reading.)

“a crappy light and video display, barren stage, almost inanimate band members, but, confetti! — was mom and dad jeans come to life.”

I can handle most anything, but leave my jeans out of this, Mr. Bell.

And then he does the unthinkable and dares to use the name Spandau Ballet, in the same review as Duran Duran. (cue dramatic music)

“It was like that Spandau Ballet episode of Modern Family, where everyone wanted so desperately for a dude playing music from the past in their living room to be something special, something to remember, something that would be a new event, but it wasn’t.”

I don’t even remember that episode of Modern Family, by the way.  Now I’m gonna have to search it out. Thanks.

He goes on from there, calling the show desperate and hollow. Oh, and a sham.

He also reviews Chic, which from what I’m grasping—he seemed to like, and felt that the audience didn’t deserve them. Perhaps that’s possible.  But let’s just get back to Duran Duran, shall we?

Here’s the thing: it isn’t always the best plan to review shows that you have already decided in advance that you’re going to hate. I’ve never quite understood that methodology, and while sure—sometimes you get assigned things as a writer that you don’t want to cover. I get it. But do yourself and your career a favor and do them well. Mr. Bell can’t honestly tell me that he prepared to go in and write an unbiased review that night any more than I can sit here and say that I’m not a Duranie.

I suppose there are different ways to get traffic on a website. One way is to write a glowing review of a show. That band might then tweet it to their followers and they click on the link to read.  Another is to write what I would consider to be one of the most scathing, brutal, and unrelenting reviews I’ve read about the band’s live show since perhaps the reunion tour. (Even then reviewers found SOMETHING to like about the show. Conversely, Mr. Bell here seems to only enjoyed the moments when the band was NOT onstage, but I digress.) People like me will read those reviews with great interest, and then discuss them on their blog.

Point taken.

After reading, I immediately posted the review on our Facebook page and encouraged fans to read and discuss.  One of the comments (and there were many) was that this seems to be an ongoing issue with male critics.  The commenter went on to guess that maybe Mike had lost his first girlfriend to the band and harbors continued ill will. It is a comment I’ve seen whenever a man has given a poor review to the band, actually.

I thought about the reviews I’d read from female writers lately.  There too lies a theme. The review is often from the point of view that the writer loved the band back in the 80s, complete with posters on their wall, a John Taylor haircut, bleached bangs, pleas for marriage…etc etc.  I welcome a positive reviews, but I often wonder why it is necessary for so many female writers to admit their bias as the framework for their article. Why not go to the show and review it purely on its merit? Why make it about nostalgia and having that moment they dreamt of as teens?  Not every female reviewer does this, but enough do that I take notice in the same way I see that plenty of male critics seem to have anger issues with the band simply because girls liked them in the 80s.

As someone who has run into the sexism that goes along with being a female fan of any band, much less Duran Duran (and for crying out loud stop comparing them to New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys!)- particularly when it has come to the writing Amanda and I have done—I can see we still live in a time where assumptions and stereotypes still rule, across the board.  I can’t possibly like the band without the crux of it being about wanting to get backstage with them, and men don’t like the band because of jealousy.

I can’t very well say what Mr. Bell’s truth might be, but I can say that overall—it is far easier to accept the stereotypes (and we all do: male and female alike) than acknowledge the truth.

-R

 

 

 

I Did NOT Lose My Virginity To a Rock Star!

Thanks to Lori Majewski, I read a fascinating interview yesterday on thrillist.com, titled, “I Lost My Virginity to David Bowie.” I know many a Duranie has had their moment(s) fantasizing about the “what-ifs”, and perhaps many of those moments have also included what I like to call (facetiously, of course) “The Ultimate Autograph”.  Well, what if you had your moment? Would you take it? And what if that happened at 14….and you were a virgin? With David Bowie?

Lori Mattix did. Mattix was a groupie, and at 14, her playground was the Sunset Strip alongside other groupies like Sable Starr, and Bebe Buell. This interview on Thrillist describes her experience as a groupie, and I think it’s worth reading for any of us who have ever wondered, “what if?”

As I read, I really tried to capture my own thoughts. At first, I read it as any “fan” might, except that I’m not really sure Lori Mattix was really a fan in the same sense that I may have been at 14. To begin with, when I look at Lori’s photos – she’s gorgeous. Very bright-eyed and young, but beautiful all the same. In one of the photos included with the article, she’s wearing platform heels that I am pretty sure are higher than any I’ve ever worn. I, on the other hand, was a frizzy-haired awkward mess at 14. Heels? Are you kidding me? I would have been photographed wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and probably a pair of Vans. (In the early 80s when I was 14 – Vans were king. Bonus points if they were custom – which mine typically were.) I’d have never talked my way into a club (which still holds true today), much less asked to return back to a hotel with a rock star.

In fact, I can attest to the fact that I have been at a specific bar (not even a club…we’re talking a dive bar here) after a show in a large city (that was not Los Angeles or New York) here in the US, and the bouncer dude at the door (who was not even really a bouncer, just a bartender that had to stand there because the bar was so full) wouldn’t let me in, even though about 50 of my friends…and members of Duran Duran….were already inside. I stood outside shivering as friends saw me and waved through the window. That’s right people of Duranland…I really AM that uncool. Never one to be deterred, I just walked across the street and had drinks in a hotel bar instead. No Duran Duran, but better drinks. 🙂

Mattie explains she didn’t even really go to the shows, she would wait at the hotels or wherever she needed to be, for the rock star she was with at the time. I think that’s where we differ, because I really am a music fan. I’d hate not being at the shows. The music comes first for me. For example – I don’t think I’d travel to wait outside of a venue for Duran Duran without actually seeing the show. That’s crazy, even for me. At some remote point within me though, I wonder.

What is it really like to be a groupie? Do they feel as used as feel they’re being used when I’m reading their experiences? I doubt it. Why can’t I understand that? What is it about these women, these girls, that make them unable to see the same things I see. Why don’t I see their experiences as amazingly wonderful the way they seem??  Am I the more well-adjusted one, or just a very sheltered, prudish, middle-aged, MOM?  (You were all thinking it!) Perhaps then I’d understand. I would love to have some of Lori’s devil-may-care attitude, though. I always worry about what people might think.

It’s not that I would want to be that girl…. that groupie. (never mind the whole “I’ve been married for 20 years….and I’m 45 years old”, thing.) In fact, if I’ve ever said “Hey, I’d love to see you!” to a member of a band, they would have been incredibly, ridiculouslywrong to assume that I was just out looking for a thrill. I know it’s hard to believe (which is a curious question in and of itself), but maybe I’m just that kind of person that just wants to hang out, have some drinks and talk….like a normal human, no less. Imagine that?? If I could just have the same sort of self-confidence as someone like Lori Maddox, without the automatic assumptions that I’m looking for a night with a rock star, that’d be great.

As I replied to Lori Majewski and several others on Facebook, “I was never going to be a groupie [back when I was 14], and probably to the great relief of every single member of Duran Duran and beyond – I’m never going to BE a groupie. LOL I feel better now that’s out.

I’ve written about the whole groupie label and context many times. In many ways its unfortunate because any time a woman such as myself makes the overture to even get remotely near a band – any band – whether that’s Duran Duran or otherwise – the assumption is that she must be looking for “something”. Perhaps that is a reaction that has been “learned” over the years by men, or it is a label thrown around by other female fans, or it’s the very idea that a woman can’t possibly want or need anything else.  Maybe it is just the whole fan/band member screwed up relationship thing. Perhaps it is difficult to decide who is truly a fan, who is a friend and who really IS trying to be a groupie. I’m not sure, and it’s probably beyond the scope of this particular post to go much further. I just find it one of the more uncomfortable parts of fandom at times.

I am sitting here thinking back to some of the very reasons Amanda and I wanted to start Daily Duranie. Both of us felt there were labels and images being applied to fans that were so incredibly incorrect (in many cases)…and the “dialogue” between the fans and the band was nearly non-existent for all but a sacred few. We may never sort  out every assumption and label completely. Groupies exist, fans exist, and fans who have sometimes fantasized about what it all might really be like exist – and the lines between it all are pretty blurry at best. Not an easy fix. Amanda and I liked to characterize fandom as a type of dysfunctional family – which still seems to sum it all up fairly well. For me personally, I’ve enjoyed observing the fan community on this level for the past several years (even prior to beginning the blog). It has forced me to continually re-evaluate my own feelings and biases, and some things that I felt certain about on Daily Duranie Day One, are now notions that I see completely differently now on Day Whatever-This-Might-Be. My only hope going forward is that we continue to be unafraid to broach the “hard” subjects. No, we may not find the right answers – but if we don’t even bother to look, what point is there?

-R

Media Representations of Fandom: Groupies (1970 Documentary)

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.

-A