Lately, I’ve had to be in my car a bit more often than normal. In an effort to reduce the sheer monotony as I make way up and over the Cuesta Grade, I’ve become addicted to Audible. It turns out that I love listening to books as much as I love reading them – and just as I find library books that I can’t put down, I have the same trouble with Audible.
The books I listen to on Audible are typically beach reads, or books that I can quickly “escape” within the pages…or words, so to speak. Authors like Lauren Weisberger, Elin Hilderbrand, or even Danielle Steele (oh yes, I even read her) are on my list of “go-to” listens for in the car. As opposed to the research books I have at home in my library or in my Kindle app, they’re a welcome respite. I don’t expect to hear much about fandom, which is why today’s topic is unusual.
Keeps me hanging on
I don’t know about anyone else, but when I was young—and by young I mean anywhere from the ages of 12 to about yesterday— I wondered what it might be like to be married to a rock star. You know, someone in Duran Duran. Huge fantasy, right? I mean, even if you’ve grown out of it, or like me, you’ve been married for a hundred years, you still think about what it must be like. There are moments when I’m cleaning up the kitchen for about the fourth time that day, or taking out the trash (when I’ve already asked that it be taken out twice), or as I’m making the bed even though I was the first one up on and out (is it really that difficult to pull up a comforter and straighten a pillow???) that I fantasize about what it must be like.
Surely JOHN wouldn’t leave crumbs on the counter, right??? Simon would absolutely take out the trash when asked – the first time! Roger seems like the type to not only throw the comforter on straight, but maybe he’d even take time to smooth the sheets! Nick…well, Nick would probably teach me how to make my eyes pop just “so”. I can’t be mad at that.
Ok, maybe not…but in my fantasies? I’m going with a definite YES.
Shocking colour on the page
Never once in those fantasies, do I ever consider what the cost of being famous might really include. I’m sure all of us have stood in line at our grocery store, and while unloading the cart or waiting for the person in front of us to pay and leave, our eyes wander over the covers of the tabloids, brightly displayed at just the right level so that you can’t miss them. Elvis Lives….Aliens Invade Nevada City….<Insert famous couple here> Split! The headlines are everywhere. Most of them seemingly too “out there” to believe, but the magazines obviously sell. People want to know the nitty-gritty.
That tabloid fodder has to come from somewhere, and the most likely, at least when it comes to celebrities, are from paparazzi. I never really think about it, probably because my life is so much the opposite. I live on a winding, private road in a semi-rural, very middle-class, community. Our “big event” of the year is Crusin’ Weekend – where we gather and sit on the sidewalks on El Camino Real (it is our largest street) and watch old cars cruise up and down the boulevard. I’m not kidding. It’s the opposite of Hollywood and Southern California in every single way, and I love it. I have no idea what it might be like to not only be chased by paparazzi, but be stalked by them, as a hunter my lay in wait for prey.
Currently, I’m listening to a book named Last Night at Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger. The premise is that a woman is married to a struggling musician who becomes signed to Sony, and becomes the next big thing. His first album goes platinum after four weeks, and so on. They go from living a quiet, private, life to fame, and the trappings that go along, including being followed by paparazzi. The plot thickens as the rock star is photographed in compromising positions, and his wife is fired from the job she loves, all because of her husband’s celebrity status.
Dare you not to notice
At various points throughout the book, I couldn’t help but think of Duran Duran. We fans can be fairly nasty to one another. Calling each other stalkers, or groupies…whatever name we can come up with that does the double duty of being an insult as well as policing our own fan-boundaries. As if those women waiting in the lobby, or trying to sneak in through side doors are the band’s only problems. What many of us fail to acknowledge is that for the band, not only do they have to deal with all of us (and let’s face it, that should probably be more than enough for anyone!), they have to deal with paparazzi and the overall lack-of-privacy. I know it isn’t something I think about very often.
The book describes the couple going on a trip to a quiet town and they head to breakfast. Neither of them is dressed nice – they’re on vacation and are new to the celebrity game. The next thing they know, photographers have pressed themselves to the windows, taking as many pictures as possible. It isn’t just the photos, either. Stories run in the tabloids that are outlandish, but with just enough truth to them to make the couple uncomfortable. Who can they trust? Anyone? No one?
While the book is clearly fiction – it is also obvious to see that it is based on something very real. It is a side of fame and celebrity to which few of us are privy. I know I’ve never really sat and thought about how it must really be to have no privacy, and to have to worry about not only what is printed – but “staying on message” and “mitigating damage”. Watching every word uttered for the greater good of the brand, rather than defending yourself.
(Obviously I would not be very good at much of that. Let’s just be honest.)
Hard to escape when your head is stuck in the vice
We (and by “we” I obviously mean “I”….) wonder sometimes why Simon, John, Nick and Roger are hardly seen “out and about” these days. I think you know what I mean – after the shows – and that sort of thing. Fans aren’t THAT horrible, are we?
(definitely a rhetorical question…no need to answer)
It’s the collective. It’s not just about one of us, or a hundred of us for that matter. It isn’t all the people who are only there to see, meet and mingle…but also those looking for a story, even if they’ve got to create one. And perhaps there aren’t so many of those as there were back in the 80s and 90s — I honestly don’t know, but I do have to imagine that after living through all of that, why would someone want to invite it? I know I wouldn’t.
Sure, I’ll let myself think about the sheer fantasy of living the rock star life every once in a while…but I’ll also be thinking of all the reasons why I’m grateful I don’t. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go clean my kitchen, take out the trash, and make a few beds.