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GROUPIES--THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE NAUSEATING
By Cheryl Mullen - 09/06/2005 - 10:06 PM EDT

Author's Note: After a LONG hiatus, I'm very happy to be back at the Muse's Muse! At this point I can't say for sure that I'll be writing on a regular basis, but I'll contribute as often as I can. I'm looking forward to being an active part of this community again, and I hope you enjoy my efforts.

Most of the pieces I’ve contributed to the Muse’s Muse so far have been about performers. But there’s another side to the music industry that is often overlooked, and that is the audience. This is somewhat strange because after all, how can performers perform without an audience to witness the performance?

In the lucky seven years that I’ve been living in the NYC area, a place overflowing with opportunities to hear some of the best music the world has to offer, I’ve been to more than my fair share of shows. As a result, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with lots of fans. We come from all walks of life, but we have a common bond—a love of music and a genuine appreciation for those gifted individuals who make it.

Some fans are a little more dedicated than the rest. They come to all the shows, or at least most of them. They know almost everything about the performers, and sometimes seem to have a special bond with them. These people have gone beyond fan status. These are the people we call GROUPIES.

The word “groupie” has a somewhat negative connotation, one that I think is partially undeserved. Some of us are well-meaning, caring, dedicated people. We love the music, we demonstrate it by showing up at as many gigs as possible, and we try our best to let the artists know how much we appreciate them. Let’s face it, everybody loves to be appreciated. That’s why performers do what they do—it’s for the applause, baby!

However, there comes a moment where groupies cross the line. This is the reason why groupies get a bad name. There are some groupies who take whatever degree of familiarity that they have with the performers and make it more than it is. There are some who deliberately go after the familiarity just for the sake of familiarity--even to the point of being territorial. Sometimes it escalates to the point where groupies can become competitive with each other—who’s been to the most shows? Who’s traveled the farthest to get to a show? Who scored the bass player’s home phone number? Who scored the bass player? As a result, groupie cliques begin to form with each little subfaction trying to outdo the other.

I’ll admit to being a groupie. There are several artists (far too many to name here) whose gigs I’ve attended so many times that they know me by name. Much of my time (as well as much of my money) has been spent in nice clubs and not-so-nice clubs in my quest to follow these artists. And I try to do my part to support and promote these people however I can—which is the main reason why I write for this website. In the process I’ve met some wonderful fellow groupies who have befriended me and broadened my cultural horizons farther than I ever dreamed possible. However, all too frequently I've had to deal with groupies whose actions give the rest of us a bad reputation—people who attempt to monopolize the artists’ time and attention, who engage in behavior that could definitely be classified as stalking, and who generally throw themselves at anything with a penis and a connection to the music industry. And yes, I’ve had to deal with the groupie cliques. I’ve often felt that being a groupie is a lot like being in high school—it’s just more expensive and there are fewer guys to fight over.

So where does one cross the line? How do you know when you’ve gone from being a fan to being a groupie? And how do you know whether you’ve become a good groupie or a bad groupie? Here’s a quiz to help you sort it all out. Note: This quiz is based on the stereotypical assumption that you are female and that the performers you follow are male. My apologies to all the lesbians and male groupies out there (particularly to Gordon, the most dedicated “good groupie” I know!). Feel free to substitute whatever gender-related pronouns work for you!

1)You’re going to see your favorite singer (FS) in concert for the first time. You wear:

a) your proper Sunday best—this is a special occasion!
b) Nice jeans and a pretty shirt—you want to look good, but you also want to be comfortable so you can shake your booty!
c) Your skimpiest top, your shortest skirt, and your nastiest “FM” heels—you’re planning to ask him out after the show and you want to look hot!

2) While you’re waiting in line for the concert, you find out that your FS is in a committed relationship. Your reaction:

a) Oh well. There’s always Tom Cruise!
b) Who cares? I’m here for the music!
c) Oh…well, what about the other guys in his band? Are they taken yet?

3) While you and your friends are waiting for the show to start, a guy approaches your group and starts chatting. It turns out he’s a band member. You:

a) Are so nervous that you can’t say much of anything.
b) Make polite conversation. Musicians are semi-normal people just like anybody else.
c) Turn on the charm. Flirt, flip your hair, bat your eyes, smash your arms against your sides to create the illusion of cleavage—anything to get him to notice you. He’s with the BAND, for crying out loud!

4) “The green room” is a slang term used to describe the space where performers hang out before and after the concert. You’ve been there:

a) Never. You should be so lucky!
b) Only when invited. That’s a sacred space where performers go to collect themselves and separate themselves from the audience if they feel the need.
c) As often as possible—you’ve become an expert at sneaking past security!

5) Sometimes bands hold “meet & greets” after the show so they can have the opportunity to chat with the fans, pose for pictures, sign autographs, etc. Unfortunately, you’ve just heard that your favorite band (FB) won’t be having one after tonight’s performance. Your reaction:

a) You’re somewhat disappointed, but at least you got to see them perform.
b) No biggie. There will be other shows—in fact, you’ve already scored tickets to their next three gigs.
c) Spend an hour waiting unsuccessfully by the back entrance. Then pout and cry all the way home despite the fact that you’ve got tickets for the same three performances mentioned in answer b).

6) FINALLY, you get to meet your FS. During your very first conversation you:

a) Are overcome by nerves and babble like an idiot.
b) Chat somewhat normally and ask a few polite questions.
c) Tell him you want to marry him.

7) Thanks to the internet and sites that make “public records” easily searchable, you can find lots of information about your FS—including his address and phone number! You:

a) Wouldn’t dream of looking that stuff up. That’s a major invasion of privacy!
b) Look him up out of curiosity but would never do anything stalker-ish with the info you found. If it’s convenient you might go past his place once just to see it, but that’s about it.
c) Make a road trip. Go to his place, find a way to get onto the property, and snoop around. Then check real estate listings and contemplate moving into his neighborhood—maybe even into his building.

8) You’ve emailed your FS:

a) Never—like you would actually have his email address!
b) When you have a good reason. Occasionally you even get a response.
c) Several times a day—and you’re hurt/offended big time when he doesn’t respond.

9) It’s your FS’ birthday. You get him:

a) His birthday?? You didn’t even know.
b) A simple and creative gift—something you know he’d like that’s not too expensive.
c) A topless photo of yourself.

10) When it comes to your FB, your mission in life is to:

a) Meet them.
b) Promote them.
c) Do them.

Count up how many a, b, and c answers you gave.

If you gave mostly a answers: You are not yet a groupie. You’re still a fan, and probably a lot saner than most of us.

If you gave mostly b answers: You’re a “good groupie”--the type of groupie bands love to have. You enjoy the show and the afterglow, but you respect performers’ space and would rather be invited than invade. You try to treat artists like the human beings they are and not like objects. Any artist would be proud to have you in their corner!

If you gave mostly c answers: You’re a slut and probably more than a little psycho. People like you are the reason restraining orders were created. Grow up and get a life!



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