Thursday, 11 February 2010


I was privileged to be an attendee at a recent celebrity wedding and im sure you know that weddings happen to be the ultimate net-worker’s haven. If you aren’t scouting for a potential spouse, then you have to make those vital industry contacts. I was introduced by a friend to another attendee. Industry introductions are a little different from the norm. You are introduced by your name, accompanied with what you do. Infact the introduction is not only accompanied with what you do, but how high you are on the Richter scale of power. Sometimes it feels like a Forbes one hundred list of the most influential people in the entertainment business. Then there is this over eagerness to exchange numbers.
Going back to the introductions, this other guy was introduced to me as the publicist to a very well known crooner. So after the casual smile, forced small talk and swap of digits, I turn back to my friend and then I ask in bemusement, “ I thought L was handling the crooners public relations”. Then my friend proceeds on a tutorial of what has now been coined “ the new age groupies”. He proceeds to explain to me that all these people work for free. They are neither hired nor poached. The dream is that eventually, when the brand blows beneath the stratosphere, they will reap their reward and hopefully get a mention during the Grammy speeches. In these cases though, they will just have to settle for MTV and Channel O awards. Further into the tutorial, he broke down the different categories. There is management, within that there are even different strata of managers. There are the producers, the radio promotions people, the online promotions and marketing people, the print promotions people who tend to be magazine columnists usually. There are the facebook hype people, the hook singers, the graphic designers for the proposed album covers, the video director, the logistics guy, the personal assistant, the diary managers, the logistics people, the party planners, the Tee shirt printers and less I forget, the stylist slash wannabe designer, whom I would usually refer to as the clothing assembler.
“babe, its keying into the brand, for a lack of a better phrase to think of” that was what my friend told me.
Then it dawned on me, even I was one too. I pondered for a little while, and then assessed some of my previous activities. I had engaged in prostituting myself as fans of their work on facebook with hype status updates, written features about them on blogs, stalked them for interviews, in the end telling myself I was promoting and lending my support to good works of art. I had made comments on facebook walls, on how I had given airplay to some of the most underground songs of these artists before they started to smell an iota of public recognition. I was nothing less than a new age groupie, but just a groupie with a day job.
My friend later told me about a mutual colleague of ours who was a groupie too. Apparently he told my friend that once the star gets bigger, the phone calls decline gradually before they finally stop. Gone are the days when they call you to listen to a track when it’s still being mixed on multi-track, all in a bid for your audible expertise. Slowly you become useless and those dreams of hearing your name in the award show thank you accolades start to wither. Like a pest infested plant, just before they die. The dream you assisted in constructing leaves you with a bullet lodged in your spine. Just imagine a drive by in broad daylight.
Somewhere deep down, I knew how he felt. It was like when the spice girls sacked Simon Fuller. Or when Rolling Stones Mick Jagger dumped Marianne Faithful( She became a heroine addict and later managed to carve out a singing career eventually then later had cancer from supposedly smoking three packets of cigarettes a day)
At least in Fullers case, he was able to conceive the “Idols” franchise which became the blueprint for all song and dance contests around the globe.
But not every abandoned groupie becomes as successful as Fuller. Some will eventually give it all up to return to the world of nine to five, and some start to take advantage of desperate fame hungry seekers. For a fee, they will sleep on facebook on your behalf all day, while others just name drop and tell stories of how they all used to share a bedroom in the ghetto when they were still nobodies.
None the less, some groupies become entities on their own. They spam you with press releases till you have no choice but to recognise their clients. So there you have it, groupies come in all shapes, sizes and vocations too.

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