mock and deride them, dismiss them as tramps and tarts, in
order to disassociate ourselves from the ethos that compels
them to give themselves away to total strangers. Groupies
are mostly young women that follow, fawn over and offer themselves
to musicians performing in mostly rock and pop groups. And
while the phenomenon dates back to the 1950s, groupie behaviour
has been explicit since the dawn of man when men were waxing
savage over wild game in the African savannahs or fighting
for cave space in the cliffs of les-Eyzies (France). Back
then, females, to optimize survival for themselves and future
offspring, would gravitate to the most powerful, territory-toting
males. Males, too, would attempt to forge asexual bonds with
their betters to better ensure their chances at survival.
Over time, these survival patterns—expressed as primordial
impulses that compel someone towards someone better—found
their way into our DNA, and since then accounts for our abiding
fascination with persons exercising power.
Until recently in our history, the prototype of the groupie
was envied for giving herself (her eggs) away to the alpha
male. Today, her modern counterpart invites universal scorn
for the exact same comportment, a development that underscores
the importance we attach to the rites of courtship which the
groupie insouciantly flouts and for which she is stigmatized:
the smallest price to pay for a chance at the big prize. Which
is to say in the grand evolutionary skein of things, the bio-force
urging the groupie to tender herself to the rich and famous
takes precedence over any rite of courtship. Or, with all
due respect to able bodied latrinists and their kind without
whom society would be in the deep, the groupie wants what
is (genotypically) best for her eggs.
That too many of us have convinced ourselves we are superior
in kind may be a self-serving delusion that begs further investigation,
especially among males who secretly long for the unconditional
adoration and ovarian rights conferred by the guileless groupie.
Can the case now be made that the groupie phenomenon conceals
a universal truth that designates Becoming (a groupie) prior
to and a condition of self-hood? And those of us too proud
and prude to assume our groupie inheritance imperil not only
our peace of mind, but condemn the fugitive quest for the
self to a series of defeats. Perhaps women in all cultures
outlive men because they have the courage to acknowledge the
groupie within? —“a little part of us in every
one,” —pace Neil Young, professional rock star.
Enlightened males (pardon the oxymoron), who are in touch
with their groupie patrimony, can be observed performing the
acrobatics of self-vassalation while struggling to maintain
acceptable self-esteem indices. Like flies to fresh fertilizer,
they gravitate to the hierarchies established by powerful
males, but unlike females, social custom obliges them to disguise
their inner groupie. So instead of admitting—outside
of their fantasy life—to their desire/dream of meeting
with and getting connected to a Brad Pitt or Tiger Woods,
they approach the object of their adulation through, for example,
the rite of the autograph request (always for someone else,
of course) or engineer the desired association through non-fawning
conventional means: practical doctor-dentist-financial advisor,
I was thinking, Mick, that maybe we should place that
small speaker more to the left, so your voice and Keith's
guitar are better separated.
(Offering thought to Rob's suggestion): That's probably
a good idea, Rob. You're talking about 5 feet, 10 feet?
Not sure. Maybe we should do a quick sound check?
Absolutely. Fans deserve the best. (Conferring in low
voices, Rob and Mick approach the concert stage).
That the ultimate power is creative and not political or territorial—which
is what Nietzsche means by the Will to Power, shorthand for
the will to re-invent oneself—explains why the rock
star is by far the first choice of the groupie. Compared to
music—and the pleasurable drugs with which it is often
mixed—the content of political discourse, despite its
manifest theatricality, oscillates between the soporific and
retentive, not to speak of the age differential between groupie
and politician, on top of which it is now politically-exponentially
incorrect for politicians to cultivate groupies. Beyond that,
music is that perfect friend outside oneself that invites
the listener to indulge his/her (unedited) feelings without
ever having to articulate them. For every emotion there is
a musical counterpoint, a private place where the listener
can go and confess his/her anger, frustration, hatred, self-hatred,
alienation, and desire to be understood. Like no other art
form, music provides for the inner life of mostly teenagers
trying to find themselves and their way in a mostly indifferent
world. If power is the measure of someone's ability to command
the attention and love-adoration of large numbers of people,
music’s mega-stars reign supreme. From Mali to the Mekong
Delta, they enjoy iconic status in every corner of the world,
a groupie-quantifiable fact that prompted the late John Lennon
to declare the Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ,
which, if nothing else, demystifies the unspoken conceit that
being able to create something out of nothing is tantamount
to playing God with a small 'g.' So that when we find ourselves
inexplicably drawn to the gods who created the B Minor Mass
and Abbey Road it is because we are drawn to and want to participate
in the very mystery of creation itself.
By preserving and transmitting the artist's exceptional gifts,
we are signing on to the notion that what isn't transmuted
into art won't survive, or, taking liberties with the poet
Stephane Mallarmé, the aim of the universe is the creation
Which leaves you and I in the unmediated presence of the groupie
in the truth of her being, confident and fully rehabilitated,
a steady calm in the discontent of our pride and prejudice.
For when all is said and sung, the groupie, without apology,
is simply and frankly expressing her/his devotion to the principle
of creation. That young women will continue to give themselves
away to lead guitarists in tight pants, total strangers known
only through their music, confirms the exceptional status
of the artist, who by making exceptional demands on himself,
commands the means (the groupie) to genetically preserve and
transmit his gift.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
We, the legions of the mediocre, aching to transcend the mulish
persistence of our mediocrity, by associating ourselves with
the most influential creators of our time, are expressing,
with the blessings of nature, our deepest groupie instincts.
There should be no shame in this; the only shame is to deny
So let us demystify the instinct that moves us to follow and
fawn over the great artists of our time, knowing that nothing
less will set us on the path to self-hood.
Before my confessor, I'll say it once so you don't have to
say it for me: I want to be Mick Jagger's roadie. That is
the truth I hide behind, the truth that provides me.