Issue September 13, 2011

Brit Beat

Teenage fanclub and beyond

Is it too late for me to become one of Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters? You see, I just witnessed her talking for the first time, flirting up a storm with Whoopi Goldberg on “The View,” and I fell in love a little. Before hearing her speak, I couldn’t really see what the fuss was about. Wasn’t she just doing what Madonna and Gwen Stefani had done before? Didn’t the infamous meat dress turn anybody else’s stomach? Shouldn’t the darn attention seeker put some clothes on while walking through an airport, purlease?

But nestled alongside the wondrous Joy Behar (a woman who would be my ideal choice as a Sugar Momma if we both played for the other team), her eloquence was charming and her brains evident. So I am now a convert. A Gaga groupie. This does not mean I will be leaving the house in a hat made of tea bags or carry around a briefcase full of hamsters, but I am prepared to buy her new album and listen to her thoughts on the presidential election campaign.

There’s something carefree and nostalgia-inducing about enveloping yourself in fandom as an adult. I can’t say I have Bieber Fever; in fact, I had to Google how to spell his name for this article, yet I can understand why 83 percent of the American female population has it. The hair! The dance moves! The rags-to-riches-single-mom-has-son-done-goodness of it all is a marketer’s dream come true. Apart from his constant tonguing of Selena Gomez, what’s not to like? Wise old men like New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys are taking full advantage of this yearning we all have — to scream like wild banshees and make posters with glitter glue — and are touring again … together. Our fan cup runneth over. Their bank managers are as pleased as the thirtysomething women sprinkled all over the country.

In the UK, throwing your knickers at pop stars you fancy is the key to showing just how much of a committed fan you are. We don’t whip them off then and there in the stadiums, you must understand. No, no. We freshly launder our scantiest pair, iron them perhaps, and then fold them away neatly in our handbags until the right moment: the smash hit No. 1 single, the song where he sits down and plays the piano, the finale. In his heyday, Tom Jones was the king collector of lingerie. Now he collects his pension, bless his cotton socks.

There are dangers to being a fan, of course, the most obvious one being meeting your hero and him or her proving to be an utter disappointment. When I was at university, I queued up overnight on London’s busy (and let’s face it, not so clean and safe) Oxford Street to meet Morrissey. He was signing copies of his latest solo album, Vauxhall and I, and I wanted to see the quiff in real life and hand him a bunch of daffodils. Along with about 1,000 other English versions of your emos, I stood in the cold and wet, keeping heart by listening to The Queen is Dead over and over in my Walkman cassette player. Finally, the store doors opened as the sun came up, and we filed reverently in, slowly and patiently, toward our Mecca. Our pilgrimage was almost complete. Ahh! There he was — more muscley in the flesh than I imagined but still so handsome! And then there I was in front of him. No eye contact. Just a miserable scribble on a CD case and I was off, thrust out onto the bustling street, my hopes dashed. I wasn’t expecting a meeting of minds, but a little Oscar Wilde quote-off wouldn’t have gone amiss. Damn and blast.

So my advice to any serious fans out there with the opportunity to meet their idol: Don’t. They can only disappoint. It’s far better to harbor secret fantasies than to live with the reality that your music master is human, probably fed up with the attention and, more than likely, short. These pop stars are always so darn short.

Follow Sarah Ivens’ adventures in Mommyland at ivensbabyblog.dailymail.co.uk.