After attempting to think of an ingenious article relating to this issue’s topic and coming up dry, I broke ‘fantasy’ down…syllabically. I ended up at ‘fans’ – those who respect, love, worship or harass their favourite artists or celebs, depending on their level of devotion.
I have a friend who once touched Pete Wentz’s crotch. I was really, really jealous at the time. But this is just about as close as I’ve got to ‘fangirling’; lustful thoughts about Ryan Gosling aside. (In case you’re wondering, in said fantasy he reads out every one of the posts from the Hey Girl tumblr while shirtless on my bed. In some versions there’s cheesecake.)
But some people take it to another level. And I’m not talking throwing-your-undies-on-stage fandom – more like full-on hysteria, sleeping outside hotels, and maybe some stalking for good measure.
Jared Leto recently revealed that he was once sent a severed ear by an admirer (one can only assume they were also fond of Van Gogh). That said, Ke$ha has previously requested that admirers post their teeth to her (and she made them into a bra, jewellery, and a headpiece), so people might be forgiven for getting mixed messages about the sending of body bits.
Making the list of other creepy fan paraphernalia: Muse frontman Mathew Bellamy was gifted The Book of Mormon after rumours of collaboration with Brandon Flowers of The Killers surfaced; One Direction all got sent Portobello mushrooms with their faces painted on them; and people have taken to sending Robert Pattinson bucketloads of toothpicks after he revealed he had started chewing them to stave off his smoking addiction.
There’s a stigma attached to being a fan because of those who send bizarre items to celebs or don’t seem to understand the rules of personal space – but ordinary people, who respect boundaries and truly admire artists, class themselves as fans too.
Dominique, an Adelaide artist, became “fascinated and infatuated” with quiffed Irish popstars (and identical twins) Jedward after noticing them in Eurovision, and met the twins while living in London last year.
“I’ve never really been a ‘fangirl’ or anything before,” she remarks.
“The first time I waited outside their hotel for them I was really anxious and self-conscious… I felt like some sort of insane stalker, but everyone assured me it would be fine and they expect fans to be waiting for them – and it was fine.”
Dominique says she sometimes plays up to the screaming fangirl stereotype.
“I’m fully conscious of it and it’s just a bit of tongue-in-cheek fun,” she says.
“But I don’t really care what people think of me because I know who I am and where I stand.
“I’m old enough and self-aware enough to know when an obsession is unhealthy or damaging to me or others.”
Dominique met Charlotte while working in the UK and the two have bonded over their mutual admiration of Jedward.
Charlotte says others, including her family, have accused her of being a little too obsessed.
“I’ve done a lot of crazy things to see them,” she says. “Around a year and a half ago, myself and a group of friends slept outside their hotel so that we could see them early the next morning and that night…that’s the thing I’m most embarrassed about doing and I wouldn’t do that ever again.
“I’ve travelled to Sweden to see them, and Ireland many times,” she continues. “I couldn’t add up the hours I’ve waited for them; it’s often been in the freezing cold or the rain but it’s worth it.”
Like Charlotte, many have called Sam, a passionate Lana Del Rey fan, “way too obsessive”.
“I couldn’t imagine why…,” Sam says. “I saw her five times in three different cities, and every time I waited at least eight hours before a show – the earliest was 8am for her last one – and usually I’d find the artist entrance, figure out when she would arrive and meet her then – and that’s just all in Australia.”
The national tour isn’t quite enough, and Sam adds, “I happen to be in London in mid-June, so I will be flying to Helsinki to see her (and hopefully meet her again) on June 16th.”
Many fans show their commitment to their favourite artist or celebrity by buying loads of merch or downloading illegal bootlegs, but Sam has applied her fandom to her body.
“I have [Del Rey’s] handwriting tattooed on my shoulder and am halfway through my Lana-themed leg piece.”
Sam is quick to clarify, “I didn’t do it to show off how much of a fan I am; I just did it because I wanted to.”
Sam’s commitment has been publically acknowledged by the singer, who has mentioned Sam’s passion twice on radio.
Jedward are also renowned for being extremely accommodating to their fans, always stopping to chat and remembering names – Charlotte says they once shouted a bunch of fans to a screening of Twilight with all the trimmings.
Dominique has crafted a number of outfits for the twins and they have literally shown their gratitude by donning them for events and YouTube videos, even performing on stage in her creations.
“After I met them I decided I really wanted to make something for them to show my appreciation,” she says. “So I customized some leather jackets with gold paint, studs and the lyrics of their song and they ended up wearing them to the BAFTAs!”
This clearly demonstrates their appreciation – whereas other celebrities might chuck it on the pile of admirers’ gifts (or in the bin, hey, Tay Swift) – and Dominique says they really take the time to connect with their fans.
Dominique says her biggest fear as a fangirl is to be “thought of as actually crazy or a stalker” by those she admires, but she knows what borders never to cross.
“I would never ever sneak into anywhere, or go into their hotel or find their house or anything, even if other fans did – you have to respect boundaries,” she says. “They let us into their lives so much and give us so much of their time and attention I think it would be so wrong to ever abuse that.”
She continues, “I’ve heard of fans getting upset and angry over waiting for hours and hours somewhere and never seeing their idol. You have to remember that it’s your own decision to wait; no one is forcing you and they don’t owe you anything for it.”
So, even though a girl you know might seem a little too obsessed with One Direction, don’t automatically assume she’s a stalker or a crazy person – fandom is most often a simple expression of passion for an artist and their work.
But, um, call the fuzz if she starts sending body parts.