Manners And Morals: The Groupies

  • Share
  • Read Later

(2 of 3)

Although sexual promiscuity is its membership fee, the groupie subsociety has its own curious moral code. It has even developed class strata of sorts. At the bottom are such aberrant types as "the Plaster Casters," a pair of young Chicago fetishists who, as their name implies, have a peculiar hobby. They make plaster casts of rock stars' anatomies-certain parts of their anatomies, that is. Only slightly higher on the social scale are the "kiss and tell" groupies, who collect and trade the names of their conquests—often falsely.

Crash Course. The great groupie middle class is composed of the "gate crashers." Organized and persistent, they scour the newspapers for notice of a rock group's arrival in their city, then post lookouts at transportation terminals and hotels. When they have their quarry pinned down, they move in—dolled up in wild outfits and weird hairdos, hoping desperately to attract attention and earn an invitation inside. If that fails, they resort to more direct tactic; fering performers dope in exchange their favors or bribing security guards to smuggle them into stars' hotel rooms.

Harlan Ellison, a California freelance writer, recalls a harrowing night in San Diego three years ago when he was touring with the Rolling Stones. Spotting a young groupie crawling along the ledge outside his second-floor hotel room, he opened a sliding glass door to let her in, but she slipped, fell into the ocean-breaking her wrist—and had to be fished out by the Coast Guard. Ellison had barely recovered from that fright when another girl walked through his door and asked him if he was a friend of the Stones. When he said yes, she stripped and flopped onto his bed.

Super Status. Such crass approaches are unnecessary for the grandes dames of groupie society, the Super Groupies. Beautiful, usually intelligent, often well-heeled, they are welcome—in fact, sought-after—company.

"They live the life that every other so-called groupie aspires to—spending this week with one top group, next week with another, maybe traveling to London or Jamaica," says Steve Paul, owner of The Scene, a Manhattan rock club.

Paul estimates that "no more than ten" groupies actually qualify for super status.

Like the women who gravitated to the 19th century British Romantic poets, they are artistic as well as physical helpmeets. Songs are written for them and about them; they act as critics and even co-composers. "It's all one big ego trip," gushes Super Groupie Cleo, a strawberry-blonde 18-year-old New Yorker who is a look-alike for Jane Fonda.

Undisputed queen of the class at the moment is a young Manhattanite whose carefully acquired talent as a photographer has gained her entree to several top rock bands.

For every such success story, groupie life has presented scores of tragedies—made worse by the preoccupation with sex and dope that is integral to rock culture. Typical enough is the bitter story of a Manhattan waitress: "I'm 33, and I've made it with all the early biggies, and more. You know what I've got to show for it? Three kids from three different guys—which three, I'm not sure. I've gone the dope route, been busted twice, and taken the cure at Lexington, Ky."

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3