With(in) the Band: The Queering of the Female Fan Experience

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Everyone knows what a groupie is: she’s That Girl, the fan hanging around after the gig, waiting for the nod, the chance to sleep with her chosen guy in the band. Or maybe she’s more than that: she might be his girlfriend, his wife, a woman working in the music industry. Defined narrowly or broadly, she’s there, a marker of an extreme expression of the heteronormative organization of society. The general critical debate concerns itself with the scope of the definition, not the paradigm itself. But there is another possibility, a community-centric approach to sexual desire for their favourite musicians: narrative slash fiction on the internet. Slash, same-sex relationship stories written primarily by and for women, is created to make explicit the interpersonal relationships of these celebrities. In the case of ‘bandom’ – for this paper, the fannish activity around the group of bands loosely held together by one degree of separation from Pete Wentz and/or Warped Tour in America – women are writing romantic relationships within and between the members of the bands. This essay investigates the queer act this entails. These women are not passively waiting by the stage door; they are (metaphorically) taking the members of these bands into their own queer space and using them to enact their own desires. There is no room for female agency in a woman’s interactions with the music industry – unless she finds herself a queer community.

Nancy Bruseker, University of Liverpool