I'm still completely shocked when people are excited to meet *me*. I get just as excited about having an actual fan usually as the fan is excited about meeting me. (I have the whole "You like me? You really like me???" moment.) Why? Because I am used to being the fangirl. When I go to publishing conferences and meet people like Laurie Halse Anderson, who is one of my biggest literary inspirations, I'm hyperventilating on the inside, wondering how the hell I wound up invited to the same event as someone as amazing as her. When I met my fellow TFC girls: Melissa Walker, Linda Gerber and Elizabeth Scott at BEA this year, there was some major inner squeeing going on along with wondering how the hell I got invited to blog with them. But nothing, NOTHING matched the fangirl moment I had on Tuesday night when I finally met the woman who has inspired me more than anyone besides my own mother AND it happened on my birthday:
In case somehow you don't recognize her that's the one and only Courtney Love. A photo taken by my friend Jenny from our front and center spot at the Hole concert in St. Louis on Tuesday night.
When I say that I'm a fan of Courtney Love and Hole, I feel the automatic need to defend my choice. She's controversial. She always has been even before she was a tabloid regular. She's made a lot of bad choices. She's fallen into a lot of deep dark places. But she's human. I may be a fangirl, but I'm not a celebrity worshiper or someone who puts people up on a pedestal just because they are famous and/or talented (and unfortunately you no longer have to be talented to be famous). I grew up in the punk scene. I went to shows where the bands played with no barrier between themselves and the audience. Because they are just people, people happen to be extremely talented. So I don't need the musicians or other artists I admire to be perfect or be role models. I love them because of the art they create. Have I felt embarrassed *for* Courtney Love before? Sure. She's been in the spotlight during very vulnerable times and made poor choices. But here is the reason why Courtney and her music has always meant so much to me. This is straight from the acknowledgments in my book I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE:
"The first time I heard Courtney Love scream that she was "pretty on the inside," it saved my angry, thirteen-year-old girl soul."
Courtney was the gorgeous (but not traditionally early 90's supermodel pretty), outspoken woman who said the things I couldn't. She made me feel like I could be beautiful in my own way even though the boys in junior high mocked my looks every day. Her music helped me release the rage from those incidents and so many incidents throughout high school. She taught me to be strong. She taught me that I could live through this and be survivor. (and wow, is she a survivor. If you haven't seen VH1's Behind the Music on her, you should and the magnitude of what she has survived will hit you hard.) She taught me how to be angry and flawed and to pick myself up when I fall down and turn it into art. I wouldn't be a writer without her music. I might not even be here period.
So... Total. Huge. Fangirl.
When I found out that she was playing on my 31st birthday in St. Louis, the city I am originally from, I decided I had to go. It's only a five hour drive from Chicago and one of my very best friends lives there, a friend who I met online because of our love of Hole's music actually. So I know she would be game for going and paying extra to get VIP tickets. Here I am with Jenny (left) and our VIP tickets:
Now the VIP ticket basically just meant you got early entry into the venue and a special laminate and poster. All I cared about was the early entry. I haven't ventured onto the floor or the pit at a concert since my early twenties. I spent my teen years getting ribs bruised and other cuts, scrapes and bumps every weekend at punk shows. It got old. I *felt* old. But I decided that on my 31st birthday, I would be 13 again. I would be right up front for Courtney. I would be goofy and have a blast. I even wore a birthday girl tiara in hopes that it might catch her eye. Which it did. At one point she asked, "Is it your birthday?" I told her it was and then she proceeded to talk about how cute "my boyfriend" was. He was actually just a really tall dude standing behind me, politely protecting me from being crushed. My husband was out with Jenny's husband having boy time because we couldn't afford two VIP tickets and besides it seemed like an experience I should have with one of my best girl friends. Here I am in front of the venue with Jenny in my birthday tiara (for awhile I arranged the stickers on it to say it was my 13th birthday instead of 31st because that's what it felt like, it was so much fun!)
The show as completely amazing (except for a couple psycho drunk fans). Courtney's voice was in peak form and she was obviously sober. She played my favorite old Hole song ("Plump") back to back with my favorite new song "Someone Elses's Bed"). My only possibly complaint was I wish it had gone on a little longer. But I enjoyed every second of it. When the show ended, I did something I'd never done before and asked the bouncer if I could have the setlist because it was my birthday. He gave it to me! And there was no doubt what would happen next, Jenny and I had to stick around out back to see if I could get it signed.
And now I have to make another totally dorky admission... I brought a copy of I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE to give to Courtney if I had the opportunity. She inspired that book in so many ways. Like I said earlier, I wouldn't have become a writer without her influence, but also she made me want to be in a band.... except I sucked. So I decide to write a story about a girl who becomes the biggest rock star in the world, creating a reality where the Courtney Loves of the world rule. So yeah. I brought the book. The funny thing is that while Jenny and I were bonding with a couple other fans, Dayna and Ewan, I mentioned it and they kind of flipped out. Apparently they'd read it and loved it (see I told you, I am always shocked!) and because of my book and Hole had decided to form a band. How freakin' cool is that???? So I had a mission: get setlist signed and give Courtney IWBYJR.
We waited for over an hour and a half behind the venue (this is another thing I've never done before). Finally she emerged from a different door and headed for the bus. For a split second, it looked like she was going to leave without greeting the twenty or so faithful fans that had waited. But then she came over, conveniently to the side of the gate I was standing nearest. While she was signing Jenny's VIP pass, I managed to ask very calmly (and let me tell you this was very difficult!), "Courtney, can I give you a present?"
"What is it?" she asked, looking a little bit uncertain (probably because of the screaming drunk girls at the other end of the gate).
"It's a book, one you inspired me to write about a girl rock star... You're even in the acknowledgments." I was handing it to her as I said this.
She looked at the cover and said, "Wow, this is really cute!" Then she turned it over and started reading the back!!!! "MTV Books," she said, "that's cool. And you went to Columbia? What are you doing here?"
"It's my birthday and I wanted to see you."
"Thank you," she told me. And she was so gracious and demure and opposite of what she is made out to be in the press. She also looked at my name at the front of the book and actually personalized her signature to me on her setlist.
When we walked away, I was shaking... practically crying. Yes, I am a huge huge dork. But my inner thirteen year-old had never been happier. It was just one of those moments, something I've been secretly dreaming about for nearly twenty years, what can I say?
Well, I guess all I can say is I hope she reads and enjoys my book!
So here are me and Jenny with our signed stuff, totally tuckered out from being fangirls.
What about you? What big fangirl or fanboy moments have you had? Or who would you love to meet? For me, now that I've met Courtney, I think Francesca Lia Block is at the top of my list.