Like most single young things living in New York City, I used to party a lot. Like, a lot. I was also working in the music industry, as were most of my friends, so every weekend was a blur of free shows, dance floors, grimy green rooms, afterparties, and sunrise cab rides. And, to correct a common misconception, backstage at your average New York venue isn’t very glamorous. It’s usually tired artists pounding whiskey and catching up with their friends. There’s some sketchy food left over from the rider, a lot of PBR, and gossiping. The best part is that it’s relatively quiet and there’s a bathroom that isn’t being shared by 600 people.
So I hung out with a lot of musicians, many of whom were talented, charming, attractive, and in possession of extremely sexy accents. But I never slept with any of them, because despite what Almost Famous would have you think, being a groupie isn’t cool.
I once heard a rumor that all the big international DJs have a shared Google Doc of girls in every city not to sleep with. A groupie list, essentially. Is this gross and horrible? Yes. Do I really blame them? No. Nobody wants to sleep with someone and realize afterward that it wasn’t because you really hit it off, it was so she could add you to a list and brag about it at brunch. Touring, if you aren’t in a band or a big enough star to have a retinue, is an intensely lonely experience. I can’t fault these guys for wanting to minimize emotional damage that might result from sleeping with a girl and then realizing she didn’t actually like you, she just likes DJs. And when you’re in a new city every night, what you want to do is hang out with your friends who live in that city, not fight off some stranger who just loves your new EP.
But my personal definition of groupie is “one who sleeps with the famous simply because they are famous,” and that is not cool! That’s using people. Using people is the opposite of cool. Name-dropping privileges are not why you should be having sex with people. Maybe I’m a little bit old-fashioned, but I think having sex with someone just to be able to say you had sex with them is pretty grim. Are there people who sleep with musicians because they meet them and have a genuine human connection with them? Of course, and I know some of these people, and I give them my blessing. But banging someone just because they’re on Pitchfork is, to me, highly questionable.
Cool is a slippery thing, but I’d argue it’s way cooler to say that a certain rockstar-and-sometimes-DJ once invited my coworker and I to “come back to the W and do coke,” and we said no, than it is to say I had a cocaine-fueled orgy with him. (Cocaine was never my drug anyway.) Trust me, turning down rockstars is way cooler than fucking them. Some famous person hit you up and you were just like, “Eh, no thanks.” That’s a power move. That’s awesome. And when you’re playing an album you love and someone asks you what it is, it’s much more fun to say that you’re old friends and can totally swing tickets to their show than it is to say you banged their bassist once.