J.D. Myall was a self-proclaimed band groupie featured in the 2004 MTV documentary “The Social Story of Concerts.”
For a while Myall lived the celebrity high life — until reality overtook fantasy. Now, she wants to warn others away from that potentially disastrous path.
Myall is the author of a new young adult novel, “Reckless Gravity.” She tells LifeZette’s Mark Tapson why she chose to fictionalize parts of her life story, and why her groupie days represent a part of her past she doesn’t want others to follow.
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Mark Tapson: Why did you choose to share the wisdom and experience you acquired in a novel rather than nonfiction?
J.D. Myall: To teach without preaching. I want “Reckless Gravity” to be a cautionary tale. I want teen girls to learn from my mistakes instead of repeating them and taking a path that can derail your life. And I don’t want to glamorize my bad choices, nor hurt people by naming names. Besides, my children would have an absolute fit of disgust if the sexual experimentation from their mother’s youth was documented for the world to read! So, hiding the facts inside of fiction seemed like the safest and most responsible route.
MT: The issues you witnessed in the music industry and wrote about in the novel — domestic violence, addiction, mental illness — how were they handled? Were they swept under the rug in order to maintain the fantasy of fame?
JDM: Yes. It’s all swept under the rug. Drug habits are enabled to keep an artist happy and earning money for those that profit from their success. And the women sometimes are just another tool to keep an artist happy. Don’t get me wrong, most artists are good guys, but there are also a lot of misogynistic (expletives) who see themselves as kings and groupies as peasants.
MT: The gravitational pull of pop stars is a powerful lure for young women. But what’s the ugly reality and how did it affect you?
JDM: When you’re dealing with entertainers, you feel important by association. People treat you differently. It was a fantasy. Most of the groupies I know love music and artistry and have a reverence for talent. They want to get as close to the talent as possible, become one with their favorite stars and live that celebrity life.
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Most of the groupies I’ve known weren’t the gold-digging sluts the media often paints them as. They were just fans that got too eager to please. They are regular people, maybe someone you know. Part of growing up is making mistakes and testing your limits. Groupies often feel sexy and beautiful because they are chosen by a man that can have any other woman in the room. It makes them feel special. Maybe it’s low self-esteem.
The sex, the drugs, the excessive hedonism can be as intoxicating as they are deadly. That life is exciting but deceptive. It can suck girls in.
Part of growing up is making mistakes and testing your limits.
But nothing is as free as it seems. There is an expectation that comes with the invitation, and young women are not always prepared for it. I’ve seen girls go bankrupt traveling, chasing dreams and chasing stars who stopped caring about them once they put their panties back on. The lack of respect you sometimes experience as a groupie and that fact that people sometimes try to push you beyond your boundaries is not something most women are prepared for. I wasn’t.
I knew a college student who hooked up with a recording artist. She wanted him, but he forced her to do things sexually that she made clear she didn’t want to do. She came to me crying after it was over. I offered to take her to a doctor or call the cops but she refused because it would go public. She didn’t want reporters to drag her name through the mud or people to label her a slut. She didn’t want her family knowing what happened. She was offered a lot of money to keep quiet, but she didn’t want it. She just wanted him to respect her and her wishes.
But when you see someone as an idol and they see you as a blow-up doll, that reality kills the fantasy you had about that person. That’s what you face as a groupie, and that’s what I faced until I began to mature. Then the lifestyle became far less glamorous to me.