An award-winning screenwriter at international film festivals and labs, Caitlin McCarthy has two projects in development: “Wonder Drug” with director Tom Gilroy (“Spring Forward”); and “Resistance” with director Si Wall (“Marbella Nights”).
“Confessions of a Would-Be Duran Duran Groupie” by Caitlin McCarthy
Young Caitlin & her 'John-inspired' hair
Spring, 1984. I was on the edge of fourteen, about to graduate from a Catholic junior high school. Sporting a Princess Diana haircut, I had already graduated into my first full-blown celebrity crush: John Taylor of Duran Duran.
MTV entered my house in 1983. I immediately spotted John in the onslaught of Duran Duran videos and knew we were destined to be together. An Ouija board even confirmed this fact during a sleepover at my best friend Jennifer Smith’s house. (She was going to marry John’s band mate Nick Rhodes, so it was perfect — we could all travel the world together.)
I started sneaking hydrogen peroxide into the bathroom at home, so I could streak my bangs blond like John. My mother hit the roof when my brown hair started to turn orange and yellow (and not in a cool punk way). I blamed it on the sun.
I hung a Tiger Beat poster of John in the back of my closet, so I could see him in the morning when I put on my Catholic school uniform. (If I were of legal age, this image probably would have thrilled him!)
I scoured every teen magazine for updates on John and wondered when he’d leave dreary England and come to my dreary hometown — Worcester, Massachusetts — to support his band’s latest album “Seven and the Ragged Tiger.” We had so much in common. I was sure of that. I didn’t even mind that his first name was really Nigel.
Finally, the big announcement came over local radio: Duran Duran would play the Worcester Centrum on March 14, 1984. I had never been to a rock concert before, but I was sure as hell going to this one — even if it meant bringing my non-Duranie big sister Erin with me as a chaperone.
My tween mind immediately shifted into overdrive: How could I meet John? The thought of staking out his hotel didn’t occur to me. I was truly innocent back then, in a way tweenagers aren’t these days. I thought of sending him a letter, but I didn’t have his address. It’d never get to him on time if I mailed something to his record label.
Then brilliance struck. I’d write an editorial for Worcester’s Evening Gazette, which would be sure to attract John’s attention. Everyone reads newspapers, right? (Insert laughter here.) In the 5th grade, I had published poems in the newspaper’s “Happy Time” section for kids. But by 6th grade, I had “outgrown” that and started writing editorials in the “Time Out” section for adults (not to be confused with porn, thank you very much!). The newspaper and I had a relationship. Maybe it’d help me start a relationship with John!
During Math class, I tuned out Sister I-Forget-Her-Name and wrote an ode to Duran Duran in my notebook. Instead of making John the focus, I branched out and detailed the entire band’s fabulousness. That way, no feelings would be hurt and the guys would all support my “relationship” with John.
Below is my ode in its entirety (yes, I saved it):
Duran Duran: One of the Greatest
While reading the Time Out section of the paper I was happy to find a long overdue article on one of the greatest groups of the past four decades, Duran Duran. The music, lyrics, videos — it all fits together to form a well-balanced band.
Duran Duran has been criticized for relying too much on expensive videos and their handsome good looks. For one thing, no matter how expensive a video is or how good looking you are, it will not put you on top of the music charts. You have to have talent and determination, which Duran Duran definitely possesses.
The group has frequently been compared to the Beatles, due to the group’s large success and the reactions of their fans. The press has dubbed Duran Duran as the “Fab Five” as opposed to a certain “Fab Four.” Simon Le Bon has been quoted at a press conference, “We’re interested in writing our own history, not writing somebody else’s.” And to me, that is what makes success.
Much to my surprise, the “Time Out” section not only ran my editorial, it put a thick black box around it. I realize now that someone at the newspaper must have found my comments cute. But as a tween, I believed that a guardian angel was helping my cause by making sure the item was highlighted so the band would see it when they rolled into town. Back then, the newspaper published the addresses of people who wrote editorials. I thought John could use it when calling 411 to get my number, because he’d be dying to speak with the author of this insightful editorial. I envisioned myself meeting John backstage at the Centrum and maybe, just maybe, getting my first kiss from him. (I never thought about what else could happen with John…remember, I was a painfully naïve 13-year-old.)
Duran Duran played Worcester that March. I was there, in the Centrum’s nosebleed section with Jennifer and my snickering sister Erin. I never met John because he never called me. Sigh.
But my editorial *did* trigger responses from other people. Female tween Duranies from the Worcester area started sending me letters at home, saying they loved the band, too. I started penpalling with them, and eventually we created our own Duran Duran fan club. We’d meet at each other’s houses and watch the band’s music videos on the VCR, pausing the tapes every once in a while so we could “Ooh” and “Aah” over certain guys (John got the most requests). The “Rio” video was a particular favorite of ours.
Many years later, John Taylor married and divorced a presenter from a British TV show, then married one of the co-founders of Juicy Couture. He never married me. I’m still writing, though — for the big screen as well as magazines and blogs. So John, if you ever read this, I don’t expect you to divorce your wife. But a kiss on the cheek — after all of these years — would still rock my world.
Postscript update: Duran Duran has continued its tradition of being cutting-edge and embraced social networking as a way to connect with fans (new and “vintage” – I refuse to call myself an “old” fan!). As of February 2010, the band has over 110,000 fans on Facebook. They’re on MySpace, Twitter, WordPress, and something called Zedge (it’s so “early adopter,” I’ve never even heard of this!). Duran Duran maintains an official website. There’s also an official Duran Duran fan community.
The stats speak for themselves: a total of over 70 million records sold, 18 American hit singles, 30 UK top 30 tunes, and the continued ability to draw huge audiences on five continents. Duran Duran has been together over 30 years. Their band bio on Facebook states: “Having outlived all of their contemporaries, they have nothing left to prove and everything to play for.” I second that!
Courtesy Celebrities in Disgrace