Article Thumbnail

Rock ’n’ Roll Is Dead. Social Media Is King. What Happened to the Groupie?

For former pro starfuckers, the Instagram age has made the hunt complicated, boring and painfully unsexy

When she was a little girl, Jenna knew exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up: a “pro hoe.” “My uncle was a professional baseball player, and I was enamored by my aunt’s life as a baseball wife,” Jenna tells me. “She was so glamorous, wearing furs and tons of jewelry, and she got to be in a special section at the games. So growing up, I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to date an athlete or a celebrity?’ I felt equal to celebrities and thought I deserved the perks, too. They may have more money, but I’m just as entertaining.”

Today, the notches on the belt of the 35-year-old are impressive; they even include the bodyguard of her favorite singer. “If he hadn’t been her bodyguard, I wouldn’t have fucked him, but the idea of being one person away from her was intoxicating,” she admits. Jenna also bagged the cousin of a famous politician whom she met at Pier 1 Imports; he reeled her in with pics of his celebrity relative. And once, she sat on the face of someone A-list-affiliated before he left her to go to a pool party at Fred Durst’s house.

But her best starfuck was the son of a world-famous classical musician who was in a band she was obsessed with. “I tried to keep in touch with him after, but he wasn’t that responsive,” she says. “I still listen to his albums, and it brings me back to 2006, when I had no bills.”

Jenna laments what could have been if she had better access. “I feel like if I grew up in L.A., I would have had sex with actual celebrities by now, and not just celebrity-adjacent people,” she explains. Sadly, she lives in Northern California, where the celeb pickings are slim — but occasionally she gets lucky. “My sister was approached by Too $hort at Denny’s once, and he asked her if she had a hot tub they could go back to. She didn’t take him up on it, though.”

Starfucking has become such a thing over the decades that even the starfuckers themselves have become famous: women like Pamela Des Barres, Karrine “Superhead” Steffans and Pattie Boyd, whom Eric Clapton and George Harrison famously fought over. And who could forget Kate Hudson’s Oscar-nominated turn as a groupie with a heart of gold: Penny Lane in the Cameron Crowe classic Almost Famous. Starfucker goals.

But the Patron Saint of Starfuckers is probably Courtney Love. Despite having considerable talent and success in her own right, she’s never been able to escape the accusations that she’s a fame whore who latched onto Kurt Cobain just to get ahead. She even has the diss tracks to prove it: Nine Inch Nails’ “Starfuckers, Inc.” and Tori Amos’ “Professional Widow.”

The term, of course, is sexist in the same way that “gold digger” is. Both boil down to shaming women for being sexual or using sex to get what they want, completely ignoring the fact that men use money and power to get laid all the time. Sex is, of course, one of the motivating factors for men to get that money and power. But women who like to fuck are somehow the sinister ones in this power dynamic, and it’s been that way since the Garden of Eden.

Because rock-star groupies are the most storied type of starfuckers, it makes sense that the term went mainstream with the Rolling Stones’ song “Star Star,” from their 1973 album Goats Head Soup. It was originally titled “Starfucker,” but the name was changed to be less explicit, even though the chorus is the word “starfucker” repeated a bunch of times. The lyrics are pretty raunchy, with references to a pussy trick using fruit, blowing Steve McQueen and banging John Wayne before he dies.

The lead singer of a famous indie band, speaking under the condition of anonymity, tells me that he “strongly suspects that by the time the Stones wrote ‘Star Star,’ they were super-intimate with the phenomenon of young women during this age of sexual liberation, showing up and saying, ‘What do you want? What do you need?’” He thinks that’s why the song struck a chord in the first place: “Whenever somebody shares inside-industry information like this, they’re inviting the fan base in so they can enjoy how it feels to be them.”

On the other side of the equation, starfucking provides access to the world of celebrity — a world where everything is handed to you, no one says “no” and you too can feel like a star, even if just by association.

Feeling special is part of what convinced Paisley, a 33-year-old in L.A., to give starfucking a shot. She used to work for a clothing company that sponsored athletes, tattoo artists and musicians. At one of their many huge events, she couldn’t resist the opportunity to hook up with one of the athletes. She said she felt flattered that someone famous wanted her. She overcame her initial butterflies with some liquid courage and a little pep talk. “‘It’s just sex… with a star’ is exactly what I said to myself,” she explains.

Her relationship with the athlete continued via text, but it eventually faded after Paisley discovered he was married. “When he texted me continuously afterwards, I did feel special,” she says. “But the fact that he was married just wasn’t cool with me.” Although she doesn’t see herself ever doing something like that again, she does look back on the experience fondly. “I still have my shirt from the event, lol, and when I watch his events to this day, I chuckle to myself,” she tells me.

Over in the digital realm, social media has completely obliterated any distance that once separated a star from a potential starfucker, with Instagram in particular giving fans the illusion that they have a personal relationship with a star and creating a false sense of intimacy. “Social media makes it much easier for people to reach me,” explains a longtime TV actor whose fan interactions escalated to starfucker territory when he was cast as a lovable boyfriend on a hit TV show a few years ago. “It can be cool because those people can be interesting to interact with, but sometimes they’re too focused on superficial stuff to be as interesting as they otherwise might be.”

Thus, he tries to maintain boundaries and keep things professional. “No personal stuff,” he says. “Every week, I feel like becoming more and more of a social media recluse.”

Social media, too, has created a new class of “star.” You know the type: They have a Twitter following, but no one really knows what they do or why they’re well-known. Jenna says one such guy she hooked up with “was surprisingly well-connected and spent the whole time name-dropping, showing me his shoe collection and telling me about his problems with shitting in a public restroom. When I called him out, he told me he wasn’t name-dropping, this was just his real life and he was being honest.”

It only got worse from there. “We fucked, and it was lame,” she tells me. “I loved his condo though.”

Jenna eventually bailed on Twitter, but got some small thrills on Snapchat, where a famous rapper opened up a nude she sent. She had even more success on Instagram, when she started sliding into the DMs of famous skaters. “Instagram is different because it’s visual, so you don’t have to be smart, witty or funny,” she explains. “You just have to be hot and/or good at editing photos and videos.”

Interestingly enough, it was when Jenna started working at raves and saw the groupies fawning over EDM DJs that her perspective changed. “I realized that the people who were around the stars saw the groupies as sad, and I didn’t want to be seen that way,” she admits. Now, having a real connection is much more important to her. “It turned into more of not just any celebrity,” she continues. “I wouldn’t have sex with someone just for the story. I realized approaching them in a more chill way made them more inclined to interact with me.”

Not to mention, #MeToo has greatly increased the awareness of sexual power dynamics — among star and starfucker alike. The lead singer of the famous indie band thinks this has led some celebrities to be more careful when courting members of their fan base and abandoning the more lecherous groupie practices of yore. “I’m a Libertine, so if two people have a mutually satisfying power exchange, that’s cool by me,” he says. “But it’s fucked up the way that musicians would often run through whatever town they were in and just leave and have no further responsibilities regarding what happened there. When you sleep with somebody, you have a responsibility to exit graciously.”

It’s also seemingly resulted in groupies being replaced with sex workers. “Sex workers understand the dynamic,” the lead singer explains. “It’s an agreed-upon exchange, so there’s not much potential for somebody to feel like they got shafted. I’ve heard people say as soon as you’re a little famous, you can start relationships with people, but they have to be serious relationships. Otherwise, you go to sex workers.”

“They also know you’re famous,” he adds, “so you’ll still get that accolade relationship you might want from somebody in your audience, if that’s your deal.”

As for Jenna, her starfucking days are basically over. After all, nothing about it these days is nearly as sexy. Or as she puts it, “I feel like from 2009 to 2014, it was a lot easier to talk to celebrities on social media than it is today, when everyone has a social media manager and is monetizing content.”

And that’s a threesome she wasn’t up for, even in her heyday.