Inlägg taggade: Alex

7:53 22 Aug 2017

I want to write about the barriers around Rihanna. About those who stand on them: the gatekeepers. Those who sometimes make up their own rules or take advantage of a position so close to $he.

I’ll only write about what I’ve encountered myself but think I can say that most of these apply not just to Rihanna but to celebrities in general. For example I’ve fangirled James Franco too and saw the same general structure around him.

Here’s my list of gatekeepers:

Paparazzis

Body guards

Drivers

Management

Family members

Friends


Mel and I (I LOVE HER SO MUCH SHE IS THE SWEETEST).

Getting to know someone from the above categories could mean a passage into your fave’s attention. People on both side of the fence, so to speak, know this. It’s not spoken about but we know when we engage with paps that being in the car with means being first on the spot and possibly getting a selfie or even a quick chat.

We know that being on good terms with body guards means they are more likely to find you after the concert, if your fave decides they want to meet you. Or hand them your gifts. Or pass a message. We also know that being on bad terms with body guards will get you blocked, pushed away and ignored.

We know that drivers can charge your phone during long days of stanning, let you past the first barrier, separating fans from superfans (in the case of Franco), or message you know when they get off work (meaning those they work for have gone to bed meaning there’s no use staying out waiting for them to go to the club or studio etc).

We know management can forward gifts.

We know family members might follow you back on social media, like your pics and thus help them pop up on your fave’s feed. They might even text to let you know where their daughter is.

Rihanna’s dad and I in NYC, 2014.

We know friends might invite you backstage, to the VIP section or forward a message. They might become your friend too. They might be hirable for make-up, photography, modeling. All of which bring you one step closer to your idol too.

That being said, there’s a lot of opportunities for genuin bonds to be built, new friendships to be made and fun to be had between fans and said gatekeepers. I’ve seen it, lived it and dreamt it. We know Rihanna’s group of friends are amazing, for example. The generosity and warmth Mel have showed fans throughout the years is overwhelming. Rih’s NYC driver is amazing beyond words, always kind and helpful and even drove me home one late Manhattan night so I wouldn’t have to walk alone in a foreign city. That’s one of the best experiences of my fangirl life actually, getting a drive home in Rihanna’s car.

Another fan favorite: filmmaker Evan Rogers.

Rihanna’s manager, Jay Brown. Met him as a fan in Oslo and as a wardrobe assistant in Malmö and both times he was kind as a lamb.

But I’ve also had too many scares and uncomfortable experiences. Paparazzis hitting on fans in the middle of the night in some lonely alley, making moves on much younger girls knowing damn well they’re not interested in anything but seeing their fave walk out the club. But since they help fans get to the club in the first place, some will take their chance, knowing they have a bit of power.

The first picture I ever took of Rihanna. Outside (now closed) Da Silvano in NYC.

I’m not saying it’s everyone but the general structure of the set up between mostly men amongst the paparazzi and mostly young girls amongst the fans is problematic and unbalanced. Possibly dangerous too. And even when it’s not directed towards you it’s a really uncomfortable situation to be in when someone turns out to be a douchebag harassing random women walking out of the club while you’re standing right next to them not knowing how to solve the situation. There are time when I’ve wanted to punch some people in the face but then realized I’m in their environment, standing amongst their co-workers (all are silent of course). It’s not the environment to pick a fight in, especially knowing I’ll spend hours and hours around these people for the rest of my trip. However. If I’m being honest with myself, I probably would have said something if it wasn’t for them being able to block me from seeing Rihanna. And that feels dirty. Like I’ve sold my soul.

And seeing a father take advantage of their child’s success to hit on 30 years old younger girls? It’s sad for everyone, let’s just leave it at that.

Then there’s the bodyguards. WHY DO YOU HAVE TO BE SO ANGRY?! I get that fans are annoying, I get we’re in their way and it’s their job to protect the client. What I don’t understand is how they don’t see how much more fans would help them if they just showed some basic respect. When someone does something wrong, say run up to the door of Rihanna’s building for example, it’s us fans setting them straight. It’s us telling people and paparazzi to respect her, it’s us informing newcomers about the ”rules” and how things work at that specific location. I wish bodyguards would understand this part of stanning and work with the fans instead of against them. At the very least show us some respect. It would make their jobs easier too. But I have seldom felt smaller or worth less than around bodyguards. And that’s not just as a fangirl but in general. I’ll give you and example. When I was working as a costume assistant for Rihanna during her AWT concert in Malmö, one of our assignments was to do her bodyguards laundry. 20 minutes after I’d stood there folding his underwear, a bodyguard comes up to me backstage. Not stopping at a normal distance he gets super close and just stare down at me. I get super nervous and a bit scared. Show him my wristband indicating I’m working, but he just shakes his head all while the concert is happening a few feet away. Finally he says one word. ”Phone.”

I’ve taken a snapchat picture of the side of the stage. He’s seen it and is furious. I put my phone down and 30 minutes later I’m told I’m not allowed near the stage again. Understandable, yes. I probably shouldn’t have taken that pic. But in all fairness I’d asked my boss if it was OK earlier, and she nodded. I’d seen multiple other people around me do the same thing. I’d worked for 11 hours with nothing but two 30 minute brakes. It wouldn’t have hurt him to just tell me ”no pictures” in a normal voice like a normal interaction between two human beings rather than hovering above me like that. Or perhaps make sure to have a united stand on what is and isn’t allowed during the show, after which you should take a course in basic communication techniques as I can’t possibly imagine that’s the kind of environment Rihanna wants the workplace she’s creating to be.


Sandra and I working wardrobe in Malmö.

This might be perceived as too negative of a post but patriarchy and capitalism are shitty systems to live under and the hierarchies created within them are visible for a fangirl. So a fangirl wish to discuss them. Because while the reef is filled with the most beautiful people and places and as you look around you you’re thinking this is magical, out of this world, pure and special. Some of those corals sting. And it hurts. And the magical place isn’t so magical anymore. Until you learn how to navigate around them. But then it turns out that having money will open up a few more ways than being without. And the place you live in makes all the difference. As well as what company you’re in. But I’ll write more about these things later, trying to reflect on the structures within the fanbase and not just around it. Hopefully it’s interesting to someone other than me.

10:35 4 Aug 2016

When asked if I wanted to be a wardrobe assistant for Rihanna I couldn’t say no. I sold my ticket and braced myself for what I knew would be the gig of a lifetime. I mean, how often do you get to experience your idol’s workplace from the inside? The machinery around her, the hours and hours of preparations and studious work that goes into getting her wardrobe ready for stage. This was a world I’d been longing to see, and August 2nd 2016 was the day of deliverance.

How the hell did I end up there though? I have to send a huge thank you to my friend Sandra for this. A couple of months ago she recommended me when they (Live Nation) needed someone to fill in for her as a wardrobe assistant for the Dixie Chicks, and after that I’ve been their go to whenever Sandra isn’t available. With an artist as big as Rihanna, they needed two assistants though so we were both there.

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Wardrobe gals.

Our day started 11:45 and ended at midnight, with barely any breaks (30 minutes for lunch, 1,5h for dinner). Most of the time was spent steaming and ironing. Sandra by the ironing board, me by the steamer. There’s three people in charge of the AWT wardrobe: one for Rih’s stuff, one for the girls’ stuff and one for the boys’. We worked for all three of them, helping whoever needed us at the time.

The dancers, back-up vocalists and band members have the most things to get ready though so that was the main focus for us. There’s so many of them and most have a double set of clothing which ALL had to be washed and prepared for next day’s concert at Smukfest, Denmark. That meant double the work for us! Yikes.

We steamed, ironed, polished shoes and cleaned chokers and blind folds for the first part of the day. Aside from the white Craig Green x Björn Borg parkas (plural, Rih also has a duplicates of most outfits) which Sandra had been ironing since we got there we didn’t work much on Rihanna’s costumes.

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Therefor, I was a bit surprised when asked to steam her big ass Armani coat. This piece of clothing is even more stunning up close. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever held in my hands (+ my boss’ hands as it was to big for one person to carry) before. I took a mental note of how lucky I was to be experiencing all this and went on with steaming the hell out of each inch of fabric.

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Once I was done I moved on to the, if possible, even more beautiful Armani jumpsuit she has on underneath. The leg part is covered in hair which all needs to be combed out and then steamed to not look like a hot mess (and more like a high end car wash) on stage. Going from seeing this creation front row to holding it in my hands, carefully handling the fine fabric with equal amount of respect and awe, was… How can I even explain it? A memorable moment that I’m very thankful for.

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My pic from Oslo.

Another strange thing for someone that knows each and every person in her team was meeting them all in the hallways and dining room. Mylah (her make-up artist) was in front of me in lunch line, I met Jay Brown (manager) in the hallway, Yusuf on the way from the laundry room and High Hat (choreographer) on a soda run. Just walking past her dressing room with the bodyguards seated outside was a nerve wrecking experience because I didn’t want to seem unprofessional or have them think I was there as a fan. I finally told myself it was all in my head and kept on with my business of folding her bodyguards’ newly washed underwear.

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What one might look like after sorting through Rihanna’s bodyguards’ laundry.

Speaking of underwear, we had been told we could watch the first song of the show before heading to our duties backstage, and went to the back of the arena to do so. As we were standing there, waiting on it all to start, we heard stressed out voices calling for us on the walkey talkeys. We ran out in panic thinking we had done something wrong, only to find out someone wanted us to take out another load of the team’s laundry. Why this couldn’t wait until after the first song I have no idea, but walking past all the dancers, band members etc in the hallway outside of Rih’s dressing room was a nice treat. They had such an energy going and started cheering for us as we passed. It made me happy to see what a nice vibe the whole crew has, such a good atmosphere to be traveling around in.

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Then came the show! Malmö Arena is a really small place in comparison to most of the stops on this tour (Oslo, which was the smallest one I had attended before this, is twice as big for example) and you felt straight away the night was going to be special. I knew which door she was going to enter from so we waited there, close to Stage B, where it would also be easy to sneak out later.

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I love how she always smirk a little underneath that hood! Such a treat for those close enough to see it and brakes the facade in true RiRi fashion. Once she removed the hood we got another treat though:

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New wig!! A shorter, light brown one with bangs. There’s been debate about this on Twitter, but I’m 100% positive. The long hair she sported in Toronto on the night before was gorgeous but it’s always exciting to be amongst the first ones witnessing a new look live.

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New hair, same happiness. She looks so damn satisfied with where she is right now. In life and on stage. It’s been like this all through AWT and it makes me extremely happy to see.

What didn’t make me happy was having to leave once Woo started. Last thing I saw was the epic first catwalk, before it was time to get ready for the dancers’ quick change. We had been assigned a spot on the left side of the stage where we were to wait on our cue. We could see parts of the audience from where we were standing, and every now and then Rihanna.

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Then came the baskets of costumes and it was back to the wardrobe. We sorted everything out, treated the shoes and clothing with some freshening lotions and took a seat behind the monitors where we could see what was happening on stage. There was another quick change and some minor tasks before the show ended and everybody started to pack up. I was told to bring an empty rack to the girls dressing room when all of a sudden the door I had just opened was slammed back in my face. Rih was heading the same way so I wasn’t allowed just yet. If I’d opened the door 2 seconds later I would have seen her.

But nope, no sighting of her in all 12 hours. I didn’t think so either, but of course held onto some hope down to the very last second. Once I was done working I went over to the fans that were waiting for her outside. I wanted to hear about their experience and also find someone to hand over the my gift for Rih to. I could have asked someone inside but it never felt like the right time, plus it was important for me to separate the job. When security came out around 2.30pm or so we gave them our gifts though. Hopefully my friend Lina’s beautifully embroidered cap is in Rihanna’s possession now, along with Melina’s chokers and Ursula’s bracelet.

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Praying they came through on their promise to give our gifts to her!

9:16 27 Jul 2016

Some of you might have noticed that the blog have been down for a while. Without getting too far into it, there are some disagreements between the two of us which led Ebba to delete it. I (Alex) would really like to keep writing down my thoughts and experiences as a fangirl though, so I’ve retrieved some of the content. Not sure how to continue or if it’s even possible on my own, but seeing how I’ve put down a lot of my heart and soul into this space I don’t want it to just vanish into thin air. I’m still very much a navy after all, and even though it’s brought with it some experiences I could have done without, I strongly believe in the importance for us fans to continue on occupying space on and outside of cyber space.

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Love,
Alex

1:37 13 Jul 2016

I’m suffering from some kind of post concert(s) exhaustion and have been trying to recover on a windy Malmö beach but to be honest, there seem to be no way to come back from the experience. With 3 shows in 5 days (Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen) my mind is nowhere close to letting go of the experience.

I’m happy I went to these specific dates as they turned out to be very different from each other. In Oslo, the setting was extremely intimate and I could touch the stage by just stretching my arm out. As I did so during the concert Rihanna took my hand and I died. It was an experience I will never forget, but perhaps I didn’t realize just how special it was until after the other shows.

In Stockholm there was the endless queueing and huge stage, far beyond an arm’s length and way higher than the one in Oslo. The anticipation was so built up during the 24 hours of waiting that my adrenaline was on a completely different level (also my bladder almost exploded). It felt like Tele2 Arena was equally as shook by the hype inside its walls as Rihanna was and make no mistake, we felt in on the first row. Bruising was real, as were the many people having to be lifted out around us.

AWT Stockholm.

A video posted by Loonin (@loonin) on

Copenhagen took place outside and with a completely different atmosphere. The ground was muddy from rain and with no seated guests it felt more like a festival show. Here we didn’t have Early Entry so no queueing was involved. We did however make sure to be front row for Stage B, which to my surprise no one else seemed to have thought of. As she made her lap around the white cubical and saw our faces she immediately recognized us which felt great. Once she got on the bridge we hurried to the mid section and got to witness the peak of Sex With Me from underneath her.

SAUCY @badgalriri

A video posted by Loonin (@loonin) on

The Malmö show isn’t until Aug 2nd so I have plenty of time to get nervous again, anxious again, excited again. More and more fans are buying tickets for it each day, which means I’ll get to meet a lot of internet friends for the first time. Really looking forward to that, and seeing Fenty slay me one last time.

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/Alex

6:37 3 Jul 2016

Yesterday was beyond anything I’ve ever experienced and dreamed of. I got front row at Telenor Arena in Oslo and the stage was so close I could touch it. This has not been the case at the stadiums so I’m really thankful for the whole set-up in Norway.

I’m gonna write a proper review later but right now I need to chill. The lack of sleep is real. Here’s a picture bonanza though:

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/Alex