Groupie Mentality

10 tips for living vicariously through rockers and rappers.

Disney on Ice's Princess Classics Gund Arena, 100 Gateway Plaza Wednesday, January 8 through Tuesday, January 14. Show times are 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and Tuesday; 11 a.m., 3, and 7 p.m. Saturday; and 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday. $11.75 to $55; call 216-241-5555.
Girlfriend, it's time to rethink your lifestyle. Admit it: You've always wanted a job that entails nowhere to be and no exact time to be there. Yes, it's time to become a groupie.

To help get you started, we've compiled these helpful hints from leaders in the field, who've followed their favorite bands around for a few years, then gone on to fabulous careers as Clinique counter managers and cage dancers. In several short weeks, you too could be meeting famous men who haven't showered in days and walking into situations you're not sure you can get out of.

It may not make you rich, but hey -- it's definitely more exciting than hosing down trays at the Old Country Buffet.

1. Unless You Like Having Sweaty Animal Sex on Top of a Subwoofer, Roadies Are a Dead End.

Middle-aged men with greasy ponytails rarely forgo high-paying construction jobs just for the sheer pleasure of lifting heavy stage equipment. They want to get some, too. So they tend to lurk around stage doors, permitting entrance mostly to women who will perform random acts of sexual kindness on them.

"There's no law that says you have to go to the road crew first to get to the band," says Nancy Sayle, who's toiled as a publicist for such studded-metal miscreants as Warrant, Megadeth, and Lizzie Borden for the past two decades. "But roadies generally like women to think that they have to blow them to get to the band."

Sayle meticulously tries to avoid walking in on anybody's blowjob. But since her work sometimes requires her to travel with the hired help, she has been grossed out on occasion. Once, she witnessed a young woman on a bus "doing it with about as many guys as she could fit," in the hope of working her way down the aisle to the lead singer.

Unsated by the groupie's pure acrobatics, the menfolk then brought out the vegetables.

Let's just say the cucumbers and carrots weren't intended to be eaten. Sayle soon "got tired of watching her make V8 juice and left."

2. Aim Low. Washed-Up Hair-Metal Dudes May Not Seem Particularly Desirable, but They're Easy.

Flying Machine bartender Lori Ludeman has six photo albums filled with snapshots of herself kibitzing with men in heavy makeup and hairspray. Apparently, leathery rawk gods like Ratt and Cinderella have become a lot more accessible since their fame went south.

"The fact that I can actually go to a show and talk to or hang out with people that I idolized when I was younger -- it's just an amazing thing," says Ludeman, 27, an avid pursuer of aging monsters of rock. "Ten years from now, it's like kids hanging out with Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam or something."

Gone are the days when her idols acted like bored princes, requiring their groupies to perform superhuman feats for their enjoyment. Now, rather than party all night long, they prefer to partake of a quiet game of backgammon while sipping on a nutritious fruit smoothie after the show.

"It's almost like they don't know what to do with themselves, 'cause most of them are sober now," says Ludeman. They might ask her to listen to CDs and engage in idle chitchat, but nothing more. "It isn't a big party scene," she admits.

Which is just about her speed. "I like musicians," she says. "I'm not gonna deny that. Honestly, I think I'm destined to marry a rock star. Why shouldn't it be an old washed-up '80s guy?"

3. Unable to Grasp Their Mid-Level Ranking in the Food Chain, Tour Managers Can Be Downright Possessive.

Maybe it was her tiny T-shirt. Maybe it was because she wore her bandanna as a skirt. Either way, Jay's maximum skin exposure caught the tour manager's attention at an Alice Cooper/Chlorine/Dangerous Toys show, and he invited her to travel with him and his band.

Happy to oblige, she unglued herself from her date and strode straight onto their bus. It wasn't until a few hours later at their next destination, when she was boinking the drummer from one of the bands in a closet, that she realized the tour manager expected her to be his woman.

"He came barging in and got upset," Jay -- who prefers her last name not be used -- recalls. "Apparently, he thought I was his date! He stood there while we got our clothes on, and I had to lay down and be good until we got to San Antonio."

Shortly thereafter, Jay was unceremoniously dropped off at the nearest curb. At least they gave her cab fare home.

4. The Back of the Bus and the Front of the Bus Are Two Very Different Countries.

"As a rule, I never go to the back of the bus," says Ludeman, who prefers to go on actual dates with the guitar virtuosos she fancies.

A lady stays in front, sipping wine and making friendly conversation. But the real action takes place in back. Only true groupies venture into that velvet-upholstered pleasure zone, accessorized with a large-screen TV and billowy waterbed.

Always game for a little frolicking, especially when it involves purple satin sheets, Jay has no reservations about venturing into the "shag" section. The only difficulty she's experienced in the back of the bus is getting adequate privacy. Since it's so comfy back there, she and her partner are constantly being interrupted by innocuous party-crashers who just want to jump on the bed and watch Fear Factor in their pajamas.

5. Work Your Territory.

"Leah," a Cleveland medical professional who refuses to divulge her real name, advises trainees to memorize the floor plans of the Ritz-Carlton, the Omni, and the Renaissance.

"It doesn't pay to go on a dummy mission," says the 29-year-old, who has partied with the Wu-Tang Clan, Jay-Z, and Puff Daddy. She usually learns through word-of-mouth where the stars are staying. Often she'll hang out in the hotel lobby until she hears a room number being passed around. Or she'll just hop on the elevator and let other people push the buttons.

If the door opens and the hall is filled with green smoke, she knows she's reached the right floor. From there, "You just basically follow the weed flow, or the noise, whichever comes first."

6. Stamina Will Take You Far.

Leah works the midday shift at a hospital, a schedule that conveniently allows her to party all night without having to get up early for work.

Which is good, because the concert might not start until 1 a.m. When the show's over, she and her girls stop first at Burger King, then at the house of a friend with the "fattest sacks" to get more weed, before they head over to the hotel party.

She kicked it with the Wu-Tang Clan until six in the morning once. "We played CDs and talked shit, like I knew 'em all my life," Leah says.

She wishes she could say the same for Puff Daddy's party at the Omni. "Those guys were in there shooting craps on the floor," she scoffs. "That's some 'hood shit. Who wants to sit around and see that?"

7. Leather Pants Can Shrink.

The funniest moment of Jay's groupie career occurred early on, when she hooked up with a semi-famous blues guitarist we'll call Josh.

About 10 minutes before Josh was supposed to take the stage, they hurriedly found an empty room where they could be more intimate. They settled into a groove, completing the deed with a few seconds to spare.

Things got complicated, though, when Josh tried to pull up his leather trousers -- the painted-on pair he wore for every performance. They had shrunk from his sweat during sex and wouldn't make it back over his hips.

"He couldn't get them back on, and he couldn't get them all the way off," Jay recalls. "I was starting to freak."

In her panic, she shouted something completely unhelpful, like "You can't walk out there with your pants down!" She even considered making a run for some baby oil, thinking that if maybe he greased up his legs, the pants would unstick.

After much wiggling and sucking it in, he finally managed to yank them up. His bandmates were already onstage. "It felt like forever," says Jay, noting that with all that struggling, Josh may have actually dropped the few pounds needed to make his pants fit. "But it was probably only a couple minutes."

8. Lowly Service Workers Could Be Your Gateway Into the Gold-Lamé Pants of the Rich 'n' Bedraggled.

Olivia Daniels, a 25-year-old journalism student/makeup artist, highly recommends getting to know a crew member hanging around the stage area.

"Ask nicely if there is going to be a meet-and-greet or if the band is going to sign autographs," she advises. "A lot of times, I have asked and then been directed to where the band is going to be afterward."

Daniels has been backstage at every concert she's attended since age 14, when her mom's friend, a Great White roadie, let her glimpse what goes on behind the scenes.

But it's gonna take originality to follow Daniels's plan. Frank Soltysiak, a bouncer at Peabody's in Cleveland, says he's turned down everything from sexual favors to cash from fans who want access to bands like Mushroomhead and OutKast. When bribes don't work, they try to sneak past while their cute friends distract him. "There's not a whole lot of originality in what they're trying to do," says the brawny sentinel.

Roland Mcrae, a doorman at the Renaissance Hotel, seconds that motion. "Often, people will drive up and ask me, 'Hey, do you know if Babyface is here?' or something like that," he says. "We're not allowed to say if they are staying with us or not, so we generally just say that they aren't."

9. Consider a Career in Stripping.

Two weeks before her 18th birthday, Jay drove to a slew of titty bars, filling out applications at those that didn't check her ID. "I wanted to be close to rock stars, and I figured I had to take my clothes off to do it. It worked." Her profession has helped her rub up against members of Poison, Skid Row, and L.A. Guns.

For a while, she disrobed at a club patronized by hip-hop and heavy metal aristocracy and owned by the dudes in Pantera. "It was like a rock bar that happened to have naked girls walking around," she says. "I had to quit, because I wasn't making enough money, hanging out with everybody."

10. Sneaking Past Hotel Security Is Tough. Keeping Snoop Dogg Away From Your 19-Year-Old Cousin Is Tougher.

The last time he was in town, Snoop stayed at the Renaissance. "He had the whole floor," says Leah. "You knew which floor, because it was filled with that California Fog."

It wasn't so foggy that Leah couldn't see the gangsta rapper's hands heading straight for her cousin's booty. Time to bail, she decided. "I thought he was available to party, but if you're just trying to get ass, it's not a party."

Unless, of course, you party with people quite willing to surrender their asses. "I'm usually the one to make the first move," says Jay proudly. "If they ask me to leave, it's never because I have not performed."

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