Vintage Reads #26: Hang On, Groupie (1966)

Here is a complete article from the March 1966 issue of Cavalier on how to pick up a groupie, written like you'd expect a deer hunting manual would read.  References to The Beatles and Stones and other pop icons abound.  And the advice seems to be completely ridiculous, as if written by a 1950s hep cat trying to make his way in this new world of rock and roll (yet, it's actually written by a woman).

So you want that girl. The chick with the long, straight, blonde hair and all-eyes-no-face kind of makeup. Yeah, that leggy one in the "poor boy" sweater, bell-bottomed pants and little white boots. The one who knows how to do the wildest combination of Frug, Twine, Swim, Jerk and Watusi without smiling at all or sweating a drop.

Her? Forget it. Also forget that girl with the very short Vidal Sassoon haircut, pierced ears, short-short dress, white stockings and soft baby-look shoes. Forget it unless you have a Beatle haircut and play amplified guitar (bass, six or twelvestring) or drums in a rock'n'roll combo which has now, has had recently or everybody knows is about to have a record listed in Billboard's Top 100. The only exceptions are if you're Bobby Dylan, or like Mick Jagger and you sing lead and play with a tambourine in a group that's always in the Top 100, or you're a New Misty Crintzel and nobody else is in town.

First of all, she's not a chick; she's a bird. And if you're still going to come on to her, don't call her "baby." Call her "Iuv." Then again, don't call her "luv."  Only pop stars can comfortably use that term of endearment (they soothe 15,000,000 frenzied teens with it); she'll know if you aren't one; and she'll immediately hate you for knowing what she's accustomed to hearing and using that knowledge to try to score with her. Those two war babies and God-only-knows-how-many-others-like-them are what a Kink, an Animal or a Beau Brummel would call a groupie. They hang out for groups. They'd part with maidenheads in a minute for an hour with a Mindbender, a Beach Boy, a Byrd, etc.

The basic premise of groupies isn't a new one. In the '50s there were girls who had eyes only for jazz musicians (or only jazz drummers, or sax players, or whatever). During the early '60s lots of pretty young things waitressed in coffeehouses, wore sandals but no makeup, and were folk chicks. Folk chicks began to mysteriously disappear about the time that Ian married Sylvia and Bob Dylan met John Lennon. And country and western performers still do very well with a particular breed of rural feminine Americana.

But groupies. Ahhh. They think young; they're where the action is; they're what's happening, baby. Go go, ye ye. No memories of a time without TV or Top 40 radio. Here they are, ready or not-products of sex and violence in movies, commercials, comic books, and hit records. Intellectually cautious, emotionally contained and physically aware. Devoting all their nuibile energies to copping some time, the more the better, with a disc star. But not just any disc star. That's where it gets fun. You're a groupie. Do you want one of Jay and the Americans? You sure don't. And you aren't the least bit interested in Jo'reddie and The Dreamers, the Lettermen, or Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs no matter how many hit records they've had. They just aren't where it's at for groupies.

The BeatIes are, though; they're Out of sight. For all practical purposes, however, they're also out of reach. Simply because the Beatles are never alone. Not counting the uncountable security force, there are still the agents, road managers, concert producers, press agents and journalists-- all of whom brought their families.

When on tour, Paul McCartney may or may not be able to brush his teeth without one other person in the bath, room. Groupies don't spend much time trying to get next to a BeatIe. So the biggest score a groupie can imagine would be a Rolling Stone (hereinafter referred to as a "Stone"). Specifically, Mick Jagger. With blond Brian Jones running a very close second. In fact, I Iike Clarke of the Byrds and Keith Relf of the Yardbirds are rated a trifle higher than they would have been ordinarily because they have a Brian Jones quality. The other three Stones are less important-equal, perhaps, to Herman. Which is still a very high rating.

Okay. No. 1, Mick Jagger; No.2, Brian Jones. No. 3 is a tie, Peter and Gordon. Equally prestigious, so personal preference may be used to decide which one to pursue. P &: G arc good friends of the Beatles and are as close to a Beatle as a groupie will ever get. No.4 is Peter Noone 'erman to you or so it's said in those fab fan mags). No 5 is a well-kept secret. Unearthed, it proves to be Dave Clark.

 There aren't very many successful groupies. Maybe 75, tops, with maybe half that number of desirable musicians for all of them, including the sometimes·successful groupies. As might be imagined, one quality absent in a groupie is undying love for any and all other groupies. A groupie isn't a fan. She doesn't wait outside a hotel for a glimpse of the famous group housed there. She's the one who waltzes in and out of the hotel with one of the group's members causing the adoring mass to burst into tears of despair and envy. The personality structures of fan and groupie differ this way: For a fan, a date with Mick Jagger is a cherished daydream; for a groupie, it's a chalIenging goal.

image from article, March 1966 Cavalier
To be a groupie is to master the art of being in the right place at the right time -even better, being in the wrong place at the right time. Like Phil Ochs' apartment when Bob Dylan arrives with the Animals in tow. Who would imagine a groupie lurking in Phil Ochs' apartment? Nobody! You're in! Or waiting, portfolio in lap, for an interview with Jerrold Schatzberg in his Park Avenue South photographic studio when in comes Jerry's friend Andrew Oldham with two of his Stones. Or at the corner table in the Night Owl Cafe in the Village where the receptionist from MGM is listening to the Lovin' Spoonful when Herman's Hermits wander in, sit at the next table and remember the MG receptionist from someplace.

A groupie can, under the right cumstances, start at the top and then devote her energy to maintaining her toe hold in the upper strata of groupie society. More often, though, a groupie stays at the bottom (a locally hot rock'n'combo or a folk singer with leftover limited fame) and works, really works her way up.

In the first place, a groupie can't live in Omaha, Nebraska. If an Omaha girl decides she wants a career as a groupie, she has to relocate to New York or Los Angeles. If a Los Angeles girl, especially an underage Los Angeles girl, decides she wants to be a groupie, she shouldn't move to New York because that's where her mother isn't. (A groupie's career can be ruined if word gets around that once, just once. her parents called the cops.)

And if she's smart (groupies, if not bright. are, at the very least, extremely clever) she'll immediately become friendly with the production staffs of the rock'n'roll TV shows. Also with any local concert promoters, agents, managers and any record company executives she call find-or secretaries.

If it means shoplifting, a groupie must have what is best described as an eye catching-and arresting-wardrobe. It's not enough to be naturally unbelievably beautiful and possess the combined minds of Linus Pauling, Simone de Beauvoire and Albert Grossman. Pop stars are instantly surrounded by intelligent beauties and, you, dear groupie.become merely one of many.

The real trick of being a successful groupie is reading every single issue of Cash Box, Billboard and 16. Cash Box and Billboard to keep up on musical trends (safe topic of discussion-all pop stars believe they're music-business geniuses) and 16 to find out what your latest catch, or prospective catch, is really like; invaluable in mapping strategy.

Once she's acknowledged as a groupie instead of a fan (she's not going to pull out a negligee and an autograph book), there's no stopping her. Some become so accomplished that thev can specialize. They only consider group leaders as possibilities. Herman, but no Hermits; Dave Clark-but not the remains of the Five; Wayne Fontana but not the Mindbenders; Dino, but not Desi; Paul Revere and the Raiders are out except for Mark Lindsay.

The undisputed queen of the groupies is a movie actress just out of her teens. Three months after a fling with her, an unsuspecting pop star is apt to see himself romantically linkecl with her in every fan magazine on the stands. (It takes three months to put a magazine out. -apparently, she's wise to the ways of the world and Margaret Sanger, because more than nine months have passed with no results other than four different romance features.)

So if you still want that girl, you remember- the one that turned out to be a groupie-Iook for her at Arthur, The Clique, or in a pop star's dressing room at Murray the K's rock'n'roll shows at the Brooklyn Fox Theater. Or, on the West Coast, running around the corridors of the Continental Hotel in a granny gown, or at The Trip, or late breakfasting- in the Gaiety right across the street.

And if you faintly resemble Brian Jones, she may give you a second look. But don't feel too bad if she doesn't. She wouldn't be what she is and, therefore, you wouldn't want her, if she looked twice at guys like you.

[Note from Gilligan: As always, I enjoy reading your comments about the posts; I'd also like to hear if you'd like to see more of posts like this with full articles for you to read.  Don't worry, I'm not typing them -just scan and copy as text, baby.  No problemo.]


  1. As a good friend of a former groupie I can only say the stories I've heard are WAY beyond anything this girl wrote. I can also say there are several names appearing in this article that she has said more than once, "Did him." I no longer mention names of musicians I had a crush on in the '60s and '70s afraid once again I'll hear "Did him."

  2. I'm rather partial to "a particular breed of rural feminine Americana."

  3. AnonymousJune 29, 2011

    As to more articles presented in toto, if you find them of interest, we probably shall also.

    Altho at this moment, what I really want to see is "Tattered and Lost"'s friend's uncensored memoirs...

  4. AnonymousJune 29, 2011

    I saw the word "Beatles" in the post preview and was like "This is my stop!" *whoooosh!*
    Then the more I started reading, the more I got depressed. I wish I was a groupie in the sixties: Wearing mod clothes and cat eye makeup, hanging off some hot British musician.
    Brb, crying for being born in the nineties ;_;

    Btw, this is Amanda H. For some reason, Blogger is not letting me stay logged in.

  5. Which Pynchon Novel are they referring to?

  6. Most of this is true as we continue to find. We now give weekly awards to our groupies as we continue to be aging pretendy rock gods. Love and long live the groupie!