Basenji’s Guide to Making a Splash on the Taylor Hicks Fan Sites
So, you’re a new Taylor Hicks fan and you want to join the millions (perhaps billions!) of people posting on the Taylor Hicks fan sites. Worried about networking to score special après show jam info? Here are some tips on how to become super popular in the hard-to-navigate cliques that comprise the Soul Patrol. After all, you never know what fan perks may come your way: free tickets, a special meet and greet, a hook-up in a House of Blues restroom with one of the roadies, anything’s possible!
1. Try all the fan sites. This is a “know thyself” kind of thing: Do you understand the cartoons in The New Yorker or do you get all your news from Access Hollywood? Are you offended by profanity or do you feel the word “cocksucker” is an elegant and powerful rhetorical device? Do you decorate your bed with stuffed animals and/or do you have wrist and ankle restraints built into the headboard? There’s a fan site for every personality, so find your group!
2. Live somewhere exotic. If you live in a mundane place like Topeka or Scranton, consider moving. Finland, Japan, Ireland, Great Britain, and The Philippines currently have representatives, but you could try Lichtenstein or Iran. Actually being a foreigner is best, but if you can’t manage that, don’t be afraid to write as if English were your second language. Constantly remind people that you live overseas. Don’t forget, however, you’ll need to show up in the States at some point or you can’t play your foreign card to maximum benefit.
3. Be a student of Taylor Hicks’s career. You should know everything there is to know about Taylor Hicks, the musician. Listen to every pre- and post-Idol mp3, watch every video, study the tagging history, read the entire Gray Charles archives, listen to the cellcerts. There is no excuse for missing a single performance. If you can, make pilgrimages to all the sites: Laser’s Edge, his old apartment in Birmingham, Workplay, the Florabama. You can skip learning about his personal life. There is a niche, however, that can be filled in wardrobe knowledge. If you can pinpoint the day and place he bought a certain shirt or pair of jeans (fiber content and the amount of perspiration the item can absorb is also good to know), it might come in handy.
4. Be a close friend/lover of Taylor Hicks. Admittedly, this subset of “fans” is, by nature, select, but don’t be afraid to jump in and let everyone know who you are. A guaranteed crowd-pleaser!
5. Know everything about the history of soul music and/or Van Morrison. At a minimum, you should study the list of Taylor’s cover songs and tags/teases (the songs he fold into other songs during live performances). Listen to the original version (or the most famous version) of every single song he has tagged. No, really. And learn the lyrics, too. You’ll be popular during the cellcerts if you can catch an “Old Old Woodstock” tag from hearing only the word “the” among the garbled sound. If you don’t have time to study all this, at least learn the lyrics to one obscure Van Morrison song. You never know when you can work it into a conversation and score points.
6. Don’t ask questions whose answers can be Googled in 3 seconds. Nothing is more offputting than the poster who asks, “Who is Ray Lamontagne?” Or “How do you know all the lyrics, Basenji?” Seriously, just use motherfucking Google.
7. Take risks. Adopt an interesting personality. Post that you think Taylor Hicks sucks. Destroy the self-esteem of the weaker posters. As long as you are recognized, you are climbing the fan ladder. Trolling is a strategy that may backfire, but if you have any good Photoshop stuff mocking the whole fan scene, post it. If your first personality isn’t going over well, try another screen name and start again.
8. Study the relevant movies. For starters, rent and watch: Good Morning, Vietnam, Caddyshack, Stripes, The Big Lebowski, This Is Spinal Tap, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. When the Bobbi Fleckman or Adrian Cronauer references start flying, you’ve got to be on top to the situation. See also rule 6.
9. Get Gray Charles to notice you. This is a bit tricky; it would have helped if you were around when GrayCharles.com was active. But the famous Gray does appear from time to time on certain fan sites. If he does pop up, get his attention. Incorrect method: “I miss you Gray!” Correct method (version 1): “Gray, [insert 930 word GrayCharles.com-as-a-party-that-you-wish-would-never-end metaphor].” Correct method (version 2): “Gray…Monkbot!” If you are lucky, you will amuse him and he will respond. Recognition will gather you big points with the other fans. If you can’t get Gray to notice you, get a well-known poster to take you under her wing.
10. Be prolific, but not annoying. Yes, an impressively high post count will enhance your standing at the site, but people loathe posters who only write boring, infantile shit. Remember, people are always evaluating you in private messages. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. No matter how wry it seems at the time, repeating your name at the end of your posts, writing in bold, writing in the third person, or ignoring the pleas of fellow posters to just shut the hell up will alienate potential allies. Also, stay off the ass. Over investment in ass or thigh comments lacks ironic distance and backfires in the long run. Pick another body part, such as the Achilles tendon or the ear, to admire.
11. Don’t get confused. Taylor Hicks is not your friend. Taylor Hicks is not looking at you. Taylor Hicks is a state of mind, a live show, and most importantly, Taylor Hicks is only a means to an end: super popularity among the fans!
12. Embellish! In show recaps, don’t just give the standard “I got on plane and arrived at 5 pm and met my friends Tina123 and TAYSFREAKFLAG in the lobby of the Marriott.” No, no, no, mix things up, ignore the actual chronology, and add details that entertain the reader. If your mind was a blank when you met him at the meet and greet, fill in something witty later. Insert quotes from a Sam Cooke biography to give your piece heft. If you had better interaction with one of Taylor’s lackeys than with Taylor himself, feel free to stress this aspect in your post. Better to have a great Brian Less story than a lame Taylor one. Meeting the tour bus stories are usually boring, unless you actually got on the bus (or in the hotel room). If so, PM me.
13. Give frequent oral sex to your significant other. People can be trained: if every time you finish watching a Taylor Hicks video you then start unzipping your lover’s fly, you’ll find a certain sympathy for your hobby will grow. Or make a Pavlovian connection between Taylor Hicks concert tickets and extra beer in the fridge or a new high-def TV. Whatever it takes! If you can’t get on the computer or get to the shows because of a resentful spouse, you’ll never become super popular!
14. Persevere. Even if your health is suffering and you feel nauseated at the thought of discussing for the 100th time how “Naked in the Jungle” gets you off, don’t quit! You may take a short break, but this requires you to start a new thread on the message board apologizing in advance. Quitting without a word means you will forfeit all the hard work you did on your climb up Popularity Mountain.
There you have it, Basenji’s tips to get you started on being a standout fan among fans. Remember it’s not about the music, it’s about feeling superior while hectoring people that it’s all about the music. Good luck and have fun!
Ms. Basenji is a frequent contributor to The Advocate, The Lancet, and Foreign Affairs. Her upcoming book, Advances in Hyperhidrosis, will be published in January 2008.