The term groupie is derived from group, in reference to a musical group, but the word is also used in a more general sense, especially in casual conversation, to mean a particular kind of female or male fan assumed to be more interested in relationships with rockstars than in their music. A groupie is generally considered a devoted female or male fan of a band or musical performer. A groupie is considered more intense about their adored celebrities than a fan and tends to follow them from place to place. A groupie will attempt to have a connection with the band and may seek intimate contact. Obsessive groupies will almost certainly involve themselves sexually with any members of the band including the roadies. Further, there are groupies of sports teams and many other types of celebrities.
Origin in music
The word groupie originated around 1965 to describe teen-aged girls or young women who sought brief liaisons with musicians. The phenomenon itself was much older; Mary McCarthy had earlier described it in her novel The Company She Keeps (1942). Some sources have attributed the coining of the word to the Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman during the group's 1965 Australian tour; but Wyman said he and his bandmates used other "code words" for women on tour.
A prominent explanation of the groupie concept came from Rolling Stone magazine, which published an issue devoted to the topic, Groupies: The Girls of Rock (February 1969), which emphasized the sexual behavior of rock musicians and groupies. TIME Magazine published an article, "Manners And Morals: The Groupies", later that month. Also that year, British journalist Jenny Fabian and Johnny Byrne released a largely autobiographical book called Groupie (1969). The following year, a documentary film titled Groupies (1970) was released.
Female groupies in particular have a long-standing reputation of being available to celebrities, pop stars, rock stars and other public figures. Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant is quoted as distinguishing between fans who wanted brief sexual encounters, and "groupies" who traveled with musicians for extended periods of time, acting as a surrogate girlfriend, and often taking care of the musician's wardrobe and social life. Nancy Spungen, who became the partner of Sid Vicious of The Sex Pistols, is one such example; women adopting this role are sometimes referred to as "road wives". Cynthia Plaster Caster, Cleo Odzer, and The GTOs ("Girls Together Outrageously"), with Pamela Des Barres, in particular, as de facto spokeswoman, are probably the best known groupies of this type.
Musician Frank Zappa organized "The GTOs" in the late 1960s. The band comprised seven young women: Miss Pamela (Pamela Des Barres), Miss Sparky (Linda Sue Parker), Miss Lucy (Lucy McLaren), Miss Christine (Christine Frka), Miss Sandra (Sandra Leano), Miss Mercy (Mercy Fontentot), and Miss Cynderella (Cynthia Cale-Binion).
A characteristic that may classify one as a groupie is a promiscuous reputation. Connie Hamzy, also known as "Sweet Connie", a prominent groupie in the 1960s, argues in favor of the groupie movement and defends her chosen lifestyle by saying, "Look we're not hookers, we loved the glamour". However, her openness regarding her sexual endeavors with various rock stars is exactly what has enhanced the negative connotations surrounding her type. For example, she stated in the Los Angeles Times article "Pop & Hiss" (December 15, 2010): "Hamzy, unlike the other groupies, was never looking to build relationships. She was after sex, and she unabashedly shared intimate moments with virtually every rock star – even their roadies – who came through Arkansas."
Des Barres, who wrote two books detailing her experiences as a groupie – I'm With The Band (1987) and Take Another Little Piece of My Heart: A Groupie Grows Up (1993) – as well as another non-fiction book, Rock Bottom: Dark Moments in Music Babylon, asserts that a groupie is to a rock band as Mary Magdalene was to Jesus. Her most recent book, Let's Spend the Night Together (2007), is a collection of wildly varied interviews with classic "old school" groupies including Catherine James, Connie Hamzy, Cherry Vanilla, Dee Dee Keel, Margaret Moser, as well as 80s and 90s groupies including Pleasant Gehman, Patti Johnsen, and Lexa Vonn. Des Barres described Keel as: "One of the most intimidating dolls... a slim strawberry blonde who won the highly prized job of Whisky office manager after her predecessor Gail Sloatman met Frank Zappa and became what we all wanted to be." Keel was one of the few who stayed connected in Hollywood and with bands for nearly three decades. Des Barres, who married rock singer/actor Michael Des Barres, also persuaded cult actress Tura Satana, singer and model Bebe Buell, actress Patti D'Arbanville, and Cassandra Peterson, better known as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark to talk about their relationships with musicians.
Also according to Des Barres' book, there is at least one male groupie, Pleather, who followed female celebrities such as Courtney Love and members of the 1980s pop group the Bangles.
During the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space programs, there were undoubtedly women who would hang around the hotels of Clear Lake and Cocoa Beach "collecting" astronauts. Joan Roosa, wife of Apollo 14 LMP Stu Roosa, recalled "I was at a party one night in Houston. A woman standing behind me, who had no idea who I was, said 'I've slept with every astronaut who has been to the Moon.' ... I said 'Pardon me, but I don't think so.'"
Groupies also play a role in sports. For example, "buckle bunnies" are a well-known part of the world of rodeo. The term comes from a slang term for women ("bunnies"), and from the prize belt buckles awarded to the winners in rodeo, which are highly sought by the bunnies. According to one report, bunnies "usually do not expect anything more than sex from the rodeo participants and vice versa".
In a 1994 Spin magazine feature, Elizabeth Gilbert characterized buckle bunnies as an essential element of the rodeo scene, and described a particularly dedicated group of bunnies who are known on the rodeo circuit for their supportive attitude and generosity, going beyond sex, to "some fascination with providing the most macho group of guys on earth with the only brand of nurturing they will accept". Similar individuals are seen in other sports, such as the "puck bunny" in Hockey, Baseball Annies and the "snow bunny" in skiing.
Recently in Irish Sport, particularly in GAA sports the term "Jersey Puller" or "Jersey Tugger" has been used to describe females who are interested in players. The term refers to the pulling of a player's top. The term can range from who look to be romantically linked with senior intercounty players to local players playing for their parish.