Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Hungry Wolf? My Duranie Journey.

In 1982 I first heard Duran Duran, on the radio. I was eight years old, and enjoying the innocent play of youth. My summers were spent mostly at my grandma’s council estate (we called it “The Projects”), where I could always call upon my ‘gang’ of friends to play games outside, or dress up Barbie dolls. It was all very typical, innocent stuff for a girl my age. And then Duran Duran entered my life, and somehow, things would never be quite the same.

I can’t recall the exact date when I first heard the single “Hungry Like the Wolf,” but it was sometime during late summer, August, I believe. Something changed in the atmosphere, and the song set off a wildfire on the radio stations in America, and the song was on heavy rotation. It was like nothing I had ever heard before; it was so charged with frenetic energy: big, booming bass and drums, the heavy rock guitar, and that voice; that voice for some reason ‘spoke’ to me. And layered over all this sonic magic were those twinkling ‘stars’ of sonic pleasure; the keyboard samples. This music transformed me. I was hooked; just as much to the story as to the music.

Even as a child, I picked up on the meaning of the song, even if I was too young to understand the subtle nuances. I danced around my grandma’s living room, reenacting the imaginary story I’d created in my head to accompany the music, based on the words I could glean.

Some things never change. Once a Duranie, always a Duranie.
Some things never change. Once a Duranie, always a Duranie.

Yes, I pretended to be a wolf, in between jumping around in a childlike fashion. Something about this music spoke to my soul, even then. As it turns out, I wasn’t too far off the mark with my interpretation of the song. I found out recently that the lyrics to “Hungry Like the Wolf” were originally based on the story “Little Red Riding Hood,” albeit a grownup version, which just so happened to be one of my favorite stories as a child. But I digress.

While I am proud to say that I was first drawn to the music before anything else, in truth, my inner Duranie wouldn’t fully emerge until about a year later, as we moved from the city to the suburbs, in search of better, safer surroundings, and along with a new house, we also acquired a relatively new luxury; cable television, and the channel that would forever change my life; MTV.

Suddenly, my coming of age began in 1983, when a whole new world was opened up to me; of lush jungles and distant sandy beaches. The first time I can say that I became a lifelong Duranie was when my eyes glanced upon the visage of Nick Rhodes. This man entranced me immediately, with a face that was truly exquisite. At first glance, I wasn’t sure if he was a man or a woman, yet something about him kept drawing me in, and intrigued me enough to keep wondering. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that he is indeed very much a man, especially once the scene cuts to him surreptitiously photographing our heroine, Rio, as she sunbathes on the deck of this seemingly-mythical yacht.

The colors, the imagery, were so beautiful; so painfully-exquisite. These five eye-catching, lively men, competing over this gorgeous lady on a yacht, were mesmerizing to watch. And the music; the music was like nothing I’d ever heard before. Music that was full of life and rhythm, and an intangible, timeless elegance. I was well and truly hooked.

Christmas of 1983 was a very good year for me, as I received my first bona fide album; the reissued debut album, simply titled “Duran Duran”. My elder cousin, who was also a Duranie, gave me the gift of life, so it would seem, by bestowing this album upon me. I also received “Seven and the Ragged Tiger”, from my mom, was overwhelmed with joy when I opened the package. I spent a holiday in Florida a few months later, walking along the beach, listening to those two albums on my Walkman, drinking in the waves, taking in the magical rhythms, and the sonic spell created by Mr. Rhodes’ keyboards. Again, the music spoke to my soul, as I watched the water dancing along the shore, walking alone and listening to music. I was transported to another time and place, lost in a reverie.

And don’t even get me started on Sing Blue Silver, which was also on heavy MTV rotation around that time! The scene where Nick screams as he is dragged away from the Atari console is priceless, and still touches my heart and tickles my funny bone to this day. The level of humor, the friendship, the love for music reflected in this documentary, all affected me, to my core.

I begged my mother to allow me to see Duran Duran in 1984, but alas, she feared for my safety, especially after having seen television footage of the concerts, with the screaming girls and crushing mosh pit (pre-mosh pit days, of course). I was barely ten years old, and while she had no problem with my obsessive love for all things Duran, there was no way she was going to let her only child play crowd-surfing games with bigger, older girls and boys.

So, it took three more years before I could see Duran live; during their “Strange Behaviour” tour. I was on holiday again, in Philadelphia, visiting my Duranie cousin, and we experienced the magic of a Duran Duran show together. It was my first concert, and my mind was once again blown, as a thirteen-year old pre-teen. From the opening act, (Erasure) to the crowd (a decidedly eclectic mix of hip, avant-garde, outré gender-bending boys and girls, and pre-teens like myself) to the main attraction, I had never experienced anything quite like it. The theatrical Le Bon costume changes, the rhythm and horn sections to rival James Brown’s, the audio/visual effects, the oh-so-fetching Spanish matador-inspired outfits Señor Rhodes donned, I was truly entranced. Again, it was a life-altering experience I am proud to have witnessed, and that I will never forget.

I was lucky enough to see Duran Duran during some of their ‘down’ years; in the late 80’s and early 90’s, right up to the Wedding album, where I somehow lost my way, and drifted away from my beloved ‘Boys’. I became drawn to the Goth music and fashion scene, and somehow bought into the ridiculous notion that Duran Duran didn’t jibe with that movement. If only I’d known that my kindred soul Nick was just as much into that scene, (and still is, I might add) as I was, perhaps I would have stayed more ‘true blue’.

Somehow, I knew the truth would prevail one day, and I kept my Duranieness hidden, waving it proudly from time to time, until around 2004, when I started to ‘fall in love’ with Duran Duran all over again. The excitement around their reunion tour was in full swing, and Duran Duran played in London (where I resided at the time) on my birthday, but alas I just missed out on getting tickets. It seemed that history was repeating itself, as it had 20 years earlier. As I have explained in previous blog entries, while I was always a fan, and will remain one for life, I was never a part of the fan community until the All You Need is Now Tour, so had no access to VIP ticket sales, and no connections. Tickets were priced well and above the odds, as the Duran Duran fandom was once again at fever pitch level. So, I guess I would just have to wait awhile to see them again.

A year later, in 2005, I received the first box set of their singles, and I rediscovered my favorite tracks and b-sides I hadn’t heard in decades. I also listened to those albums I missed out on in the mid-late 90’s.

By the time their Red Carpet Massacre tour passed through Los Angeles in 2007 I finally got my chance to once again see these men who had shaped my life, and had what can only be described as an epiphany. This is where my journey began again…

My collection of buttons.
Pre-teen fashion shoot, in front of the proverbial Duran Duran poster.

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