Interview with a Vamp
Kylie Minogue In-Store Appearance
It took her a while, but Kylie Minogue followed me back to America. I left a bread crumb trail and the singing budgie found her way. When I left Australia in April of 2001 after living there for a year, Kylie was preparing to play a series of concerts at the Sydney Entertainment Center, where she sold out 9 shows, beating the record set by venerable Aussie rock gods ACDC. The phenomenal success of her album Light Years and her Australian and UK tour left only one question--when would the Kylie juggernaut hit the US? That time has come and American audiences are now finding out what I discovered while in Oz: Kylie Minogue is a pop diva to be reckoned with, capable of out-Madonna-ing Madonna.
Yes, it's true, I waited in line for 2 hours to meet Kylie. Regular readers of Ape Culture will find it surprising that having only previously waited in line to meet Black Sabbath and Gene Simmons, I would wait in line for someone so anti-metal. All I can say is that I learned to love many new things while I was in Australia such as eating kangaroo pizza, saying "no worries," and listening to Kylie Minogue.
This was Kylie's only in-store appearance to promote the US release of her new album Fever. European tour commitments limited her ability to do a PR blitz, but that didn't prevent the album from debuting at #3 on the Billboard album chart on the strength of its infectious, aptly-named single "Can't Get You Out of My Head." The single had been getting a lot of air play on the dance and top 40 stations here in New York, but I wasn't really sure if many people would turn out for the signing. I knew the KISS army would amass in legions for Gene, but I just didn't know much about the US Kylie militia.
The prerequisite for attending the signing was pre-purchasing Fever, so I went as directed to Virgin on the Monday before the signing. I went after work and there were about 10 people in line ahead of me at the customer service desk. The thirtysomething guy immediately in front of me looked like a stalker-living-in-his-mother's-basement-type guy and kept annoying the clerk with questions about the signing, the amount of time he would have with Kylie, when to arrive, etc. I bought the CD and was given a pink "Kylie"-embossed wristband to guarantee my audience with Kylie. The clerk said the selling pace had been brisk that day. Besides the stalker and myself, the others in line seemed to be members of Kylie's longstanding US demographic--gay men.
So I returned on Friday night, arriving only thirty minutes before the signing was scheduled to start. The great unwashed and wristbandless hordes milled around in front of the store. I showed my wristband to the security guard and the crowd parted to allow me access to the store. I found my spot at the end of the queue that snaked around the dance and imports section of the Megastore. I scanned the crowd and estimated it was 70% gay men, 25% club kids, and 5% professional autograph hounds. There were actually more women there than I would have expected, given Kylie's status as a gay icon.
People were keeping to themselves in the line near me. They seemed to be there on their own, attaining their personal dreams. Some clutched early Kylie albums, such as her 1988 debut "hair hat" album, hoping to get her to sign those instead of the new one. I spent my time in line thinking about my Kylie experience.
I was in high school when I first heard Kylie's cover of "Locomotion," the song that damned her to "one hit wonder" status in the US, forever grouping her with the other precocious teen divas of the day--Tiffany and Debbie Gibson. I can't say I thought about Kylie again until I studied in London as a college junior in the Fall of 1992. I noticed Kylie was still a big star, and I bought an 80s compilation that included her hit "I Should Be So Lucky." Then in February 2000, I moved to Sydney and found myself lucky, lucky, lucky enough to befriend several card-carrying members of Kylie's fan club who took it upon themselves to give me a course in Kylieology. I found myself won over by her dance and pop classics and particularly taken by her commercially unsuccessful foray into the rock world with the Impossible Princess album. Light Years came out and "Spinning Around" became the ubiquitous single of the Sydney summer. I associate that song and "On A Night Like This" with many fun nights of dancing and drinking in Sydney, as well as with the Olympics. I loved the campiness of that album with songs like "Love Boat" and "Your Disco Needs You." Kylie provided the soundtrack for an amazing year in my life and, despite my headbanging tendencies, I have to admit I like her stuff.
Although it was a strong album, I think Light Years was probably too gay for the USA. Fever has the right mix of dance pop and sex appeal. After morphing through many phases and musical styles, Kylie finally has the recipe to make it over here and add a US occupation to her world domination.
The line began to move and we were ushered down the escalator to the floor where Kylie was signing. I got my first glimpse of her and thought she looked radiant and truly happy to be there. She's quite petite and very pretty. She sat at a table on a raised platform and was flanked by several go-go boys clad only in shorts, dancing on platforms to songs off Fever. The line moved pretty quickly, and a Kylie handler went through the crowd handing out Kylie lollipops and the CD booklets and writing our names on post-it notes to speed up the personalization process. After 2 hours of waiting, I found myself in front of Kylie. Here's our brief exchange.
Kylie: Hi Julie,
how are you?
That was it. I couldn't really come up with anything profound to say so I kept it simple. I was handed a free CD single and whisked up the escalator. I found Kylie to be very gracious as she took the time to speak to everyone. She seemed happy to be back in the US, and I think the US is going to be happy to have her. While Tiffany is posing for Playboy in a desperate attempt to generate some buzz, Kylie is letting her music do the talking and finally, America is listening. Now, bring on the US tour!
All signing photos are property of Jason Wong and USAKylie.com . Thanks, Jason!
For more background on Kylie and her Light Years comeback, read "Kylie Spins Back."
For the lighter side of Kylie, read The Kyliemericks
Ape Culture and all associated pages are