From a South Arkansas Duranie: Happy Birthday, Simon Le Bon
Duran Duran fans were few and far between in the land of Pine Bluff preppies.
It wasn't easy being a Duranie growing up in South Arkansas.
Just in case you don't know, a Duranie is a die-hard fan of Duran Duran, the British New Wave band from Birmingham. That's England, not Alabama.
In the summer of 1982, my mom and I were sitting at the kitchen table in Belmont, the Pine Bluff neighborhood we lived, when a face appeared on TV. The man was slowly emerging from under the water. I fell in love instantly. Who was this man?
Whatever show we were watching – it wasn't MTV because we didn't have it yet – said the band was from Holland. I swear.
For a few weeks, I thought about that face occasionally. Then one afternoon at Magic Mart, there he was — on the cover of a teen magazine. The man I was going to marry. Simon Le Bon, lead singer of Duran Duran.
Down the Duranie rabbit hole I tumbled never to return to a world without Duran Duran. My dad said I was going through a “phase”. He was definitely wrong. My Duran Duran obsession was not a passing fad.
I immersed myself into a world of orange hair — compliments of Sun-In — fuchsia lipstick, funky clothes, pirate boots and a fedora that belonged to my Uncle Frank.
Fedoras are a must-have accessory in a Duranie's world because bassist John Taylor wore one frequently, and Simon did also in the “Hungry Like The Wolf” video.
I also never left home without a Duran Duran pin or five of them on my T-shirt or jean jacket.
That was not what girls wore in Pine Bluff, Ark., wore. They liked preppy clothes —polos and plaid. My preppy phase was fleeting in seventh grade although I did model such clothes in boutique ads for local papers. Who wanted to look like every other girl in town? Not me.
But standing out and being yourself was not always easy.
Boys thought Duran Duran were gay. I heard the word "fag" a lot. But whatever, no one could tell me that Simon Le Bon was gay. (And he isn't.)
I got a lot of stares and snickers in my Duran Duran T-shirts and my mini skirts or black new wave pants. Did I care? Not really. I was buying time until I could get to New York to be a writer or London so that I could marry Simon.
While other girls were talking about cute stupid boys, I was scribbling Suzi Le Bon on my notebook during class. The name had a nice ring in the 80s, it has a nice ring to it now.
A couple of other Duranies and I hung out together, but let me tell you, Duranies were few and far between although now anyone I meet from Pine Bluff who is my age absolutely loves Duran Duran. They sure did not back then, but I will give them a pass. They were just late bloomers or closeted Duranies too scared to admit they liked the band for fear of rejection by a heavy metal boy.
The Duran Duran Bubble
I created my own dreamy Duran Duran bubble where I lived almost all of the time playing songs on repeat, hanging posters on my wall and watching MTV — once we got it.
Music lovers back then had a pen pal network. Hard to believe, but yes, we actually wrote letters to each other about life and Duran Duran. I loved my pen pals on the East Coast because they would send me band pictures from Japanese importmagazines I couldn't get in Arkansas.
Or even better? Pictures from actual Duran Duran concerts.
Duran Duran was never going to play in Little Rock. Barton Coliseum did not get New Wave bands. They booked bands like Billy Squier, Foghat, .38 Special, Cheaptrick. I was doomed never to meet the love of my life.
My dad attempted to make my Duranie existence better in Pine Bluff.
Knowing businessmen all over the country, he scored three tickets – one for me, my mom and himself – to see Duran Duran in Dallas at Reunion Arena on the "Seven and the Ragged Tiger" tour.
Then my dad told me the news: The tickets were not in the front row or the tenth or the 20th. They were in an upper tier area. What? No way. Yes, I said no.
I specifically said, “Me being in the room with Simon Le Bon and not being able to get to him would be like tying a dog up and not letting him reach a bone you put just out of his reach.”
How stupid could a girl be? Pretty damn stupid.
My dad later in life informed me that was the biggest mistake I ever made. That was saying something considering some of the guys I've dated.
Reunion Arena, forever a missed opportunity.
Instead, I sat in my bedroom by the window with a transistor radio, adjusting the antenna every five minutes, listening to the national broadcast of Duran Duran's Madison Square Garden concert and staring at the posters on my wall.
Thanks to Duran Duran, though, lessons were learned by rejecting those tickets. If concert tickets are offered, take them. Don't whine about where they are. You can always sneak your way to the front row.
But one lesson was more valuable than that: No regrets, take the risk.
I did that every day when I left the house in Belmont with my New York City clothes and jaunty hats in a world of Southern Belle bows and frills. I battled sarcasm and snickers in my cool black leather boots.
But that one regret – the Duran Duran concert at Reunion Arena – remains truly my biggest one. Oh, and not marrying Simon, who celebrates his 65th birthday today.
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